Sweat dripped from every single pore of my body as my friend poured more water onto the hot sauna rocks. After leaving the sauna my skin felt smoother than it has in years. This led me to think: maybe this is what our world is doing right now. Maybe all the toxicity coming to the surface to be swept out and washed away. Maybe, just maybe our world will be fresh and bright after a purge of toxins. Right now? We are in the sweating stage.
I was snuggled next to my grandmother last year when she passed away. I felt the heat leave her body as I buried my nose in her sweet, sweet hair and tried to bottle up her loving scent in my memory.
Since then a lot of life has happened including this election that would have made “Nonnie” incredibly disappointed. She would not be alone; I have struggled to achieve a sense of peace since November 8th, seeking out comfort in new ways.
So after a lovely ham dinner with friends, I awkwardly asked if they would mind passing along the bone.
Now my kitchen is filled with another smell of my grandmother, the smell of her ham soup. To me, it is the smell of love, peace and comfort. The warmth of my grandmother’s reassuring snuggles- the smell of love.
Logistically it did not make sense for me to go to a community event on racism tonight. The kids were fried and so were we.
However, I heard the voice of my mom say what she has said my whole life, ” 90% of life is about showing up; physically, emotionally and spiritually”.
So I jumped into the car after the bedtime routine and made it just in time to see my friend’s daughter perform and a teen from our church lead a call for critical community dialogue .
I was glad I showed up. (Thanks Mom.)
As a teacher, my path crosses with people experiencing deep pain. Sometimes it comes across as withdrawn kids, screaming parents or irate staff.
Whenever I am privy to the story behind the hiding, anger or screams it often makes immediate sense and my compassion kicks in.
Everyone has a back story. Some of those stories we wear on our faces or carry in our voices. Others are more hidden.
What can we do to foster compassion for the bearers of stories without knowing the narration?
After a rare cup of coffee today I felt jittery beyond belief. Instead of fighting it, I decided to get grounded by sitting on the floor and be present to my silly kids doing races around the kitchen island. I cheered them on, gave high-fives and comforted them after each minor injury.
Grounding myself not only resolved my caffeine induced tremors but brought me eye level to the joy of my children I would have otherwise missed.
How do we choose to be grounded in our daily lives?
“I will be so happy if I get that doll for Christmas and so sad if I don’t “. This was followed by my many failed attempts to explain intrinsic contentedness to our five year old. Finally it came down to this: Your life is ice cream. It is really good on its own. The special toys and occasions are the sprinkles, nice but not necessary to enjoy the ice cream.
At last a light bulb went on and I kissed her goodnight. “Enjoy your ice cream,” I said.
“You know I don’t actually have ice cream in bed with me?” She laughed.
Fresh out of college I was convinced there was only one right way of teaching children how to read. My perceptions were shattered when I quickly realized that many millions of people have learned how to read English without that specific method.
There are countless ways to live, (read) and interact in the world. Let us challenge each other to step out of the framework of our own perceptions. In the least, we may just learn compassion. As a bonus, we might learn a new “right way”.