Mickey Reed provides today’s post about viewing this time of quarantine as a retreat at home. Mickey is a trained facilitator of Joyce Rupp’s Boundless Compassion program and will be presenting a Boundless Compassion retreat at our Center this fall. You can click here to read more about it and to learn about Mickey too.

Journey Together

Our quarantine time has given new meaning to the whole concept of retreat for me. I always thought a big part of retreat was leaving my little world behind to take time to explore my thinking habits with the idea that I could learn to more fully develop the three pillars of compassion. Joyce Rupp speaks of these as awareness, attitude and action. While on retreat I have usually found opportunity to look at my capacity for awareness and explore my attitudes towards the events of my life and the world around me. Much of the action part of my three-pillar goal, however, waited to find its full flourish when I returned home to the “real world”. I could then put into practice what I had gained on my retreat.

But now, sequestered alone in my own home and my everyday environment, retreat and real world are very often one in the same and the transition between my awareness and attitude to my everyday actions is much more fluid. I am seeing the every day world with the same heightened awareness on a regular basis. Practice and application have become simultaneous. There is no more lag time of “wait til I get home to put this in to practice”. While God has always been clear with me that  every moment is the time to be God’s compassion in the world, it seems I am finally hearing the message for its immediacy and have been placed in a situation where immediate practice is required!

I have experienced an amazing reinforcing power when my awareness, attitude and action come together in this way. This coming together of the compassion trifecta (awareness attitude and action) is re-forming me during these days of quarantine. With access to media and communication there is no way to NOT be aware of the suffering that is going on in the world today and because it affects everyone in the entire world, there also is no way to see myself as anything but an integral part of the entire world. There’s also no way to realize deep down inside that I am intrinsically connected to everyone in the world. Though I have prayed the metta prayer daily for many years, ”May all beings be safe. May all beings be healthy, may all beings be at peace.” I have come to know it anew. This new-found awareness of deep interconnectedness gives that prayer a lightning bolt jolt of reality. It makes the Hezekiah Walker song “I need you to survive” ring true in deep ways. You can listen to that song here.

And from that awesome awareness of our interconnectedness there spills over, on its own accord, compassion that I have no control over. If I can stay out of my head and continue to stay in that tender place of connectedness that I know in my heart, I find myself developing attitudes and actions of kindness and understanding. It springs from my new-found deep awareness of my place beside all others in our world. Together as one.

So when the neighborhood mom of four little ones chastised her kids so loudly I could hear her across the street, instead of closing the front door and quietly judging her as a ‘bad mom’, I found myself digging into my craft supplies and offering the kiddos some chalk, inviting them to color my sidewalk.

And when the phone representative for the bank couldn’t come up with the form I needed after multiple attempts due to what I thought was poor listening on her part, instead of me rudely disconnecting, I lamented with her how hard these times are.

The important shift for me was realizing I didn’t’ think my way to a place of better understanding of these situations. It’s just the blessing of a journey that at the same time can be incredibly difficult. When I stay in that tender place where I can feel the silver lining to suffering – together with everyone else in the world – God transforms the suffering into compassion. I have no doubt it’s all God’s grace. I just need to stay quiet and out of the way so God can lead.

May we all find abundant blessings in this mysterious journey-together.