Sometimes we need to see the world anew.
Yesterday at the soup kitchen, a voice came from behind me, “Dead Can Dance! I love them. Did you get to see them?” Ah. My concert t-shirt. Yes, I responded, I just saw them at the Greek Theater. “I got to see them at the Paramount around six years ago. They were great!” he replied. We chatted about their music for a moment, and what a great venue the Paramount is, then he went to pack up the food he was taking away and I returned to scrubbing things.
Six years. At some point in that time period he went from buying expensive concert tickets to eating soup and salad at the house of hospitality. I don’t know his story. He might still have a home and even a job. Some people who eat here do. He might be on Social Security, though that is hard to get these days. He might be on the street, though he didn’t yet have the look about him of a longtime sidewalk denizen. I didn’t ask. He deserves his privacy.
All I know is this: the world runs on too many assumptions, too much of the time. I try not to fall into that trap, but it is not easy. Even in my openness and vigilance, I still make assumptions about others. This is part of why service is such an important part of my life: service helps me toward gratitude and humility. Service helps me to do better at not making snap judgements, which therefore helps me to remain more curious about the world. Sometimes service breaks my heart. Sometimes my heart needs to be broken.
Service is a spiritual practice to me, just like meditation, prayer, offerings, or exercise. Meditation helps my mind to slow down and open up enough to let in something new; service does this for my heart. This nourishes my life.
What allows you to see beyond your immediate thoughts or conditions? What connects you?
Will you share that with us? I’d love to hear about your process and your awakening.