That we humans affect each other is a given, a statement of the obvious. Yes, each of us is responsible for ourselves and has to independently do the hard work of self-realization. However, we share the human condition and so our personal journey is affected, like it or not, by the words and actions (or at times, inaction) of others in our sphere.
Often, it is the people closest to us, those with whom we live and work and play, who provide our greatest challenges and who are our toughest teachers (because they KNOW how to expertly push our buttons!). And it is these same ones to whom we will often turn for solace and strength when we feel weak or tired or afraid and are in need of comfort. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the voice and hands of God work through perfect strangers. So I'd like to tell you here this morning a story from my own personal experience with someone I did not know.
I was at the grocery store. This is a place I go out of sheer necessity-its not "fun" for me. I actually find it stressful, as the adulteration of our food here in the US, with chemicals and preservatives and GMOs and dyes is out of control...so to feel like I am not poisoning myself and my family, I spend a lot of time reading labels and pondering choices. But that is a discussion for another day, let me not digress.
This particular visit to the store was being squished in to a busy day. I had a million other things on my mind and a long, long list of "Things I Need To Do" running like a ticker tape on the TV screen just behind my eyes. I had my "head down" and I was on a mission to get what I came for and just get on with the rest of it.
So I ended up in the check out line and recall being instantly irritated at the piercing wail of the raggedy, snotty-nosed little girl sitting in the cart just in front of me. It was a sharp, unpleasant sound but it had the positive effect of jerking me right out of my own head.
As I focused on the child and her mother, I had the sense that a situation was spiraling out of control before my very (now-Seeing) eyes. The mom was about to LOSE it in a major way. She was obviously at the end of her tether. Her hair and clothing were unkempt, her skin was sallow, her eyes were wild-looking, her hands were shaking as she tried to unload her groceries onto the conveyor belt. And the child was now screaming. Almost in slow motion, I saw the mother's hand raise to, as we say in Trinidad, knock the little girl to Kingdom come....ie hit her really hard...and just then, I sprung forward and reached between mom and child.
Shocked by the insertion of a stranger into the drama, both mom and child stopped short. The wailing stopped. I began to engage the child, chatting with her about silly things, telling her what a good girl she was (hey, a little well-placed BOLDFACE lie is occasionally warranted). I simply distracted her and her mother was able to finish offloading the groceries. As she was waiting to pay, I chatted to Mom too, telling her that I admired how she how she managed to shop with a little person in tow (THIS was the pure truth) and commiserated about how much there was to do in so little time in a day, it seemed. By the time they were checked out and ready to go, something had palpably shifted and that "edgy" feeling of violence about to occur had passed.
I'd like to say that it was "Wonderful Me" who acted in this way. But truly, there was no conscious processing of thought-related action of which I was aware. Rather, I felt like I was propelled by an unseen force. When I moved between mother and child, I had the sense that I had been pushed (almost a physical sensation)! That whole episode was as much a lesson for me as anything else. It confirmed my suspicion that we are each here to be used by the universe in ways we can't even imagine at times, but to which we have to be open. It made me resolve to stay more and more aware as I move through the world, to make myself more and more available for positive interaction as I go through the motions of ordinary living. It also made me very grateful for all the times when strangers have been kind to me and made me feel less isolated and more hopeful...all those times when my own soul has received the balm of a compassionate touch or an "I've been there-I know how you feel" glance. As imperfect as we are, we are each all God has to work with! We are each of us, an ambassador of the Divine, with physical arms that can hug and physical ears that can listen and physical hearts that can commiserate.
So I will end where I began: saying that we ARE each responsible for ourselves, our inner growth, our discipline, refining our ability to remain unaffected at our core by whatever happens on the outside. But we are also responsible for loving each other in ways big and small...those we know, those who are strangers....holding the knowledge that what we do/don't do DOES make a difference, right where we are. This is what it means to me to navigate the world with Christ Consciousness.
Just one more thing about which to think here: we may never see the full extent of our actions, but the law of karma is absolute, playing no favourites. Literally, what we sow, we shall reap. Let's all try really hard to sow good seeds and realize an abundant harvest. And on that note, here is a most beautiful video...grab a tissue....or enjoy your own snotty sleeve.
I am a field of awareness. Any thing beyond that is identification with form...