Imagine the feeling of relief that would flood our whole being if we knew that when we were in the grip of sorrow or illness, our village would respond to our need. This would not be out of pity, but out of a realization that every one of us will take our turn at being ill, and we will need one another. The indigenous thought is when one of us is ill, all of us are ill. Taking this thought a little further, we see that healing is a matter, in great part, of having our connections to the community and the cosmos restored.
― Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief
In the final analysis, the question of why bad things happen to good people translates itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it has happened.
Are you capable of forgiving and accepting in love a world which has disappointed you by not being perfect, a world in which there is so much unfairness and cruelty, disease and crime, earthquake and accident? Can you forgive its imperfections and love it because it is capable of containing great beauty and goodness, and because it is the only world we have?
Are you capable of forgiving and loving the people around you, even if they have hurt you and let you down by not being perfect? Can you forgive them and love them, because there aren’t any perfect people around, and because the penalty for not being able to love imperfect people is condemning oneself to loneliness?
I love plants. For the longest time I thought that they died without pain. But of course after I had argued with Mary she showed me clippings on how plants went into shock when pulled up by their roots, and even uttered something indescribable, like panic, a drawn-out vowel only registered on special instruments. Still, I love their habit of constant return.
―Louise Erdrich, The Beet Queen
When water is being filled in a pot, the sound we hear is a function of the pot, not of the water. Same water makes different sounds in different pots. Each of us, described in Sanskrit as Ghata, meaning pot, responds in a unique way to the stimuli from the surrounding environment. Do not be surprised when the response of another appears entirely different from yours. The pot has created the illusion of a wall, of mine and other. Once you become aware of that illusion, otherness melts and the universe becomes a unified verse again, with apparently diverse responses becoming part of the same symphony.
Out of the new arrivals in our lives–the odd word stumbled upon in a difficult text, the handsome black stranger who bursts in one night through the cat door, the telephone call out of a friend’s silence of years, the sudden greeting from the girl-child—we constantly make of ourselves our selves.