Does anyone else do her best thinking in the shower? Relaxing under steaming hot water is one time in my day when I am completely in the moment. The cleansing ritual frees my mind of distractions. Thoughts float unbidden to the surface.
Yesterday, my thoughts fell upon the sad fact that humanity seems to have taken a giant step backward regarding illness. Over the past few years, we have re-attached shame to illness. The truth is withheld from friends and family; from neighbors who care and are a potential source of aid and comfort; from others whose suffering is similar to our own, thus would be comforted by our understanding. If the truth is told, it is in hushed tones, and with the directive, “Don’t tell…”
Fear and love cannot co-exist. Fear has driven compassion right out of the equation. People are less able than ever to love and be loved. They are afraid and ashamed to be human, or to allow others to live in the fullness of humanity.
When my mother was a young wife, a neighbor had a miscarriage. My mother wanted to go to her friend to offer comfort. Earlier that year, my mother lost a baby to pneumonia: she understood her friend’s loss. My grandmother told my mother not to intrude. My mother listened to her mother, instead of her heart’s instincts. That incident occurred in 1953. When my mother told me the story 30 years later, she was still haunted by her choice to withhold compassion. “I should have gone to her… I should have gone.” Even so, all her life, each time my mother was hospitalized, she kept it secret. In her final illness, she said, “Don’t tell…” She blindly attempted to cut off the compassion she needed, and that others needed to give her.
When is it ever wrong to offer comfort, prayer, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, or the companionable silence of true empathy? To share in compassion? To bring more love into anyone’s life?
There is a difference between privacy and secrecy. Privacy is born of compassion, a matter of respect for others – and self. Secrecy, born of fear, is shame-based, disrespectful of others – and self. We are free to choose our philosophy of life. Why does humanity choose to live in fear, creating the need for secrecy and shame?
As women, we are gifted with unique instincts for compassion. Each woman can begin to create change from exactly where she is in her heart at this moment. Please join me from wherever you are, and we will step forward together into a new adventure, with our collective heart as our compass. Let’s learn to love and be loved…well.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.