December 14, 2014 was a tragic day for the world and a transformative day for Sparkle Stories. Before that day, we had been fully focused on creating lovely, emotionally-conscious, and developmentally-appropriate stories regularly, every week.
On that day in December, I remember waiting to pick up my son from school when another parent asked me if I had heard the news about the shooting that had taken place at Sandyhook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. I looked around and realized that in the next few days, the shock of this event would birth grief, anger, and fear. Most of the children in my child’s school would hear bits and pieces about what had happened and parents would all be wondering how to help their children feel safe.
In that moment, we knew that we wanted Sparkle Stories to contribute toward healing using our best skills. Over the next 24 hours, we produced the story “Prince,” built the series of posts that became “You Are Safe and the World Is Good,” and Sparkle Stories began to learn the skills that has helped us grow into the responsive children’s story producer you’ve come to know.
We have since responded to earthquakes, forest fires, political strife, and the pandemic. Today, it’s with mingled grief and hope that we find ourselves responding to the international crisis resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Our process is always the same: we gather an assessment of what happened, then get a bead on what families are talking about. As we’ve listened to people’s concerns over the devastation and injustice stemming from Russia’s war on Ukraine, we determined that several questions were priorities: “Am I safe?” “Are people in danger?” and “What can we do?” We decided that creating a story to meet the final question would help children settle around the first two.
The story centers on a steppe lemming named Pomichnik (Ukrainian for “serve”) who sees trouble in the distance and joins the other young lemmings in worrying about their own safety. An old lemming named Mohdri (Ukrainian for “wise”) tells her own story that not only shows that the lemmings have been through this before, but teaches them something they can do to help the needy who are far away: The Loving Hum.
The Loving Hum is the primary lesson of the story, and it’s the tool that we want to give the children who hear it. The idea is that we can hold love in our hearts and actually send it great distances, like a beacon of healing and hope, by humming. The practice is ideally centering, calming, and engages the imagination of the child. In our opinion, imagination is the key ingredient when meeting children with anything challenging. If we can bring a helping and healing image to their imagination, then they will build on that. They will visualize the lemmings sending love through the ground, feel the vibrations of the loving hum in their heart, and then they will be inspired to practice the tool in their own life.
Will this story bring about world peace? Perhaps not. But we hope this story can offer one more tool for raising up a beautiful generation of children — a generation who knows how to respond to world crises through thoughtful attention to feelings and a sense of empowerment to bring about positive change through action. And that, dear Sparklers, might just be the path toward the type of peace we’d love to see in the world.
Parent Resources: How to Talk to Kids about the War on Ukraine
Speaking of tools … If you’d like more support in how to talk to your children about the war on Ukraine, we’ve researched and linked what we think is one of the best current posts.
Where to Give
If you’d like to offer more support to children and families on the ground in Ukraine, we’ve shared the two organizations that we support that are actively helping: Together Rising and Save the Children.
About the Author
David Sewell McCann
David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.