by Joanne Reimer

I love reading—fiction, non-fiction, memoir, children’s literature. In particular, I appreciate children’s literature with its tender-hearted approach to stories that leaves you with food for thought. Reading to my children was great fun, and I was teased mercilessly about my propensity to lose myself for hours in the local children’s book store. As a grandmother, I find myself immersed in children’s literature again.

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While in New Zealand recently visiting my granddaughter, I came across a children’s book called Ruby Red Shoes by Australian author Kate Knapp. She tells the story of a white hare named Ruby and her grandmother, Babushka. Since my grandchild’s name is Ruby, I was instantly drawn to the book and it did not disappoint!

In the first few pages of the book, Babushka encourages Ruby to be an “aware” hare, treating everyone’s feelings, and her own, with great care. Babushka tells Ruby, “Feelings are just like delicate birds’ eggs. Be as gentle as you can with them.” Two things struck me when I read those lines. The first was the notion of being an “aware” hare, the importance of being mindful, thoughtful, considerate. The second was Babushka’s admonition that Ruby be gentle with her own feelings as well as those of others. My experience with children’s books is that they often focus on being aware of others’ feelings—a very good thing. Rarely, if ever, have I come across a children’s book that emphasizes being gentle with one’s own personal feelings…equally as important. I was thrilled!

What I read in Ruby Red Shoes resonated with how we begin our meditation group at Callanish—accept ourselves with gentleness and kindness, be compassionate with ourselves. I was many decades old when I learned this sentiment, so hearing it in a pre-schoolers story fills me with huge hope for the future. 

Joanne Reimer has been a program assistant at Callanish since 2012. She brings many years experience working in the healthcare system as a hospice consultant and researcher.