“Sorry booboo we’re all done.”
“We ate all the croissant. All done. We don’t have any left. Baba will have to get you some more croissant later.”
You looked at me with quiet understanding. There was a brief pause.
I was struck by a momentary loss of words. A gentle puff of delight filled the silence as you looked at me with an expectation that such a simple and direct demand would surely be met. While I beheld your confident self-assertion with amusement, I became aware that this “mundane” interaction had ushered me into a realm charged with the sacred.
Your teacher recently wrote of you, “I saw your intent and your need to be heard and connect. I see that for you having a conversation was not only crucial to your innate humanity, but there was something more.”
Her words and yours have stayed at the door steps of my mind like gifts brightly wrapped, waiting to be opened and enjoyed. So I have pondered them, and here is what I discovered.
Mankind is separate from the animal kingdom in that it possesses a powerful tool: language. Words give humanity a unique power to form and to fill and to master the natural world unlike any other. It also gives us a history, a connection to the past and a yearning for the future. Yet for all the marvel that is the human language, its forms and diversity, and all the riches that it has borne, the simplicity of genuine communication often eludes us. What a joy when one can experience it!
Genuine communication involves a dance among individuals bound by their interdependence and mutual respect. Clarity, directness, faith, and trust set the rhythms of vulnerability while the tension between self and other draws each into a greater drama.
That is what I’m learning from you, my dear Ella, the joy of communication: to speak and to be heard, to demand and to be met, to understand yet still persist because one’s wish is so clear and simple. I wish to know as you do what it is that I want more of and to ask for it like you do with a gentle, faith-filled persistence.
Lastly, what is this “more” that your teacher saw? I believe it is the profound truth that speech is a means to give of one’s true self to another. It is an extension outward into the world, into the other, and an invitation inward into relationship with the self. It matters to you, Ella, because the words you speak are gifts of self-revelation, gifts of your unique person. What a treasure you are! What a joy to receive!