Just before graduating from seminary, I was asked to do a service project. The project was not only about being in service to others, but very importantly, it was about observing myself in service to others. By observing myself, I would have opportunities to know mySelf, to realize my strengths and weaknesses. Since Mother/Father God could look in all windows, including the ones in my heart, I sought Divine guidance to help me in choosing the perfect project for my service. S/He has such a sense of humor. Though open and listening to my inner voice, I was moving in the direction of service to incarcerated woman at the local prison or at-risk youth at the local juvenile detention center…until I visited my granddaughter Presleigh’s pre-school.
To my delight, my daughter Amber had asked me to pick Presleigh up from school. When I arrived, she had just awakened from naptime, and was upset and crying, along with many other children. My heart washed with emotion; I was saddened to see so many broken-hearted children and not enough arms to hold and comfort them, and dismayed over the stress upon the teachers’ faces because there weren’t enough arms to hold and comfort them. Presleigh was 2 years old, and in a classroom of 1½ – 2 ½ year old children. A memory of Amber came flooding in when she was this age; I was a single mom, attending school full time and working full time, trying very hard to provide and make a better life for Amber and myself. I saw her less than ten percent of each day. Being a student and career mom mattered not to Amber, she wanted me full-time. Although her school was a wonderful school, and Presleigh’s even more wonder-filled: in a beautiful new building, with loving, talented teachers, in an eco-friendly environment which served garden to table organic healthy food, with a “Montessori” style academic curriculum and a “Julliard’ music, dance and arts program, blah, blah, blah. Like Amber, none of that mattered to Presleigh, she wanted the unconditional loving arms of her mommy, as do most infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Ah-ha! That’s it! I could play ‘mommy for day for many.’ I was inspired to do something extra-ordinary for these precious Little Ones. But what would I do? Halloween was just around the corner, maybe I could create a special story time after their naps that included lots of hugs and ‘chocolate’ kisses! I called the Owner/Director shortly thereafter to see if she would embrace the idea. She not only embraced the idea, she was overjoyed and encouraged me to read to all the children, not just to Presleigh’s class! There were about 90 children enrolled at the time, and she would divide them into three groups of thirty. And since it was Halloween, I could dress in my Fairy Butterfly costume from last year! Perfect! I was scheduled to arrive at 10:30 the morning of the 30th.
It wasn’t long before my mind became critical of my choice of service project–to read to ‘well-provided for’ preschoolers. Really? Somehow, my project should be more special! Right? Is there anything more special about one child over another, is there an age more special than another, is there something more special to do in a day than spend an hour in the life of a child, is a less prestigious school more important than a prestigious one? In a child’s mind, there is nothing more valuable than the loving arms of their mother…
The morning of the 30th had arrived. I had awakened early and allowed myself plenty of time, three hours in fact, to dress in costume and to arrive early! I rose with ease, and experienced sweet surrender and bliss during my spiritual practice. Thereafter, I ate my breakfast in a yummy calm, thrilled about the ‘spook-tacular story-telling’ and awesome ‘fairy-tale’ adventure the children and I were going to share and experience. No hurry, no rush, no fuss, then I began to dress. As I was putting my makeup on, the ‘new’ liquid paint marker, that I was using to create the wings of a butterfly on the right side of my face, died up. No worries, I selected another marker and begin again. Less than half way thru, it went dry, and on my third attempt with another marker, it was dry before I started. Remembering that I had some Halloween makeup stored, I washed my face to start anew. Thankfully it was easy enough to find. The hard part was remembering how to mix the colors to achieve various shades of green and aqua-blue, the colors of my costume. Once my face was painted, I wanted to put on these beautiful long gold tipped ‘Bug-eyed’ looking lashes and some dazzling gemstones. Putting on the lashes wash not an easy task, nor was the gemstones because the glue was messy and not quick drying. Now I’m a little rattled! Although my Om-ing and deep breaths were helping my nerves, things really were not going very well. Have you ever stumbled after first waking, then stumble four or five times more, and somehow you knew that was a peck into the way the rest of the day would unfold! In that moment of stress, I ask myself; “Do 18 month – 4 year olds really care about your eyelashes Regina, really, really now??” Somehow it mattered to me, and I finished.
Next I needed to fix my hair, not even my hair wanted to co-operate! I had made this beautiful halo style headdress with ribbons and flowers that matched my costume, which broke when I began arranging it on my head. Oh what ever, so I pulled off a few ribbons and used bobby pins to place them in my hair. Looking at the clock, I noticed that if I was going to be on time, I only had a few minutes to put on my costume: glitter, gloves, skirt, apon, top, jewelry, wings, and gather the other necessary items: the books I was going to read, the treats, stamps & stickers for the children, and what ever else: my purse, keys, phone…awwww….I couldn’t get my costume on fast enough, and realized I was going to be late, maybe by ten minutes. I could feel my heart rate accelerate and my temperament become prickly. I started thinking of canceling the whole event, “Who really cares anyway? The kids probably don’t care, nor would they miss me. And FYI, most children under five have the attention span of a nat, and a memory not much longer, they would forget about this special event by the end of the day. So why am I putting myself through all this torture?!. The stress was getting to me, and I was terribly embarrassed about being late. I’m going to bail. No, no, no, I can’t bail, I gave my word, and this event wasn’t about me anyway; it was about serving the children; it was about being in service to the Divine. Nonetheless, I was being tested, or surely testing myself. (It all was an interesting observation.)
Once in the car I called the Owner/Director to let her know that I would be late, and asked if that would be all right. And she so kindly said it would absolutely be all right, and that the children were so excited about my visit. Wow, assurance and my first affirmation; I could feel the stress leaving my body and the joy returning. My daughter Amber was to be my assistant, and she met me in the parking lot to help with my things, and coordinate any last minute details. She told me how beautiful I looked; she had no idea the ‘ugliness’ happening just moments earlier.
With a new breath and a smile in my heart, we entered the school and were directed to the 18-30 months old classroom. Presleigh had recently been moved to the upper class, where I would visit next. I choose two books to read, “Spooky Bunny Tales (a Max and Ruby Series) and “The Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.” Getting into character, I began moving my arms as if they were wings, and stepping as if floating into the room. It came to me to introduce myself to the children as “Fairy Gina.” Joy was bubbling in my heart, and I entered the first room. I held the children’s attention for about 3 seconds before a few of the children nearest to me began to cry. Seriously! Crying? I was not prepared for that response. “Listen, listen, I’m a good fairy; I’m a really, really good fairy!” Oh, what was I thinking, children at this age cry in the lap of Santa Claus for goodness sake! And here, standing in front of them is a 5’4’ Butterfly-Fairy! I’d probably cry too.
The teachers acted quickly to comfort them, and I gently ‘floated’ to the middle of the room. I chose to read the Ruby and Max Halloween book first. Animating the story, I held most of the children’s attention through the first book, but completely lost all their attention a few pages into the 2nd book. I had forgotten about the attention span of 18-30 month olds..So I just shut the book, and regained their attention with treats (chocolate kisses) and tricks (Halloween stamps).
Finished with the trick and treating for the youngest class, I was off to the next class, the 2 ½ – 3 ½ year old classroom, where Presleigh was enrolled & waiting. Thank goodness, I was not greeted with any frightened cries. Instead I was greeted with great anticipation and curiosity. In this class I was able to hold their attention longer. They were much more interactive, and Presleigh was my greatest fan! Because I had read each of these books to her previously, she delighted in echoing and acting out the lines in the book with me, especially the stomp-stomp, wiggle-wiggle, clap-clap, nod-nod and BOO! I could feel the interest and wonder and joy flowing from the children. Although with this age group, their attention span and interest was much greater, it wasn’t long before chaos ensued in the environment that lacked their regular structure. With the tricks and treats, I had unleashed anarchy. Smiling and delighted, yet relearning the ages and stages of children, I detected it was time for me to adjourn. As I gathered my fairy dust and treat bag, one of the Little Ones, sensitive to my departure, became anxious. I could feel her on the verge of tears, the same ‘separation anxiety’ so many children experience when their parents or guardians parted company from them. This is the same anxiety I had felt that afternoon I had picked Presleigh up from school, not only from Pres, but from many other children whom had just awakened from their naps. I recalled as soon as Pres saw me, she became hysterical, as if she were saying, “Umma, please come get me, hurry, hurry and hold me, and please don’t leave without me; if you leave without me, I won’t be able to bear it!” This was the ‘raison d’etre’ that I had been initially inspired to ‘play mommy for a day for many,’ to alleviate, if possible, any fear from any child, even for an instant, and replace it with Love, the abundant love, comfort and joy that flows through the Universe for each of them!
The smile on this beautiful little girls face was turning into a frown, and her puckering lip began to quiver. The first words out of her mouth were, “I want my Mommy?” Or maybe it was, “Where is my Mommy?” Nonetheless, it was as if she believed I could magically make her mommy appear. I gently kneeled before her, and looked into her beautiful brown eyes and spoke gently to her, words I do not remember now; however, she softened, and I gently wrapped my arms around her. The vision of The Great Mother came to me as I wrapped my arms (wings) around her, so as to say through my heart into hers, “She is right here. We are all One.” It was this one child that let me know I had fulfilled my purpose, maybe there were others, I may never know, but this one gave me back to my Self. And Precious Pres still asks for Fairy Gina. Smiling.
After this class, it looked for the world like my daughter was gathering her things to leave, following suit, until the Owners Assistant let me know that there was another class waiting for Fairy Gina. Still feeling somewhat like, “Who truly cares if I post or not;” until I walked-floated into the classroom, the last class of the day, the 3 ½ – 5 year old’s class.
Entering the room, all the children were sitting like little soldiers in perfect little rows, they squealed with delight! Many bright eyes glowed with wonder, and cheerful smiles illuminated their faces. I was charmed by their wonder and Light. They were filled with excitement to have me read to them, and they listened to my every word. They also were ecstatic about interacting and animating the two stories with me. If there was any anxiety in this class, I did not feel it. Yet, I did feel their gratitude, joy and love for my visit. As I was leaving, the class collectively sent me on my way with a highly spirited applause and words of gratitude, “Thank you for coming Fairy Gina, and have a Happy Halloween!” Awwww.
I had experienced a spectrum of feelings this day, a true roller coaster of emotions, and I was exhausted, just plain whipped. From one pole to the other: calm and agitated, happiness and sadness, laughter and crying, structure and chaos, excitement and disappointment, high and low energy vibrations, all variations of love and fear, I had experienced in one action packed morning. A few days later, I called the office to ask how the students and staff had experienced my visit. While disclosing my experience of this event, I found myself in deep conversation with the Owners Assistant, a conversation about our love for children in general. She had informed me that some of the children enrolled in their school were dropped off as early as 6:30 am and were not picked up until late in the day, 5:30 pm and later; spending nearly all day, 5 days a week, in their care. That’s a long time to spend in ‘school’ for a Little One. This is one of the reasons she had such deep compassion for these children, and believed that her ‘calling’ was to work in service for young children. She warmly expresses her profound love (all Love is Divine Love) by giving daily hugs and kisses, and by working hard in the interest of their well-being. What a jewel she is, a hidden treasure, who quietly goes about her divine work, never drawing attention to her self. What a gift she is to us all! Instead of feeling critical of myself, I felt fortunate to have played a small role in the curriculum for a day for the betterment and happiness of these young children.
Upon observing these precious Little Ones, and myself, I learned many valuable lessons.
While observing the children, I noticed that most of the Little Ones under the age of three showed signs of ‘anxiety’ in relation to being separated from their mothers, parents or guardians. It was less noticeable or detectable in the older children. There is something for us to learn here, and something for us to teach.
While observing myself, many lessons were revealed, some still unknown, however, a few lessons of great significance to me were the affirmation and realization that no child is less deserving or more deserving of Love than another. No one/‘being’ is higher or lower than another, we are all equally important in the Divine Plan. A small cog in a wheel is not less important that the largest cog, they each are needed and important for the clock to work. The President’s job is not more important than the House Keepers job, or the Executive Banker’s job is not more important than the Garbage Man’s job, and the Nuclear Physicist’s job is not more important than the Elementary School Teacher’s job, and so on. What is important, is that we each play our divine role, and do our job, in accord with The Divine Plan, that we work in harmony with the Universe, so that the Universe ‘works.’ A child in a ‘privileged’ school is not less deserving of Love than a child in an ‘disadvantaged’ school (a steriotype reversal). The Sun Shines on us all equally, as must our Love for each other, without judgment and partiality.
Another lesson for me was to stay true to the impulse of my heart, especially when everything around me seems to be falling down or caving in. This is just the falling down or caving in of the illusions within and around me. Stay True North, and the Kingdom will be revealed. I would not have found my ‘gifts,’ nor the answers to my lessons had I not stayed the course.
Another beautiful lesson was the ability to laugh at myself, to see the beauty in my imperfections. Laughing at myself allowed me to be human, and through my humanity, my divinity was revealed; this was/is an enormous lesson for me.
And lastly, affirming that no matter what form the lesson takes, a Fairy reading a tale, or a volunteer aiding a Hospice patient, these lessons are ‘our lessons’ and they are important for ‘our growth,’ ultimately revealing to us our Self, the path Home and the return to Love. Therefore judge not the lesson or the form of the lesson, simply seek the Kingdom and surrender to the Teacher.
My Project was inspired by Love, experienced as Love, and a view of Love.