Soul Blossoming

by Tom Brown – 

HOW EASY IT IS to say, “I love everyone”. That word “everyone” rolls off the tongue with the greatest of ease. It has a ring to it like vanilla ice cream, motherhood and apple pie.

What if that word included the ones who are the most difficult to love? 

What if it included that neighbor or that family member who is giving us a hard time? To love one like this is a challenge for us to drop our judgments and to become curious instead. It means looking for the good and seeing the divine spark in that one when it isn’t obvious.

We’re less likely to judge another person when we remember that we’re always working with insufficient information. 

Just as every tree has roots that are out of sight underground, so does every person have roots that we can’t see. Knowing a person’s background softens our reactivity and judgment of each other. We may never be the best of friends, but by sharing a bit of ourselves, we can discover a compassion for all the decisions and dramas of life that have gone into making the person he or she is today.

Loving that difficult one results in more tolerance and peace. It helps us to keep our heart open rather than slammed shut. And maybe as we practice on that one, we will develop a corresponding understanding and compassion for ourselves. We will find that we do this on behalf of our awakening and on behalf of the healing needed all around us.

Mother Teresa put it this way: “I can only love one person at a time. I can only feed on person at a time. Just one… one… one. So I begin. I pick up one person. Maybe if I didn’t pick up that one person, I wouldn’t have picked up forty-two thousand. The whole work is only a drop in the ocean, but if I didn’t put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less. “

And so it is for us. Let’s begin in our family, in our neighborhood, with the one standing in front of us. Just begin. It’s that simple.

Perfecting Generosity

TO KNOW ABOUT GENEROSITY requires an ability to listen with the heart, to listen and feel when we’re afraid of being rejected and to acknowledge our own limitations. In acknowledging our capacities and fears, true generosity grows. Then our acts come not because we’re supposed to, but from that wise and generous place in our heart. 
This is the place that knows the seasons of the heart; sometimes compassion says “yes” and sometimes it says “no”. There is a time for work and a time for rest, a time for effort and a time for surrender. 
We need to listen to this in order to know how to give wisely.

Mothers instinctively know this. The mother lioness, the mother wolf, the mother bird. They nurse and provide and sacrifice in incredible ways for their children. And then one day, they STOP. They don’t get food for the young lions anymore. They kick the young wolves out. They look at the young birds and they say, “Today is the day to fly, Kiddo! Like it or not, it’s out of the nest. “

Sometimes the most generous things we can say is, “Sorry, I can’t do it.” Sometimes the greatest thing we offer is our brokenness. How often we rush around trying to solve people’s problems without ever seeing them, without seeing the pain in their faces, the insecure eyes, the nervous hands, the hurt inside.

Daniel Berrigen wrote as part of an essay, “I would give almost anything for the look in a hungry man’s eyes when I give him the bread that I baked with my own hands.” 

Maybe generosity is simply about trust, that ability to open from the body of fear to the unimagined possibilities of the heart. Since we’re going to have to give it all up anyway in the end, why not do it now with joy and delight and bring that goodness to the world?