When senseless acts of violence are brought upon innocents, as they were in my hometown of Boston this week, it’s understandable that we become so terribly distraught, angry and helpless that we draw ourselves out of this world into some cave of our own making, physical or mental, that protect us from these unbearable feelings.
Yet, as we have been taught by our patient lamas, gurus and yogis, we must be braver than this. We must be brave enough to consciously carry these awful feelings in our hearts, and yes of course, grieve and rail, but ultimately turn them into a compelling compassion, from where we can look out and say, ‘What must I do?”
I am not a politician, therapist, social worker or city manager. I cannot make new laws, counsel the disturbed and poor or make new city protocol. I am an artist and a promoter of the arts, believing that the creation of things beautiful or the witnessing of things beautiful can uplift spirits, calm the mind and open the heart in profound ways.
When this happens, we are incapable of wishing harm on others, realizing that we are inexorably linked, because someone else’s images somehow tell our story, evidently that others feel the pain we feel, that others feel the happiness we feel. When we share the pain of others, it lessens for them. When we share the happiness of others, it grows and becomes a light that ignites joy in all around.
Just a few short weeks ago I was is Boston, because my mother was dying. My family from all over the world flew in. Fourteen to twenty of us crowded together in her hospital room for three days, telling stories, singing songs, playing instruments, weeping uncontrollable and laughing uproariously over and over and over again as we awaited her time, her last breaths on this earth. A little after ten in the evening, when her last breaths were evident, they were incredibly tender. Then she began to softly exhale with a low tone. One, two, three times and then there was a pause… then another inhale and one more long, low, gentle tone and she was gone.
At the base of her bed I was singing a song I had just recently learned from my ‘BlesSing’ hospice sisters:
Rest, rest, rest Peacefully rest, rest, rest. ‘Til we meet again Bodhisattva ‘Til we meet again… Rest.
My Mom was an enormously bright light in this world. I feel so blessed to have had the great luck to be her daughter. I feel so blessed to have been able to be there for her at the end. I feel incredibly awakened to the inexorable fact that our life is truly precious and brief, that we are filled with light and breath and warmth, that at any moment we have such an opportunity to be a blessings to others, and to never deny that we have the power to choose to be just that.
As my Mom’s brother, Uncle Woody, used to say,