“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.”
– Alfred Adler
When my granddaughter, Arya, was four years old I gave her my 65-year-old child’s jewelry chest for her plastic jewelry treasures. She loves wearing jewelry so much that for her bedtime bath she climbs into the tub adorned in a pink-plastic necklace and a
The day after she received her gift, she emerged from the backyard with another huge smile and her jewelry chest full of treasures. She was thrilled and proud of her ingenuity!
She had ‘saved’ a thick six-inch worm and bedded it down in the box with enough moist dirt to keep it ‘happy’. When Arya held up her dirt filled treasure chest most onlookers would be upset, but her mother and I were elated. The child was demonstrating empathy
and reverence for all of God’s creatures.
Over the years, things have not changed with Arya. As she approaches her seventh birthday she continues ‘saving’ worms and now includes tree frogs and wooly moth caterpillars. She is growing up with chickens, dogs, cats, fish tanks, an outside pond turtle and apparently, any other of God's creatures that need her care.
She feeds the chickens and cats while her older brother feeds the dogs. My
grandchildren are learning life skills about caring for others and their needs. Her compassion comes naturally. Her three-year-old brother also helps out, mentored by his two older siblings.
Regarding ‘our’ once antique hard cardboard and fabric jewelry chest, yes, it was kaput but how could I admonish her for treasuring life and seeing the beauty around her? As a child, as I walked home from school in torrential mountain rainstorms multitudes of worms would emerge
from the saturated soil onto the road. To save them, I picked them up from the flooded streets and gently placed them in safe higher gardens. It took twenty minutes longer to walk home on rainy days.
Another endearing childhood story of a kind child was submitted by Moon in Hong Kong, “As a young girl, when I found a dead ant, I placed it into a match box and covered it with a blanket of bread. I then made a cross out of a matchstick and added it to the match box.
My mother was like Arya’s mother, she understood my gentle nature and that I had reverence for all life. Once the tiny coffin was ready, I put it in front of my mother’s worship counter she used for prayer.”
Lastly, when asked what happened to Ariel’s frog she replied, “While I was eating dinner it hopped off the picnic table onto a bush and ran away.”
Frog wisdom, “Don’t worry. Be HOPpy.”