We’re In Each Other’s World

I’m a little bit upset.  

I was in the bank this week where dad had an account tying up some of his financial matters.  The employee assisting me told a customer who was waiting that as soon as she and I were finished, she’d sanitize the area and be ready for her.  

The customer replied, “We’re living in a different world.  I’m ready to get back to normal.”
I agreed.  “Yes, it is.   I am too.”

Then I asked, “Have you and your family been affected by COVID?”

“No, not at all.  I think it’s all been blown out of proportion!” she answered. “Have you?”

“Yes, I have 7 family members with COVID…”

Then I added this, “ and my dad died with COVID.” 

Have you ever tried to reach out and retrieve the words you just said?  The lady tried.  But they were already out there.

We tend to see things mainly, if not only, in terms of how they personally affect us.  

COVID had not personally touched this lady so COVID must not be a big deal.  “Look at me,” some have said,  “I’m fine!”

I visited last night with a man whose wife is in ICU fighting COVID. She’s been there a week. Yesterday, she experienced a COVID-related heart-attack and is suffering from diminished kidney function.  

This man’s view of COVID is very different than the “bank lobby woman’s” view. 

The difference is experience.   

Spirituality pulls us toward each other to the degree that another’s experience becomes our experience.  

“Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.” Thomas Merton

“Compassion is the wish to see others free from suffering.”  Dalai Lama

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” — Mother Teresa

“In separateness lies the world’s great misery, in compassion lies the world’s true strength.” Buddha 

“The compassionate are near to God, near to me, near to paradise, and far from hell.”  Prophet Muhammad

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

It is a message we need to hear and heed during COVID and beyond.   

Healing in a Hug


Healing in a Hug?

We know about “an apple a day” keeping the doctor away, but how about a “hug a day” keeping anger, bitterness, prejudices away?

Hugs are good. According to Psychotherapist Virginia Satir,

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival.

We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.

We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”

We need more hugs like the one between Sgt. Bret Barnum and 12-year-old Devonte Hart seen above. Devonte was one of several thousand people gathered in Portland Oregon to voice their opinions about the Ferguson, Mo incident. According to his adoptive parents, Sarah and Jennifer Hart, Devonte “ has a heart of gold but struggles with living fearlessly when it comes to the police and people that don’t understand the complexity of racism … in our society.”

With tears running down his cheeks, a “Free Hugs” sign hanging around his neck, Devonte stood in front of a police barricade. Officer Barnum noticed the boy and wondered what was wrong. He motioned the young protestor to come up to his motorcycle.

They shook hands.

They talked. About school. About summer activities. About favorite things to do.

Then there was this question from the Officer, “Why are you crying?
Devonte’s answer was an honest response about his fears regarding the level of police brutality towards young black kids.

The officer wasn’t defensive. He didn’t react. He didn’t give the boy a lecture.

He apologized. “Yes. I know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

The tears stopped.

The 21-year police veteran and father of two teenagers, looked at the “Free Hugs” sign and asked, “May I have one of your hugs?”

The picture is the answer to the question.

Are there other answers in the action?

I think so.

Devonte’s mom, Jennifer, said the moment was about “listening to each other, facing fears with an open heart.”

Yesterday, I completed a series on “The Bible You’ve Never Known” with a teaching on taking a different look at what the Bible says about homosexuality. One take away from the message was Jennifer’s message: Listen to each other. Hear peoples’ stories. Seek to understand. Sympathize and empathize.

“Walk a mile in my shoes. Walk a mile in my shoes.

And before you abuse, criticize and accuse

Walk a mile in my shoes.”

It is said of Jesus that “when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them…”

“Compassion” to feel with

“Compassion” to be moved in your gut

What difference would it make in our lives, our communities, if we “walked in other’s shoes,” if we looked with compassion? Is the answer to the ills of Ferguson as simple as a hug? As listening? As being compassionate?

I don’t know. But I think I’ll try it.