Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Somewhere between fifteen and twenty years ago, when I was living in San Francisco, I used to follow one of my favorite living writers Pat Conroy, around whenever he would give speaking engagements.  Pat was a giant in my life, literally and figuratively.  And he was funny.  Not funny in the way I knew from my tribal upbringing, but truly quick-witted and inspiring to me on every level.  The man didn’t even know how to type.  He wrote every novel by hand!
He constantly amazed me, yes, and his words moved me.  Always.
On one particular night, he spoke outdoors amongst the stars.  It was spectacular!  He told a story about when his mother was dying and all of the siblings gathered at the hospital to go see her.  At the time, his twin sister was not speaking to him.  In spite of his pain and grief around that, and the pain he was experiencing around losing his mother, he gathered his brothers together and instructed them regarding their sister:
“When she comes, our job is to love her.”
It’s been somewhere been 15-20 years since I heard Pat speak those words, but I will never forget them.  Ever.  In his book, The Prince of Tides, there is a line that reads, “in families, there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.”  That story, for me, was evidence that  he practiced what he preached.  That he knew the transformative power of love.  That he knew the life-altering process of forgiveness.
“When she comes, our job is to love her.”
I remember wishing I could be “her.”  
I remember wanting to live my life in that sentence.
I remember wanting, more than anything, to truly live up to that sentence.
I met a woman a year ago who challenged me tremendously.  But I loved her.  I knew I was meant to.  God sent her to me for that “simple” reason.  She was difficult.  She didn’t listen.  She didn’t want to listen.  I even found myself doubting if she was remotely interested in learning anything new.  She didn’t want my love, but I loved her anyway.  When she wasn’t kind, I told her so.  And I asked her to try again.  I never settled with her.  And it drove her crazy.  She acted out, and protested constantly.  But when I practiced yoga, I noticed that over time, she slowly inched her way closer and closer towards me.  
Eventually, she had to move and currently, we no longer live near one another.  But I would hear from her from time to time and she would make references to the things she had learned from me.  Kindness.  Honesty.  Softness.  Compassion.  Courage.  Transformation.  And finally, more than a year later, something quite powerful: Love.  
More than a year later, she told me that she loved me.
I never asked for anything from her, except I insisted that she begin to speak again every time I heard unkindness or unfairness in her voice.  I was relentless about that.  She was confused every single time.  I didn’t care.  “Start over.”  I would say, “Tell her something that she did that was worthwhile.”  My friend would get very upset with me, she would feel lost and not know what to say, but I didn’t care.  I stuck my ground with her (and the following day she always had a little extra homemade food for me to try).  
She was easy for me to love.  And she protested that too.  Something about that made her so angry.  Because what was hard for her was just easy for me.  But I wasn’t in a competition.  
Here’s the thing I find so fascinating:  you are just out there trying to do the best you can, living your own life, being yourself, and minding your own business, and some people just cannot help themselves but be angry with who you are.  They really can’t.
Love them anyway.  
You don’t have to be best friends with them.  You don’t have to have dinner with them every night.  You don’t have to marry them.  
Do yourself a favor and send them some love.  
Because if all you are doing is living your own life, minding your own business, and you bump up against people who are expending so much energy finding ways to actually dislike you, maybe even finding ridiculous reasons to “hate” you, these people need the love you have to give.
Give a little bit of your love.
See what happens.  
It may change someone’s life.
Or maybe she’ll just cook for you!
Give a little bit of your love.  
And Be Blessed. 
Jill Bacharach

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