It’s Christmas Eve. If I could drive to your house, I’d bring by some homemade fudge. Don’t care for chocolate? Peanut butter cookies, then. Allergic to peanuts? How about chicken and dumplings? Wheatgrass juice? What would make you smile this holiday season?
Point is, “I love people.” When I was 12 years old I wrote this in my diary as if it were a confession. I just didn’t feel the hostility some people in my life seemed to feel. I resented no one. I did not understand the wheeling and dealing of manipulation. That is not to say I didn’t want my way whenever possible. (And I usually got it!) But something naturally occurring within my heart always pointed out the vulnerability, the desperation; the ache that underlies hateful behavior. So when I’d see it or read about it or experience it, I automatically saw something different. I began to realize that I did not feel angry or impatient or exasperated. My emotions were compassion for that person who was unable to connect, but who was desperately trying to do so.
That doesn’t make me feel like I’m special. It makes me feel like I’m responsible. That carries with it its own burdens. But I’m willing to try!
“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down, or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.” (Marvin J. Ashton)
I truly believe in the inherent goodness of each and every soul out there. We act, we react, we act out…but deep inside us is a spark of divinity, a measure of goodness and perhaps frightened tenderness. The branch we sit on doesn’t have to be solid and immobile, for we have wings! Let’s use this time of year to bring our bit of peace to the world, wherever we come from! A piece of peace, if you will. We can reach into our hearts a little deeper and demonstrate charity by simply giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Follow through on that good intention. Resist the impulse to become offended. Connect with somebody whose misbehavior shields them from pain. Make “Heart Hinge” your mantra. It’s the best gift we can possibly give to ourselves this festive season. It even outshines my delicious homemade fudge!