“The point is to belong to each other, not to be the most right.”
This month I’m asked to contemplate generosity, and how it shows up in everyday life. When I’m paying attention, there is never a dull moment to practice, to sense where the heart can stretch a little bit more to include another being.
It’s bed time. We ask her to put her phone away. The texts between these girls are never ending. Over one hundred in a short span of thirty minutes or so.
Her eyes are sharp, covering a subtle, dark disappointment underneath. I feel the heaviness in her heart, the sense of disconnection from an important social thread happening while she sleeps, while she dreams.
The next day, I gently approach her wounding, inviting her feelings into a conversation, listening. I don’t hide my care and concern for her sleep to freshly face the next day. I also don’t expect her to understand. It isn’t about who gets the final word, but holding us both in a circle of lovingkindness.
It’s 11:28pm. Still no sign of the patient. I can feel forearms and belly tense, mind spinning into the future. There goes lunch, fuel and rest before facing the second half of the day, beings needing someone to listen, someone to understand.
After the medical assistant (MA) finally rooms the patient, checks her vitals, and elicits the reasons for her visit, the MA walks out of the exam room with a raised eyebrow. She tells me the patient has been crying. More tightening in the forearms and belly, the heart door closing. “There goes lunch!” echoing through the mind. Help, where is the key of compassion???
As I walk into the exam room, every square inch of the body is yelling, “Quick! Speed read this chapter of the patient’s story and then get the hell out of there.” But heart-mind has a different plan. “Don’t bookmark the page just yet, Dr. Patel. You’ll like this story. It’s one where generosity plays a vital role.”
Taking a breath for myself and all caregivers who feel as if they are racing against time to be present to patients’ autobiographies, I relax a little more into the moment. Heart-mind helps to ask the right questions, knowing when to listen, move in a little closer to the patient, and when to bookmark the page so we can revisit her story at another time.
The visit ends with a sincere hug between two women, holding each other in a circle of compassion. I wonder if the patient will ever realize the significance of her story.
This month I’m asked to contemplate generosity, and how it shows up in everyday life. I’m learning that generosity is not a cultural ‘should’ or obligation to offer time, talents, or resources, but including myself in the circle of lovingkindness and compassion every day. When I can pause, breathe, and check in with heart-mind, an intuitive knowing flows to nourish and sustain the wellbeing of all life, no parts, no hearts left out.
As generosity (dana) becomes second nature, it turns into virtue (sila), not a one-time act of kindness, but a continuous way of life. May we hold each other in a circle of kindness and compassion. May we unlock hearts with the generosity key.