Opening Hearts is as Easy as Opening a Window


Two-year-old Owen goes to speech therapy twice a week. The therapist's office is small and gloomy. There is one large window, but the shade is always down and very little light comes through. Each time we go there, I can't help but feel depressed by the atmosphere.

Last Tuesday the teacher wanted Owen to repeat words he knows for objects outside. They were sitting on the floor in the middle of the stagnant room. "Say tree," she said to him, and Owen mumbled, "No."

"Owen, say tree," the therapist tried again. Owen just stared at her. I could tell the therapist was frustrated, but I could also see that Owen was far from being inspired. For a moment I wished I had stayed in the waiting room, where at least the florescent light keeps things bright and cheery.

The therapist tried a new approach: "Owen, can you say bird?"

Owen frowned.

This certainly isn't going well, I thought. He talks more at home, for Heaven's sake!

Then Owen got up from his spot on the floor. He toddled over to the closed window shade and pointed. "Open," he said.

"Owen, I need you to pay attention," the therapist said from her place on the floor.

"Open," he said again.

Finally the therapist joined him at the window and reluctantly opened the shade. Sunlight spilled into the room, casting a new joy and energy throughout that almost seemed tangible. Owen's face brightened.

"Bird! Car! Tree!" he yelled excitedly. "Grass! Road!"

Two days later, as we were driving into the parking lot for Owen's session, he looked out the car window and pointed. "Open," he said. He smiled triumphantly, looking at the outside of the therapist's window, which now had the shade drawn permanently up.

"Well, look at that," I said. "She's kept the window open!"

And then suddenly it crossed my mind: With love and God's help, it's even possible for someone as young as two to plant a seed and watch it grow.

About The Author

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Sarah Smiley's syndicated column Shore Duty appears weekly in newspapers across the country. Check out her website www.SarahSmiley.com" target="_new">www.SarahSmiley.com for more information.

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