The Caring Heart

with Dr. Joyce

For Powerful Peacemaking, Focus on the Individual

February 2014

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God”
(Matt. 5:9)

I have been practicing.  After doing some thinking, I decided I want to spread goodwill, friendliness, caring, cheer, and joy anywhere and everywhere I can.  So, I have been practicing getting better and better at smiling and saying something chatty wherever I go.  If a store checker has a name tag on, I try to refer to the person by his or her name at least once.  Before leaving a transaction, I say a cheerful, enthusiastic “thanks for serving me.”  I try to make it a point to say something nice about what someone else is doing or saying.  I suppose I could say that, in a non-intrusive, light-hearted way, I treat strangers kind of like I already know them, and kind of like we have something in common (our humanity).  So far, I seem to get good, warm, friendly responses.  

I’ve also been practicing doing more nice things for people, whenever I find an opportunity.  I’m going out of my way much more than I formerly did to offer care and attention that is special.  For example, the assistant manager of our credit union announced to me she is moving to Seattle.  Oh!  She has been such a helpful, nice gal there for quite a few years. We said our “So longs,” and gave a little hug.  Later, I thought, I wanted to do more, so I fixed up a nice farewell greeting card for her and dropped it off.  That extra effort tells her, “Yes, you are special and will really be missed, for sure.”

I’m getting better and more sensitive with my animals, too.  Wow, they really know a lot, and communicate a lot.  I keep my attention “antennas out there,” to notice their signs of their trying to get  messages across to me.  I know that dog Shauna Lee, sleek, black, gorgeous greyhound mix, is looking me intently in the eyes, perked up, and not wanting to go lay down somewhere else because another dog is laying in Shauna’s place on the couch.  I understand and move the other dog. She hops up, lays down in her spot, and is quite content. I know that quarter horse mare Belle is surely aware of what’s going on and is fully cooperating with me when I am trying to rake the manure out of her stall, to lay her first feeding down.  She may be hungry, but she moves “back” when I ask her to and now even gently walks out of the stall until I am done. We work together, in harmony and communication.  Makes me smile and feel happy.

When I sit down to this computer, cat Sparkles hops up in my lap, snuggles down, and takes a nap.  She is cozy here right now.  Then, I hate to get up because I don’t want to disturb her, and feel so flattered that she wants to be with me and close to me.  

Notice that such peace, in situations among individuals, comes through messages being sent reciprocally, in good will, with both individuals’ well-being graciously and carefully enhanced.  

When we walk our horses down the road out front, for exercise, and car drivers move over to the other lane and slow down, I wave, smile, and mouth “Thank you.”  They smile back and wave.  Consideration and warmth pass between specific individuals, specific consciousnesses.  

When an individual notices, interacts with, and successfully connects with another individual in peace,  be they human or other animal, SOMETHING POWERFUL AND ABSOLUTELY MARVELOUS HAPPENS.  They can know each other, on some level at least. They can become truly aware of one another’s personhood, or soul.  At some level, a bond is formed, even if brief, in which interest in the other’s well-being pops into existence.  The human or other animal is no longer an abstract concept, a “thing,” or merely a member of a species or clan or herd, he or she is a living soul, with feelings, intelligence, likes, dislikes, all of it.  And he or she can be KNOWN, by us, and vice versa.  He or she is a PERSON.  Our knowing the PERSON changes everything!!  Meaning becomes transformed!  

We can learn to be truly sensitive to others’ wants, needs, preferences, mannerisms, and so forth.  We feel warmth and pleasure about the interactions and about them, and they (hopefully) feel good, too.  

My point in the above is that, when humans can truly know one another, or truly know an animal friend, they are so much more liable to experience real compassion and empathy toward the other, and would shrink from harming the other.  Rather, if the situation called for it, they would be more liable to adopt a hero warrior’s stance, to protect and defend.  THEY BECOME ALLIES WHO DO NO HARM.  

We can, if we want to, thoughtfully increase our opportunities for spreading peacefulness and kindness by multiplying our positive interactions with others (of any species).  We need all of us to spread the peace on this planet of great suffering for so many.  Every act of reaching out, of kindness, reverberates throughout eternity. Every warm-hearted interaction stands a chance of changing someone’s hard-heartedness towards other people or the animals.  One horse trainer maintains that we should be the peace our horses seek, and the horses will always want to be with us.  Animals are SO sensitive!  A couple of unfortunate times, I was overly harsh in my voice and facial expression, in correction, to dog Shauna.  She stopped abruptly, and looked me full in the face with such a shocked, hurt expression on her face, like she just couldn’t understand what was happening, or why.  Did I feel bad!!  I thought, “Shauna, you are VERY sensitive.”  I NEVER do that anymore, I always watch carefully my tone of voice and facial expression to match what she understands and can handle.

Getting to know our animal family and friends, and human ones too, can deeply impact our hearts and minds, warming us up considerably if we pay attention –changing us, and increasing the possibility that others’ hearts will be warmer, too.  I don’t think our reading about what’s going on with huge groups has the same impact.  We may feel badly about awful things happening to hordes of people or animals, but seeing and hearing individual sufferers right in front of us has a deeper and more profound impact.  There is something about that immediacy and closeness and awareness that can cut us to the core.  Then, we can be frantic in our caring and wanting to help, certainly to not hurt.  If we are very upset about the plight of hordes, it is because we are conscious of the hordes being made up of sentient individuals.  In my drawer here, I have a cassette tape of a sermon given by the preacher of a huge Colorado church, in which he explained how Jesus had changed human life and society by making THE INDIVIDUAL important.  Before Jesus, the clan or tribe was what was important, and the individual people were expendable.  Jesus taught groups of people, such as during his Sermon on the Mount, but he also was very attuned to the needs of individuals.  He paid attention and responded with healing and help many, many times.  Also, he spent a great deal of time in one-to-one interactions with his followers.  He was a good, solid friend.  

I just read a book about Elizabeth Taylor, who had an extravagant lifestyle with great riches.  In her later years, when she saw good friend Rock Hudson and others suffering and dying of Aids, she was stricken with so much sorrow that she then spent years in organized efforts gathering millions of dollars to help victims and Aids research.  Individuals were the ones who made the difference in catching her attention and strongly motivating her.  

Sure, we want to help animals as much as possible, and as quickly as possible!! But, I don’t think we will be able to help them nearly as effectively unless we help other peoples’ hearts warm up, also.  We need to make friends, with as many humans and other animals as possible.  We need friends, too.  We need to help humans get to really know animals as much as we can, so their hearts will turn away from hurting them in any way.  We need to capitalize on opportunities as they come up, and to create opportunities as possible, to forge positive links between souls of any species.  Can we all decide to practice these skills more than ever?  Reaching out and responding more than ever?  I think, and I hope, that I have gained more ideas and interaction skills than I had before I started practicing.  The animals need ALL of us, every day, involved the best we can.  

A response that I have heard quite a few times concerning awful things that are happening is, “Well, I can’t do anything about it.”  Huh-uh!   Oh, yes, we can!  I’ve read the true stories of quadriplegic accident victims who God uses powerfully in this world.  Everybody can do something extra to bring more peace, more good will, more kindness, more caring, more love, if we can just examine how we spend our time, and create more ideas, and then consistently follow up.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said that even if we can do just a little, we should do the little that we can do.

AMEN!

HEARTS TOUCHING HEARTS IS WONDERFULLY POWERFUL!!                       

Copyright 2014 The Caring Heart