Last winter, when Gabby Giffords and other innocents were senselessly shot in Tucson, I came down with a bad layperson’s case of what mental health pros call compassion fatigue. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compassion_fatigue
I certainly wasn’t alone. Talking with friends and clients, we found we were all battling that sense of being so overwhelmed by tragedy after tragedy–from the earthquake in Haiti to the homelessness and unemployment in our own communities–we weren’t sure what to do. Writing a check wasn’t cutting it, anymore. And being caught in that place of angst/anger/apathy wasn’t doing anyone any good, either.
Then I caught a story on the Nightly News “Making a Difference” segment about a group in Tucson. They responded to the tragedy that had taken place in their hometown by hanging Ben’s Bells http://www.bensbells.org/About/ To quote their website: “Our mission is to inspire, educate and motivate each other to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby changing our world.”
Okay, and what are you going to do after lunch? Sorry, the cynical Carla, that voice I have been trying to quell for about 35 years, had to get her two-cents in. And then the shadow saw the light 😉 : Stop going big and start small. Start at home. And I have been. Some steps seem so minute it feels almost silly to count them. But, over time, it’s making a difference in my feeling a bit more hopeful…and being a lot more helpful. Global impact…that waits to be seen.
If I needed an affirmation, however, I found it last Sunday afternoon, purple and sparkling at me from a huge evergreen branch in the park across from my home. A Ben’s Bell. Left there, I found from their Facebook page, as part of a 500-bell blessing on the metro Denver area.
After I took it down and brought it home, I called Kate to celebrate. She told me she was very happy for me…it was one of those wonderful synchronicities we both embrace. And that she was truly sorry she couldn’t talk about it. For–as we both knew–the Ben behind the bell project was a three-year-old who left the world quite unexpectedly. And this project was his parents’ way of getting through.
Not only did I understand, I glimpsed another piece of this compassion puzzle: we must come from where we are.
So…to Ben’s memory, his family’s efforts, the Tucson–and now Denver–bell people and the delicious livingness of my daughter and hers….blessings.
And as the Irish say, May kindness follow you all the days of your life.