“Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.” ~ Buddha
Squished together on this floating ball, spinning round and round together through the cosmos with no escaping each other.
How hard it can be to get along, to make space for it all. Ideas and beings spilling out and around us that aren’t ours, that don’t jive with ours, or that just don’t make any sense in light of ours. Wouldn’t it be nice if things weren’t so crowded? If everyone were on the same page, preferably ours? Nothing to bump into, just smooth sailing.
Of course, if we could sail straight around the globe without running into any obstacles, we would finish in such a hurry it would hardly be any fun.
Everyone’s story is as equally valid and important as ours. We all know this. And the mix and match of stories, the weaving and unravelling that comes done and undone as we come together and apart in this life, is all part of the beauty and complexity of our own work of art.
We all really know this.
Besides, when we get down to it, everyone else’s story is also just the telling of our own in slightly modified form, right? So to get rid of theirs would be to get rid of ours. (We all know this too, when we look deep down.)
So why can’t we all get along?
As I sit here, so comfortable in my space, I know I have no right to speak for those living in places of true conflict, where the battle over space and ideas collide day in and day out. And as comfortable as I am, it makes me uncomfortable to guess at their thoughts, their feelings.
But a few years ago, I listened to this piece on public radio about people living in a refugee camp, the where of which I can’t remember now, but the story has stuck with me. The marrow of it was this: even among these people, displaced and trouble-worn, the day-to-day living were much like you would expect from anyone, anywhere.
Women in love, some exalted, others worried and jealous.
Mothers caring for their young, teaching manners, and beautifying the mundane.
Children playing and playing and hoping to play more, taking in everything around them.
Men in love, hearts and bodies pulsing, working hard – or not – at it.
Even under such serious distress, these things continued. And as surprising as this is, it also makes perfect sense. We are, after all, made up of the same key ingredients. Hearts and bodies and souls that want nothing more than to love and thrive and sing.
With this in mind, I can’t help but think of confrontation as put upon us, any of us. Countries wage wars, people stand divided. But if at our cores we are all the same, then who are the people, just like me, who make this happen? Where are the people, just like me, who want it to stop?
Sitting here, feeling helpless, so unsure that there is an answer but also sure that there is an answer, that there must be an answer. Something I can do to make space in this world. To help my fellow selves flung far and wide around this earth.
And the answer I come to is always the same, because isn’t the answer always the same? Isn’t it always this–love?
Love yourself, love your neighbor, spread love, be love. Use your love to tap into The Love all around you. Isn’t that all it comes down to?
Look around you. Directly around you. At anyone who comes in and out of your life today. From those near and dear to your heart, to those with whom you share work space and nothing more, to the stranger at the checkout. Love them.
And by this, I mean, do not get snarled in the traps of your differences. Don’t see a difference and hold it up to the light of your story and find it failing, annoying, unsettling. Just find it and love it. Turn those very things that might separate you into the best parts about your encounters, the very things that endear them to you. The second you feel put off by something that someone says or does, something you disagree with or just fail to understand, let it become what you love most about them.
You and your strange, unique way of being – aren’t you that cute, interesting, and lovable?
And if it is a rudeness or mistakes or actions more despicable than annoying, let it become the catalyst for your compassion. Imagine the hurt received that left a gaping wound, a breeding ground for this behavior or mindset. Knowing that you have your own hurts, and knowing how hard it can be to heal them, you can choose to respond with love instead of anger or hate.
This isn’t much, perhaps. You may even feel like it is a grossly oversimplified proposition. And in some ways it is.
But in others, it really isn’t. There is this physical reality that must be dealt with, no doubt – the bumping and rubbing up against each other, the tight quarters. But our spiritual reality can make a mighty difference. Inside of us, there is plenty of room.
If every single person out there just stepped into the light…
Now you may be thinking, “This woman, she is so sticky with her honey-coated view of the world. I want to choke on all those love and happy pills she is always trying to sell. This is completely unrealistic!!!”
And that is fine. My advice. Follow it with this.
“But that is why I love her so.”
Make a little space for others today. It probably won’t bring peace to the world overnight, but it may bring some to your own little corner of the world.
And don’t believe there is any other place to start.