Start With Hello. . .

Hugging my children a little more tightly today . . . again, today. The news of the latest school shooting brings hot tears and well-worn, knee-jerk reactions. But my heart urges me to resist the temptation to jump into the angry fray. Not that I’m not angry. I’m shaking with white-hot rage. The first draft of this post consisted entirely of effing eff eff eff eff eff. Except that I didn’t say eff.

It’s just that I know what little solace blame and vilification have given me in the past. Exactly none.

Not that there isn’t a place for outrage. It’s the fuel that ignites the kind of action that brings about real change. I just don’t see how shouting rants from our respective corners on Facebook is going to change anyone’s opinion. Nor will it help to heal the deep wounds that drive people to commit such unspeakable atrocities.

“Start with Hello.” An image of a t-shirt my daughter toted home from a Sandy Hook Promise assembly comes to mind. “It’s about reaching out to kids who seem troubled,” she said. Sounds simple enough, trivial almost. And yet I’ve heard the stories of people deterred from committing suicide by a single act of kindness.

“Start with hello.” This simple statement satisfies my own pledge to discover what simple thing I can do, given the resources immediately at hand. Postponing action until some later “right time” means postponing peace.

There’s a small encampment of homeless folks down our block. I confess that I despise the trash strewn around the camp. I worry for the safety of school children, including my own daughter, who walk by, not knowing the mental capacity of any of the campers.

And yet, my heart urges me to look beyond the shabby trappings. This camp is home to human beings, each their own unique expression of divinity. “There but for the grace of God . . . ”

“Start with hello.” Today, when I walk by the folks eking out a life on the sidewalk, I will look each in the eye and greet them. Acknowledge existence. Extend basic civilities. Smile.

It doesn’t sound like much. Inner Cynic is already scoffing at my pathetic ambition. But I’m onto its antics, and I remind myself of my own published words about facing tragedy.

I bring it all into my meditation time, in that still space where I and the Divine sit in sacred communion. In this sanctuary, I dare to hope for a beautiful world for my grandchildren, and when I do, my heart opens. Then I can infuse all that I do with my love for my family, for ancient groves, for heirloom tomatoes, for albatrosses and orangutans. Then it’s not about what small thing I am doing. It’s about what great thing Love is doing.”

~Love Earth Now, pp 229-230.

Small things, done with great Love, matter. I’m out the door and onto the sidewalk.

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  © Cheryl Leutjen