A Sea of Humanity

Humanity has been in my heart and on my mind. I sit with the suffering of humanity: natural disasters, acts of violence, discrimination, injustice, and abuse. I also experience the sea of humanity. We live in communities yet sometimes don’t interact. We can get lost in our busy lives, important tasks, or personal dramas.

Yesterday, I sat in my prison mindfulness circle. All of us included in the circle, no one left outside. After two meditation groups in Oshkosh, I drove to Taycheedah for three clergy visits with female prisoners, which occur in the visiting room—a sea of humanity. Young children visiting young moms. Parents talking with kids. Adult children visiting moms or grandmas. Friends sitting with friends. All ages, races, genders, and body sizes. Some conversations animated and happy, others stilted and uncomfortable—stories told through body language.

This morning, I went to the grocery store. Not any grocery store, but Woodman’s, which is a large warehouse. Another sea of humanity. I chose not to ignore people or “get my shopping done and get out.” I wanted to interact with people: when I passed someone, I looked at them and smiled. This was a beautiful mindfulness practice. A 3-breath pause. Many people ignored me, either because they were focused on their shopping or because they chose to avert their eyes (who knows why). But 9 people looked right at me and smiled back. Each was a special moment of connection, including with checkout staff.

Mother Teresa wrote, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” In grocery stores, traffic, neighborhoods, prisons, workplaces, homes, and hospitals, we belong to each other. We don’t just belong to our specific tribes; we belong to the world—to the sea of humanity. Any moment where we connect—where we pause, see and honor each other—is a moment of belonging. And this belonging brings us peace. We just need to remember to remember.

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