The Holy Encounter

When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter.

As you see this person you will see yourself.

As you treat this person you will treat yourself.

As you think of this person you will think of yourself.

Never forget this, for in this person you will find yourself or lose yourself.

Whenever two Offsprings of God meet, they are given another chance at salvation.

Do not leave anyone without giving salvation to them and receiving it yourself.

For I am always there with you, in remembrance of you.

A Course in Miracle (ACIM) page 142. (Wording changed to be gender neutral)

I have been thinking a lot lately about what happens when we become very angry with someone who is close to us. This can be someone in the family, our children, our partner or a friend. In my workshops, I spend a lot of time exploring what to do when children with labels push our buttons. It is time to look within rather than become angry with the child. I say over and over again that it is not about condoning the behavior of the child, it is about embracing the child. People often agree with me or give me puzzled looks. A hard truth to swallow is the idea that we project onto other people our own pain and guilt. It feels as if we are letting the other person off the hook. Again, it is not about condoning behavior but seeing the Divine in every person and embracing their Divinity. It calls for changing our mind about the person not fixing the person. After all, can we really ever fix someone? Isn’t it their job to understand and heal themselves? Parents and professionals walk a fine line between supporting and advocating for children and trying to control children’s behavior. We justify the control by maintaining they are not old enough to know their own mind. Yet children need adults’ belief that they are responsible for their own actions and they have the Divine wisdom inside as does everyone to heal themselves.

According to A Course in Miracles we are all extensions of God and therefore part of the one mind. Therefore if we are all one, we meet ourselves over and over again in any encounter with another human being. We meet plenty of people who do not push our buttons and it is easier seeing them as extensions of God. It is more difficult to see people as extensions of God whose actions are harmful and abusive. We even have difficulty seeing our family, friends, and everyday acquaintances as Divine if we decide that their actions are causing anger or pain. Actions or words from one person may push my buttons but the same actions and words may not push another person’s buttons. Why is that? It is something inside me that needs to be acknowledged and then let go. There is some belief that I am holding which results in my anger or upset. It may be a cultural or family belief about how people should act; it may be an old wound from childhood that was never healed. It feels hard to feel a holy encounter with someone whose words or actions are challenging a deeply held belief. Yet how do we feel when we become angry or disgusted with another person’s actions or words? We do not feel good, we do not feel peaceful because when we attack another we attack ourselves.

As I write these words I am mindful that there is an adult in my life who constantly pushes my buttons as well as everyone else around her. She has managed to alienate everyone in the family. The words that are often used to describe her are all negative: intimidating, controlling, manipulative, prejudiced, and does not listen. I am reminded of a story and thoughts from L. Tobin from the book, What Do You Do with a Child Like This?

Children whom teachers have learned to dislike are the most challenging. Skylar, age six, intimidates adults. See her now with the principal, laughing at him as he scolds her. Or is she?

If the principal looks closely, he will recognize her laughter to be an anxious scream, a mask for the terror she feels. But what strength it takes for him to see through her bizarre laughter to the scared little girl beneath!

Never has a child needed a hug more, and never has an adult been less inclined to offer it.

But he will hug her and the shell will begin to crack.

It does not matter that the difficult person in my life is an adult; I could easily substitute her name for the child in this story. Can I extend to her the same loving attitude I would extend to a troubled child? Why does it feel easier with a child than adult? I guess I believe adults should have gained some wisdom over the years. I realize that this is not always true and is not a useful belief, but some how it is a difficult one to let go.

Tobin says, “The misbehavior of troubled children is seldom what it first appears to be. Understanding this, I believe, is the only place to start. No child has a need to create a life of conflict. Think about it—-what need is the child trying to express?” Can I extend the same belief to a highly difficult elderly adult? I know she is scared and overwhelmed and I know she has no need for conflict in her life. And so some days, I let it go and compassion comes and then she says and does something which upsets everyone in the family and I get angry and then I start over again. Even though I would like to take a giant leap to total forgiveness and love, right now the best I can do is step by step and little by little and then say to myself that is ok, I am doing the best I can and she is doing the best she can and it is as it should be – observing my behavior and hers without judgment. And I am at peace with this. It reminds me of the words from a children’s song, “inch by inch, row by row, going to make my garden grow.” We do not have to go very far to practice the type of forgiveness described in the ACIM quote, just our immediate family and friends.

When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter.

As you see this person you will see yourself.

As you treat this person you will treat yourself.

As you think of this person you will think of yourself.

Never forget this, for in this person you will find yourself or lose yourself.

Categories General Spiritual Musings | Tags: | Posted on August 10, 2008

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