What a fabulously fertile weekend in San Francisco! As always I fell madly in love with the group that came together at the Hilton, and can’t wait to connect with everyone again.
Initially the trip was centered around the Turn It Around Project and the gathering at the Golden Gate Bridge in celebration of the International Day of Compassion.
And boy did we learn our Compassion lesson of the day!
Sunday was a rainy day and after a small group of us gathered at Crissy Field we decided to re-locate. Heather, our beautiful San Francisco tour guide, phoned a bookstore and they graciously agreed to bring our “Day of Compassion” to their store.
When we got there it was clearly the PERFECT VENUE for our project. Every book on the shelf seemed to be about LOVE, and the WISDOM OF BUDDHA. The manager said we could set up in the front session of the store, and before we even unrolled our banner, a woman stopped by, and read our petition with tears in her eyes.
Minutes later, the manager looked in our direction and called out:
“I’m sorry you can’t have any banners here or give out any literature. If we support your organization we would have to support everyone.”
It was raining, Heather’s four months old baby girl and Marcia’s three year old Mari was with us, so I asked if it would be possible for us to stand under the awning of the store for a half hour or so to fulfill our task for the day.
The manager said he needed to check with his superiors and minutes later the answer was, No.
Up until that point I was feeling a little tired after all day of teaching on Saturday, and admittedly a bit awkward and unsure about the whole idea of dragging people into this rainy adventure when getting together for hot chocolate in some café would’ve been so much more pleasant.
But this rejection, this stark difference between the Reality of Love and the Idea of it, that I was suddenly immersed in, set my Orphan-Visionary-Combo-Rebel soul on fire and by gosh I was going to beg steal or borrow a dry piece of sidewalk for our little group of compassionists.
Galina and I walked out of the store with the banner in our hands, and as I turned my head, I noticed that the Mongolian restaurant next door, had a narrower but sufficient awning to shield us from the rain.
I walked in, showed my banner with the beautiful picture of the broken globe to a group of smiling waiters, and explained that we were working on a peace project linked to 9/11.
The two young men walked off to check with their manager and miracle of miracles: We got permission to stand under their banner. Not only that . Minutes later, the sweet woman manager brought us a bowl of hot soup and cups of water with lemon and a festive straw!
I learned more from that one simple ACT of COMPASSION than from reading a thousand new age books about LOVE.
The Turn It Around Project or any other project we take on, will grow and gain momentum with every small action we take in moving forward in the direction of our Vision. The same way my daughter Adi was born through the faith I was able to live 18 years ago, when so many people said: NO.
It is often the NO that feeds the flame of the dream more effectively then the easy Yes.
My faith and I hope the faith of those of you who will consider this project worthy of your engagement, will be strengthened through each tiny step we resolve to take.
The Sunday events were in fact a perfect reflection of the heart of this project. We can wait for institutions and Managers and Presidents, and Powerful Peace Experts to negotiate a more compassionate human interaction or we can take the risk of receiving what is directly in front of us: A person with a banner that cares about something. And we can ask questions and find out if what that person cares about might be something that may be important to us as well.
And then maybe we can even venture to take responsibility for breaking a rule or two.
One other last lesson: We didn’t look around carefully enough for others who came to join us that day before relocating. I guess part of me doubted that everyone who said they’d be there would actually show up. So please forgive us if you came and missed us.
Such useful lessons to be applied to the next year’s Day of Compassion Gathering in San Francisco: Venue to be Determined.
P.S. If you’d like to engage more actively with this project, we now have a Face Book Page, a Forum on our new website, and a free monthly teleconferences starting in January. Hope you’ll join us. What could the incoming crew of babies support more gladly than a feisty circle of parents intent on birthing a safer earth-home.