January 24, 2011
Compassion, Neighborly Gestures and Synchronicity
Everything is synchronistic. One thought reminds of another; certain events pave the way for others. It’s all cyclical.
I came back from helping to host an Eco-Shabbaton retreat this past weekend to celebrate Tu B’Shvat, where we made time for community building, resting, learning about our environment, planting trees and making diy tea-bags and home-made pickles. It was a beautiful moment in time, the first of its kind; a pioneering moment with no room for fear, just open-mindedness, pluralistic engagement and lots of eating.
A happy time.
How quickly it all came back - the fact that the wilderness may be an oasis, but outside there’s another reality.
I decided to go to a restaurant upon getting back into the city. A family of three came into the booth next to me and I soon found out that the youngest child was a special needs child. He screamed, he cried… he was having a hard time. But it didn’t bother me. The daughter apologized for her brother, whom I guessed to be around 10, and then I saw the mother re-locate the family to another booth. Seeing that the teenage sister felt embarrassed, I assured her with a smile that they weren’t bothering me at all. She smiled and said, “Thank you.” They wrapped up their meal a bit before I was about to head out and I made sure I said goodbye. As I went to pay, the waiter came back, apologetically and said, “Oh, sorry, they felt bad and paid for you.” I said, “Oh no, they didn’t have to do that. They were fine.”
I felt bad.
I mean, I like free meals, but they didn’t have to do that because I felt the family did nothing wrong. The son, did afterall, finally settle in.
Let’s face it, I’m cranky, too, when my french fries are late coming.
Though we may have only spent a few seconds actually engaging each other, I began to think: Has our world gotten to the place where compassion has to be rewarded?
I awoke this morning to my alarm. I never really set that alarm any more, but I did for some reason last night. The alarm was set to the talk radio station I listen to somehow. Usually it’s on that loud beeping sound. As soon as the alarm went off, simultaneously the radio came on and a radio voice said, “Breaking news”, and I found myself hearing my first waking thought at 7:22 am - a Russian airport had been attacked. It was scary and saddening to wake up to this, as I had only some hours before fallen to sleep after watching National Geographic’s “Inside 9/11: Zero Hour” with my grandpa, wherein through interspersed tears and memories I watched and re-lived that dark, dark day almost 10 years ago.
During that time in 2001, I was most open to the elements of my emerging womanhood. It was the preamble to a decade wherein I’d truly experience moments to hone my compassion.
... and if rewards are to be given, incentives to be portioned out, I’ll kindly foot the bill for the compassion to emerge because it’s been a long time coming.
I recalled a time more recent in date, 1/18/2010, where I marched in solidarity with fellow LGBTQ African-Americans and other People of Color and Allies during the Los Angeles Martin Luther King, Jr. parade, colorfully draped in ponchos that were no match for the hail that came down upon us. We were soaked, practically couldn’t see (the wind blew so forcefully) and the hail was heavy.
But, march on we did for our right to Be, as they had done in 1965 marching for the right to be counted, Negroes and Allies alike.
There’s no room for fear when pioneering, regardless of the fears that may be surfacing within you.
...Though, the fear may be at the thought of someone wielding weapons like fists, or worse, harmful machines aimed with eyes ablaze to harm, to steal away life.
On January 8, 2011, Gabrielle Giffords, stepped out into the community - to be engaging, to be visible. But unfortunately, her fearlessness was met with senselessness and she and so many were injured or stripped away from the life they were actively participating in and showing up for to be counted. In their attempt to reach across the table, they were met with a biting hand.
The machine rained down, hailing dark raindrops upon the old and young.
But, at the time of this blog contribution, Giffords is courageously marching on into a remarkable rehabilitation, fearless and strong. As fearless and strong as the people who heroically acted in the face of the harmful machine that aimed to harm that day, acting to protect and help their neighbor in the fast-paced, slow motioned moment that served to teach us all.
Life is about action. There’s no room for fear when acting, regardless of the fears that may be surfacing within you.
There’s only room for compassion, the allowing of synchronicity, and the act of neighborly gestures.
Because at this rate, we all could use a retreat into a more serene, happy time and the only way we’ll get there is by way of our prominent teachable moments.