Translated by Sue Moore. All my gratitude to her
‘‘Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Mudita. Happy birthday to you.”
We were all reunited around the big table in the garden. We had had lunch and the time for my birthday cake had come – it was beautiful with 7 magnificent candles on top:
– a dolphin, which is my favourite animal, made by Dad,
– a big heart with wings and my name etched on, created by Mum
– a star, also with my name, work of my big sister,
– a flower with five petals by my little sister,
– a chalice of abundance, creation of my Grandma,
– a spiral by my brother
– a wind instrument made by Great Grandma, a type of saxophone like the one she played when she was young.
For a long time now, when it’s someone’s birthday, the person’s loved ones have been creating the same number of candles as the new age of the birthday boy or girl, in different forms, for good wishes for the coming year. For decades we have been using only beeswax and we salvage the wax of candles from past birthdays. Great Grandma told me about a very strange habit there was until the time of the Corona Virus. It seems that after blowing out the candles the person whose birthday it was had to break at least one of them, preferably all of them. Otherwise it brought bad luck, people believed! It seems that candles were made industrially and that there was an abundance of them. The strange thing was that people didn’t care at all about throwing away things that could be used again. Great Grandma says that waste management had become a serious problem in Italy and in Rome in particular.
7 candles, 7 years. I’m big already. I have received some beautiful gifts, those from Great Grandma are my favourites: one she gave me this morning, the other she will give me soon, she said. Both are precious and invaluable because they were the keys for coming out of the period of Corona Virus and they are very useful at any time, Great Grandma said.
This morning she took me into the wood – she told me that one of the two keys was “being with what is for as long as it takes.” She guided me to practise being with fear. It wasn’t easy for me being with those feelings in my body for as long as it took. I grew up meditating every morning with my peers and this helps me to stay completely present during the day while I play, do exercise or spend time with others. Yet being with my fear in the middle of a wood was as difficult as the peaceful and pleasant feeling at the end.
I wonder how they managed in 2020 to “be with what is for as long as it takes”. Great Grandma tells me that almost everyone was used to doing everything in a rush, that most of Humanity wasn’t used to allowing themselves to be with their emotions, such as fear, rage and loneliness. Normally they took them out on others or stifled them or pretended nothing was happening. Those who had the habit of carving out time to be with themselves, in silence, to listen to their hearts, were few and far between. Great Grandma says that at the beginning of the forced Stop, people continued for quite a while in the same way. It seems that there were many meetings at the window: loud flashmobs, applause, poems, songs, performances. There had a been a race of free events on the famous social media, the biggest means of communication and organisation at the time. They were very lovely and useful events, but with a pressure and frequency that continued to fill people’s minds and days with commitments and things to do.
However, the moment to BE, no longer to Do had arrived. To stay, no longer to run.
It was through social media itself however, that at a certain point the second key for getting out was publicised, the second instrument with which they overcame the deadlock and created the foundations of the new Humanity.
Great Grandma said that now I had turned 7 she could give me that tool too. In fact, children already know it and experience it naturally without thinking about it: heart-brain coherence. In 2020, much more than now, while growing up children tended to lose this ability and with it some of the particular characteristics of human beings, those that are to do with the heart, such as compassion, gratitude, care, recognition, kindness and patience. So much so that some scientists of the time had created a simple and powerful exercise that served to reawaken those abilities, a technique that put heart and brain back into coherence.
For Great Grandma to give me this technique we went into a special place: the big natural pool which is in a sheltered part of the garden. We sat on the bank with our faces turned to the west where the sun had just started to set.
Before starting this exercise, Great Grandma told me to recall a time I took care of someone or someone took care of me, or an experience during which I felt compassion, kindness or patience or something else for which I am grateful.
I remembered the time when I came across a sparrow chick with a broken wing. I picked him up gently and took him home. I took care of him until he was able to fly again. And still today he returns to my windowsill every morning to chirp. It had been so lovely looking after him.
“Perfect” said Great Grandma.
“Now close your eyes.
Or you can leave them open if you prefer.
Bring your attention to your chest, to the area of your heart.
Then you can bring your hands over it, if you want. It will be easier for your brain to keep your attention in that area.
Continue to breathe
Let your breath slow naturally.
Now imagine that your breath enters and leaves your heart.
Feel your heart expand and return to the rhythm of your breath.
Be with your heart, which breathes and remembers the CARE you used when you looked after the sparrow chick.
Stay with that feeling while you continue to feel the breath of your heart.
and slowly widen your attention to your whole body
When you want, release your hands from your chest
Smile and gently open your eyes”
“What a feeling Great Grandma! I don’t know how to describe it. I felt as big as the world, and light. It was as if my breathing heart could hug you, the pool, the lawn, the house and everything around. And when I felt the care which I had had for the sparrow chick everything became even clearer and more remarkable. Thank you, thank you Great Grandma.”
We took each other by the hand and stayed seated in silence, along the side of the natural pool. Gradually the sun started to fall beneath the horizon and the sky became coloured with a thousand hues of pink, orange and purple.
You come with us too, come and join us on the bank. Let’s enjoy the sunset together.
NOTE: This is the 5th of five tales. You can read all the five here