You Could Have Heard A Pin Drop

Guidance door Sign JULY31.2009 210
As a Guidance Counsellor who loved being with the students not so much the administrative tasks, as you may deduce from the sign above I posted on my office door, my awesome team mate ‘supervisor’ Jean, smiled at me trustingly and obligingly said: ‘Great, you work with the students and develop the Grade 9 program for the school.’

That left me speechless since both she and I knew I was great at process work in the moment; not great at writing down the ‘how’ of anything I did. Jean however was and is a very loving and wise woman: she asked another counsellor, my friend to sit at the back of the room and write down what she observed as I interacted with the students. Then together as a staff we co-created a wonderful program for the grade 9’s in that school.

This particular day, we were discussing self esteem, ‘full steam ahead’ ability. 

Listening to my intuition, I said to the class: “Let’s try something new.  I need 3 volunteers and I am going to say something positive, negative or neutral to you. The only thing is that you will not know which one it will be. I need you to respond to me in role play.”

A young girl put up her hand. In a loud condescending tone I scolded: “You haven’t cleaned up your room or done your home work! No you are not going out!”Immediately the student began to berate me, call me names and fall predictably into the angry teenager role.   I then stopped, thanked her and asked the class if they had ever seen this happen. All heads nodded in unison.

I asked for the next volunteer.  Another young girl put up her hand and I spoke: “Its great weather we have today.”  She agreed.

As I asked for the third volunteer, of course the whole class already knew what scenario was left.  A young boy bravely stood up.  I looked at him and in a warm caring voice said, “Do you ever have a nice smile”. 

Silence.  Profound nothingness. You could have heard a pin drop. Thirty two students ~ not a sound.

I looked around the room and said to the class, “What’s happening?”

After what seemed like a long time, someone said: “He doesn’t know what to say.  We don’t hear nice things like that.”

Three more times, 3 more classes, grade 9 through grade eleven; same results consistently. It was then, with a lump in my throat, that my soul knew the depth of this teaching and the dire need to offer this tool to others. I am saddened once again, just remembering the heart felt depth of this moment and the deep trust those students had in me to be able to ‘stay with me in this process….

From my journalling I wrote back then:
this is the work of my soul and I know it so is so simple but so vital to wellness…help me god to bring this to the world in your way…show me, guide me…..thank you for bringing into my life the support for me in this work, my dear friends, my soul friend co-workers and family members who support me in this manner……
As always, I am hearing Truth is so simple. Linda, go back to the simple.

In that moment I saw laid bare, the pain of the unacknowledged soul.  The tender hearts of our pain filled children: the same pain that had drowned my soul as a very young child and most likely the souls of my own children at times, before I became aware.  It is one of those moments when the precious gift of being a ‘teacher’ touched me to the core.

On the surface, how simple a compliment seems. Just an ordinary phrase.  No big deal.

Not so~ A compliment is an open hearted act of kindness. Seemingly small, a compliment has the love force of touching another and reverberating to the essence of who we are. Validating, healing, energizing…
So what was my lesson, the nugget of gold from this profound awareness?   I began to see clearly how easily many are conditioned to respond quickly in defensive anger, negativity, meanness and also how many are unable to receive the positive or the ‘good’. 

How long will we choose to resist the simple truth of caring and kindness?

 How can we begin to change this together?

 What simple compliment, act of kindness may you offer or accept today, toward becoming the change in this world we all share?