Our worst nightmare as a nation , and as individuals: a world ruled by the hardhearted, where everywhere you turn you’re turned away, or harmed.
Recently, I learned about an inmate put to death in Texas despite his victim’s son — yes, his victim’s son — pleading for mercy for this man.
The son said that nothing good would come of the execution — only more pain. He said the inmate’s daughter would lose her father, just as he’d lost his father. He pointed out that during years in prison, the inmate had become a force for good.
Sometimes, I magnify my own discomfort in my mind so I can approach another’s suffering.
I turn traffic jams into pesky flies and festering sores. I turn a critical remark into an onslaught from a nearby tribe. I turn a bothersome heat into a crop -parching drought, a rainy day into a monsoon. I turn the longing for personal space into a lifetime of sharing one room with ten people.
In truth, I can’t come close to these experiences when I imagine them, no matter what amount of time I take to try to do that, no matter how strong…
Often, in this turnabout world, our children and our parents move from place to place or settle far from home.
As life would have it, our sister, alone in Georgia, could suffer a stroke the same week our father alone in Australia is diagnosed with cancer and must have surgery, the same week our daughter alone in New Mexico is hospitalized following a car accident.
We could find no peace in these situations without the kindness of strangers who abide gladly — and steadfastly — as if our loved ones were their own.
In the late 1970s, I was sitting…
It is easy to be loving when we are wooing and being wooed, when we are sheltered and fed and appreciated. But what about times the car won’t start, and the baby’s thrown up in the backseat, and the dog’s running loose, and our mate wants to love and live with someone else?
My mother used to say that we reveal our true character by how we behave when we are ill. I would add to that: how we treat someone when we are busy, or feel disappointed or betrayed or threatened or angry or insecure.
All too often, we…
Typical short-term promises include: “I’ll call you right back,” or “I’ll give you an answer tomorrow,” or “I’ll send it right in,” or “I’ll drop off it off by Thursday,” or . . .
It’s easy to feel annoyed when someone we’ve promised to help reminds us of the project we’ve not completed — or have not completed well.
But wait!.The someone suffers a double whammy. Help hasn’t come and now he or she, by pointing that out, risks the scourge of our ill-will.
Here’s a nightmare many are living: You are suddenly and completely dependent on a caregiver who…
Remember the wonder of discovering a fish or a bird or a cat hidden in a picture, when you were a child? Or how the drawing of an urn became two faces — and then an urn again — depending on how you were looking at it.
The animals began appearing — the urn began transforming — when you were quiet enough, and open enough, to see with fresh eyes
One obviously stupendous event can spark this understanding. But even the simplest and most invisible connection can.
So can seeing someone or something “suddenly anew” we’ve been familiar with for…
In this tender world, if we did nothing but listen well — to strangers, loved ones, co-workers, animal companions . . . our own wise hearts — we’d be comfort and heroes to many, including ourselves.
What follows are personal stories, reminiscences and reflections, listening featured at the heart of them.
When I was a girl, my mother and I broke in on one another while we were speaking. We did this more times than I can remember.
My mother meant no harm. She had her opinions. I had mine. But I was young and no match for her. …