We live in a world filled with compassion and love. This world also can be cruel, where words and actions can darken our day and put fear in our hearts. I’m choosing to put my time and energy into kindness and compassion. Following the election, and some of the negative comments and beliefs about people who are disabled, or immigrants, or LGBT, or a color that isn’t white … or practice an unfamiliar spiritual path … has made me look at my life and realize how blessed I am because of these beautiful human beings, that could be put into categories of concern being disabled, not white, gay, etc …
I was raised being around people who were mentally and physically disabled. My dad worked as a Recreation Specialist, in a State Hospital, passionate about seeing each person as an individual – perfect in their own unique way. We kids played with them, learned how to square dance and snow-shoe with them, fished, climbed trees … all kinds of things! Dad believed nature and being outdoors, provided an environment of healing and mixing up life with adventures was a good thing. He had a dream of creating a year-round camp geared specifically for the disabled. As crazy as the idea was, he gathered amazing people with different skills and strengths who thought this dream was pretty good … and with alot of hard work and hoops to jump, together they made it happen. The lives that continue to be touched through this camp are countless. Compassion and love made/make this happen – lots of voices, lots of action … for beautiful mentally and physically disabled people. (His name was Dick Endres)!
One of my best friends in college was gay. He was a great guy. Over-the-top-crazy-fun- gay-guy. He didn’t ever want my mom to know he was gay, because they had such a good time together and he was afraid she’d reject him. He just loved her, and compassionately kept his secret.
My sister is Korean. She is amazing and the work she has done all over the world has touched many lives. She has her own management consulting firm with a long standing commitment to help international development agencies further their vision, mission and objectives. Compassion and love in action.
Her boyfriend is African-American. He has shown compassion with his loving care of both our folks, especially while they where dying. He’s also been a teacher for one of my brother’s groups of friends who had not experienced any person of color – ever!
One of my grandson’s is disabled, struggling with mitochondrial disease. He is incredible, as are his mom and dad and 2 brothers who put every bit of their life, their love, their compassion into making their lives together the best it can be – and it’s not easy – but they are doing it beautifully, in their own way.
I was married for 22 years. We have 4 children. It didn’t work, although he tried … he lived a life that wasn’t true to who he was and so much of his life had been lived in fear of people finding out … he’s gay. He met the love of his life and they’ve been together for nearly 20 years. His parents and siblings love him for who he is. When he’s in town, we’ll meet for coffee and visit and it’s good! (It did take a while to get there)! He’s got his own relationships with the kids. Sometimes, being true, compassionate and loving to yourself is the most important thing you can do.
I’ve been fortunate to be guest at a wedding with my sister – her friend is Muslim and the wedding was beautiful, compassionate and full of love.
I’m also a Licensed Wedding Officiant/Minister and have had the honor of Officiating a number of weddings, including couples who are gay and their marriages are recognized and legal. They have experienced years of needing and receiving compassion and love.
And so now, I wear a safety pin with a heart on it. It’s my bridge of love and compassion reminder. It indicates support for those in fear of being bullied or persecuted for who they are. I want to honor race, gender, those with disabilities, LGBT, immigrants and those who practice spiritual paths other than my own. It’s a bridge of love that crosses the barriers … oh, so many barriers … and recognizes the goodness and Light in others. I’m handing them out to my friends … I can be a bit of a ripple of in this tiny corner of my world – it’s one thing I can keep practicing …
… compassion and love ….