Last year, on Good Friday and Passover, I was confronted by a man at a gas station in Oakland. He was in an obviously altered state and blurted out that he had just been released from jail. In that moment when he was standing close to me, demanding money--I challenged myself to step out of fear and into love. This action transformed a seemingly dangerous interaction into one of divinity, which I wrote about in "Not Passing Over!!"
One year later, as the spiritual double-header of Passover and Easter is upon us, I reflect on how that moment of shared vulnerability with this man, influenced my work over the past year. My posts have focused on how often we disconnect and don't practice compassion by judging others which only separates us from our common humanity.
That sacred encounter last Spring prepared me to confront difficult issues around the incidents that have recently shaken us to our core as a nation. Proceeding the Aurora shootings I posed the questions; does it makes sense to meet violence with violence? Do we have any other choice but to have compassion for people living with brain disorders? Many people had reportedly tried to help James Holmes but the broken system had failed us all. Living in isolation with a serious disease, he was passed over.
Another blatant example of this judgment and disenfranchisement was when the death toll for the tragedy in Newtown did not include Adam Lanza and his mother -- two lives that were certainly passed over. This left me wondering, do we truly believe that the heartbeat and breath of one person is more important than another?
Since the Newtown tragedy, I have been involved in numerous conversations and committees on the pressing topic of violence and our children. There are no simple answers but one thing we know for sure is that isolation is almost always present in the behavior of someone in acute and dangerous distress. Recently, we co-sponsored a child psychiatry conference where Dr. Bruce Perry presented about the neurobiology behind trauma, attachment and relationships. In his book, Born for Love, he discusses how empathy is essential and endangered and how social relationships are a key factor in promoting brain development and healing from trauma.
At The Flawless Foundation, we see the profound impact of human connection over and over again. Just yesterday, we witnessed restorative love in action with a group of students in a school for children with histories of detention, school suspension and unsafe behavior. These students who are often passed over created a party for their teacher in our yoga program who was beginning her maternity leave. Expressions of love and gratitude were overflowing in their kind words, beautiful sign, gifts and cards. The adults in the room were moved to tears when the students welcomed their new yoga teacher with open arms and hearts. These healthy relationships have been created because our teachers see the perfection in every child and the children are nourished by the healing power of these connections.
Is it possible for us to take an honest look at the places where we disconnect and "pass over"? Where blinding fear might prevent us from seeing? Perhaps it's making eye contact with someone living on the street or refraining from judgment when we witness a person exhibiting behavior that makes us uncomfortable? Are we mindful in our use of technology or do we disappear in cyber communications? What about this new frontier of relating where meeting in person or talking on the phone is becoming extinct?
This week I will stand for more presence with loved ones. I will reach out to elderly relatives whom I pass over more than I should. I will take a break from work and engage in a meaningful way with my family during our vacation together. It is not easy to admit that passing over an iPhone or laptop is the area where I need to create authentic activism. But that is my spot.......
It's Spring -- a time of rebirth, a time we can be called to our true essence, the pure place inside all of us where we are born for love.