he relatively tiny details,circumstances, and situationsof life
matter. Nothingdwells beyond the scope of ourattention. Our orientation toward thespecifics of life defines who we are.
Yesterday, deep belly breathing calmedmy pulse. Tears threatened to splashthe cold, dull gray, speckled linoleumfloor. Anguish and astonishmentsmacked my solar plexus, hard. Theman I have loved for eighteen yearswas attempting to walk a straight line.Instructed to position his feet heel totoe, heel to toe, one foot in front of the next, he could only wobble, flail,stumble. The neurologist reached outher pale hands, positioning her body to offer support to a six foot, five inch,active man now dressed in sky bluehospital shorts and a white tee-shirt,unable to walk across the examinationroom. My knees buckled.I landed in a chair, grateful for thesupport. Snippets of inner knowledgemarried reality, permeating my consciousness. Overwhelmed by theunfolding implications—an earliermeeting with a neurosurgeon, thenhours later, an urgent appointmentwith a neurologist—I sunk into thelyrics of the U2 song, “Grace.” Playingin me for the twentieth time that day,I breathed, “Grace makes beauty outof ugly things / Grace finds beauty in everything / Grace finds goodnessin everything.” In this unexpectedcircumstance, could I trust this?Connection, trust, and compassionwere being called forth in me. My response,
I am here
.None of us are spared from painand suffering. In my mid-forties, Ihave already experienced my fairshare. That evening, images of a vital, vigorous man darted in me, contrastingwith the present, undiagnosed, reality.Anguish in me grew, “This too? Ididn’t sign up for this. Why do I haveto live everything by experience? It’sreally not necessary, thank you very much.” I sobbed—for him, for me—and had a temper tantrum with God.Then, befriending my tumultuousemotions, I found a gentle innersmile as compassion flooded withinme. I recalled what Brother DavidSteindl-Rast, OSB, said, “You cannotbe grateful for everything, but you canbe grateful in every situation.”I have a choice to make. We eachdo, everyday. It is in relation toour attitude or orientation toward
SEEDS OF INTEREST:
Field Notes: Compassion
Poetry: The Path
Field Guide: Gratitude—An Unfinished Work?
Ask Owlbitterness and resentment, orcompassion and gratefulness. Nothingis insignificant. Every action, every word, each thought matters. If wewant to become fully human and livepassionate, discerning, creative, andcontemplative lives that contribute toand engage the world, we have a daily choice to make. Our decision willmake all the difference, and carry us intimes of joy and suffering. A spiritualdirector can be a good companionwhen we wrestle with how to live withcompassion and gratefulness.
Will you join me to cultivatecompassion for self, others, and thecosmos?
Will you join me to grow kernelsof gratefulness—even for that whichappears ugly, unwanted, arrivesunannounced, and has every right togrow bitterness in the human heart?Please, simply say