I first met my friend Daniel Tweddell in brilliant sunshine at Mt. Hermon as we shared a circle of benches with a couple of Stellar jays. We talked about our writing. And about birds—how his wife had tamed them. How her care and compassion so scented the air that birds even flew into their house, carrying all that sky and flight and hope inside, where it landed in him, too.
When I read his recent post, I saw those wings again, still spreading our Author’s transforming compassion. Had to share it with you.
Traffic slowly stopped. Agitation boiled from the driver just ahead. I watched him squirm. He started and stopped, turned this way then that. There was nowhere for him to go. I could almost hear the curses.
A homeless man shambled slowly across the intersection, oblivious to the flow of cars. Stringy hair flopped around a filthy face. His head bobbed in somber conversation with an invisible companion. Perhaps the bum’s clothes were once bright and colorful. Nothing was left but grays and browns. Too many nights shivering in the bushes. Perhaps there was a time when his life had color. Nothing was left but the dull grays and browns of a heart so broken, it could not lift its eyes.
My wife had been dead a month. My soulmate for twenty-three years. How do you split a soul? Shatter it into a million pieces. I stumbled through days an hour at a time. One foot in front of the other was the best I could do. I was oblivious to the world around me. The day I saw the homeless man I understood. Really understood.
Everyone is born with a different toolset. Physically, some people can beat a four minute mile, or taste wine and know the year wine was vinted. Emotionally, some people have iron skeletons. Others have hearts of glass.
I discovered an arrogance in myself. Have you ever been stuck behind a slowpoke on the road? It’s annoying. But maybe they can’t see as well as us. Maybe they’re not as coordinated.
How do we respond to people who are grouchy and biting? With love or impatience? Do we know their past hasn’t been crushed by some awful experience? Would we be any better having gone through the same thing? What about those that aren’t as pretty or smart or affluent?
I’ve felt frustrated and angry, contemptuous and insulting. You too?
Every good thing we have is a gift. Even what is earned comes from given potential. Now when I see someone who can’t reach as high, my eyes fill with tears. Instead of looking down on them, I look up and thank God for even the tiniest bit of strength or ability.
I look up and reach down. And lift.
Matthew 25:40 – “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
James 1:17 – “Every good and perfect gift from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
#compassion #gratitude #watchingnature #watchingnatureseeinglife