Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
- (Sufi Poet Rumi)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Loving the Complaint and the Demand

Percy Wakes Me
Mary Oliver

Percy wakes me and I am not ready...
Now he's eager for action:  a walk, then breakfast....
He is sitting on the kitchen counter where he is not supposed to be.
How wonderful you are, I say. How clever, if you needed me, to wake me.
He thought he would hear a lecture and deeply  his eyes begin to shine.
He tumbles onto the couch for more compliments.
He squirms and squeals; he has done something that he needed and now he hears that it's okay.
I scratch his ears, I turn him over and touch him everywhere.  He is
wild with the okayness of it.  Then we walk, then he gas has breakfast, and he is happy.
This is a poem about Percy.
This is a poem about more than Percy.
Think about it.

In my spiritual practice of nonviolent communication I often struggle with accepting with ease the complaints of others.  When I first hear what they want, often expressed as a demand, or worse, as whining, I don't have much empathy for others or for myself.  It's also hard for me to get in touch with my gratitude that they let me know what was going on for them, for I know that when someone asks something of me, often in a an unskillful way, they are just letting me know what would make their life wonderful.  This is such a great gift, but so frequently I am reluctant to open the gift to appreciate how life flows through them.  Instead I have "shoulds" going on in my story telling brain, "Why can't they think of anyone else but themselves?" 

Reading this poem today, I sense a break through, a vision.  People around me are like bounding Percies, inviting me to make their life wonderful.  How lovely for them, and for me, if I could reply in word, thought, and action so that they could know how wonderful they are and the okayness of their needs.

Oh how our lives might shine.  Though we may not be ready, may we awake to this possibility today.

To whom would you like to communicate "okayness?"