Sometimes I think life is just one big misunderstanding

Yesteday, we attended a child’s birthday party at a local public pool. There was a boy at the pool, (not part of the party), a teen, who flapped his hands, walked on his toes, and squealed a lot. In the water, he was happy.

Also in the pool, were two men, maybe in their late sixties. They were walking in the water, having a conversation. Getting their exercise while they got their chat on.

At one point, the boy, in his joy, dove into the water, right between them, making a big splash.

One of the men got in the boy’s face and shouted, as he wiped his glasses, “WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? WHY WOULD YOU JUMP RIGHT IN BETWEEN US LIKE THAT?”

The boy looked at him, clearly confused, cowering slightly, then went on his way, swimming away from them like a fish.

I wanted to yell at the man, “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you see he has autism?” But the moment was over, and I wasn’t 100% sure, and anyway….

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Today I was at Whole Foods. I had a small cart full. At the checkout an employee came over and said, “I know you’re over the limit, but I’ll take you in the express line. We’re a little short staffed today so I want to help out the other cashier.”

As she scanned my pile of items, a mother/teen daughter duo approached from behind. They were obviously in a hurry. Both proceeded to glare at me and sigh, my haul clearly over the limit.

I decided rather than reacting or apologizing or explaining, to merely allow myself to be misunderstood. Sometimes it just isn’t worth the energy.

There is a lesson in A Course in Miracles which says, “I do not know what I’m looking at, so I must not judge what I see.”

These are two examples from the last 24 hours in my life which brought that message home for me. I hope to remember them, the next time I am quick to judge.

Love Thy Neighbor

For over two years, the house next door to us was vacant. The previous owners foreclosed, and left in the dark of night, never to be seen again.

Neighbors took turns mowing the lawn, making it look “not” vacant. And we waited. And we hoped. And finally a lovely young woman bought the house. Hurray!

Over the last several days, she has proceeded to have three of the gorgeous very mature trees on her property cut down. Trees that provided our yard with privacy and shade. Todd and I have felt sick watching it. Like we’re standing by witnessing a slaughter. The trees are what make this neighborhood special. The lovely, old, huge, trees. The house is small. She’s a young woman. This is likely her “starter” home, and she’s going to hack down something that’s been there probably a hundred years?

To add insult to injury, they’ve been cutting them down, all day, during the precious time when the kids are at camp, the only time this homeschooling mom has to herself to enjoy peace and quiet all year, and I’ve got to listen to the buzz of loud chain saws. It’s been deafening. We don’t have A/C and I can’t have the windows open or the sawdust floats in. Grr.

The other day I noticed our disgust had trickled down to the kids. Seth was peering out the window, shaking his head, and his fist, and something inside me said, enough of this.

A lesson from A Course in Miracles went through my mind, “I do not know what I am looking at, so I cannot judge what I see.”

Crap.

After sorting it through in my head and heart for a while, I decided to talk with the kids. We really don’t know why she is cutting the trees. Perhaps they are dying or diseased, and she was advised to do so. Perhaps they are in danger of damaging her home. Perhaps she’s afraid the next wind storm will bring a big limb onto our house? Perhaps she has seasonal affective disorder and craves sunshine and couldn’t get a blessed speck of it with all that glorious shade. Perhaps none of this is true and she’s just totally unconscious and doesn’t think twice before she does things. Even if that were so, is it reason to hate? No.

Either way, the trees are coming down. I can make myself sick over it, or I can entertain the possibility I don’t know everything, that I’m not better than anyone else, that just because I would choose differently doesn’t make another person wrong. She seems like a good person. Like everyone else, she’s a child of God, living her life and going about her business. Which, BTW, is none of my business. Even if I can no longer walk by my upstairs windows naked.

The kids and I talked and talked and during our conversation, we all felt more expansive. I told them how my Grandmother always said… “When you point the finger, you have three pointing back at you.”

We discussed what we don’t like about this situation? And how are we demonstrating the very qualities we don’t like, in our own lives?

She isn’t seeming to consider the value of the trees or how destroying them will affect her neighbors.

Are we considering her desires for her yard, when we judge her?

Crappity crap crap.

So, the O’Neil’s are letting it go. She’s got a lovely yard, with a gorgeous coi pond which she’s restored beautifully. She’s a good neighbor, never a problem. She’s a nice person. She has a vision for her yard, which we don’t understand, but which is none of our business. We’ll honor that with love, as her vision unfolds.

The whole situation has inspired us to plant some trees in our own yard, which is truly the only thing one can ever tend to.