Beliefnet
Beginner's Heart

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via google

I know, your mother told you not to. But now you’re a grown-up, and I beg you to reconsider. You’re sooo missing out!

Yesterday I had the loveliest conversation with two strangers — two of the many I meet daily. Two of the many I almost always talk to (much to the eye-rolling of my beloved!). One of yesterday’s visits was at the place where I get my nails done (I can NOT go to my niece’s shower w/ ratty nails!). A lovely woman several years older than I am had driven in from McAlester (about 3 hours from Tulsa) to celebrate her big birthday. She’s 3 years into her breast cancer survivorship, and glad to be alive. In for a facial & makeover, she & I talked as we waited.

She has a son & daughter — the son lives near his parents. Her husband is recovering from a heart attack/ stint operation several years ago, and we discussed the rôle of caregivers. Her insights were helpful, as I work through my beloved’s fall, and now the birth of a grandchild w/ some challenges. It wasn’t only her giving to me, I hope, though: I listened. And (I hope she could tell) I learned.

The other was with a new employee at the salon where I was waiting. We chatted about the demise of a small restaurant nearby, and exchanged the currency humans have tendered for millennia: ‘gossip.’ Why the restaurant closed, the lack of people skills on the part of the otherwise immensely talented chef. And connected, word by shared word.

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via google

Listening (and learning) are grossly neglected in today’s hectic culture. Whatever you worry you don’t offer, you have ears. You have a face that can show you’re listening, that you care. How important that is! And if you share a bit of your life, with the stranger who shares his or hers? That’s the connection between us all made manifest. I breathe in, you breathe out. I talk, you hear. You talk, I hear. And BAM! We’re obviously connected, even though we were connected by so many other tenuous threads before we ever met.

I know — it sounds both hoodoo-ey and roll-your-eyes disingenuous. But trust me: it’s also impeccable Buddhism. The ability to offer your listening human heart to a stranger? Who may just need a touch on the arm, a smile, a moment of your attention? Wow — how often have each of us been touched by just those infinitely precious gifts?

So tomorrow? I’m going to sit for at least 5 minutes w/ the woman married to my niece’s husband’s co-worker, who is driving in w/ her pre-schooler to attend the shower. She will know no one but my niece. And soon, I hope, me. After all, it’s all about strangers…and connection…and beginner’s heart.

 

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