I'm going to be traveling tomorrow to NYC. In case I don't have the opportunity to post, please accept this in its place. _________________
While we are contemplating the Spiritual State of the Meeting and other important issues, I thought I might share a story from my own life. Within the past few days here on the listserve we’ve talked about assumptions, appearances, and judgments. I'd like to share an anecdote, which I hope draws together several pertinent threads of discussion.
Some years ago, I attended a Church who counted among its members a very talented musician. She played the harp professionally and had the natural skills to show for it. Much of her identity centered on the instrument she played. Even her personalized license plate reflected the emphasis that being musical and having the necessary talent played in her life.
To me and a few others, she always came across as aloof and distant. I never was sure how to approach her, or how to even start a conversation. Our paths crossed several times, and as one might expect, each time, my impressions were not favorable. She seemed perpetually standoffish, perhaps even smug or condescending. In short, I thought she was a snob.
We never interacted socially outside of Church. However, little did I know, that would be soon to change. One routine day in the middle of the week, I had an appointment scheduled with a specialist. After arriving, I took my normal seat out in the waiting room. Looking closer, I saw that she was there as well. Deciding to strike up conversation once more, I briefly mentioned the reason I was there. I could have never predicted what happened next. She grew instantly excited, talkative, and warm.
It seems she had been visiting specialists for years, having no luck at all, and trying to successfully manage a chronic illness. After she made the connection that I, too, had been through similar circumstances and challenges, her entire attitude towards me changed. I will never forget how she gave me a spontaneous and energetic hug, rushing towards me almost as a child would do. Finally, someone else understood her frustrations. Amazed, I accepted her hug graciously, astonished at the sudden transformation.
When her name was called and I was once again alone in the waiting room, I began to completely reevaluate my initial beliefs about who she was. Instead of a person who could not be bothered to even say hello, I recognized that she had been in lots of pain over a very long period of time. We all cope with pain in different ways. And I found myself wishing I'd been more understanding earlier, even granting to her the benefit of the doubt. It’s easy to judge before we are given a full presentation of the facts.
In the Light,