You know you have cried a lot when the inside of your glasses is dirtier than the outside. Tears can leave a white film that fool you into thinking your getting cataracts. I find that falling asleep with blood shot eyes makes the sand man leave two bags and a shovel on my eyelids with a note that says do it yourself. But a good cry is so good. It waters the soil of our hearts, without it they become dry and cracked and nothing new can grow. And what is growing quickly withers. Pain and suffering are similar. They help us recalibrate. They give us a reference point. It is amazing that we can feel the pain of another person. Obviously not to the same degree but enough to water the landscape of our soul. Some call this compassion or empathy. If someone else’s pain bothers you but doesn’t lead to change in your own life that is not compassion it is pity.
Pity is a poison that masquerades as something deeply meaningful. But there is nothing meaningful about pity. Pity allows children to starve to death, families to live in refugee camps and makes racial disparity someone else’s problem. When you see someone crying alone at a bus stop or in a hospital waiting room and you feel sad for them but you keep on walking—that is pity not compassion. That sad feeling will quickly leave and you can get on with a life that is unmoved by anothers pain. Some would see that sorrow and stop and ask if there is anything they need—that would be compassion. Even if the person wasn’t able to stop for what ever reason but they allowed what they witnessed to move them to change something else in this world in an indirect way—I believe that to be a compassionate response. Even making a conscious decision that the next time they see pain or heartache they will stop, and they deliberately allow for that variable in their future life. I have found that pre thinking our response to pain and tragedy helps alleviate the fear of it.
I have come to see pain as a gift that can be given to others. It is hard to understand or comprehend because it seems to defy what we want to believe. In the past 86 days my wife has been hospitalized completely paralyzed in over half of her body. We have let this tragedy move us to become better people, because we believe that is what it wants to do. I have watched her love and care for people and realized you don’t need legs to do that—sometimes they only get in the way. We discovered whole communities of people who live in the medical system. Some are nurses, and some are patients, but all are human in need of reminding—pain and burden can be a medicine that can heal other people. Introducing someone to herbal teas or sketching pictures on napkins are not gifts but a simple ‘thank yous’. If their story of perseverance, and even pain and loneliness can move me to change the way I live—to change the way I see this world than I am forever in there gratitude.
This journey I am on with my wife is only getting started, and we have had some very discouraging days in this new garden that is in our hearts. But the journey is made easier when we discover we can pick the flowers from this garden and give bouquets to others. We can harvest the produce of the fields of our souls and feed those starving for the nutrients and give them life.
So be encouraged today if you are in pain, or carry a burden bigger than you. Allow the tears. I know there are those who would love to care if they just knew how—be the one to show them. If you have a deep pain today, may someone find you so you can give them the gift that can save their lives—opportunity to care. If for you this life has never been greater, you have health and wealth, don’t feel guilty. Just slow down and realize that perhaps the purpose of all your blessings are just that….to bless. Lets redistribute more than wealth, but joy, hope and time and most importantly love. Ironically I believe that when we care for strangers in their need, and treat them like dearly loved friends we are are most like God. And when we in our pain become opportunities for others to become alive and real-we are also most like God. So today, dress as a gardener, and wander through the fields of your soul to see whats growing and what needs to be watered, and of course let God wear your rubbers.
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