“Honesty without kindness, humor, and goodheartedness can be just mean. From the very beginning to the very end, pointing to our own hearts to discover what is true isn’t just a matter of honesty but also of compassion and respect for what we see. Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason why is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering. We’re discovering the universe.”
On the way to work earlier this week riding the train to the 2nd district of Vienna, an elderly man caught my attention. He wore an attire of black dress pants, a starched white, shirt with a blue-stripped tie and a tweed jacket as he sat by the window. The jacket hung loosely over his shoulders which he adjusted every once in awhile with trembling hands. There was a black winter coat neatly piled beside him on the train seat. A faraway look shone in his eyes through his metal-rimmed glasses. He glanced in my direction when I entered the train, but looked straight through me.
In both hands he held some wooden beads, while his lips moved silently. The crease between his eyebrows grew deeper as he held the beads with one hand and with the other moved a finger methodically in circular motion over one bead at a time. And then onto the surface of his pointy finger of the opposite hand. Eventually, he put the beads away in the inner pocket of his jacket.
Momentarily he wrung his hands together and then adjusted his jacket once more. He pressed his lips together and took a long, deep breath. Afterwards, lightly placing his hands together at the fingertips holding them in a thoughtful pose.
Right before his stop he stood up and put his arms into his jacket and then donned his elegant winter coat.
It so happened that we were getting off at the same time. He was slightly confused as he stepped onto the platform. He needed a moment or two to orientate himself before disappearing into the shuffle.
It struck me how many people have a heart full of so many different things that we can’t possibly ever know. We face each day in our fragility and try our best to get through life. Let’s keep our hearts open even in the midst of our vulnerabilities and be compassionate. First to ourselves and then to others. In patience, hold your essence gently and sacredly.