We all know that what we say can be hurtful and that something said in anger can leave scars that may never go away. What we often don’t think about is that what we don’t say… or what we don’t do… can sometimes hurt even more.
I have never forgotten something that happened several years ago. We were sitting in traffic at the end of a long line of cars, waiting for the construction crew to close off the other lane of one-way traffic so they could let our side go through. There were houses along each side of the road, built very close together. In the fenced-in yard just outside our car window, two small children were playing ball with their dog. The children were exuberant and happy… it was a pleasure just to watch them.
Every few minutes they would run to the edge of the yard and look down the road. It was obvious they were looking and waiting for somebody. Then a car came off the side street and pulled into the driveway, and a well-dressed man in a business suit got out of the car and reached into the back seat for his briefcase. The children almost couldn’t contain their excitement.
Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
And the man slammed the car door, walked up the driveway and into the house, without even once acknowledging that the children were there.
For several minutes the children just stood there looking after the man, almost as if they expected he would come back. Then they both sat down on the front step, their happy mood completely gone.
I’m sure there must be more to this story, and that perhaps there was a good reason why the father acted as he did. But I wish he could have seen the disappointment on those children’s faces, and I wish he could have somehow realized that just a smile and a few quick words would have made them so very happy. We all have this power over the people who love us… it’s an important thing not to forget.