Running to the store yesterday for last minute dinner supplies, I catch a moment of conversation:
I said hi because I thought you knew me, man.
Naw dude. You’re just a face in the crowd. I’m hustling everyone. I’m always hustling everyone.
Walking back to the car with my organic broccoli and gluten-free crackers the hustler is talking to a young woman. She’s barefoot with a large bag over her shoulder, belly button pierced, bandana neatly folded and holding back beach blown hair. They’re standing at my car and she can barely keep her eyes open. I approach and he turns around, startled, then flashes me a smile that would be charming if not for the blackened and missing teeth. They step aside and I watch her listen to him, eyes opening and shutting, a half smile on her lips.
I notice my judgment. I notice my curiosity. I notice my hope that she stays safe.
I woke up this morning thinking about them, about her, about judgment and about my desire to see the good in people.
My neighbors who drop their cigarette butts in the sand and let their dog shit on the beach – I want to see past my anger to the divine spark in them.
The unhappy woman I know whose face has been obviously nipped and tucked, her body carved and augmented – I want to focus on and encourage her inner light.
It’s easy to see the beauty, the good, the God, in the people in my life. It’s fairly simple to see it in the unwashed, the unwanted, even the deeply disturbed. The practice – I think – is to look for it in the angry and aggressive man weaving in and out of heavy traffic, or the twentysomething college student who kills a young father because she’s driving home drunk; to see it in the mother who shames her child for crying or the teenager who bullies his gay classmate; to see it in those who’ve hurt us deeply and especially to see it in ourselves.
This is my practice this week, my mantra: To notice judgment, acknowledge it and look for the good – the holy – in everyone and everything, knowing that I may not find it.