Yesterday while I did errands around NYC it looked like any other day in the city. People, all sizes, colors and ages going about their business as I overheard an amazing array of languages when passing people on the street. Yet, for all the appearance of normality, I was aware of the date. . . one day to the 10th anniversary of September 11th.
This awareness reminded me that life is fluid, unfolding moment by moment in both our individual experience and the larger universe we inhabit. I remembered the last line of a Native American morning prayer I learned about 25 years ago, “Today is a good day to die.” As I walked (actually hobbled with one foot in my walking cast) to the subway I thought, ‘If today were my last day on earth, how would I live it?’ The words, ‘Give Thanks,’ immediately popped into my mind.
As I waited for the subway I stood delighted as I watched and heard the performance of 4 men, at least in their late 50’s or 60’s singing Motown songs. As a woman stepped onto the platform she began dancing to the music. I thought, ‘This is what I love about NYC.’ I gave thanks. My day continued in this vein… an unexpected downpour, left me waiting in a shop for the rain to stop, resulting in a wonderful conversation with a Angela, a make-up artist, about life and that beauty begins on the inside and shines thru like sunshine lighting up even a rainy day.
And then I had a brief connection with a police officer that brought tears to my eyes and opened my heart. I was walking from Park to Lexington Ave on 31st street when I noticed this officer preparing to get on his motorcycle. I was walking quite slowly and as I approached the officer I felt myself look right at him and then I heard myself say, “Thanks for the work you’re doing to make this city safe.” By mid-sentence our eyes had met and his face burst into a glowing smile. I felt tears come to my eyes. This is the power of open-heartedly giving thanks, making a connection, human to human – being to being.
The world is filled with billions of people, most of them strangers to me, yet what they do and who they are impacts my life (your life, as well) in big and small ways. Since the horror of 9/11, now when I learn of acts of violence I take a moment to remind myself that expanding my capacity for compassion, kindness and love is my greatest contribution to a more peaceful world. When I see/hear an ambulance I send out a prayer for the highest good for all and thank the emergency workers for their expertise and care. And when I remember, I thank people I encounter in the course of a day, who are making my world a safer and more pleasant place to live.
September 11, 2001 was clear demonstration of the inter-connection of all beings. If acts of terror and violence can capture our attention so powerfully and immediately – is it possible that acts of kindness, love and compassion can open our hearts as well?
Today, and everyday named today, give thanks. Give thanks for it all – the pain, hatred and violence that calls out for love as well as the random acts of kindness, heroism and generosity that are present, when we choose to see them.