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Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

Several years ago, at a time when I was feeling especially judgmental of my parents and how they raised me and my siblings, I was driving down the road ruminating on their lack of generosity.

Have you had times like this? Times when you found yourself running the same stories through your head, and they all have the same ending: the ending that makes the other person — or yourself — stay in your bad graces?

So on this particular day, I was ruminating on my parents’ lack of generosity while driving down the road and heading to a cabin by the ocean, near where I was raised in Washington State (one of my favorite places in the world), when it occurred to me:


Halloween is right around the corner, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the masks: specifically, the masks we all wear to protect ourselves. I’ve been wondering… How far am I willing to go to release my resentments that mask my life experience and keep distance between myself and others? What does wearing this mask cost me? And what value does it hold for me?

This is coming up because my Chinese medicine doctor told me that the lower part of the belly — where I have a painful condition (shingles) — is known as the basin. “It’s where all the junk is collected and held,” he said.

Junk like old and unhealed resentments. Darn it. Darn it. Darn it.


Years ago, I read a story about Jiddu Krishnamurti, and this is how I remember it.

He was sitting on a hill overlooking a crowd of thousands of people, and someone asked him something like, “How do you stay so calm and happy all of the time?” Krishnamurti got very quiet and leaned forward, and then he laughed a big laugh. The crowd was silent waiting for his words of wisdom, and he said:

“I don’t mind what’s happening.” And then he laughed and laughed.

“I don’t mind what’s happening.” Deep breath.

I’ve been in bed with shingles for two and a half weeks. The pain has been stunning and humbling. I don’t recall ever being this debilitated.

“I don’t mind what’s happening.”

I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer these past few weeks, mostly reciting “I don’t mind what’s happening,” sometimes rocking from pain, and doing my very best to be open to what I was being asked to know. Many, many times I noticed that when I didn’t resist the pain, it became more bearable.

But even in the worst of it, I could honestly say that in this moment I don’t mind what’s happening. I don’t like it maybe, but I don’t have to resist it, argue with it, blame it or blame myself. Each time I could rest in acceptance, the pain and my inner state of being calmed.

I don’t mind what’s happening.

This is how I want to be in my relationships and with myself. I want to live in acceptance first, and work through our differences second. I want to soften my judgments and see the deeper meaning people are trying to express.

I want to leave room for healing: theirs and mine.

And so I invite you to join me in this practice of living in acceptance first.


For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about and supporting others in taking steps towards healing the seemingly uncomfortable divide between our families, communities, and countries. It can seem so hard to even open a conversation about our political differences, let alone locate common ground we can agree on.

I have people in my life I love dearly who appear to hold political views that differ radically from mine. We’ve chosen not to discuss politics. I think this is because of our desire to maintain our connection and respect for one another, based on mutual love and caring.


The other morning, I was walking in our local Nature Center and admiring a goose family that was made up of a Mom, Dad, and two goslings. They were floating down the river and I was standing on a bridge just over them. When the Dad saw me, he stretched his neck up and placed himself between his goslings and me. The Mom then took the lead, while he watched me. I really felt touched by how they both cared for their family and also sad that my presence invoked fear or stimulated a desire for protection.

Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re protecting yourself or your family or your stuff?


I confess I spent the first week after Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States in mourning, deep despair, and bewilderment. I felt as if someone I loved had punched me in the chest. Many people I love, in fact, voted for him. They too were feeling despair: despair that I didn’t vote for him, and confusion about why I felt so devastated.

During that first week, I led several meditations on peace in different national and international venues. I offered formal and informal empathy sessions to many people, and listened to many more: hundreds of stories about enormous pain from families, spouses, and loved ones who had suddenly found themselves deeply divided.

It was exhausting — until I said “STOP,” and allowed myself the space to receive empathy, to offer it to myself, and to grieve and grieve and grieve my own grief.

And then I got clear (really clear!) that I wanted to focus on healing the gap between those of us who didn’t vote for Donald Trump, and those who did – and all our life experiences that led us to this point.

Thich Nhat Hahn says, We need someone to be able to listen to us and to understand us.  Then, we will suffer less. But everyone is suffering, and no one wants to listen.”

I am listening.


Years ago, I was driving down the road listening to NPR (National Public Radio) and they were reporting about a pediatrician who had been molesting children for over 30 years; at that time, they estimated that hundreds of children had been affected.

My heart sank and I started to cry – deep mourning for the gravity of this. All the children whose lives had been affected, and everyone who came in contact with them throughout their lifetime. And, the pediatrician – everyone he came in contact with within his medical practice and beyond.

The more I thought about the growing number of people who would have been knowingly or unknowingly affected, my grief grew and grew – and overwhelm and hopelessness began to take over. How could this possibly be healed?

And, then I had a thought…


Welcome to February, which for me is the month of Love. I am especially heartened or possibly humbled to remember to invoke Love as we begin the Trump administration here in the USA, when I experience how deeply divided we are as a nation and a world community, when I consider the trauma millions (yes millions) of refugees must have experienced when they fled the middle east in 2016 and continue to experience now, and so many other devastating issues that affect our world’s people.

It can be equally challenging for me to invoke Love in my own daily life when someone makes a racial or sexist comment, when I empathize with an African American friend who is terrified for her son’s life, or when our bikes are stolen out of our secured garage….


Welcome to 2017! No matter where you live in the world, this New Year poses many opportunities to recommit to living our value of nonviolence. Remember, that Marshall Rosenberg and Mahatma Gandhi both believed that violence is a continuum, anything from judgment to physical abuse. Our goal is spend as much of our life as possible outside of that continuum. We’re not looking for perfection – all of us have moments when we are critical of others or ourselves – we are looking for a commitment toward limiting the time we spend on the continuum of violence.

Many years ago, I felt utterly despairing that world peace was possible. And, then I realized that I was looking for it outside of myself – in my political leaders, supervisors, friends, ministers, and others. And, while I was looking for it outside of myself, I myself wasn’t acting peacefully in my everyday interactions with my family, friends, and others I encountered.


mary-mackenzie-150The other day, I was running late and I rushed across town to get to my personal trainer for one of my weekly workouts.  I got into the parking lot, burst into her workout space spewing apologies like a machine gun, and then realized that I’d forgotten my water bottle so I raced outside again, literally jogging across the parking lot, when suddenly I stopped cold.

Walking down the middle of the parking lot, as if they had taken a measuring stick to determine where the absolute middle was, walked a mama duck, trailed by 8 teenage-size ducklings, with papa duck taking the rear.  They walked straight towards me, and then when they were within a few feet from me, they turned right down a different part of the parking lot.  Each of them followed every move mama duck made.  Even their feet moved in unison – all twenty feet rising and falling in rhythm.