Compassion

I work for a Jewish Federation. Needless to say, the last several months have been harrowing. My building has not yet been threatened, but our people feel fear. For many, it reopens the horror of the Shoah – the Holocaust. For all of us, it shows us that hate and anti-Semitism has blossomed into overt acts.

I remember the first time I saw a camp tattoo on an old woman’s wrinkled arm. Nothing speaks louder than that silent moment of horror.

Nonetheless, there are still acts of kindness.

This morning we found a brown paper bag at the door and assumed the worst. There was writing on it.

“My wife and I found this at a flea market. It was in a box marked ‘Jew stuff.’ We didn’t think that was right. We felt it should be given to a place where it would be respected.”

Inside was a tefillin.

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The black boxes and wraps are tefillin.

These are sacred prayer items.

From the Chabad website: Tefillin consists of two small leather boxes attached to leather straps. The two boxes each contain four sections of the Torah inscribed on parchment.

My boss called the number on the package to thank the gentleman. He drove almost two hours to bring this to our building. He said he was offended to see a box labeled “Jew stuff” and like most Americans, he was angry at the hate speech and what it has spawned.

And he took action.

Elie Wiesel said :

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.

 

Today my world felt a little less oppressive. I hope you have a moment of grace like this too.

 

Ho’onoponopono – Forgiveness and Gratitude

 

My friend turned me on to this practice. It is a Hawaiian practice of forgiveness and gratitude. This is the wording and it is like a mantra:

  • I am sorry.
  • Please forgive me.
  • I love you.
  • Thank you.

On the surface, this seems like a pretty simple practice. It is. But is has profound results. (read more about ho’onoponopono here.)

Gratitude is a practice, which means there will be ups and downs. Same thing with forgiveness. It’s when you’re “down” that you – meaning me – need it the most.

This is also a forgiveness practice, something that is really hard for me, since when I feel aggrieved, the last thing I want to do, is forgive someone. I want them to suffer terribly. But so far, the only person suffering has been me. This reminds me that other people think about me, much less than I think about them. Fodder for another post.

So, back to the Ho’onoponopono. The idea here is to picture the person you’re mad at, or who is mad at you, and say out loud or silently, the mantra. Super. Hard.

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The first time I tried this, I actually thought blood would run from my eyes, so I modified it, saying the words to the Universe in general. Eventually, I was able to visualize the person, and say the words. This is what I mean by a practice. Modify something until it works for you, then take it where you need it to go. Don’t be a sheep, take control.

I modified the Hail Mary because I like the rosary my dad gave me – there’s some science behind the tactile action of passing a bead though your fingers, and chanting. I just felt I worded things better, for me.

Yes, I am a control freak, but it works for me.

Back to Ho’onoponopono. I took mom to the ER Sunday and while we were there, there was plenty of time to repeat the words. Like, four hours of time, which is actually pretty good considering our usual stay is upward of six hours. WIN! It kept my mind occupied and in a place of compassion and patience, both for my mom and for the staff. Mostly it stopped me from returning to the “rut-thinking” that gets mad at my siblings for not caring about our mom.

So here’s another benefit, when you feel yourself returning to the broken record – “no one helps” “why me” – try this forgiveness practice. Eventually you will rewire your thinking and it will not be automatic that you return to the broken record thought process.

Finally, whenever I can, I offer this practice to myself. In the end, we tend to most hard and condemning of ourselves, and often we are projecting our own wounds onto others. In this light, I offer myself forgiveness and gratitude. After all, so far I’ve survived 100% of my worst and crappiest days.

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RAOK

So… tragic week in U.S. again. Still.

This isn’t going to bring anyone back, and it surely won’t change any laws-gun or LGBT protection – but it usually brings a spark of light into a pretty dismal world. Today, practice a Random Act of Kindness.

Smile at the checkout clerk, pet a dog, pickup some trash, give a couple bucks to the sad-looking teen or oldster who’s sitting by themselves. Offer them a smile too. When you’re heart is breaking, offer a piece to the person next to you.

Last week I was missing my dad. A lot. And out of no where, someone gifted me with a hand-made Hamsa (shaman’s hand, healing hand).Kitchen 2

Several weeks ago, she had heard me say that I collect them, thought of me, and brought it to a meeting. I was really overwhelmed, not just by her kindness, but by the fact that I know my dad was hearing me miss him, and this was his way of hearing me.

So last Friday, a friend posted that it would have been her brother’s birthday, the first birthday since he had died this winter. She had some plans for her mom, because it was going to be a really tough day for her. Her mom, Mary, is my neighbor, and this loss…well, burying a child…there are no words.

Anyway, for some reason I remembered this bracelet I had purchased last fall that had angel wings, hearts and green stones. It was intended as a gift, but never made it out of the house at Christmas. I stuck it in my pocket when we walked Miss Penny, and thought I’d give it to Mary if I saw her out walking. Well, I didn’t see her and had some errands to run, so we we drove over to a small town for some produce. And there was Mary buying apples.

Coincidence? I don’t thinks so. After a hug, I tucked it in her hand. I think we both knew it was from Joe, her son. But we didn’t need to say that. So, my day got 100% brighter, and maybe her grief lifted 1%, but that’s ok.

Here’s my challenge: go RAOK like mad this week. It won’t make up for what’s happened to the Orlando families, but it will make you feel at least 1% better.

 

Vacation totally off topic

Today I did one of my favorite things, take my bike to our library and check out a bunch of mysteries.

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Last year, I didn’t ride it once. I was taking care of dad and mom. Sometimes life sweeps you up in a whirlwind. Still, it felt so good to do this.

And a big shout out to Leanne at Saving without Scrimping who shared her peach ice tea recipe. Tons of good stuff there. I made the simple syrup and tea today and now have books, tea and summer to look forward to.

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