I was walking home this evening.
I passed a raccoon and her family of three as she led them out of their tree and off to dinner. I smiled and said, “good evening,” to a woman who was walking her dog, using her poop bags to also pick up any trash she passed. The electric cry of the cicadas was charging the air with a wiry pulse. The charming scent of passion fruit and crepe myrtle cling to the humidity that coats my cheeks. The leaves of the trees that dangle gently above my head rustle only when woke by the soft breeze…then tenderly fall back to sleep. The glare of the street lamps give the strong, massive oaks a lacy shadow on the pavement. I take a seat on the stoop, having the aroma of cut grass come to greet me. I breathe it all in, grab some of the moment for myself, then exhale it back with gratitude. My body softens.
I could have stayed out there all night. And I still don’t know why I haven’t found myself a hammock.
These days of ours, all of ours, are filled right now with a lot of bad, bad influence. In 23 hours out of 24, the world, the media, society at large will fill it with nothing but the most horrendous, disastrous, anxiety driven messages. We are barraged with bad news. And if you’re not aware of whatever bad news is happening, then everyone wants to get you up to speed, so that you can feel as good as they do about the bad news they’ve been hearing all day.
Talking bobble heads screech all day about all the terrifying things that happened to the world and you just want to ask, “Did anything GOOD happen? Anything? Anything at all?”
It’s too much for the soul to take. And you become a prisoner to this nonsense when you decide you need to hear bad news all day to make you feel good.
People will spend hours upon hours, a huge chunk of that 23 out of 24, lapping up bad news like a feral cat on a puddle of spilt milk. They can’t get enough. They thrive on it, spin all their conversations around it, think about it while driving, role play arguments in their heads. They’re always right and you’re always wrong because they’re more informed about all the bad news going on than you are….
Somehow, I feel blessed with that obliviousness.
I’m blessed to walk home at night, sit on my stoop and breathe in all the beauty around me, let it swirl through my soul, then give it back. That is where I’d rather spend my time; appreciating the grandness around me, rather than the grotesque. That may lend some to think to think that this is a callous, uncaring way of feeling, that I’m not being empathetic to all the horrible things that people experience every day, all across the planet. That I’m not spending as much time as other people are, sometimes 23 hours out of 24, wrecked about the state of the world!
Actually, it’s quite the opposite approach. I’m spending only a small amount of time on the pain and suffering, getting hold of it, then spending that other vast, swath of my day focused on the greatness of nature and the goodness of people. (Head in the sand? Well, then I’ll be damned).
There is a danger in sacrificing our own appreciation for goodness in order to adopt the hardships of another, that their suffering is now ours, that we should feel equitable in their pain. But, the truth about love is that it does not relinquish to suffering. Love purifies suffering, it is immune to it. Love lifts the soul from suffering, it doesn’t join it.
Hostility breeds the need to see someone suffer, while love pursues the end to suffering….
Being out there, outside listening to that gorgeous orchestra of cicadas, crickets and frogs, I felt enveloped by the world, loved and comforted by it. That calmness in my spirit felt so much better than the chilling shrill of calls to arm blared at me through megaphones all day.
Sitting on that stoop, so at ease, at peace, I understood that I couldn’t save the world, or very many people in it, by being mad at it. But, maybe by being in a place of silence, in a place of prayer, and in a place of peace, maybe the world will get better….
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