It was graduation time many years ago. Preschool children had made a ceramic gift for their parents. The graduation was over and the children had gone with their teachers to bring the gift of their ceramic hand to their parents. The children all ran into the room together holding those hands as a surprise. They were brightly wrapped with tissue paper and ribbons. The classes had been working on them for weeks.

One small boy trying to run and carry his hand, wave to his parents, and at the same time he slipped and fell. The surprise flew from his grasp and landed on the tile floor with an obvious ceramic crash.

The child’s first reaction was one of stunned silence but then he cried in disappointment at the broken hand. His father who was wanting to minimize the incident and comfort the boy, patted his head and said, “Now that’s alright. It really doesn’t matter, son. It really doesn’t matter at all.” The child’s mother, somewhat wiser in such situations, dropped to her knees on the floor, swept the boy into her arms and said, “Oh but it does matter! It matters a great deal!” And she wept with her son.

People need more than a pat on the head and a few words of reassurance. They need our felt presence! When in pain or confused, people long for that someone who falls to the earth beside us, picks up their torn, broken and bleeding spirits, and says, “Oh, but it does matter. It really matters .” So let us try to be genuinely kind, and practice kindness with empathy, because that matters more than just kindness alone. 

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Divya Pai

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