The past few weeks have been busy in a learning sort of way. I like that, even when that learning comes by sadness. We need to know we can feel that, and make it known.
First, I noticed on my facebook page that someone had put up a message saying he/she was upset about people who abandon longtime pets at shelters; how cruel it is to leave a pet who has been with you so long. That touched my heart, and I felt sad about that, too. Then, something happened –
When my friend, Jack, was dying, we went to visit him. In the bed nearest the door was a man who had just been admitted to the care facility. He was nearly blind, and this would be his last place. We had brought our dog with us to visit Jack. He liked her and she seemed to brighten him. The man in the other bed wanted her to visit him, as well. So we let her go over to him. He said, “I had to leave my dog. I had to leave him.” He was trying not to cry. I don’t think I’m going to forget hearing that. The employee we spoke to said he had no one. And, as obvious, the dog could not come with him. We left shortly after that, I was having trouble not crying. We had a 53 mile drive ahead of us, I cried most of the way home. I’ve seen a lot in my life, and I don’t cry easily, even when I feel something deeply. This, well. . .
Do you see the thread here? So, it’s a good thing there are shelters. I know, in another situation, an elderly woman had to go to an assisted living facility, her neighbor took her dog and he takes him to visit her. He had a dog already, but he took this one and they both go with him everywhere. You see, he saw that need and was in that moment to respond. Let us hope we will have clear vision, and be in those moments so, when we are able, we will respond to need. The many ways we can respond to suffering, when our minds are open.
Two things I learned from this: How easy to judge when we aren’t exposed to a wider story. How easy to miss a need to which we might have been able to respond. Oh, that judging thing. It sneaks up on us. We have to keep learning and reinforcing, don’t we? We have to teach others, too. We have to notice our thought life, continually.
Then, just recently, I had my moment of being judgmental, in nearly the same way without even realizing it. We are having fires in our area. I had been listening to the radio about all the machinations that go with fires, including the fact that now animal rescue folks were having to get prepared to receive abandoned animals. I came into a friend’s home loaded with outrage at people who abandon their animals in evacuation from a fire. I was angry about that. I wouldn’t do that. My friend (she’s very wise) said to me that nobody wants to abandon their animals. But, animals often run and hide when frightened. They can’t always be found. You have to make escape possible, and hope you will find them again. It took my breath away – thinking about having to go through that – it took my breath away. I thought about my situation. I live in town, not out on a ranch, or remotely. My dog isn’t out in our backyard without someone watching her. She’s in the house quite often, right where I can easily reach her, but it could happen.
Do you see? Suffering is already present, and we then add to it with judgment? We must change. I am thankful my friend was willing to answer my judgment with information. It has heightened my awareness; not only to judgments and attitudes I hold, but to wanting to clear those so I can be more present to be of help, to know when I might offer, or respond to a need.
Last one, a person posted on facebook a derisive remark about those on foodstamps, comparing them to the signs you see in national forests about not feeding the animals because they will become dependent. That was sad. I have known people who, for many, many reasons, wound up in need and had to rely on gov’t aid. People whose family members became ill and they had to care for them; people who went back to school to get out of minimum wage jobs; people who had illnesses that became more prolonged than jobs or personal resources could tolerate. Suffering upon suffering. Let it not be.
These are my most fervent hopes: that I will try to continually examine my thoughts; be surrounded by folks who can “school” me; that I’ll see and hear my judgmental self when she shows up, and get the point; that I’ll be willing to change; and, I’ll be open to seeing a need I might meet, when judgment has fallen away.
I know you must have hopes, too.
Thank you so much for stopping by. Lilie