Friday, April 25, 2008

Creating Compassion

The little village I live in boasts under a thousand residents. Many of us are independent creative sorts that choose to live a simpler life, closely connected to Nature and migrated here from other parts. A group of us interested in art and creativity began meeting seven years ago. Last night at our meeting we had as our focus an interesting exercise in creating compassion through writing and art making. We were invited to bring an object from our homes that we live with but don’t really care for. We could loathe it, find it unappealing, or just be indifferent to it. But for some reason, we haven’t been able to get rid of it (sound familiar?).
We all unpacked our objects and looked at them, some of us making sarcastic remarks as we did. Our hostess then guided us to begin journaling from the object’s point of view, using “I am” sentences.
For instance, my object was a white china teacup and saucer, sprinkled with pink roses, that was from my Mother’s Depression-era wedding. She never really liked the pattern, as she preferred modern things with clean lines. But they were newly married, no one had money and this was a generous gift from a well-meaning relative. We used it for holidays and birthdays in our small family celebrations all my life.
My “I am” sentences about the cup and saucer were something like this…
“ I am delicate and feminine with a nick or two here and there acquired over the years.”
“I am dressed in shy pink roses, scattered about in neither a dramatic or creative manner.”
“I have never been truly appreciated by those who have owned me.”
“I feel out of place in a cabinet filled with earthy stoneware. I am old fashioned but not quite old enough to be admired for my antiquity.”
Next we were to write from our own perspectives and it was interesting to see how after hearing the story of the spurned object, our sarcasm softened and we wrote of more positive attributes… I even admitted to once in a while drinking tea from it to honor the potential usefulness and graceful utility that it embodies. When I do so I am having tea with my mother long since departed. I hear her say as she did several times,” These roses were never really “me” either, but as you get older you’ll find you are more accepting of them…” “Never!” I thought in my youth, but this is starting to happen little by little.
Later ,the cup gently whispered back, as I was doing the drawing exercise, “I am content in knowing that even when empty, I am filled with memories of happy occasions shared with those who have passed on.” I had to smile.
When we all read our comments and observations aloud, the results were almost prose poems and many amazingly reflected the personality and attributes of the writer.
It has been wisely said that many times the things we don’t like in others are traits we often possess ourselves!
Consider the peace that could be found in ourselves, our families, our communities, our world, if we each took the time to soften our judgment of the “other”, hear their story and perspective, and come to a place of empathy and compassion.
It is possible…it just takes effort, an open mind, and an open heart.
Try it and reap the personal benefits … and collectively we all will benefit…
Wishing you and the “others” in your life peace of heart and mind…

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