When I read Laura’s article for this month’s issue (“I got you”, found below), I was so moved. (In fact, you may want to start this month’s issue of the newsletter at the bottom and work your way back up in reverse order.) This beautiful concept, skillfully laid out by Laura’s hand, made me wonder about the scale of kindness.
By that, I mean how do we recognize tenderness, love and support from others? Hollywood and television often show these attributes on a grand, larger than life scale. Marriage proposals streaming across Jumbotrons at the game, people paying off the mortgages or student loan debts of strangers, auditoriums full of people applauding the protagonist’s moment of courage. All grand gestures that move us to catharsis with the swelling orchestration of the soundtrack and the reassurance that everything will be neatly resolved before the ending credits.
In truth, our lives are quite different. Opportunity for such magnanimous gestures present themselves rarely, are impractical, and may be unwelcomed by the recipient. These acts can seem performative, over the top even, in real life. One can’t help but wonder, who does the act serve? The intended recipient or the ego of the giver?
But quiet acts of compassion can move mountains, or even save lives.
Just the reminder that we are not alone on this journey of being human is so powerful. Knowing that someone sees us, in our vulnerability, and wants to help ease our distress - if only by simply naming it - that authentic recognition is the seed of compassion.
The beauty is that not much is asked of us in this task. We don’t need to have a lot of money, we don’t need to know the perfect poetic words to utter, or even be able to offer solutions for the problem at hand.
In one of the most powerful acts of compassion that I’ve experienced, no words were ever exchanged. Our common humanity resided in a gentle hand covering my own as I wept silently. The embrace of a stranger whose name I will never know, and don’t really need to know because her identity was less important than her willingness to witness my suffering and remind me that I am not alone. In that moment, she was not a stranger. The demographic categories that would “define her” were irrelevant, as were mine.
We were simply being human together. Recognizing the shared humanity in one another.
Today, we are invited to practice a quiet compassion. Smiling eyes, a kind word, a gentleness that may seem small to you, but may truly impact the experience of another. In today’s world, where we listen to argue, we see to judge, we engage to win, what quiet act could be more profound?
Blessings on your journey,