My seven year old granddaughter, Maddie, spent Friday and Saturday night with me. Her paternal grandfather unexpectedly passed away this week and, to allow her parents more time to spend with family and friends after the funeral luncheon was over, I asked her to spend some time with me. On the way to my house, we bought ice cream cones and ate them outside on a remarkably warm Friday afternoon. Later, we selected sympathy cards for her father and grandmother and then went out for Chinese food. On the way, we purchased stick-on faux fur moustaches that both of us wore while talking to each other in manly voices. Our conversations were minimal because Maddie kept having hysterical fits of laughter.
Without coming out and saying it directly, Maddie let me know that she needed my attention and needed to be close to me. At night when the lights were out and she was cuddled next to me in bed, she would sometimes talk about what had happened that week. She wanted to know if I had cried at all at the funeral and when I affirmed that I had, Maddie told me that she had cried some at school that week when she thought about her grandfather. After we talked we played what she calls, "The Bird Game," which involves listening to peaceful music with our eyes closed, while we take turns telling each other what bird we are seeing. The game never fails to rapidly relax her and put her to sleep.This evening we saw a white crane, a small songbird, an eagle, a golden oriole, a golden fox, a brown bear and a Pegasus.
Together, we planned and prepared a menu of hamburgers, chips and fresh fruit in yogurt to serve on Saturday night. Maddie sat the table with celedon green plates and cobalt blue water glasses and entertained herself, as well as me and our dinner guest, my sister, by telling lively stories and making up jokes that were truly, very funny. After dinner Maddie began creating mandalas. She drew the one above, a free-form spiral, with chalk pastels on paper, selecting the colors by herself and carefully blending them until they merged together. She made a mandala for her paternal grandmother and a stunning crosshatched turtle mandala that she collaged onto black paper with a silver metallic paper heart. She drew mandalas with angels on them and she cut out a little paper heart for her aunt. It's message, very simply, but poignantly filled with love, said, "Why are you so sad? I love you."
Maddie is not consciously aware that making mandalas can assist with others healing, but she very clearly knows that sharing her heart is important when the people she loves are sad or in pain. She instinctively knows that creating art and finding ways to make her laugh will help her to feel good when she needs grounding. Like most children, Maddie may not always be able to succinctly express her feelings with words, but sometimes, words are not necessary. When love is present, it is enough.
Is there someone on your life that needs the simplicity of your love and compassion?