faith in humanity

Sometimes working in a retail store makes it difficult to have faith in the goodness of humanity. I meet some incredibly rude and inconsiderate people whose behaviour puzzles me. I just don’t understand some people.

On the other hand, I also get opportunities to witness some beautiful acts of consideration, thoughtfulness and cooperation. Last week I found myself in a busy and often frustrating area of the store, lots of product, many choices, and often nothing that looks exactly like what someone is looking for. So I was trying to help these two customers who had similar needs, one with a very particular product in mind, another with a less specific need, but for a similar product. Nothing on the rack seemed to satisfy either of these people.

When I went to the stockroom in the back to see if we had anything more than what was on the rack I discovered that there were single packages containing two of just the type of product these two strangers were looking for. The first thought in my mind was “if they bought this together they would both be able to get what they want, separately they would probably both throw away the second item. Together they could save money, make less waste, and both go away happy.” So, with low expectations of how my idea might go over, thinking that they would probably never go for such a preposterous idea as buying something in cooperation with a stranger, I grabbed two packages and headed to the sales floor. I humbly presented my suggestion about perhaps splitting the cost of the one package. Neither one immediately jumped at the idea, but neither person dismissed it either. I stood back and waited to see what might happen.

After passing the package back and forth for awhile, a magic set of words came out of the one person’s mouth: “I’d be happy to split the cost of this with you, and you can have first pick of which one you want, I don’t really care which one I get.” I was surprised and delighted. In cities, instances of cooperation and generous sharing can be hard to uncover, but these lovely moments do exist. The two went up to the cash desk and shared the cost together, also surprising and delighting the cashier with this cooperative act.

I wonder sometimes if more of us had more faith in humanity, if we trusted each other more, that we might find that we encountered more instances of cooperation and community, bringing out the best in one anothe, rather than the worst. So maybe next time you have the chance to cooperate or be generous to another person but are suspicious and doubtful, try being more trusting and optimistic – you too might just be surprised and delighted.

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time

I read the poem/prayer below at my Gradma’s memorial service yesterday (yes, the picture is of her). It wasn’t an easy task, but I managed to get through it ok. It was only the last sentence about savouring each moment that got me choked up – it still chokes me up as I write this now.

The reading is by Community of Christ author/poet/mystic Danny Belrose from his 2004 book Let the Spirit Breathe. I took some poetic license and changed all of the “I”s at the end to “we” for the group that was gathered. I’ll print it here as it was written, try reading it to yourself with “we” instead of “I” to see how it goes.

Time

I’m thinking about time, God.
Past and future – dying and birthing within a constant now.
Time, a precious gift constantly slipping away – enfolding our fleeting edges
of mortality, pressing us to make the most of that which is.
Sweep-second hands whisper,
“Tomorrow holds no promise, drink deeply now;
the grains of sand slip quickly!”

Time – a gift you never need, God.
Unfettered by its ticking walls
– you have not been nor will be but ARE.

What is time? A measurement of events?
A sequence of happenings?
A continuum of space, light, gravity?
Is it linear? Can it be bent, folded, revisited?
How difficult to devine, how demanding, how unforgiving!
A split second and lives are irrevocably changed.
A heartbeat and seeming unimportant acts
converge, steering fate – shaping lives,
living rooms, and nations.

How much time do we have to discover
who we are, where we are,
and where we should be?
For time is too priceless to spill and squander,
too fleeting, too precious,
too pregnant to leave childless!

Dear God, may I make all seasons springtime.
May I birth its pains and passions slowly,
squeezing out its childhood, taking time to dance and sing,
to give and take, to share one’s love, one’s life.
Time to heal and harvest, time to remember and rejoice.
Time to forgive, to forget, to move on,
to promise once again
-to dream and live the dream.

May I fill each year, each day,
each minute with abundant living.
May I walk in the present – not in the past.
May I plan for tomorrow and live for today!
May I stretch each waking moment
-wring each sweeping second dry
drop by precious drop and drink deeply
while it is yet day.

no room for form

On the night when you cross the street
from your shop and your house to the cemetary,

you will hear me hailing you from inside
the open grave, and you will realize
how we have always been together.

I am the clear consciousness-core
of your being, the same in ecstasy
as in self-hating fatigue.

That night, when you escape the fear of snakebite
and all irritation with the ants
you will hear my familiar voice,
see the candle being lit,
smell the incense, the surprise meal
fixed by the lover inside all your other lovers.

This heart-tumult is my signal
to you igniting in the tomb.
So don’t fuss with the shroud
and the graveyard road dust.

Those get ripped open and washed away
in the music of our finally meeting.

And don’t look for me in a human shape.
I am inside your looking. No room
for form with love this strong.

-Rumi