Kindness, mercy, and forgiveness should be your practice. The man who does this will not have to find God, for God will find him.
Today, as mom and I walked up the gravel road at the base of one of the many mountains we are surrounded by, the sun illuminating every pebble and the vast blue sky cradling us on all sides, I felt tremendously happy... and hot. We trekked up the slight incline and discussed our newest creative venture. It was in the middle of our conversation that I noticed a sheep herder smacking his sheep with a jagged stick and throwing rocks at them to encourage movement. The juxtaposition of the wonderfully gorgeous scenery to this man treating these gentle creatures in such a heinous manner evoked a shocked silence in both of us.
When we commenced talking once again the tone was different and dialogue morphed to an ever sensitive and tragic subject, my mom's brother, Eric. Mom's youngest brother, the boy she treasured and helped raise, took his own life in his first year of college. My mom told me how she jetted off to Europe after it happened, needing solace and time alone. While in Italy a decrepit old man would scratch on her hotel door every night offering his affection. She said that after the man ceased and she drifted back to sleep, she would always see Eric, assuring her that he was OK and she was the same. As our feet carried us further up the toward the mountain she described her days in the week following her sudden voyage to Europe. She walked through Ravenna, Italy, alone knowing that being a blonde in Italy is comparable to being live bait, but she didn't care. Her apathy, she told me, was due to her extreme sadness. Then, her voice breaking as it inevitably does when we talk about her beloved lost brother, she told me she would invariably end up at a place of worship, sit down, and cry.
Though I can't imagine the pain of losing a sibling, I can relate to her feelings that sometimes the the events of this world simply don't make sense. As she talked about how sweet and hilarious her brother was and how great a deficit is left by his absence, I couldn't help but think of Joe. Yet another soul that left a mark on so many and left us before his time. Joe was victim of a hideous crime and died a little more than 2 years ago. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him and the effect he had on my life, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Though I am struck with a pang of sadness every time I picture his face or remember his ever infectious laugh, I know I am fortunate to have had such a hilarious, kind, and creative person in my experience.
Enveloped by the sky and feeling my feet's steady imprints in the desert dirt, I ruminated on violence. Violence towards oneself, another human, or animals, each one provoking heartache. A year ago I kicked my brother in the stomach for throwing a basketball at my nose. His expression as he fell to the ground waling in pain is imprinted on my brain. He will remember it forever and no amount of apologizing can take it back. Though my path of introspection didn't start immediately after this event, I do believe that in that moment I began to change. I was disgusted with how I surrendered myself to feelings of anger and harmed the little boy I love so much. So here I am a year later reflecting on the violence of the past and seeing how severely it effects the present. Never have I been more convinced that our actions, our words, and our behavior must reflect the highest degree of grace and love and, if we are lucky, our benevolence can leave the same impact as the brilliant beings who have passed through our lives and away.