Filled With Loving Kindness: Hard Lessons

Filled with loving kindness.  May I be filled with loving kindness.  May you be filled with loving kindness.  May we be filled with loving kindness.  May we be well.  May we be peaceful and at ease.  May we be whole.

I pray those words every morning rather like holding on to a tattered rope while dangling off a cliff these days.  I want to be filled with loving kindness.  At moments, I think that maybe I am.  Then, along comes another moment filled with someone else’s rage and that’s what I’m filled with.  Then, along comes news that someone advocating racist positions has been given a new government position of leadership and the ensuing fear fills me. Then along comes someone who wants to make one big joke of the whole thing or who is celebrating the rise of bad ideologies and because I cannot laugh with them, grief fills me.  Then, along comes a conversation with someone I expect to be a friend and an ally who chastises me for not seeing things his or her way, and hurt or anger or both fill me. Then, along comes news that violence this year against Muslims in this country is up 68%, and the disbelief, still the inability to comprehend how my country became this hateful, fills me. Then, someone else I counted on to be in my community disappears, and lonliness fills me.

Somewhere in the unfolding of a day like this (and so far, since the election, every day is like this for me) I come to bed time, and all that has filled me wants to crawl into bed with me.  I find some way to begin to pull these energetic leaches off of me so that I can sleep, and exhaustion is what fills me along with what is left of loving kindness–a worn, tattered rope with my clutched finger prints on it.

I know that I am not the only one who is experiencing their inner and outer life like this.  I also know that people deal with it differently.  Many people deal with it in ways that I’ve listed above.  I see that, and because I see that I cannot just blow them off and tell them to take a hike.  Some of them are friends and family members.  Some of them are colleagues and students.  Some of them are simply fellow Americans.  Some of them are fellow Unitarian Universalists.

When we pray to be filled with loving kindness, I am learning that we are also praying to be opened up into a wider embrace–of people, of their experiences, of their own wide ranging emotions.  My inclination is to run and hide and seek loving kindness for myself, for my comfort, and yet, both loving and kindness require relationships.  Damn!  But, they do.  And that’s what I’ve been praying for.

Loving kindness is a very hard lesson for me right now.

Bob Patrick

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