Recently, I was nudged backwards in time to my mid-twenties. Although I treasured how smart I was, I was undoubtedly very unenlightened. I have never been much of an athlete, but I was exceptionally good at jumping to conclusions. Many of them were false, some were potentially harmful, and for some of those opinions, the harm was done fifty years ago and is still perpetuating all manner of negativity. I may have worked through the stuff personally, but what happens when strong words affect someone else? Those ideas may still be in someone’s subconscious mind.
Let me try to explain.
The other night my younger sister called, very happy that she had finally seen a psychologist for counselling. She sounded so hopeful and free. She said that she had spilled her guts, revealing secrets that she had never told anyone.
She did have some terrible secrets. She had some heart-breaking experiences.
So she wrote about the two major secrets she had been keeping and sent them to her four siblings. She began the letter by saying that we all had had different parents and she knew that we would not have seen our family the way she saw it. Metaphysically this is true for all families. We each have our own experiences and our memories will reflect our world-view.
I thought I knew about the secrets but was shocked to see that I had played a big part in one of them! Me–her biggest supporter!
Right when she needed my love and compassion the most, I made assumptions about the situation that were only partly correct. I judged her. I scolded her. I belittled her. I probably made her feel worthless. (Hold on a minute, no one can make you feel anything.) My self-righteous words acerbated her feelings of low self-esteem. They helped her feel ashamed and guilty.
It reminded me of one of our core concepts that we can use by examining our motives with the question: “Would you rather be right or would you rather be healed?” Now I know I would rather be healed. I know I was not completely heartless. If I had known her whole story, I would have been kinder and more compassionate. But at the time, I was pretending to be Don Quixote, wanting everyone to be respectful and wise. These qualities are great qualities,but maybe disrespect was the perfect way to be in those circumstances.
This is not the first time I have had to look at how my judgmental, critical self has gotten in the way of deeper intimacy. However, seeing my actions through the eyes of an injured heart-broken child has given me a gift of self-reflection.
There are three questions you could ask yourself before saying anything. These questions have been attributed to Rumi, Sai Baba, the Quakers, poets and many others. I could not determine who said them originally but they are: “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?”
In my case, I was not yet self-reflective. The world seemed pretty black or white to me then. I could only have answered yes to the first question and then I only had part of the facts.
When I read her email, I lost my peace. I felt regret and sadness. Then I remembered the power of self-love and self-forgiveness. I remembered that given who I was at the time and what I knew, I did the things that would have been typical for me. If I had known better, I would have done better.
Now is the time to accept what is. Now is the time to forgive myself. Now is the time to choose to see through a peaceful heart and a quiet mind. Right now I choose to feel hopeful and filled with Divine Guidance.
This was a perfect week to begin our Peace Meditations. I needed it.
This is what I know for certain. It is never too late to make a new decision. Consciousness is always demonstrating itself. Life is good. The Universe is for us, even when we don’t know it. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
|Part of our Peace Garden|