We all have experienced rejection. It is painful. Being treated as if you do not exist can be equally painful. Today I watched a beautiful red tailed hawk flying overhead. The hawk did not need my approval, recognition, or acceptance. He was majestic all on his own.
As human beings, our greatness can seem elusive. It can seem tethered to the opinions of others. Like our brother the hawk, we must connect with our deeper selves - our power to soar. We must be willing to sacrifice our need for approval. God has given all of us gifts. We must be true to our gifts, with or without approval of others.
The Buddha taught that it was a rare blessing to be born a human being. Life offers an abundance to appreciate. We can be grateful for water, earth, heat, air, and love. We are privileged to be fully conscious. To be aware of life is a great blessing.
We are not guaranteed tomorrow. What will you do with today? What will you choose to see? What will you touch? What will you say? Who will you listen to?
Today is precious. Today you are awake. Do what you need to do now. Say what you need to say. Feel what you feel. Love now.
In Student Assistance Training, we spend hours talking about and practicing our listening and communication skills. Time spent listening to our students is often all that needs to happen for things to improve. Listening in and of itself is an intervention. Remember, intervention is a process of change over time. Listening is the primary fuel that moves the intervention process.
In our training, we focus on what it feels like: it includes proximity, open posture, eye contact, slight forward lean, sometimes a respectful touch, etc.
We also brainstorm what it feels like: warm, caring, valued, worthwhile, affirmed, respected, all very powerful emotions. This is what we bring our students when we simply take the time to listen.
Listening is a respectful, caring connection. For the "at risk," disconnected student, listening is healing. Our listening inspires hope. Listening builds meaning in lives that are lost. Listening seeks to find the truth. Listening introduces people to themselves. It is a key tool in self-awareness.
On a purely educational basis, children need communication for brain development. Children need conversation with adults. In our Student Assistance Teams, we intervene when we act as mentors, role models, and listeners of children. We are all in need of slowing down. Our world is hectic and frightening for some children. When we slow down and quietly and gently listen to our students, we help the whole child develop.
The highest quality of listening demands "Real Presence." The difference between intervention and co-dependence is like the difference between embracing and wallowing in life's problems. When we wallow in our own or other's problems, we are codependent. When we embrace our own or other’s problems, we are whole and healthy. To embrace a problem demands real presence. Real presence means being fully involved - being personal, invested, and subjective. Real presence is a decision to be a person of quality and to be nourishing to ourselves and others. Everything in life can be nourishing.
Everything can be a blessing. As the father of a severely profoundly disabled child (Ashley cannot speak or move on her own), I understand real presence. Ashley, in her quiet and profound way, demands my real presence. I know that she hears me as I watch her slight eye movements. I know she feels better in my presence as I touch her hand and feel her little fingers grip my thumb. All life is sacred. As we share our presence with others, we are enhanced. Real presence saves us from mediocrity, it saves us from apathy and boredom, and it rescues us from carelessness and selfishness. It brings us meaning and hope.