I have been blessed in this life with a few close encounters with dolphins, and am so moved by the peaceful and sensitive presence of these extraordinary beings. Remembering being in the water touching and playing with them, it was breathtakingly how attuned and considerate they were to me and their surroundings, while at the same time having the visceral sense that they had far more physical power than I ever imagined.
As I began reflecting upon what to share in this week’s journal, I continue to be amazed how life continues to provide a stream of extraordinary teachings each day. The very experience I am most in need of opening to next often has a way of finding its way right to my doorstep. This week the quality that is so present with me seems as essential as my next breath……..as I am re-discovering the power of kindness.
This week I had two memorable experiences with our family — one oh-so-lovely and one oh-so-painful. The first was with my 12-year old son Christian. As he was crying deeply about something that disappointed him, I went to him and comforted him with a long, gentle hug, letting him know that I could feel his sadness and that I sure loved him. Remembering how sweet it felt for both of us as he melted into my arms and tenderness, I am reminded of one of my very favorite quotes:
Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with a breath of kindness throw the rest away.
~ Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
The second incident took place in the kitchen yesterday, when I moved into impatience and heated irritation towards Susan because I was hurt that she was not behaving the way I wanted her to. (It is certainly not the first time in our 20 years together that this has happened, and I make steady progress with this pattern, yet it is still deeply painful for both of us whenever it does…..)
Upon reflecting upon these two incidents this morning — and the awakening message available through my pain — I’m beginning to realize that it is kindness that was most missing and most needed in my encounter with Susan. Kindness towards myself and the feelings of hurt and disturbance that were triggered by my perceptions of her behavior (the Universe is continually — and kindly — inviting me to lead with my vulnerability rather than with judgment and reactivity when I am experiencing hurt feelings).
And, of course, there’s a huge opportunity for me to bring a greater measure of loving kindness towards Susan, who in actuality is a most thoughtful partner — who truly values the process of listening and discovering how we can best serve each other’s needs and requests. Amazingly, after my upset towards her, Susan came to me with the gift of a rose as a way of bridging us back into loving communication. She is one of the most tender-hearted people I have ever known. Susan is my land dolphin, in a way, who teaches me about the power of kindness through her extraordinary ability to accept and embrace the most-wide range of human (and male!) expressions I and the boys bring her way each adventurous day.
Fittingly, here’s a rich poem I discovered this past year:
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you can ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say,
“It is I you have been looking for,”
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
During these times of uncertainty, suffering, change and powerful expansion on our planet, my prayer is that you find yourself often remembering to bring forward the healing power of kindness towards yourself and others.
With much Loving, Gavin