Friday, September 21, 2012

Hineni - Here I Am

Today, within the span of 30 minutes, one colleague thanked me for showing up and another did a pre-Shabbat teaching about showing up in a meaningful way – Hineni , Hebrew for “Here I Am.”  And in both of those moments, I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.  In my fast paced world with so many distractions and the responsibilities that weigh me down, today, these two moments lifted my spirits. 

“Thank you for showing up!”  My colleague was preparing for a meeting and shortly after I showed up, she cut her finger and I helped her complete her task.  Her words of gratitude, “Thank you for showing up,” struck me and I responded to her, “I don’t think anyone has ever thanked me for showing up.”  I use this example to illustrate that no one knows the impact they have on someone unless it is voiced or shared directly.   Is it so hard to be kind and to offer compliments and then to accept them?  A couple of years ago, when my daughter was in 4th grade, we went to her class to celebrate her birthday.  The way they celebrated a student’s birthday was the traditional birthday song and sweets.  But first, the teacher did something I had never seen before.  To acknowledge my daughter’s birthday, each of her classmates offers a compliment as a birthday gift.  Several lessons were learned that day.  1) Kids learn to find the good in someone and say it aloud directly to the student.   2) Kids are taught to receive compliments for their unique qualities.  3) At the beginning of the celebration, it took the kids (like any kids) a little while to settle in and then the magic happened.   As each kid spoke words of kindness, the energy in the room changed and the kids were fully engaged in the celebration of the one student.  The kids become united and joyful through the experience of expressing kindness.   4) As the parent of the birthday student, I was moved by witnessing the entire experience.  Hearing such beautiful words said about your child is a gift and to watch your child accept these same words with humility, pride, and some embarrassment brought tears to my eyes and gave me one of my most cherished memories. 
Thank you for showing up!  While my colleague’s show of gratitude kept replaying in my head, this memory of my daughter’s class also kept replaying.  I realized that yes, for some of us, it is not easy to receive compliments and not always easy to give them.  And then it hit me – to bring out the best in people is as simple as acknowledging that you are glad they are there, on your team, by your side and are needed.
Hineni – Here I Am.  To me, this means to be fully present, thoughtful, kind, to be there for and with each other.  As we get lost in our day to day lives, take a moment to say Hineni – Here I Am, or whatever words comfort you and remind you to bring your best self to each situation.   To offer kindness and compassion is more effective and rewarding.  To recognize and acknowledge feels good to you and to those around you.  It is not just for 4th graders, it is a lesson for us all at any age.

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