A Time For-giving Baseball Cards

"Forgiveness is the gentle refusal to defend ourselves against love. It sees that all things are forgivable. It is a willingness to perceive everyone, including ourselves, as either expressing love or feeling a need for love. Any form of attack is a call for help, and the answer to every call for help is gentleness." Jerry Jampolsky, Teach only Love

It was time to meet my 7 year old grandson as he arrived home from school on his school bus. It was a cold December day, and fortunately, his bus stop was only a block away from the house. I was babysitting for his two younger brothers this day while his mother worked, and my younger daughter was also there with her 3 pre-school children. This time together is great fun, and we often refer to our combined efforts with child care as Hilary Clinton states in her book, "It takes a village to raise a child." My daughter offered to meet his bus while I stayed in the house with the other 5 children. It seemed that it took a long time for them to return.

Suddenly, the door flew open and he ran quickly inside with his Aunt close behind. As he ran to a familiar chair without taking off his coat, I heard her say, "Don't worry about it, its ok…."

I immediately searched her face for a further explanation of her comment. She waved her hand to indicate she would tell me away from his listening ears. He quickly became absorbed in watching his favorite afternoon cartoons, so she began the story of what happened on the bus.

As the bus had stopped and the door opened, children began to depart…everyone except him. The bus driver closed the door and would have continued driving if she hadn't yelled, "Stop!!!" When he opened the door to see what she wanted, she got on the bus and looked for him. She questioned the driver about him and noticed that he was in the back of the bus, on the floor, trying to gather his belongings that fell out of his back pack by accident. Apparently, the bus driver had yelled at him for not quickly leaving the bus and decided to continue driving instead of waiting for him. Another parent had also boarded the bus with her to see what the problem was.

When the bus driver was forced to realize that he was still on the bus, he became defensive saying, "I have a schedule to keep…I can't just stop traffic because kids are playing around and miss their stop!"

"Well, you should have waited!" she exclaimed on behalf of her frightened nephew.

This lack of empathy and concern for his safe arrival home made the bus driver appear to be uncaring and insensitive with children. She was angry but realized it was something that needed to be handled by her sister, his mom, so she quickly texted her about the incident. Meanwhile, I felt that it was important to talk with him; I wanted to hear how he felt about what happened.

Jerry tells us…"Any form of attack is a call for help, and the answer to every call for help is gentleness. And any emotion or thought that distresses us will begin to lose its hold on the mind when it is examined peacefully. Only a fearful avoidance of your attack thoughts will appear to give them power over you."

As I talked with him, I listened with my heart. I did not verbally attack the driver but sought to understand the situation. I let him express his fear and sadness about being yelled at and almost left on the bus. I validated his feelings. We also acknowledged that the bus driver made a mistake, and should have been more patient.

"You know, your cousin had problems with his bus driver too…his dad helped him talk to the bus driver and now things are much better," I said in an effort to support him. He was interested in this shared situation with his cousin…he saw that he was not alone with his problem, and I even saw a small smile appear on his face. Then we talked about what he could do to help his bus driver understand his situation if that should ever happen again. We demonstrated how he could raise his hand, and tell the bus driver in a loud voice to STOP so that he could get off the bus at the right stop.

Jerry also tells us that, "Negative feelings evaporate whenever they are looked at calmly and honestly."

His mom arrived home later and was clearly upset about the situation. We talked for a moment until he came over to her open arms. It was within the love of his mother's embrace that allowed the floodgates of emotion to open. He sobbed as she comforted him; my eyes were also filled with tears of compassion for him. She told him not to worry; she would help him. I reminded him in front of her of the things we had discussed that he could do to help himself. The tears stopped, and soon he was on to other discussion about his day.

As I prepared to leave, we talked about her feelings. Again, I listened with my heart to her anger, sadness, fear, and disappointment with many things about his school. I heard her frustration with teachers and administration, and  apparently, because the bus driver had exhibited this angry behavior before, he had not been riding the bus in the morning to avoid the "mean" bus driver. However, the longer we talked, she slowly began to be less fearful and more reasonable in her thoughts. Because of her work as a teacher with young children every day in her job, she had empathy for the job of the bus driver; however, it did not excuse the fact that her son's safety was the primary concern for anyone in charge of him. She knew that she wanted to be calm when talking with the driver in the morning, and honestly look at the situation.

The next morning, she boarded the bus with her son and introduced herself to the bus driver. She did not raise her voice, but focused on the "oneness" that she shared with him. She pointed out the responsibility that they shared for children when they go to school, and how it can be difficult sometimes. She also told him that because she and her husband work, they must rely on others to protect their child while at school, and she wants to be able to trust that he will be safe in the care of everyone that takes responsibility for him especially the bus driver.

Because she sought his help and understanding instead of condemning his lack of patience with her son, he responded with a humble heart. He apologized and reassured her that he would be more careful; even letting him off in front of his house on a really cold day.

"When Forgiveness sees that no real grounds for condemnation exist, new grounds for innocence are recognized…behavior is not rationalized away but possibly another motivation can be attributed to the behavior."

And so, they became friends. A week before Christmas, I was waiting again at the bus stop. This time, he was last to leave because the bus driver had given him something. He showed it to me as we walked home.

"He said he was sorry he yelled at me, and that I should start a baseball collection." He was smiling, and I looked at the stack of cards that were placed in a small plastic lunch bag. They were not new, and obviously from someone's collection. They were very famous players from the past…perhaps his favorites…. "Wow…these are valuable collectable cards!" I told him.

"He's a nice guy…I'm gonna share these with my dad…he knows these guys!"

"Everyone wants peace and safety. Everyone wants to make a difference. And everyone wants to release their potential for love…" Jerry Jampolsky, Teach only Love