Delivering Compassion Part 3: From Roger Housden’s book Sacred America

Delivering Compassion continued from part 2.

 

“ONE OF THE BEAUTIFUL FRUITS

OF BEING A MAIL LADY 

WAS THAT IT GAVE ME

THE CHANCE TO 

CULTIVATE DEEP MINDFULNESS.” 

 

 

…come into my mind as a result. Or, I would promise myself that whenever I reached a certain corner I would observe something I had never seen before-and this was after years of reaching the same corner every day.”

 

There was one particular gate that was difficult to open, she continued. She swore at it for years until she finally realized she had a choice to do something different. From then on she would chant the words “May The way Begin for Everyone” as soon as she saw the gate.

 

When someone approached her wanting to chat, instead of hoping he wasn’t going to talk her ear off, she would say under her breath, “May I welcome this persons’s presence into my life.” People would want to engage with her every day; she would find herself not giving advice so much as being a true listener. Dogs, kids, the elderly:

 

“Everyone responds to an open heart

more than anything”

 

and the community embraced her. Every day she would find herself accepting two or three gifts.

 

” I used to imagine my thoughts were on ropes that were only ten feet long,” Susan said, laughing a long, almost raucous laugh.

 

I would see that only a few seconds would go by before one of those thoughts would convince me it needed a rope fifty feet long. Then, all the other thoughts would say, “Well, if that one can be on a fifty-foot rope, so can we.” Before you know it, you have spun off somewhere else altogether, and maybe you have passed up an opportunity to see a flower, or a kid who wants to come and show you his new stuffed animal.

 

Cultivating this attitude gave me something I could apply anywhere whenever I could see that my mind was distracted. Over the years, I realized that if I can keep my thoughts on ropes ten feet long, there’s no reason for me to think I need to change anything or do anything different. It showed me that everything just keeps evolving exactly as it should. That was one of the beautiful fruits of being a mail lady. It gave me the chance to cultivate deep mindfulness.

 

Now I see that any job can do that. I know now the value of a routine. If we are content within a structure, we can know the infinite. Being content with a day job doesn’t mean selling out. It means being at rest in the limitations-the structure-of daily existence. The fruits of my job only emerged as I became at rest-at rest in the knowledge that I was making a difference, both to myself and others.”

Suddenly I heard the subtext beneath Susan’s story. She had re-created in a more conscious way the belonging she felt in the natural environment of Orcas.

 

“THE JOB OPENED

MY HEART,

SHOWED ME THE

INSECURITIES AND

JUDGMENTS I CARRIED

AND HELPED ME

LET GO OF THEM. “

 

 

 

 

Home is Where the Heart is