In this time of flux and change, there are stories that touch us. Stories that speak of a deeper stream inside life, helping us to notice, to remember, or to realign.
I recently heard of a young American woman who lives on the ground floor of an apartment building in the East Village. Her next door neighbor is a Bedouin woman.
Their apartment buildings are separated by a wall, and in the late evening she would hear sounds coming from the Bedouin woman’s back yard. She came to discover the woman slept at night in the garden. The woman wore a burka, and the young American did not know how to welcome her neighbor.
One day the American woman peaked over the fence and said hello. And although they did not speak the same language, they both grew flowers, and over time, they began sharing flowers and giving each other presents. And then the Bedouin woman shared some herbs which she had grown.
That the women found a way to make a simple connection, and to care, is what touched me. I know how powerful such a small kindness can be.
Several years ago, I experienced the devastation of sudden loss. In a moment, a relationship of four decades was gone. I was just about able to function, as I remember walking down the street, but I was numb. And I felt utterly alone.
I recall walking by a small house that was being remodeled. A construction worker looked up, and gave a smile like the sun. So radiant it was, filled with light, that it took me by surprise, bringing me back, reconnecting me to the incredible beauty of life. I am sure we all have experiences like this. How important it is to notice these moments, to recognize their gifts.
I have often witnessed this magic when we sat in silence with the women in the shelter. Most had lost their home and work, and sometimes, a loved one. One morning, after silent meditation, a quiet young woman holding a lap dog spoke up. “I don’t know any of you, but somehow I feel we are connected. I don’t know how it’s possible to feel connected!” This happened many times, a reconnection of broken threads.
And now, during the pandemic, while we cannot sit together, I sense a deepening aloneness in myself, and among neighbors, friends. Yet in this aloneness is a deeper way of being that we might recognize as a way to care for life, to love life.
Inspired from a dream, I began to write about this feminine way of healing, and shared some writing with a friend. Her response echoed what I had begun to sense, of the larger implications of this way of being. Here are her words, with her permission:
“The sacred wholeness in ourselves meets the wholeness in the other, ‘the health that is never lost’, always orienting to wholeness. I love the Quran passage, I was a hidden treasure and I longed to be known, so I created the world. It’s seeing and reflecting that hidden treasure. I had a recent insight, that we can take this same approach of seeing the wholeness and the health for our beautiful planet, societies and uprisings taking place. The news is full of broken, and I am reminded again and again to see the wholeness.”
It is not easy now to hold this awareness, this attention. But for me, it is often in the silence that I feel a connection restored, allowing me to see the life around me with fresh eyes. Sometimes in meditation I see an image of a plug being inserted into an outlet.
On such a morning I heard these inner words: This smaller linking up is part of a greater linking up.
I can barely touch upon the meaning of these words, so I will leave them as they are for now. But these words carry profound understanding of the need for us to reconnect to the sacred within and the sacred in life.
And this is often in simple ways, as there is much need now, wherever we are.
Quote used with permission from Zakira Beasley.