It’s all too easy to feel overcome with suffering. It may be your own. It may be the headlines of the day’s news. It may be the weight of helplessness seeing homeless people, as I feel every time I ascend from the bowels of the Red Line to the cobblestones of Harvard Square. One recent brisk morning, I turned the corner when one woman’s grin had caught my eye. She is a regular street dweller and has staked her 2×4 foot patch of sidewalk by the CVS with a cardboard sign, Got Empathy. Her bundles of belongings are expertly wrapped as if they could fill Santa’s sleigh.
The cool light was misty and one could see the frothy trails of breath of the passersby. The woman held a bag of pretzels. A hundred pigeons flocked and flapped about her as she laughed and twirled about. “Be patient!” she scoffed. I caught her eye and laughed with her, my meager offering. Yet, I felt her delight. It stayed with me all day.
Mary Oliver’s poem, Don’t Hesitate, comes to mind. It’s a salve for the caring heart and a reminder to bask in appreciation and joy whenever it arises.
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give into it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.Mary Oliver
Sometimes we simply need to pay attention to the good in the world.
Sometimes we need tangible reminders. Check out The Little Deck of Kindfulness.
Photo by Tina Karina