“Mommy, come quick! Hurry! Run!” my six-year old yells one summer morning as we’re playing outside.
“What is it?”
“Just come! Run! There’s a dragonfly drowning in the pool!”
Upon hearing the reason for the alarm, my ten-year old runs over as well. “Mommy, hurry! Get the skimmer!”
I rush to get the skimmer and quickly pull the poor creature out of the water. I gently tap it onto the grass, but can see that it’s not moving. Slowly, after a few moments in the sun, it starts to clean its face with its antennae. But I can see that two of its wings are stuck together, and without those wings it won’t be able to fly. If it can’t fly, it can’t survive.
“Is it going to be okay, Mommy?” my boys ask, with true distress in their voice.
“I hope so. Hopefully the sun will dry out its wings and then they’ll separate.”
“Ohhhh,” my six-year old moans, as he paces around the yard. “I hope it’s okay. Is it going to be okay?”
They’re both anxious, as am I.
“Say a little prayer,” I remind them. “If every blade of grass has it’s own angel, I imagine a dragonfly has at least a few. I’m referring to the Talmudic quote that says, “Every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow! Grow!” If every blade of grass has an angel cheering it on, imagine what a dragonfly or a tree or a human must have?
I could have cried sitting there in the grass. I knew that if it died, we would have embraced it as a teaching as well, but I really didn’t want it to die. Death is inevitable, but death at the hands of humans with their luxurious toys (a swimming pool), seems cruel and unnecessary.
“I think it could be the salt on its wings sticking them together,” my husband suggests. “Maybe get a wet Q-tip and see if you can gently separate the wings.”
I run upstairs and bring back three wet Q-tips, then carefully touch the wings and try to separate them. The dragonfly flutters and resists, terrfiied, I’m sure, by these giant creatures invading its tiny space. But I keep going under the watchful eyes of my sons. After several minutes, the wings separate.
“You did it, Mommy!”
But the dragonfly still doesn’t move. It’s stock still, scared, not knowing or believing that the wings are separated. We gently blow on it, and then, in one joyous moment, like the sun breaking through in a dark, stormy sky, it flies.
“Yahoo! We did it! It’s okay! Daddy, it flew! It’s okay!”
We all applaud. The joy is palpable as my six-year old and I high five each other. My older boy is smiling from body to soul. We walk to the side of the house, where the dragonfly is resting and, I imagine, sighing a big sigh of relief.
As we walk inside to have breakfast, I say to my husband, “Can you imagine if everyone cared as much for every living creature as our boys do? We would be living on a peaceful planet.”
“Yes, they’re in the category of caring hearts.”
And so are you, dear readers. If you’re here, struggling with doubt and anxiety, it’s because you’ve been living a lifetime of sequestering your tender heart into a black box at the bottom of your soul. It’s time to bring that out now. It’s time to learn to embrace your sensitivity as the gift that it is. You must do this first for your own sake. And you must do it for the sake of the world. It needs your sensitive heart. It needs you to stop judging yourself as “too sensitive” or “weak” and instead realize that it’s this very sensitivity – the compassion in your heart that cares for every living creature – that will not only heal your own heart but heal the heart of the world.
When talking about what prevents them from being willing to feel their pain, my clients and course members often say, “If I open my heart to my pain, I would cry every day.” Yes, you might. And to me that’s a sign of health. We live in a world full of pain and suffering. It’s when we block ourselves from this pain that we create an internal dam that eventually leads to symptoms like anxiety, panic, and intrusive thoughts. But when we allow the pain to touch us – to tear up or cry for every living creature who suffers, to say a prayer – we are also opening the channels to love. Love lives in the center of the compassionate heart, a deep, abiding love for every living creature that walks and flies and crawls on this great blue-green beautiful planet.