“The following story was written by Astrid Lindgren, the Swedish author best known for her “Pippi Longstocking'” books. I’d like to share it with you.
When I was 20 years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking – the first of his life. And she told him that he would have to go outside and find a switch for her to hit him with.
The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, “Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock you can throw at me.”
All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view; that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone. And the mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried.
Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever, never violence. And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because violence begins in the nursery.
Thought for the day: “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” (Mahatma Gandhi)”
I am working at least 15-20 hours a week on trying to establish a non-profit crisis nursery in Pittsburgh (mostly late into the night after the boys are tucked into beds….and disrupted almost nightly by Micah coming down to find me so that I can “retuck” him into MY bed!). One of the women on my Executive Team found the story above and shared it with the crisis nursery team yesterday.
When I read it last week, I was so touched and moved by the power of the message, that I spoke to the team further, my eyes glistening with passion. It is important that we all remember never to use violence with children, no matter which way it is done (words, hands, switches, rocks). Yet the rock can also be viewed in a positive light – it is the building block, the foundation, upon which a new idea like a crisis nursery can be built.
I’m also reminded of a quote by Albert Schweitzer, “Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly, even if they roll a few stones upon it.” I paraphrase this as, whenever we are working on a big project for the good of others, there will likely be boulders in our way and we must find ways to overcome them and move on. We are not guaranteed an easy work in this world.
And, of course, if you add “googley” eyes to a rock (and maybe a splash of color), then the rock becomes a pet capable of receiving loving caresses from young boys as they carry Charlie around the house. Fortunately, Charlie makes very few messes and has an insignificant food budget.
I took a box of rocks of all shapes and sizes to the group so that the team members could choose one if they like. Some did and some didn’t. I don’t know what symbolism the rock will hold for them today, tomorrow or next year.
But I do know that the one I chose is in the shape of a heart (using your imagination)
and it’s not at all perfect (just like me), but it sits on my desk – a symbol of the heart of my boys and my very important job to love them with all my heart and protect them with all my strength.