I have a friend who is dealing with a broken relationship in his life. He has tried reaching out, apologizing, offering to make good on the accused slight he did to the offending party but nothing has worked. The wounded one doesn’t want anything to do with the other, has expressed his hatred for my friend numerous times, and it is bothering my friend something fierce.
He asked the question; “What else can I do?” after he listed all the things he’s tried to do to make up for something he’s not even sure he did. “You’re going to have to let them hate you.” I know this isn’t the answer he wanted but it was the only answer to give. When someone has been hurt by us whether we meant to or not it is not within our power to make them forgive us, to restore a broken relationship. As soon as we become aware of the pain, betrayal, we’ve caused we should immediately go to them, express a contrite and sincere spirit of sorrow apologizing for the behavior and offer to make penance to satisfy the other who has been wronged. If they accept, that’s great but if they don’t accept we have to live with that and though it’s not easy it is our only option.
What we hope for, pray for, look for every opportunity to make it right again in the future. However, for now, we must bear the burden of hate, knowing we have done all things within our power to right the wrong. We live with their hate and the separation hoping a time will come when both can reconnect and restore what’s been torn apart and destroyed.
This afternoon I ran into Wal-Mart to grab a couple of items. As I navigated the parking lot my cell phone rang and I began a conversation. Approaching the door a woman was coming out the exit with a grocery cart full of stuff and a pack of paper towels on the bottom of the cart. I noticed right away that the paper towels looked as they were going to fall off and to the pavement. I smiled and said; “Excuse me,” reached down and lifted them back on the cart securely. It happened so fast I’m not sure she was aware at first what I was doing. She replied; “Thank you,” and we headed our separate ways.
It was a small gesture but wisdom writers tell me; “No act of kindness is wasted.” I believe this is true and that if each of us would be alert, aware and willing, we might extend kindness in such a way it would lift our world out of darkness.
Last night I buzzed the tower at the County Jail to let them know I was there for our Dad’s class. They unlocked the several doors I have to go through to get to the classroom. I stopped about half way, opened my travel box and retrieved the list of names for the evening’s class.
I walked up the stairs to the tower where several men were sitting on one side of the octagonal room. As I handed the list to the corrections office in charge I turned to the men and asked; “how are you guys doing?” “Good,’ came the reply; ‘but there aren’t just men here.'” I looked around and on the other side of the room, sitting by herself was a woman corrections officer. I apologized for not noticing her and she accepted. If it wasn’t for the male officer I never would’ve noticed the woman.
I was talking with a friend this week who said he believed God had shown him his presence in a special way. I responded that I think God regularly shows himself to us; “We’re just too occupied, unaware to notice.” The conversation came back to me last night when I was unaware of the woman officer.
The Bible speaks of “serving angels unaware.” I wonder how many times we miss God’s presence, a stranger’s need, a chance to show grace, kindness, and love to a world which to see and experience it.
On my way to a meeting this morning I was passing through a town with several four way stops. I was also behind an elder gentleman who not only fully stopped at each sight but lingered and proceeded slowly, very slowly, to the next. After a while my patience was wearing thin and I was thinking; “Please just go faster!” We approached the final four way stop, still at a snail’s pace. Trying to mind push him through the four way stop I followed him closely. Half-way in the intersection I realized I didn’t look to see if someone was waiting to go after the elder and should’ve gone before me. Sure enough there was a driver watching the knucklehead (me) go without waiting his turn. I waved at the person, mouthing; “Sorry!” And feeling embarrassed as I slinked through.
My problem wasn’t the elderly man in front of me it was that I allowed someone else to distract me and lose my focus. Luckily the waiting driver was aware of me when I was not.
In the Air –
A couple of weeks ago the Mrs. and I were sitting by the firepit talking about our day with our Siberian Husky, Trooper, laying beside us. One of us were in mid-sentence when he popped up and began sniffing the air. He smelled…something. We weren’t sure what. We hadn’t heard, seen or smelled anything but he has the stronger; “sniffer” so his alertness got our attention. I grabbed the flashlight and began shining it all over the area and sure enough, there was a possum ambling through the yard. Possums aren’t dangerous but I wouldn’t want one to waddle through my legs and Beth might still be running today if it had scurried past her. Thanks to our dog’s senses we had ample warning of the encroaching critter.
Wisdom can give us an extra sense of perception, a radar of sorts, which alerts us when something isn’t right, a correction needs to be made, or heightened alert is in order. It’s in these times we want to shine a light in the dark places, be vigilant, ready to make a course adjustment, be still or move forward cautiously. Finding our way can be difficult. We must be sure that every sense is used and heeded.
Good Eye –
Last week I had an important meeting. During it, a woman walked into the room to give the person I was meeting with a message. As she delivered it the other noticed the woman was shaking. She asked; “Are you okay? You’re really shaking!” The person said she had a lot going on and was trying to fit all of it into a small amount of time. She then left the room and my meeting continued. Afterwards, I saw the woman who had been shaking and told her I hoped she had a good day.
As I went to my next appointment I thought about both the woman and the fact that I didn’t notice her shaking at all. I totally missed it. I try to be aware of people and their emotional, mental and spiritual states. I even try to notice new glasses, haircuts, and changes people make but not this time. I realized it swept by me because all of my focus was on the “important” meeting. The person I met with was at the same meeting but didn’t allow it to consume all of her attention and she was able to show concern to someone in need.
It was a good reminder that true awareness is finding the balance between paying attention to ourselves and others.
I’ve been thinking about my friend who I wrote an article on last week. The cute little varmint who’s been tearing up my lawn with his sharp claws and pointy snout. I haven’t seen him in a few days but if my dog’s constant sniffing is any indication he’s been in the area excavating for more grubs.
As I reflect upon the armadillo and his keen awareness of what he’s searching for I wonder if we can be so invested in what we want that we miss other things? Can we be so completely focused on what we’re doing, fully invested in the need of the moment, that we are left vulnerable?
The day I spied the prehistoric bug and worm eater I made several noises to try to get him to stop digging but he never heard me. I honked my truck horn and slammed the door several times before he became antsy and eventually sauntered away. Could I have snuck up on him? Could I have hurt or captured him if so desired? Was he so engrossed in the task he was oblivious to all else?
What is the difference in being mindful, fully in the present and being so focused on what we’re doing that we become unmindful?
Perhaps the difference is all the difference. When our attention is our appetite, needs and wants, what we believe is required to be happy, content, satisfied, we are only capable of scratching the surface.
It is when we dig deeper, past the exterior and into the seldom explored interior that we feed body, mind and spirit. When these three are nurtured all we do, each moment, will be infused with greater significance and we become mindfully aware of all that surrounds us.