Apology: The Alchemy of Compassion

I love how the Beloved takes my talks on the most amazing detours – just in case I’ve forgotten I’m not in the driver’s seat!  Anyway, it happened this past Sunday in our worship service.  We were talking about the Dalai Lama, happiness and sledding – yes, sledding – about how we can choose to pick up our sled and create new pathways to living in both the snow and in our brains.  Good stuff.  And, then we spoke about anger and I shared what the Dalai Lama has said of how he handles his own experiences of anger.

It was around this point I found myself sharing an incident that occurred many months ago, one I’ve not thought about since.  On this particular day, I was in a hurry as I turned into the Mobil Station parking lot, the one just down the street, and, without noticing, hastily pulled into the handicapped parking space.  As I came to a stop, I immediately began rationalizing.  “I’m only going in for a bottled water.” I thought.  “Won’t be a minute.”  So, in I went.  And, it was, I’m quite sure, just a minute or so.  Yet, when I came out a handicapped van had pulled up next to me and a 60ish looking man in a wheelchair was in the process of making his way out the side door of the van.

“Oh, my gosh”, I said instantly, feeling terrible, “I am so sorry!” When he didn’t respond, I started again, “I…” but suddenly he looked up and just glared at me, saying with great contempt, “Yes, you are sorry.”  I immediately felt a tension in my chest as I continued to get into my car. And the drive home was slow.  Yet, the incident soon dissipated from my memory – until today.

When we were doing the beautiful Chant of Metta, or loving kindness meditation, I suddenly remembered my mom being in a wheelchair in her last few years.  I remembered how very hard everything was for her.  And, I remembered riding in the back of her van, a van just like the one in the Mobile Station parking lot.

So, later that afternoon, as I enjoyed perhaps this year’s last warm lounge in my hammock, I suddenly felt a deep desire to send that man, making his way out of his van that day, not just my apology but my heart-felt compassion.  So, wherever you are on this day, dear man, this is for you…

I no longer can remember the details of your face.  But I remember the feeling.   I am sorry for the pain in your heart and for the struggle in your days.  I understand – though, admittedly from afar.  I am sorry that my haste that day added unnecessarily to your challenges of which I can only imagine.  May you be free from physical pain.  May you be free from suffering.  Wherever you are today, may you be well.  May you be happy.  Do you have a hammock?  Could you make your way in and out of one, with help?  If so, I would welcome you to mine…because, today, we did enjoy that cloudless blue sky, those sweet, cool winds of summer’s last blessing, together, you and I, as you were in my heart.

Thank you for being with me.  You are my beloved.


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5 responses to “Apology: The Alchemy of Compassion

  1. Peggy

    I have had those moments of understand and compassion,when it seemed to late. By sending a warm thought and pray i hope he recieved your sincere and deepest apology and smiled with recognition and acceptance.

  2. Ahjan

    Out of the realm of Love came forth the Alchemy of Compassion, quite a different feeling from the initial moment of apology, “I am so sorry”. But how do we open to the balm of Self-Compassion? I am often haunted by the revisiting of my own ‘chest tension’ when I have acted out of alignment. Even though the moment has passed, I get waves of discomforting remembrance. I know this is ‘my gift’, to be sure I learn from it, or learn how to leave it in the past, but tell me more about your self-compassion, letting it go . . . (or does it simply get filed away until such time that, in a quiet moment, the Truth is revealed?)

    • Stephanie

      Dearest Ahjan…For me, I notice that when I sit with what is really behind my own anger or try and imagine what may be behind another’s, I land on a kind of common ground, a place where all hurts reside…I remember that, whether in pain or joy, I am no different from my brother or sister…and, in those moments, I feel an innate connection to all…

      • Ahjan

        “A kind of common ground, a place where all hurts reside. . .” thank you, thank you, I understand the ‘letting go’ now. In the holding of the pain so personally, it has no chance to permeate and dissipate into the broader field and understanding of human suffering, which belongs to us all. (I am being told that there is a children’s story in that quote ~ obviously for children young and old.) Need a hammock!

  3. John

    Sending compassion into the universe, the universe understands and always finds a way to inform those in need.

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