Self Focus –
Yesterday I travelled to see a friend. On my way, my gas tank was getting empty so I began looking for a place to stop. I spotted a gas station but it was on the other side of the road. A silly thought popped into my head; “Why don’t they put those stations on the right?” Immediately I realized how self-focused the thought was… First off all the gas station are on the right if you’re on the “right” side of the road and secondly, why would I demand a gas station on “my side?”
A few hours down the road I was in the far left lane moving with the traffic and a white, mid-2000’s, Toyota Four-Runner was in the lane going slower than the rest of the vehicles. People flashed their lights, “rode their bumper” and finally went around them. I flashed my light hoping they would take the hint but to no avail. Exasperated, I went around them as well. I kept my eye on the Fore-Runner and the driver stayed in the far left lane for miles and miles. All of a sudden it crossed all lanes into the right one. I thought; “What are they doing now?” and then I realized they were getting off at the next exit.
Wisdom teaches us to be aware of ourselves, to focus on our self at times, but not to be self-focused. The difference is to understand there are others in this world and we are to be as kind and loving to them as we should be to ourselves.
For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com
Last week, exiting a store, I was behind a woman whose arms were full of boxed soda cans. As she was walking she suddenly stopped and bent down to pick up a coin she had spotted on the pavement. The drinks shifted, she adjusted them in her arms and was able to grab the coin with her fingers while also holding her keys. I was impressed with her dexterity but also puzzled as to why she was putting that much effort into the shiny object?
I was reminded of the story of the wise man and the city dweller who had met on a bench. The city was full of hustle and bustle and the man asked the sage what he was doing? Quietly the wise man said; “At this moment I am listening to the sound of a cricket.” The city dweller tilted his head and asked; “With all these people, the traffic, the cacophony of the city, how do you hear a solitary, small, insect?” The wise man smiled and asked the city dweller for a coin. He gave him one and the wise one flipped it into the air and it came down and bounced on the sidewalk. Immediately, many who were walking stopped to look for the coin. “See?‘ said the teacher, ‘It’s what we’re listening for, focused on, that counts.”
Be Still and Wait –
This morning our Siberian Husky Trooper was ready to go outside. Getting to the door to open it he was dancing in circles! I opened the door to the house and the screened in porch and he darted out. Almost immediately I noticed a big rabbit in the field adjacent to our home. My eyes grew big wondering if Trooper was going to see it. The rabbit was still. I thought to myself; “Can you stay that still with danger lurking that close to you?” I watched intently as Trooper began sniffing the area and the bunny watched and didn’t move. After what seemed like a lifetime for me and the rabbit Trooper lumbered back to the porch and the rabbit was safe.
Many times in life we face trials and temptations, difficulties and decisions, choices and complications. Our instinct might be to take immediate action, react in the ways which seem best, hurry up and solve the problem. However, wisdom teaches us that when the way is clouded and we can’t see or crowded with chaos and hard to move the best we can do mentally, emotionally and spiritually is to be still and wait. To breathe, close our eyes and find our center. With a hectic mindset, we can focus on the immediate and “fix it” at the expense of the future. We can also become reckless running around trying everything at once and creating more hardships for ourselves and those we love.
A great master was asked one time by his student to help him solve a problem for which he could not find the solution. “I’ve gone over it a million times, looked at every angle, and can’t seem to see the way. The master told him; “When you step into a stream your feet muddy the waters. Only when you are still will the waters clear.”
Stillness, the quietude of the mind, is underrated. Pause, rest, be still, and the way will reveal itself.
Yesterday I stepped out on to our front screened in porch to let the dog have some alone time in the yard. Immediately a frantic movement caught my eye. Inside the screen porch, trapped in a corner was a Yellow Monarch Butterfly. Big, beautiful and needing to be free. I don’t know if butterflies know when they aren’t free but I knew and was determined to do something about it. I took my hands and gently tried to close my fingers around it. Several times it fluttered away but I was finally able to catch it, gently take it outside and then cautiously open my hands and watch it fly away.
I thought about my journey with mental illness and people in my life who have struggles of their own. We might not know we are trapped or at least not see a way out. We need help, assistance that doesn’t force, grab, clutch, and drag us to where someone else thinks we ought to be. We need gentleness, someone who won’t break our wings or our spirits but show us there is life, there is freedom.
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.