Am I aware, in this moment of formlessness, functioning through this form? from The Grace in Aging Kathleen Dowling Singh
The sunrise was spectacular … dynamic shades—almost neon–of pink and orange reflecting on the underside of what looked like an army of slate-hued, altocumulus clouds set against a brilliant cyan sky. In fact, the vibrant contrast of colors added to the three dimensionality of the billowy puffs making them look like poofy swirls of cotton candy floating across the airspace.
“C’mon, c’mon, you can do it … go, go, go …” I cheered inwardly, as a trio and a separate duo of geese were straining to close ranks on a larger vee of fellow Canada flyers. I was captivated by the wonderous spectacle of their simultaneous flying and honking. Wide-eyed, I stood in place until the feathered skein was a tiny dot in the sky.
“Gases move from high-pressure areas to low-pressure areas. And the bigger the difference between the pressures, the faster the air will move from the high to the low pressure. That rush of air is the wind we experience.” (scijinks.gov) Having taught sixth grade science for years, these words reverberated in my soul as I stood listening to the whooshing aria echoing on the needle-limbed pine trees. Variables such as the tree height, branch fullness, and wind speed contributed to the artistry of the sacred hymn.
Contentedly curled up on the couch together, my four-year-old granddaughter and I listened to the “Carol of the Bells” as sung by music box cardinals. She asked, “You know Papa?”
“You know Vicki?”
“You have GGDad.”
“Yes, I take care of him.”
Aside from the sound of crooning songbirds, a cozy silence follows and we snuggle in the warmth of mutual love and affection.
And then there was this …
My father’s car needed an oil change and inspection so I drove to a local automotive shop. The young man who did the work was quick and efficient. When he finished, he backed the car out of the bay in order to place the new inspection sticker in the window. I stood off to the side, but close by.
As he removed the old sticker, washed the window and glued the new sticker in place, he was chatting with a young woman. They seemed to know one another. She had a very sweet-looking labradoodle puppy—a tawny brown curly coat, full of energy, prancing and tugging on his leash.
I knelt down to pet him when he danced close to me. The woman seeing this, forcefully yanked on his leash—the puppy yelped–her jaw and head jutted forward spoiling for a fight—looked me dead in the eye and screamed “NO!!!” She then returned to her conversation with the mechanic as if nothing happened.
I maintained a calm demeanor throughout the encounter and may have said “sorry.”
Within the span of a few seconds, the mechanic stepped aside when he completed his task and I thanked him. As I climbed behind the wheel, my would-be canine friend jumped all over me … yet I did NOT touch him.
“What the frack was that? It’s not ok for me to pet her dog, but it is ok for him to jump all over me,” I sassily asked God as I drove home. Mostly, though, I genuinely felt sorry for the dog. I harbor no ill-will towards the woman and wouldn’t even recognize her if I saw her again.
When I shared this experience with my cousin, he said he could easily have told her–“f*** you, looking her in the eye with a direct and present demeanor, willing for whatever additional response or engagement she might have”–which could certainly be one response to such nonsensical ire.
On the whole, I do not like confrontations and work to avoid them; but this wasn’t that. I did not feel any anger or negative emotion towards her in the moment … not while I waited, not while I got in my car, not even when I was being cheeky with God, and not now.
Jean-Yves Leloup in his commentary on The Gospel of Mary Magdalene says the following:
Offering the other cheek means presenting an entirely new and unexpected way of dealing with the problem. It means to oppose violence with consciousness, to look the other in the eye, to regard the other as subject like oneself, and to refuse to be a predictable object. To be in harmony is to enter into resonance with other subjects, and with other liberties …
To be in harmony with our enemies is to skillfully allow their violence to pass through us without contaminating us. Just as in the martial arts, this attunement to our attackers can then awaken a consciousness in them that could help them to get out of the trouble they are in.”
As long as our peace is dependent on any kind of external reality, it is not Peace; as long as our love for others and for the world is dependent on attitudes and feelings toward us, it is not Love.
I do not know if this explains my response or not. I wish I could say I walk around that consciously aware. I think I just got lucky.
Our purpose on Earth is not to manipulate things … but to meet each other in living encounters. Life is too short to be lived by exploiting each other. There is something better for us to do, and the time we have is barely enough to learn how to love one another. Jean-Yves Leloup
Ain’t that the truth!