Dec 17, 2012

Sandy Hook and the Healing Power of Compassion

"Compassion, or the sense of shared humanity, of our kinship with each other: This is what heals." ~ Pema Chodron

The pain, at first, felt strangely personal. Strange because these were not my children. And, yet, any one of them could have been. As a mother, I feel the loss of any child as a momentary, primal terror. It's every parent's greatest fear, lingering always at the periphery of conscious awareness.

Then it expanded outward as I thought of all those parents spending their first night in the cold grip of unutterable grief. And I sobbed. And I sobbed. And I sobbed.

As I surfed the web that afternoon, checked in with friends on Facebook, and read the unfolding coverage, I gradually became aware again that this was a shared experience. Everyone I knew was in shock... naturally. It's always something of a relief -- those moments when you realize you are not alone in your sorrow.

So I thought of Pema Chodron and of her lectures on the constructive use of suffering for personal and global healing. Some time ago, I posted her explanation of the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Tonglen. As we breathe in the sorrows of the world and exhale our love and compassion, we participate in the conscious transformation of the planet.

Through our own personal experience of pain and struggle, we find compassion for the suffering of others. And when these news-making tragedies fix our collective attention, we are reminded that we are part of the shared heart of the world. Our heart chakras are ripped open as the consciousness of our interconnectedness expands.

As news of the tragic shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, rippled across the globe, Mari Lolarga found a candle in his home in the Philippines and lit it in honor of those who died.

. . .

"May Allah give courage to all families to face it bravely, may the souls of those angels rest in peace," said Ghulam Murtaza, an elementary school teacher from Pakistan.
Danbury mayor: 'A horrific day'

In Lithuania, a teacher identifying herself as Veronika commented: "I send all my love and prayers to the families. It is all I can do from so far away, but my heart is now in Newtown with all the affected people. God bless them all."

. . .

Lisa Garnier from Canada said she and her husband were so devastated by the news they both sat down and cried.

I read something recently about the Maya trying to end the fear-mongering about their ancient calendar and the panic about the pending 2012 end date.

[Felipe]Gomez's group issued a statement saying that the new Maya time cycle simply "means there will be big changes on the personal, family and community level, so that there is harmony and balance between mankind and nature."

It was but another reminder that the "shift of ages" holds the promise of bringing humanity into "right relationship" with the world we inhabit. So here we stand, on the eve of "the end of the world" remembering that we are all mothers... and fathers... and sisters... and brothers... and children.

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