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On The Wild Creativity of Kindheartedness

We hear of migrants being shipped into Rockland County, and other counties nearby, from New York City.

Perhaps we feel imposed upon, invaded, frightened. Perhaps the environment around us is one of hostility toward the newcomer, the one who is different from us. Perhaps we are urged to “love our neighbor — and everyone is our “neighbor,” we are told.

Things seem too simple and, at the same time, impossibly complicated and demanding. We may want to give up on the issue entirely.

Perhaps it is time for us to treat the heated issue of migrants in our lives and, kindheartedness itself, with some new curiosity, some wild creativity.

For instance, the Chinese have a word, “仁”, phonetically (in Mandarin), “ ren,”
which is often translated as “kindheartedness,” or “humanness.” This character comes to us at least as far back as the time and the person of Confucius (about 500 BCE).

As with all Chinese words, this character “仁” has beauty hidden within it. The
vertical stroke by itself means “man,” or “a human being.” The two horizontal
strokes together mean the number “two.”

What does this mean? What is implied with this “two?”

Two fingers held up. Use your imagination and what do you see: this magic connection of hearts, this joy in companionship, wine glasses held up to the breeze, this help in trouble, delight in life.

Two fingers held up. Use your imagination and what do you see: this magic connection of hearts, this joy in companionship, wine glasses held up to the breeze, this help in trouble, delight in life

Yes, exactly, this word in Chinese means human beings are not isolated, but inherently in a caring relationship with others. We should not live isolated, cringing in fear and danger in the midst of the complexities and struggles of our individual lives.

We instinctively know the meaning — the human signals — we can fill in the details. We can open our eyes and our lives and we can learn to open them to each other!

This word coming down from so long ago glows in its vividness, its mystery, and
surprise, its call to us. It is a kind of reaching out to give us promise and hope: there
is deep personal relationship to discover in our lives, now!

These chances daily transform our lives and the complexities and struggles we face. Other people and their rightful places in our lives bring delights beyond our naming, just as they did their lives. A beauty surrounds the friend, the loved one, the child, the elderly, the stranger and draws us to them in large and small subtle acts of care that matter.

A beauty surrounds the friend, the loved one, the child, the elderly, the stranger and draws us to them in large and small subtle acts of care that matter.

They reach a kind hand, a word, a smile, to us in our struggle and everything changes.

Confucius knew the deep subtlety of our connection, the mystery of our bond with
others and how it reaches into all of our love of life beyond words. He spent his life exploring this magic. He knew that it reaches deep into our soul, and is the very
fabric of our soul. We know that this connection is the deep and personal journey of our life.

Perhaps, just perhaps, right now, it is time, and some transformation is lurking now
in our midst.


Nyack Farmer's Market


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