Dog Piles and Other Holiday Lessons

25 12 2014

Christmas means a good dog pile.  When my kids were little we would get up early on Christmas morning, open gifts, drink cocoa, eat croissants with raspberry freezer jam then lay around enjoying each other with looks of contentment on our faces. I have always thought of these special times as dog piles. I think we looked like a pile of puppies with full bellies laying across each other on the sofa half asleep. My kids are grown now but happily time with them still feels much the same. My wish for you is that you have many such special times with your family and friends.

My thoughts turn to others less fortunate and I am reminded of a time many years ago when I was reminded of the need for compassion for others. One evening I turned on the television and began to flick the remote control to move through the channels.  I came across the image of a woman just as she said that her boyfriend asked her to give him her five-year-old daughter for sex in exchange for drugs and that she had done so.

Repulsed, I swiftly moved to another channel. But, it was too late. The assault to my senses was intense. My inner voice shouting at me, “She is you and you are her. You must love her.” This was in stark contrast to my mind which was saying “how could she, she is the lowest of the low, and why put such a horrible person on television?” My safe little cocoon was assaulted.

I felt the opportunity for a big lesson, as usual, suddenly and unexpectedly. Reluctantly I turned back to that channel and saw what a truly pathetic person she was. I would estimate her age at 35 but  she looked 50. As she spoke, the effects of her self-confessed drug use, criminal past, and bad relationships began to explain how this incident had occurred. Her description of the Hell she had been through was a profound and, possibly, life changing for some of us in the audience.

And I was asked to open my heart to her. This was not an easy task as I had seen the lives of loved ones devastated by such acts. In an act of faith in my unseen teacher, I followed instruction. I began to open myself to a greater self, the part of me which remembers how it feels to be a tiny grain of sand in a beautiful and shimmering universe. This part of me feels no edges between places, things, and beings. It feels joy at being alive and part of all things. From this place of unity I could truly love this person, see that we were much more alike than different, and that, yes, we were each other. I could offer her love and support as she worked to forgive herself and make a positive difference in this world. I could see that given different circumstances I could have been her. Now I was observer. In the past, present, and future I was, had been or would be both victim and perpetrator. I too needed forgiveness, compassion and support. As I offered these to this nameless woman I received them. I was changed by this moment and was reminded why it is better to give than receive. Please join me in praying for love and compassion for all, for good health, the joy of having loved ones near, and for our loved ones near and far.

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