Today I asked my 17 year old if he wanted to go on a Climate March with me. He said “probably not”. That’s code for no. I then asked him what he thought he owed the world or other people. He didn’t follow….I explained that I meant what is his mission or purpose. (Did I mention it’s rainy and about 40 degrees?) He gestured to the window and said “I would but…” In fairness, the environment is my passion and it’s not his. I no more expected him to go than start flying, except sometimes he surprises me.
I shifted gears to teach a life lesson, but decided to ask one more question instead. “Outside this conversation, what do you do for the world, what’s important to you?” His answer, “Help other people”. Simple, direct, lovely. And he does, when he notices or is asked. Always. Made me think of my Grandpa Skak who used to recite poetry. Among the many poems he shared with me was this one.
Abou Ben Adhem
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.
James Henry Leigh Hunt
I’ve always thought that this was pretty inspirational and so is my kid.
PS I’m going to this Climate Walk, surely the environment is “helping” our cause by raining on December 13 in Iowa. Pretty sure 30 years ago this would have been a snowstorm that would have kept us indoors all day.