(My daughter Lisa wanted be to see if Huffington Post would like to publish this speech I gave the other day. But for now I will just let it be here and see if it stirs interest.)
These days it seems quite easy to view someone as the enemy – a politician, a shooter, a terrorist. For many, I suspect, it feels futile. What do we do about them?
Are we actually helpless? Do we have to just endure the pain they inflict upon us, upon others? Is it all – HOPELESS?
HOPELESS. That word triggers in my memory a time in my life when I thought MY world was ending.
My beloved wife had contracted spinal meningitis, an often fatal and very painful disease. In the Army, I remembered guys taken from our barracks who had it and never returned.
What she experienced was extreme pain. Like someone had stabbed a red hot poker down her spine. (Her words.) And there seemed to be nothing we could do. Countless doctors, healers, nothing worked. I was literally brought to my knees.
She endured this for over a year. Over a year of wondering if I would ever have my wife back. A year of her wondering if she would ever have her life back.
Our enemy seemed unrelenting and beyond our ability to do anything about it. And it awoke us in the middle of the night, greeted us every morning, and spent the day with us. Beside hearing her and holding her, I asked, from my knees, what could I do?
I found two ways I could find hope in all of this. One was an inner action, the other an outer.
First, every day, when she found the relief of sleep, I sat quietly with the intention of deeply listening inside. I heard a clear message: Take heart, take heart, my beloved. All is well.
And during that hour of meditation each day all, was, indeed well and in the Light of that experience I knew my beloved was in good hands. And I knew that no matter what it looked like, we were blessed.
Second, I gave my wife long foot rubs. My wife and I received a book of Foot Reflexology for a wedding gift. The best gift ever.
Many days I rubbed her feet for about an hour and eased the pain. And I felt my wife’s powerful loving essence behind the mask of meningitis. The same loving essence I felt in the recent past as she cared for me during a surgery. My world did not end.
You may say, well it’s easy for you to say all this. She lived. She healed. But the truth is I knew she was in good hands, either way. I have buried my first son, I have watched my first grandson die in his father’s arms. And my world did not end.
In the world, out there, the upset, the sense of hopelessness, the enemies of good sense seem to abound. Some politicians, shooters, terrorist.
Without excusing nor making small the devastation they may have caused, I’d like to suggest that all of them have actually forgotten who they truly are, because of their own deep, secret pain.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said:
If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
That politician, that shooter, that terrorist. I doubt if they would be interested in my offer of a foot rub. But I can honor the essence of their humanity hidden inside. I can be civil and respectful, even as I clearly oppose and take action against their cause, not with malice, but with charity and strength of heart.
I can listen in silence for the higher perspective, the compassion, even for those who have demonstrated so little of it for others, for those who’ve replaced compassion with revenge.
And as hard as this may be to see, amidst all the horrific words and actions in the world, all the seemingly senseless loss, I find myself continuing to strive for that higher perspective, that place where I remember the loving essence in each of us, and in that Light, know that we are in good hands and All is Well.