A brief encounter at the Piarco International Airport Trinidad with Frederick, a stranger turned friend as he hands me a wipe from his bag so I can wipe away the blue ink smeared across my hand and cheek from a pen exploding. Frederick’s kindness, his presence leads to hearing a small piece of his story as he heads home to Venezuela, heads home to political unrest and violence. Our meeting left me pondering suffering in this world and how do we hold space, presence, kindness for one another?
For the past two weeks I’ve been in Canada practicing presence, practicing holding space; from aging parents, to friends deeply affected by anxiety and depression, to colleagues disillusioned and fearful around upheaval and conflict in the workplace, to a brief encounter with a stranger turned friend returning home to unremitting violence and political unrest.
As I arrive back home to Grenada I take time to reflect on presence, on holding space for another. How do we fellow humans stay present to the suffering within ourselves and outside ourselves? Made me think about the Buddha’s story. How he left the confines of a gated kingdom created to protect him from suffering. He leaves the comforts of the palace and heads out where he meets up with deep pain and suffering. Even though the Buddha was in great mental and physical shape once he experienced other’s pain it touched him so deeply that it made him question his own perfectly fine life. He realized the suffering of others was also one’s own suffering, his own suffering.
I sit with these questions: How do we hold space for ourselves and others when going through hard times? How are we present to and for others? Do we shy away from other’s suffering? Make judgments? Compare to our own? Or do we ground our hearts and present ourselves as beings capable of holding space and kindness without an agenda, or advice, or clarity?
I take a deep breath and know the energy generated from the past two weeks has helped me to continue reflecting, asking questions, recognizing strength and courage in the act of being present, of holding space even through the sadness of another’s pain. I recognize the suffering of others is also my own.