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  • Caron Levis

Lift One Bird: creating tangible hope

When it feels as though the sky is falling, and I know my two hands are not enough to catch, lift, hold the whole thing up, I am tempted to throw my hands up in the air—so sometimes I read this poem and ask myself, well, what little bird can I lift today?

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

-Emily Dickinson

And one day, a few years ago, when I was feeling overwhelmed by all I wanted to do, wished I could do, thought I ought to be doing for a group of fourth grade students I was working with, I asked them to read Dickinson’s poem and write some of their own. So now, somedays, I read their poems too.

Mr. Jamal Who Saves The World in Peace

If I can stop people breaking their love apart,

Then I will feel so happy I will cry with joy.

If I can make the people stop fighting and make the world a better pace,

Then I will feel so big and nice.

If I can take care of people and animals from getting hurt who are sick,

Or if I can grow up to take care of anything and make it a better place in the world,

Then my life will be so, so happy in the world

-Jamal T.

I Shall Live In Happiness

If I can stop one crazy rhino,

Or save one horse from dying,

I will like it and be grateful.

If I can save my dad from falling,

Take away fighting,

Cook a meal of rice and chicken for my family,

Or take care of my family and my dog,

Or if I can get a job

And pay the bills,

I shall live in happiness.

-Robert B.

Happiness in The World

If I can help people feel confident about singing,

I shall live in happiness.

If I can save someone’s life,

Or save the world from hunger,

Or if I could give a smile to a baby squirrel,

I shall live in happiness.

-Desira M.

I’ve added an “Action” category to my weekly Get-To-Do list, to list concrete tasks connected to abstract hopes like peace, justice, rights, climate, in a place that’s easy to reach—and I’m going to try to remember that each one is a bird, that can fly up to join a flock. And I’m going to read more send me some of yours.


If I can make you laugh

My life will have a purpose

If I can make you laugh

Or cure your sadness

By smiling,

Or help you get happy

By being your friend,

Or cure your anger

By taking a walk,

My life will have a purpose.

-Jose A.


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