February may be short, but it’s full of special celebrations: Black History Month, Groundhog’s Day, Valentine’s Day (I call it Relationship Day), National Random Acts of Kindness Day, Leap Year, and Presidents’ Day to name a few. Who knows how any of these days may unfold or affect you, but they are perfect chances for each of us to shower some other energy with gratitude, hope, and unconditional love. It begins with us as individuals and may be initiated out-loud or silently.
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Dr. Maya Angelou
Traditionally, when February arrives, we remember Valentine’s Day. I want to broaden that to read Relationship Day with Heart. So, beyond our loved ones, what kindnesses and heart wishes do we send to someone who stands off to the side of an interstate ramp with a homeless sign, hoping for a warm meal? To a group of teenagers, both white and black, who may call us names, laugh, and use rude gestures when we pass their meeting area? To a biracial couple at a restaurant with two children, one of whom is throwing a tantrum? To someone forthcoming about LGBTQ sexuality and whose partner is need of medical care? To a neighbor’s pet who gets into garbage or hisses with raised fur and piercing eyes? Although it is impossible for us to know their exact experiences, our expanded hearts see them as worthy of love and understanding.
Some hearts are wide open, bursting with acceptance. Other hearts are constricted with full-blown aversion. We justify our reactions by thinking that homelessness is an issue where a single person cannot make a difference (denial). We pay attention to the media and side with some press coverage that states today’s youth may be dangerous and carry weapons, so our physical safety could be jeopardized (fear). We don’t necessarily stare at the biracial couple, but we whisper about their incompetence as parents (judging). Some medical professionals do their jobs (making little eye contact or feeling a stomach knot), but they have a tight heart when approaching a person whose sexuality clearly may be different from their own (prejudice). Finally, regarding animals, we don’t know how any animal will react to our presence; however, we may send kindness and loving thoughts silently as we cross the street (anxiety). Yet if family members, friends, or pets are familiar to us, we most likely would not be averse, but try to understand and support the situation.
Choices are continuously available, not only in February, but every day of the year. And, as a friend of mine who loves to play with words pointed out, “The letters O-I-C in the middle of ‘Choice’ speak volumes about the openness of a person’s heart. Not understanding this, we are only probing the dark, hoping for answers as a form of lip service. Nothing really changes.
What’s in front of you? Barriers? Ignorance? Separation? Old stories? Conflict, opinions, or silence criticize, demonstrating a tight heart. Why not change how we think, feel and interact toward others by softening our hearts? Softening means accepting; showing compassion; speaking and acting from wisdom, rather than out of fear; and extending unconditional love. It is about others, not us! Yes, we are unique, but we are not separate. We are not superior. We are not special. We are here to connect, to care for each other, and to live heartfully.
From a higher vantage: Begin this month to soften your heart to one relationship. Send kindness and heart wishes. Be determined: jump hurdles, leap fences, penetrate walls, and arrive with hope. Know that it is the right thing to do. © 2020 in the thick of things