As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their “right” place.
~ Henri J.M. Nouwen ~
I’ve been pondering the division that we all see and feel in our world. There are so many conversations about the differences between us and who should assume blame for the issues we are facing.
It reminded me of something I wrote on July 23, 2009. 19 days after my son had died, I was shattered, hanging onto life one breath at a time. My life was in pieces at my feet.
There is a clarity in grief. Life is stripped bare, and you are presented with an opportunity to see life for what is really is, if you are willing to look with open eyes and an open heart.
You see that our differences are miniscule compared to the commonality of our human journey. You see that love is all that matters, period.
On this What Can YOU Do Wednesday, I reflect back on that writing and realize that there is still work to be done. Thankfully, we are in this together.
Sending love and acceptance your way,
July 23rd, 2009 : Put Down Your Gavel…
Never judge a book by its cover. I am reminded of a reflection on that topic I had some time ago as I stare at the ceiling. I am thinking a lot lately, and my brain hurts.
In any case, I’m thinking about judgments. How we judge ourselves, our families, our friends, strangers, political parties, products, commercials, TV shows, and sports teams. We all need to be given gavels at birth; we are so good at passing sentence on anyone or anything different that crosses our path.
I write this knowing I am guilty of judging on demand. And I may, despite the lessons that life is teaching me, be one of those people in the future.
As a parent, I’ve told my children not to judge people for their differences, the obvious being race, religion and economic position. And watching them live with open hearts and minds is one of the greatest gifts of motherhood. Both Stephen and Brendan have had long conversations with me about the injustice in the world, and speak passionately about the need for change. We have pondered about why people focus on differences rather than the similarities.
I am reminded of the old man on the corner. About two years ago, there was an old, somewhat rundown house on the corner of an intersection not far from my neighborhood. Adjacent to my son’s school, the house was sheltered from view by a number of large trees. The look and the feel of the property did not match the newly built dwellings and shopping surrounding it. The house had been here long before developers surveyed the area with dollar signs dancing in their head.
Brendan and his school friends would talk about the scary house and speculate about the man living there, who was rarely seen. I have to admit, when I noticed the house peeking through the trees, I wondered too.
And then he died. And his family cleared out the contents of the house, the property was sold, and the house was demolished. And on a humid, summer day months later, I found myself at that intersection, looking at the now vacant and overgrown lot. I had judged him, because of the outward appearance of his lodging, but I did not know him. And in the corner of the lot, I saw the most beautiful arrangement of various daylilies, blooming in spite of their owner’s absence. Planted many moons ago, perhaps when he was younger, maybe with his wife by his side.
It was a lesson for me. Here I am, walking through life with the hopes of being accepted in spite of my imperfections and mistakes, only to realize I’m not offering that same acceptance to my fellow man.
The beautiful colors peeking out from the overgrown foliage reminded me not to judge a book by its cover. Just as, so many years before, the medical resident judged how I presented on the obstetrics wards as a teenage mother of twins, I had made an assumption without taking the time to know the truth.
How many times have I made an assumption in a negative light? How many times have I made a remark or rolled my eyes when encountering someone who marched to their own drummer? Why does someone have to be wrong for us to feel right?
No more. Today I promise to work daily not to judge others, and to drown out the voices of others who may judge me and keep pushing forward, with the knowledge that I am enough and worthy of peace and happiness.
Today I am thankful for the eyes to see the truth, the ears to listen, and the heart to love one more person.