Our children are growing up in a world that can seem very scary at times. They look to us for help in figuring out how they are supposed to navigate relationships and situations. Reading to and with our children is a great way to bring positive messages into our children’s lives and create meaningful dialogue with them. That is why I am especially grateful to be able to share our new children’s pre-chapter book The Day the Goose Squabble Stopped and the heartfelt words of the author.
Are you aware of the ever-present fear submerged in the undercurrents of our society? Do you notice our intolerance has escalated and we are triggered by those of different ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, and/or religious belief? How did we veer so far off course that our conversations turn into tirades? When did we lose our civility? And how is this affecting our children?
I believe conversations with our children are critical, and I hope my new pre-chapter children’s book The Day the Goose Squabble Stopped creates an opportunity for positive dialogue. The story begins with the drama of two geese, Nellie and Willie and their intense dislike for each other. Grandpa Geezer Goose remembers the squabble between Nellie and Willie began when they listened to a goosy gander who “spread seeds of fear that rippled far and wide….” From that point on, “Nellie and Willie believed the looney-gooney’s gossip: they were different from each other.” Each staked a claim on opposite ends of the pond and stood faithfully on guard to protect “their” territory. “Fear and mistrust had become the norm.”
I don’t think it is too big of a stretch to say this storyline might sound similar as we witness mounting fear, territorial disputes, and an increase in violence around the world.
My backyard neighbors, a flock of Canadian geese were the source of inspiration for my book. Often the geese are quite entertaining, but sometimes without provocation, a threatening goose can chase an innocent goose away. Territorial disputes during mating and nesting were times I could understand. Other times, I could not easily explain. What would cause a goose to lash out suddenly against one of its kind?
The puzzle of why a goose acted this way is what led me to write my children’s story. The plausible conclusions I arrived at formed the narrative arc to my book. My conclusion: their fighting was due to one big misunderstanding. The geese had begun to believe they were different from each other. They failed to recognize their connection as part of the same family of waterfowl. They even forgot the pond where they lived was meant to be shared.
It might be simplistic of me to correlate geese behaving badly with humans behaving badly, although it makes a certain amount of sense. If I apply my geese conclusions to explain why we mistreat others than I could surmise there is one big misunderstanding going on. We have forgotten our shared origins from One Infinite Source. We fail to recognize our common bond of humanity, forgetting that we share a brief moment of time together on planet earth.
So, I wrote between the lines of goose silliness and fun wordplay, questions along with messages. Hopefully, the questions asked throughout the book will stimulate a child’s imagination and invite a lively conversation between a child and an adult. The serious messages are meant for the adult. For adults, not children, are the sowers of fear with the roots of prejudice and bigotry spreading into future generations. Our children are watching, and we owe it to our children to be better role models than we’ve been.
At any given point in time, we are able to uproot seeds of fear and plant new seeds. But not first without an intention to be diligent to the seeds planted in our thoughts and hearts. If we fail to recognize our commonality, we shall remain close-minded. Stuck in fears about what divides us rather than what binds us.
I recognize my own capacity to wall off my heart and remain entrenched in judgments and preconceived ideas about the “other.” Self-awareness is achieved through an honest examination, an admittance of my culpability. I offer that respectful interchanges, tolerance for those perceived as different, an extension of kindness, compassion, and forgiveness will go a long way to bridge our way back to each other.
I hope my book serves as an antidote to counteract the cultural messages that seed fear and divisiveness. Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi mystic, wisely offered this reminder: “With life as short as a half-taken breath, don’t plant anything but love.” Let’s start afresh to seed love in order to sow respect and tolerance far and wide. And let’s start with our conversations with our children. We can change the world, and there is no time to waste.
To begin, please click here to enjoy with your children, an excerpt of The Day the Goose Squabble Stopped.
Reverend Mary Ellen is a minister, author, teacher, and activist from Cleveland, Ohio. In the year 2000, she took a leap of faith when she responded to her heart’s sacred calling and left behind a secure job with a steady income. She became self-employed at a wellness center as a full-time healing arts practitioner, and she has committed her life to be of service, not only with what breaks her heart but also what fills her heart with joy.
Her first children’s pre-chapter book, The Day the Goose Squabble Stopped, is meant to invoke laughter and deliver a timely message. She considers her book the first one in a series of goose stories. Rev. Mary Ellen can be contacted through her website www.thelovingway.me. Her books can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or direct through Sacred Stories Publishing. Ebooks are available on Amazon, Apple Books and Kobo. An audiobook is available on iTunes, Audible.com, and Amazon.