Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, I look out my living room window and take in the darkness littered with the lights of the city. My vista is comforting as I picture the people in their homes silently sleeping protected by the streetlights. I also know that there are others awake.........new moms nursing their babies, parents up with a sick child, individuals fighting insomnia, artists in the flow working on a project, people fretting over big worries, workers going through their nocturnal workday............. all under the shimmer of the streetlights. We are connected by wakefulness. We are not alone.
I have been on the road these past 3 days meeting with individuals and sometimes their families who are applying for a disability pension. My role is to review their medical information, and complete a social type assessment to accompany their application.
These interviews are always interesting, often very sad, sometimes uplifting, somewhat emotionally draining and thought provoking. They are also an opportunity to connect on a level that most people never have a chance to experience. I'm grateful for the opportunity on many levels, but mostly because the lesson of compassion is clearly mine for the receiving.
The people I meet with need help and need to tell their stories. They are not feeling protected by the streetlights................... they feel disassociated from others -- alone in their suffering and misunderstood, most likely living in poverty with their disability struggling to exist under dire circumstances. What they need more than a few extra dollars is to be recognized as a person living under the streetlights.
There's nothing more powerful as far as I'm concerned than making a heart connection with someone. Though there are times when I feel like I have heard too many stories all at once, that I have opened myself up too much to a point where I drag myself home feeling vulnerably emotional, I know that the compassion I've felt comes with a little gift.
Joy that I have met someone who has trusted me enough to share their sorrows, and joy that I have been able to turn on a streetlight for them so that maybe they can find their way a little bit more easily. So, the next time I wake up in the middle of the night and look out my living room window, I'm comforted to know that another person maybe protected by the light from above.
"Joy is the secret gift of compassion. We keep forgetting it and thoughtlessly look elsewhere. but each time we return to where there is pain, we get a new glimpse of joy that is not of this world."