Every morning around six, my dog and I are rambling along through the neighbourhood. Occasionally we see one of the neighbours but not often. I enjoy the silence as the sun rises while Toby enjoys the smells.
The other day an unkempt man came around the corner. His long dark hair and beard covered part of his face. He was carrying a large plastic garbage bag over his shoulder a smoldering cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He was, I surmised a homeless person, lost on his journey.
I could feel the reaction in my stomach. After the fear for my safety, comes judgment. My dog, being the protector he is, was barking and lunging to keep the man at bay.
He had slurred speech as he asked me directions, which further engaged my judgment. When I told him how far he had to go, he slumped his head and talked to himself.
Judgment comes easily. We continued on our walk, the regular route we take each morning. The voice in my head was wondering how such a person found themselves in our “hood.” “The neighbourhood isn’t what it used to be, “ I said to myself.
It was as though I was intended to meet this man. I had just returned from a week-long spiritual retreat in which we talked deeply about love and compassion.
Two people were speaking in my head. One judging this poor fellow and the other lobbying for love and compassion toward another human being who visibly had difficulties.
The man had turned and walked away after I met him, and so I did not expect to see him again.
As Toby and I came around the last block on our route, the wanderer showed up again. He had put on his jacket as the rain had started. He was sitting on the same corner of the sidewalk where we had met earlier. His head was bowed as though in deep thought while dragging on a cigarette.
I stopped, looked at him, and put my judgment aside and brought forward compassion for another human being.
How often do you judge someone else? Do you judge their motives or their actions?
We don’t know the whole history of those we judge. We do not know what is coming up for that person at the moment they are interacting with us.
Let compassion come first. As humans, we all have times we need compassion from others but do not or cannot ask for it.
When you let your heart speak first, you will enjoy knowing you are adding something useful to our crazy world.
I send good wishes and compassion to the wanderer and wish him well for wherever his journey takes him.