Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Snowmen melting into compassion

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Dalai Lama
It began with a thought drifting into my meditation like the recent snows of May into the promise of spring's surcease of winter. "How many snowflakes does it take to make a snowman?"

Unbidden. Unwelcome, the thought planted itself and grew into a colossal white figure complete with top hat and red scarf, carrot nose and raisin eyes all within a blink of my mind's eye.

"How many snowflakes does it take to make a snowman?"

I mean really. Here I am attempting to connect with Oneness and visions of snowmen float into my head in icy formation. What the Ohm am I thinking about?

There was to be no respite from the thoughts chilling persistence. It was a question seeking missile searching for a heat source.

With crystal like precision, the first question gave rise to the next -- 'cause that's the thing about really good questions, there's always the next one lurking in the wings, waiting for the breath of nonsense to give rise to its vapors.

"If every snowflake is different, when the snowman melts is every drop of water different too?"

Needless to say, peace of mind froze on the wing of my prayers as my meditation practice cavorted off into deeper pondering of life's snowy meaning as quickly as a Tibetan bowl ring dissipating into silence. I was stuck in a blinding snowstorm of thought and lost the trail of my thinking on the original seed of my meditation practice this morning.


Because that was my original intent. To meditate on the word compassion and let the Universe have its way on the landscape of my mind. That vast (and hopefully empty) space where there are no footprints in the snow. And no snowmen on the horizon.

And there I was lost. Bereft. Building snowmen in the sky. Searching for a spring thaw to ease me back to mindfulness.

And then, like King Wencelaus looking out on the feast of Stephen and spying a poor man in the frost so cruel, the Universe took compassion upon my meanderings and drew me to its loving hearth.

Snow melts. The earth is watered. Grass springs up.

That's it! That's compassion.

Giving of one's life to give life to another.

See, that's not that far off from counting snowflakes.

And it definitely brings me full circle back to the source of what gives my life beauty today.


And it is all because of my friend.

She is one of the most loving and compassionate people I know. Once upon a time I hurt her deeply. Betrayed her trust. Abused her friendship. To pay me back, she saved my life.

That's compassion.

She saved my daughters too. Gave my eldest daughter a safe haven when the winds of home grew too fierce for her to withstand their onslaught and I was far away and lost.

Gave a home to a runaway teen whose mother had kicked her out because her sexual sway was too far off the mother's beaten path.

Gave a home to my youngest daughter too when I came back and had nowhere else to be with my girls.

Gave a home to a young European girl here on an exchange when she too could not abide where she had been dictated to be.

And continues to give a home in her heart to those who have lost their way.

That's my friend. Compassionate heart giving without thought of receiving.

I've cried tears with this friend. Buckets full. And together, we've watered the seeds of forgiveness and love in the ocean of her compassionate heart.

Recently, in an email she wrote, "Gee, the pavement feels remarkably comfortable. Just let me lie here and think a bit."

It is what makes her compassion so vital. Her ability to gently laugh at her own predicaments and find the humour in every situation.

Like the time we hid out in her powder room while the man who promised to love me 'til death do us part and was trying to break into her house to finish off what we feared would be the end part of his promise.

"Damn," she whispered as she stood beside me behind the closed door where I lay on the floor peering out beneath the crack to see if he was having any luck getting through her patio door. "If only we'd remembered the playing cards. We could have played Gin Rummy."

Excuse me? There I was lying on the floor worrying about dust bunnies rising up my nose and a mad man breaking down her door and she was thinking about playing cards... I mean really.

And there's that 'in loving compassion' thing again.

Her humour diffused a perilous moment and sent us into gales of laughter. Two grown women hiding out in a powder room from a man who couldn't hold a candle to the power of our thinking and ability to take action that would send him back to where he'd come from, which on that day happened to have been jail.

We laughed about that day in years to come. Laughed and cried and agreed. Love is more powerful than fear. And compassion has the power to soothe an aching heart, not to mention the essential balm to ease a crying jag.

My friend, the one who is currently lying on familiar ground thinking, she has taught me what it means to give without thought of getting.

She has shown me what it means to stand steadfast in the winds of adversity. To stand true to your beliefs and values in the face of betrayal.

She saved my life once. It's time for me to repay the gift and share with her what she gives so freely and effortlessly.

Love and understanding.

Tenderness and care.

Kindness and compassion.

Compassion is today's prompt word over at the Blog Carnival sponsored by Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time and Peter Pollock of Rediscovering the Church.

To read all the exiting and entertaining and inspiring posts hop on over to Bridget's place. There you'll find a list of links to all of the contributions, posted throughout today and often through to the end of the week.


Maureen said...

I enjoyed this so much, Louise. You have written it with humor and grace and, yes, compassion.

Hugs, dear friend.

Joyce Wycoff said...

How wise of you to attract such an incredible friend and how generous of you to share her with us.

JC Dude said...

"That's my friend. Compassionate heart giving without thought of receiving."

And that a good definition for compassion. Thanks for sharing!


Glynn said...

There is nothing that binds two friends like shared experiences (even bad ones, especially bad ones) and tears. Good post, Louise.

Anonymous said...

good stuff :-)

S. Etole said...

You have honored your friend well ... and humor carries us over some mighty hard thresholds.

Sandra Heska King said...

Oh, Louise! This was funny, scary, tender. I am always blessed when I visit. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'm always instantly drawn to your words, and appreciate the honesty and passion in your writing. Thanks for sharing this story and your friend with us, Louise.

Melodyhenbrooke said...

You are lucky to have such a friend, you obviously know that. Compassion is something that can be learned. We teach it at The Compassion Movement (http://compassionmovement.org)