The WordPress Daily Post have suggested a wonderful topic for writing about that definitely fits the theme of my blog and that is to share a story about the kindness that a stranger has shown me. I am sure there are many instances of this that I could describe from throughout may life but one is particular, although not at all dramatic, stands out in my mind. In fact, there are multiple instances that this person has demonstrated kindness, which, I suppose you could say, means he borders on not being a stranger any more.
So, I frequently hide myself away on work days in a coffee shop behind our office, to take a little quiet time to work on more reflective aspects of my job and for a much-needed change of scene. I very much enjoy sitting on a couch and contemplating with a hot beverage. Even though it is still work and usually I’m working on developing and documenting some policy or procedure, there is something about that relaxed space where the mind flows and writing is effortless.
Every now and again, there is a man, by no means remarkable, who comes into the cafe. He comes in with a delivery perched on a trolley and walks very quickly. Even when it is cold he wears shorts and a fluro work top. He has a beard and isn’t particularly tall – nothing remarkable at al. And yet he is remarkable. He always smiles and wishes you well in such a way that you feel good to be you. He gives you his full presence in those fleeting, seemingly ordinary exchanges. His eyes twinkle and despite the fact that he probably spends most of his days making deliveries, he his happy and consistently so. You can feel his joy at being alive and sharing those moments with others. There is no sense of his wanting to change his situation or strive for more. He simply is happy and it is a joy to be around. So, thank you Mr Delivery Man for putting a smile on my face and warming my heart. I could learn a lot from you!
I heard a story the other day that totally transformed my mind and did something inexplicable to my heart. It was a story of the tragic death of a teenage girl killed in a car accident and the lady who found her and held her hand while she died. It was the girl’s mother who retold the story and I don’t think she was aware of how this image of her daughter and her own bravery for retelling this story publicly had such an enormous impact. I was transported there to that moment and experienced the complete surrender of the woman in that moment as she nursed the dying girl. I could (and do now when I retell this) feel the vast stillness of ungrasping love that pervaded. Time stood still and she just witnessed with deep presence and tenderness her last moments. Being able to hold her in that stillness, in that moment, was all that counted and the greatest gift that could be offered. Through that story my heart learnt how to be: to simply rest and give my full attention to someone in their greatest time of need. No words are required, there is no need to alter or change but simply be there witnessing and experiencing (to some degree) in stillness that absolutely sacred, completely vulnerable and pivotal moment.
The beauty present in that image is the naked reality of being completely helpless and unable to change the situation through resolving, fixing, trying or striving and the seeing that the only option is to stop, be still and allow oneself to be there fully for another in their time of need. Allow yourself to visualise that moment, be that woman, you are there and your mind transforms. The struggle stops, the sense of desperation and helplessness abates and all that is left is that vast, still, timeless moment of gentle strength, stability, knowing and something that goes beyond the word ‘love’.
This morning while I meditated I was able to bring a little of that atmosphere and presence to my practice. I sensed the pain and struggle of hope and fear in my body, the stress and dis-ease that I bring unto myself by constantly striving towards some place in the future where everything will be ok. I touched that pain and allowed myself to feel that vulnerability – that same vulnerability that was so starkly obvious as the young girl slipped away from this life. I stayed with that vulnerability and guided it towards all the tension, fear, struggle and expectation that I was holding in my body (especially around my chest). Compassion for my pain and aversion to life’s hardship softened and eased the tension and the perpetual ‘no’ to what is. Stillness prevailed, albeit only a little, but it was enough. I feel a little kinder to myself and a little softer, a little more at ease and able to face what the day presents.
I would like to thank that lady for the gift that she shared. She suffered for a long time before seeing the gentle ray of light amongst the ferocious, dark clouds of grief. May she find peace in that moment and solace in what she, her daughter and the lady inspired in others. Their story will stay in my heart and remind me of that vast stillness and presence that hides behind the appearances of this world and all its stories.