Because of a meeting at work, I spent the last two days with a Buddhist priest.
In our forty eight hours together, I asked him a lot about his faith.
Fundamentally, he saw the world as a borderless garden where everyone is welcome and invited to plant seeds.
He suggested that each of us find our best, most compassionate selves when we help nurture the seeds that others plant, when we recognize the good in others and help them.
He said he believed that love and compassion existed within every person, that it was universal.
“When you recognize the good in another person,” he said, “they go on to recognize the good in someone else. It creates a ripple effect for a more peaceful world. In seeing the good in others, you polish the goodness in yourself.”
The priest said he tried to approach every human interaction as an opportunity to help.
"How can I help you?" he liked to say.
I got home late the first night, and kept K up late talking about the idea of trying to recognize the good in others as an everyday act.
I wondered if there might be a way to employ these ideas when The Mayor and The Rooster become entangled in their many, daily struggles.
[My children spend a good part of every day trying to annoy each other, poke the other in the eye or generally disrupt the other’s peace.]
I imagined pulling them apart in one of those moments where, as a parent, I am forced to intervene lest blood be shed.
What if, before I got down to the business of mediating the mac-n-cheese vs. hot dog debate, I asked each of them to quiet themselves and say something nice about the other person?
What if I asked them to stop and recognize the good in their sibling?
I wondered if, over time, the practice would result in mutual consciousness of actually liking each other.
[A mother can dream.]
The next night at dinner I suggested that each of us say one good thing about every other member of the family.
Taking turns, we did it and it was actually pretty nice.
After dinner, K and I were in the kitchen cleaning up while the kids finished eating.
[How long can one linger over a chicken nugget, grasshopper?]
As they usually do when left alone, The Mayor and The Rooster started in on each other.
K and I ignored them.
[Unless there are screams of pain, we try to shut out the bickering.]
Then we heard The Mayor say,
“I’m not going to talk about it with you anymore. You’re just trying to pick a fight with me and there’s no point in arguing.”
“Bravo!” I thought, until The Rooster responded.
“No, I’m not. YOU’RE trying to pick a fight with ME.”
“No, YOU'RE trying to pick a fight with ME.”
“No YOU are.”
Oh tiny green shoots of compassion, may I suggest you avoid my home address when attempting to blossom in the borderless garden.
Act for others first, with compassion.
Kindness has no borders.
You give, you grow, you transform.