Archive for November, 2013

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
     — Dalai Lama

The words of the Dalai Lama roll off the tongue so sweetly, so gently, so beautifully; and then life intervenes and challenges us again and again to live compassion.  I have had a busy Fall, as you might be able to see by my lack of blog time.  It has been one of those times when every minute could be scheduled three times over and there simply do not seem to be enough hours in the day.  I was rolling along at the speed of light, doing my best to streamline my schedule when a call came from my sister.  “I don’t want you to be upset, but I need to tell you something.  All of the blankets you made for Mom were lost in the laundry this week and nobody can find them.”

Mom has suffered with dementia for more than ten years now.  When Dad died last summer, Mom was moved to the Alzheimer unit in her retirement community.  Although my sisters live nearby, I live 1500 miles away from her Florida home.  Mom no longer talks on the phone.  Actually, Mom only talks in person some of the time.  When Dad passed away, I lost my communication link to my mother as well; and the small lap afghans I had crocheted for her took on greater importance to us.  You see, when I make a blanket for my mom, I crochet lots of love into every stitch; and I deliver it to her with a note that reminds her it carries the hugs I am not there to give her each day.  I honestly don’t know whether Mom connects with my sentiments or whether she really remembers who I am; but it makes me feel better knowing the words have been said.  It mattered a whole lot to me that Mom had the blanket I made for her birthday and the one I made for Christmas, and it mattered a ton to me that she had the one I stitched last summer for her new life in her new room without her sweetheart.

Lost in the laundry.  I can’t begin to tell you all that went through my mind.  How could three blankets just be lost?  Had someone liberated them for their own use?  I tried to push down the anger I felt, but my sense of betrayal and loss was huge and my empathy for Mom’s loss of her security blanket that always was with her,draped over the bar on her walker, made my stomach feel empty and hollow.

Needless to say, every moment I was not juggling two other responsibilities suddenly was taken up with the job of crocheting a new blanket – STAT!  It has been sent on its way and soon will be delivered by my sister to its new home on Mom’s lap.  As always, it will wrap her in a hug from her eldest daughter.  I suppose you might say that the problem is solved, but the challenge to my compassion outlived the creation of a replacement blanket.  How do we find compassion when we have been wronged by others?  How do we begin to forgive when someone has stolen the love we intended for someone we hold dear?  How do I deal with the idea that someone else is wrapped in my mother’s hugs?

I tried, in my anger, to imagine who might want Mom’s blankets.  Maybe someone else had a loved one in Mom’s condition.  Maybe someone needed a blanket for a baby — they use wrappers of a similar size.  I began to think of the people who might be warm and cozy under those blankets, never knowing that they had been intended for someone else.  Then I thought of my Mom, so very old and very frail and very distant in her mind’s state of confusion.  I thought of her when she was young and vital and vivacious and full of compassion for others.  I could hear her voice, now silent to me, firmly stating that maybe someone else needed those blankets as much as she had needed them.  I connected for a moment with the memories of the way she showed us how to be compassionate; and suddenly my heart began to melt.  I feel better now, knowing that Mom may have a new hug from me very soon; and that makes it easier to let go of the others; but I will answer the challenge to compassion and picture what I know is true — that if my mother, or her daughter, were to meet and understand the need of whoever now owns those stray blankets, we would gladly reach out and give them a hug as we tucked them into their warmth.

Tonight, as I snuggle under my blankets, I will conjure up a dream of old folks and babies and mothers and daughters who all need a warm hug from another human being — or at least a blanket with love built into every stitch.  I will close my eyes and remember the mother who taught me compassion.  I will honor that part of her as I picture her warm and toasty, wrapped in a hug from her daughter.  Good night, Mom.

Mean Inconsiderate Unthinking People Suck Do More Damage Than They Realize.

And what are we supposed to do about it anyway?

Today has been a day for remembering man’s inhumanity to man.  The first message I received was from a friend — one who spends all her time and energy working at shedding some light on  her world.  Her combination of artwork and words — Bone Sighs — bring encouragement to people who need it, recognition to people who walk similar paths, and a special brand of light that illuminates the darkness.  I suppose that when you shine a special sort of light, it has a way of attracting darkness — perhaps the sort of darkness that craves illumination — but darkness, nonetheless.  Perhaps it attracts the sort of darkness that wants to not only borrow your words, but claim them as her own.  Perhaps it attracts the sort of darkness that, when confronted and asked to respect  your words, launches a campaign to publicly accuse you of stealing her work and to only back down when presented with the fact that the material is copyrighted.

Unthinking people do more damage than they realize.  Translate that any way you like.  I only know that when my own light is forced into the darkest corner of the room, it appears brighter than ever.  And I know that the minute a speck of light begins to shine, darkness no longer exists.  With the support of friends and fans and people who seek light and truth, I know that my friend’s light is filling the entire room once again.  As soon as the light of truth was shined by those who knew it, the darkness retreated and could do no more damage.

The next message I received was from my daughter-in-law.  She worked the night shift last night, bringing care and comfort to some elderly folks who need a little light in their lives.  She came home to a house where her family already slept and fell into bed so she could be up bright and early with her three little ones.  What she discovered when she got ready to take her daughter to school was that someone had driven down their street, under cover of darkness, and shot out windows in cars.  Her minivan was minus its rear window.

Unthinking people do more damage than they realize.  Translate that any way you like.  I suppose you could make excuses and say that whoever did this had no idea that they were hurting a young family whose parents tagged in and out from work to support their kids.  I suppose they had no idea that these young parents had scrimped and saved  and would have used the money the vandals wasted on gas to buy groceries.  I suppose they had no idea that they were messing with the vehicle that responds to emergencies as their daughter with medical issues travels from appointment to appointment and emergency room to hospital.  And I suppose you could say that they know nothing about deductibles and the fact that the glass repair will have to be paid out of a tight budget.  Unthinking.  Blind.  Acting under cover of darkness, these people hurt total strangers in a way that took the wind right out of their sails.

What darkness does not understand is that the light always wins.  Darkness has no strength, no tenacity, no ability to stand up after being knocked down and find its center again.  What I wish the darkness knew was how easy it is to shine.  I suppose the chances are slim that the (ir)responsible parties will see these words; but what we’re supposed to do about it (anyway) probably has little to do with them.  What is important to learn from the times when (yes, I’ll say it) Mean People Suck, is that we must outdo their meanness with our kindness.  Wherever there is hurt, we must heal.  Wherever there is disappointment or discouragement, we must uplift.  Wherever the darkness decides to take up residence, we must shine our light.

Unthinking people do more damage than they realize; but we who live in the light bring more healing than we realize.  We must join forces against the darkness and simply say, “Enough.”