Friday, March 09, 2007
Carnival of Hope: Volume 1, Number 7
Welcome to Carnival of Hope! I'd like to thank everyone who sent in submissions, even if I didn't use them.
Before we begin this month's carnival, let's get "coming attractions" out of the way. The April CoH will be posted on Friday, April 13; submissions are due to me by 5 PM PDT on Thursday, April 12. Because of the auspicious date, the theme of the April carnival will be "how bad luck became good." If you have a story about some event in your life that initially seemed like bad luck but was then somehow transformed into a blessing, please send it to me! You can submit directly to me at SusanPal(at)aol(dot)com; please include "Carnival of Hope" in the subject line of your e-mail, and send me the permalink for the post with a two or three-line description of what it's about. You can also use the submission form at BlogCarnival.
Last night, my husband and I attended a wonderful concert of Irish music and dance. One of the performers was Tommy Sands, a renowned singer-songwriter who's also a peace activist in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. Some years back, Sands was invited to Reno to work with gang members in juvenile detention. He helped the kids write songs about their lives, and convinced the juvenile-court judge to accept these songs as court testimony. I haven't been able to find information about what impact this had on sentencing, but as Hugh Blumenfeld notes in his inspiring article Tommy Sands and the Music of Healing, "my guess is that it's hard to throw the book at a boy who can sing the story of his life."
In line with that theme, many of this month's posts are about how caring adults can teach, protect, and influence children. Ideally, of course, the most important adults in a child's life are her parents, and we have several posts about fine parenting.
Karen Shanley tells us how she helped her daughter Cait gain new perspective on her fear of fire in The Steering Wheel. Dr. Hal tells another heartening parenting story in To Be a Good Friend, about his hearing-impaired grandson; instead of teaching the boy to be afraid of the world because of his disability, his parents have taught him to define himself by his gifts and strengths.
Good parents help their children learn about, and accept, loss and sadness. In her very moving eulogy for her aunt, Christina tells us about taking her son to the funeral, an experience she didn't have as a child. "My son listened, and learned that death is a part of life. Not something to fear. Not something to ignore and hide from. He learned a little bit, today, about what it means to love."
Even the best parents sometimes learn the importance of safety precautions the hard way. Mama Mia offers a harrowing lesson in the need to child-proof windows, followed by a wonderful happy ending. Read her husband's post about their son's fall, and then read her own reflections on the accident. MM, I'm so glad everyone's okay!
If children are lucky, they learn important life lessons not just from their parents, but also from caring teachers. Rebecca Newburn tells us how she's taught her students to Take a Vacation from Complaining, a technique older people can also use. And Barbra Sundquist shares an essay from a friend whose very first dance class, when he was seven or eight, has helped him connect with joy for the rest of his life. Read his story in Tied to Joy With A Simple Piece of String.
Many other adults also help children. Megan Bayliss, a social worker in Australia who works with abused kids, sent her submission with this note: "I work in such a dark field that I make a daily point of seeking hope and courage in our unsung heros who just do what they do without any request for thanks." Her post shares some ways for businesses and indivduals to help raise money for Child Protection. Another public-service announcement, about an issue that affects far too many people of all ages, comes to us from Marcella Chester, who tells us about Blog Against Sexual Violence Day, 5 April 2007.
Children who've received help, and who've been taught the importance of help, become adults who help other people. Elliot shares a story of listening to someone who needed an ear in Recent patches of bright light. And here's Mama Mia again, telling us how good communication helped transform someone's viewpoint, and smooth over a difficult relationship, in Apology.
Both as children and as adults, all of us yearn for experiences of unconditional love. That kind of love is all too rare, whatever age we are, but for people of faith, God's love often becomes the inspiration that allows them to reach out to their fellow humans. Lee Long shares one such story in My Cup Runneth Over.
I began this month's edition with a story of how Tommy Sands uses music to try to transform lives. I'll leave you with Tiel Ansari's lovely (and musical) poem Gold Flakes, about the moments when darkness and coldness are transformed into light, life, and love.
See you in April!