I always wonder if what I am doing makes a difference with someone. I talk with a lot of people, and work at being a problem solver, and, often, a mediator and decision maker.
My ears tend to focus on the negative reactions to our encounter, the anger, the frustration, the rage of the problem, their circumstances, maybe just life in general.
Yet, my spirit is drawn to listen with a deeper ear, listening for the connections we make, the compassion, the empathy, and the deep, heart to heart communication. My monkey brain, the continual analyzer and noise maker, tries to filter out this deeper conversation, this richer communication, and instead thrive on conflict and drama. Struggle and waging war with each other, and being loud and strident, those are the ideals of the monkey brain.
If I calm myself, and get in touch with my soul’s energies and voice, and go deeper into the experiences I am having with others, and with myself, then the real work, the real accomplishments are revealed. I become whole, and I am able to soar above the turmoil and conflict of the moment, and really see what is going on.
I hope that in much of our connections with each other, we want true understanding, true exchanges of information, viewpoints, emotions. In that work, something more than each of us is nourished, and that experience, that new wisdom and compassion and understanding begins to grow.
Last week, I had a good conversation with a young man striving to move ahead. The social and family obstacles he faces are enormous. His self esteem has been battered by the hurricanes that periodically sweep through his young life. Yet, from that conversation, he writes that he feels loved, he feels strong, and he believes in himself. He is ready to move ahead. He says I had a lot to do with how he now feels about himself.
Another young man tells me he is a failure, inept at whatever he sets out to do. Yet when I tell him he’s a good writer, an amazing artist, and, deep inside, a beautiful and loving man, he tears up. His eyes tell me he is really listening to me, in that deep, soul nourishing way that we all seem not to do very much. Our souls connect, and we both could feel that. When another person affirms my message, he nods in understanding. He left our encounter shoulders back, head held high, and the start of a smile spreading across his face.
I don’t know how my vineyard is growing. I sometimes till the soil, and plant a few new seedlings, or prune back a vine here and there. Sometimes I fertilize and water, but it’s pretty hit and miss. At least, my monkey mind analyzes it that way. Yet, the vines leaf out in the springtime, flowers do bloom, and the fruit on the vine often turns into sweetness in the sunshine of unconditional love.
I keep reminding myself that all things are possible, and I will never know all the fruits of my labors in the vineyard of life.
--Neal Lemery 11/13/2011