I Am Truly Blessed
This afternoon, I have the great fortune to be sitting at Java Beach in the Ocean Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. I am struggling with a sore on the bottom of my right foot, which the doctor tells me will only heal if I stay off my foot. Now, as you may imagine, being an at-home dad does not lend itself to staying off my feet. 🙂 However, as it turns out, my wife took a full week off of work this week so we could celebrate her birthday. So, I am being blessed with some help this week so I can rest my foot.
I happen to be in Ocean Beach because my family is at the San Francisco Zoo, this afternoon. My aunt (who lives in Michigan) is in SF visiting my cousin. So my dad, my wife, my aunt and my cousin are escorting my two little ones through the zoo whilst I sit in an awesome coffeeshop and write. I am enjoying the people watching of the Ocean Beach neighborhood and a lovely sugar free vanilla iced latte and some fantastic San Francisco fall weather. This is truly the life.
I have been reflecting on my life quite a bit over the last couple of weeks. Truthfully, I am blessed. Truthfully, I don’t always recognize it. We all know that times are tough and that many people have it worse than us. Regardless of how bad you have it, I can pretty much guarantee someone has it worse. I pulled into a Circle K/Chevron station to fill up on my only vice, Diet Mountain Dew. I saw an elderly lady collecting bottles from the trash to take to the recycling. In CA, we pay a deposit when we buy beverages in bottles and cans and then that money is paid back by some recycling centers. In my area, many lower-income individuals collect these items from the trash and then take them to the recycling center to collect. This lady at the Circle K was doing just that. Now, I always have plastic drink bottles in my van. Whether it is juice for the kids or bottles of water, there are usually several rolling around. I grabbed the 2 or 3 I could find and took them over to the lady. She gratefully accepted them and thanked me. I could see from the look on her face she was pleased, but also surprised I had approached her. I told her I had a couple more in the car if she wanted them. She nodded and I noticed tears coming into her eyes. She seemed to be very touched. I was in a hurry and didn’t stop to chat. I simply smiled and told her to have a nice day, went back to the car, and drove off.
A couple of things struck me about this encounter. First, I found myself surprised that a couple of plastic bottles could move someone like this. Upon further reflection, I realized it probably wasn’t the bottles. It was probably because I treated her like a human being. This lead me to the second thing; how pissed I was that such a small gesture was so out of the ordinary it touched her that much. I mean, come on, what kind of a world are we living in? People are so pathologically oblivious to the existence of other people, let alone their needs, wants, struggles, joys, etc. Why is this? What are we all so wrapped up in? Why do we treat each other so poorly?
I’m not sure I have any answers. I only know that I am compelled to recognize my blessings; to recognize my healthy family, my wife’s secure employment, my wonderful and challenging little ones. And, in light of these blessings, to follow the words of Jesus in Mark 12 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart… and Love your neighbor as yourself.” This sentiment of Love for God and people is echoed in all major religions. I don’t claim it as a Christian value alone, in fact, I think Christians are often the worst practitioners. In the Quran it says, “And what will explain to you what the steep path is? It is the freeing of a (slave) from bondage; or the giving of food in a day of famine to an orphan relative, or to a needy in distress. Then will he be of those who believe, enjoin fortitude and encourage kindness and compassion.” (Chapter 90, Verses 12-17). In Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita 6.32 reads, “When a person responds to the joys and sorrows of others as if they were his own, he has attained the highest state of spiritual union.” I hold to the belief that all Truth is divine Truth, regardless of the faith tradition it comes from. Therefore, I must conclude that the best response to our blessings is to Love others.
I hope, as you read this article, you will consider your own blessings and look to your life. How are your blessings becoming Love for others?
Thanks for reading,