In the run up to Christmas, I had been pondering about what to write in my Blog. Years ago, I recorded a song with my kids and step-kids, called Everyone Is Special. I remember a magic moment with snow falling, and all the kids in the car, Christmas lights everywhere and suddenly there was our song on the radio! I pulled over to the side of the road and we listened; it was magical. To this day, tears come to my eyes as I listen to their sweet voices ringing out and I’m just so glad that they got a chance to hear it playing on the radio!
So then last night, on my way to bed, a book fell off the shelf at my feet…it was the Snow Goose by Paul Gallico. Needless to say, I read the story into the wee hours of the night, my heart opened once again by the beauty and poignancy of this tale. Hence today’s Blog unfolds, guided by the deeper current that carries us all along on this journey of life.
It’s a snowy night outside, and as I write these words I think of the hunchback, Rhayader, the protagonist of the story; of the young girl whose fear of him is overcome by her curiosity and of the beautiful snow goose, whose visits bring comfort and friendship to a lonely man whose deformed body has ostracized him from society.
I believe that everyone is special in some way; not necessarily in an egoic way but rather from the Tibetan Buddhist perspective that every human life is a precious birth. I think we all bring something to the table, each person’s life a unique thread in the tapestry that binds us all.
Snow geese are incredible birds that can make non-stop flights of up to 1000 km. Like the Canada goose they are believed to mate for life. They spend the winter months in the southern United States where they live in coastal wetlands, marshes and grasslands feeding on grasses and grains. At the end of the spring they gather in large numbers before migrating north to their summer breeding grounds on the Arctic tundra. Females usually lay between two to six eggs and when chicks hatch, they are able to swim within 24 hours!
1. Celebrating our differences can help us to become more conscious of our commonalities. At times like Christmas, it is a great opportunity to learn about other people’s celebrations. Kwanzaa is one such celebration, another is Hanukkah and the Solstice yet another
Invite the children to research these and share what things are similar to their own tradition, or not.
2. For younger children, tell them the story of the Snow Goose. Do they know of anyone who is “different”? Can they share what it might feel like if no one liked you, or if people avoided you because of the way you appeared? What could they do that would be kind in a situation like that?
3. How can we help each other? At this time of year there are so many people in need, many who are lonely. Is there something that the children could do, perhaps write some letters to people at an old age home, or have a food collect for the homeless.
The snow geese link the north and the south; they spend time in both places. What are some of the similarities between these regions? Ask children to investigate this. One example is the abundance of grasses and coastal wetlands. What about predators? Hawks, foxes and eagles are found in both regions, but may not necessarily be exactly the same ones.
Information about Greater Snow Geese
Song: Everyone is Special: I have uploaded it onto my MySpace page up until Christmas. The song is in English and French.
Story: The Ballad of the Snow Goose
Snow Geese Flying Video
Another video of Snow Geese
May you have a beautiful Christmas or holiday season; I personally love to celebrate the Winter Solstice as well as Christmas; for me it is about connecting to a celebration that is linked directly to the season; a time to honor the darkness and welcome the light back into our days and our lives. Whatever you celebrate, may we all reach out with compassion to those less fortunate than ourselves and rejoice in giving kindness and love.
Blessings and light,
In gratitude always, for this precious life.
Photo: Snow geese flying: Chris Hazzard Wikimedia Commons
Photo Geese on ground: Walter Siegmund