Know how it is when you get so much thrown at you that you can’t remember any of it until later as it processes through the synapses of your brain? That was me yesterday.
Some choice things from the Seeds of Compassion day:
- Don’t loose your cool – Archbishop Desmond Tutu (nothing can translate how truly adorable this guy is)
- When someone does something horrible and you want to give it right back to them, that is not the compassionate thing to do. You must decide to carry their burden, their pain, and give them back love. Carrying their burden and pain is very, very difficult to do, you might even feel like you are dying, but it is not living compassionately to throw their pain back at them. – Dr. Rob. Bell
- When people do violence in the name of a religion it is a betrayal of spirit and spirituality – Rabbi David Rosen
In less than 7 waking hours I’ve been given two opportunities to practice compassion. To give of myself with no expectation of gain for me. To carry the burden and pain of others…
I called my folks last night to tell them all about the event. They tag team their kids on the phone so you are always trying to talk to both of them. Which in some ways is great. You only have to tell the tale once. But not so great for actual conversation. And last night my parent’s reality came crashing down.
They are both 80. My father is adjusting to a new hearing aid. Right after I said the bit about ADT and keeping your cool, my father exploded at my mother for making noise on the phone and he HATES that. She hung up. I said, well, the compassion is rapidly dissipating so I’ll call you back later Dad.
My high was totally deflated, ruined. I felt myself overwhelmed with feelings of powerlessness and pain. How do I handle my parents as they age and get strange? I tried like crazy to think about how to be compassionate towards them. And realized that I don’t get to talk to them about their behavior at all. I just have to carry the burden of their pains, their fears, their failure to adjust to a new hearing aid and blame that on another… I finally got there and found ecstasy again but dang…
I called them later and mom answered. She told me that she had gone for a walk and when she got back, Dad apologized. Good. She’s having a really hard time of it because as my dad gets older and deals with the health issues that come with that on top of his diabetes he becomes more and more cranky and easily angered. Many times for very petty, ridiculous stuff. I know she’s trying to get through it. But to make matters worse he has decided to start attending her AlAnon meetings so she no longer has a place to vent about him. Gosh, it’s all about him… Sometimes I want to shake him but I know that his childhood was The Suck and his worldview, try as he might, is not a positive place.
But they are talking and we will have dinner and a movie together this Saturday, Amazing Grace.
The second opp was this morning. I got to the bus stop and there was a young man writing out on cardboard his sad story hoping to bring in some cash. I’m always skeptical but I try not to be. He was from Minnesota, here in the Pacific Northwest to do some backpacking and then move south to California. He was mugged last night and his backpack and all his money was gone. He had nothing but the clothes and shoes he was standing up in. I gave him $5 and we started talking. I was able to direct him to a day labor place that was close by and a place where he could get Western Union from family. And a place to get a cheap breakfast. I wish I had been able to do more. I’m going to worry about him for days. Prayer is my only option.
And gratitude. That I had $5 to give him. That I didn’t yell at my parents when they get all weird. That I can feel compassion and love for others. But goodness, it is a difficult task, this compassion stuff.
You really do take on their stuff for processing and while I know that it will pass, it hurts none the less. How odd to know that I am joyous for the ability to feel this pain. Bittersweet.