On Friday morning, Opal School children, families, and teachers gathered together for our weekly school-wide gathering. This week, it was the Dogwood community of first and second grader’s turn to lead. They decided to spend that time sharing about what they are grateful for and then giving the audience a chance to do the same.
I’m often amazed at the connections I find between what authors like Brené Brown (who devote their entire career to researching and writing about this kind of thing) say and the wisdom I hear from the children I work with.
In Dare To Lead, Brené Brown writes:
Embodying and practicing gratitude changes everything. It is not a personal construct, it’s a human construct – a unifying part of our existence.
I think the children in Dogwood knew this instinctively. Before they shared what they were grateful for, they wanted to share a poem they’d been reading and thinking about.
Here’s the poem they shared:
“Hokusai Says” by Roger Keyes
Hokusai says look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.
He says look forward to getting old.
He says keep changing, you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself as long as it’s interesting.
He says keep doing what you love.
He says every one of us is a child, every one of us is ancient, every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.
He says everything is alive—
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.
He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter
if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home and stare at the ants on your veranda
or the shadows of the trees and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength is life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.
He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.
When they were reflecting on the meaning of the poem and discussing why they wanted to share it, they said:
Gabriel: Because it just makes you feel happy that we’re alive, because it shows what we all notice about life and it shows you what people do.
Samantha: And it’s about everyone is different and it doesn’t matter if you’re different from someone.
Wyatt: It’s like, keep doing what you love. This is an add-on to Samantha’s. Do what you like, even if other people aren’t doing it.
Bryce: Because it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you care… feel… notice.
This year, I’m feeling grateful for a community who works to seek connections, to lean in with curiosity, to offer one another inspiration, and to take time to celebrate all the things that tie us together rather than those that drive us apart.
Reader, what does this poem make you think of? How are you sharing gratitude with those in your community? What new conversations or ideas are coming up for you because of it?