April 5, 2020
A NEW WORLD?
The Buddha as a little boy had a heart-wrenching experience. As he observed the plowing of the fields for a spring planting, he saw a worm struggling for life as the blade cut through its body. The Buddha, or Siddhartha as he was known before his Enlightenment, was frozen somewhere between grief and broken-heartedness. His life would never be the same. He had experienced the cruelty and sorrow that lurk in the shadows of every creature’s life. This experience was a major factor in what would become his life of compassion.
The current Covid-19 experience is no less than heart-breaking. Only a few days ago, I wondered how we are going to recover from the economic setbacks that threaten our livelihoods and well-being. Now I wonder who will become sick and who will die. Like the blade of the plow cutting through the soil, our lives are torn apart with anxiety and dread for ourselves and others. It is precisely in moments like these that we need to rise up and be compassionate with ourselves and one another.
We are invited to become aware of the priorities in our lives. Not a day goes by when the sad news of sickness and death invites me to truly examine myself to discover what matters most. I have come to see it is not as a matter of “what” but “who” matters to me. Of course, I think of family and friends. But I have come to feel in my heart a concern for everyone. As I light my evening candle of hope at seven o’clock, I shed a tear for each and every person who lives in the place I call home – Earth.
I can now identify with all those who suffer fear and anxiety for I myself feel fear and anxiety. A wonderful counselor once invited me not to run away from my feelings or even try to change them. She invited me to enter into them. I have come to realize my anxiety and fear is no less than my love for others. Now I embrace my fear and cherish my anxiety for they remind me to love others.
Compassion for others is the meaning of life. Jesus warned us not to lose heart. It is where our treasure is found. There in the depth of our hearts we discover what it means to be a human person. I may not have much time on Earth but I pray that every second I have will be an expression of the care and concern that lives in my heart.
Finally, I am invited to remember the courageous people around me who dedicate themselves to the service of others. Where does such generosity come from? It comes from the depth of the human heart. As I see dedicated children, women, and men sacrificing themselves for other suffering people, their example invites me to give of myself in whatever way I can.
A new World is being born. We will never be the same. Not a day goes by now when we are not invited to love one another.
Tom, C.P. with the Board of Directors
The Interfaith Peace Project