by Brandon Nappi
The violence of this past week demonstrates the incredible fragility of our lives. We as human beings are exquisitely vulnerable creatures who share a common trust that we will keep one another safe. This same vulnerability, which makes possible the power of deep love and connection also leaves us open to being hurt. The thoughts and prayers of the Copper Beech Institute community extend to all those in Belgium and throughout our world who live with the daily reality of violence. We are especially aware of those places where violence and injustice haven’t received the kind of attention that the Belgian community has experienced in the past days.
In moments when our acute vulnerability enters public awareness, we may feel an impulse to close our hearts. Anger, sadness, fear, confusion, among our many other emotions, may become the loudest voices in our conversations. We understand such a response as we struggle to make sense of what is happening throughout our world.
I believe people hurt others not because they are evil but because they are suffering. We can quickly lash out at others when faced with the intensity of pain in life. Any violent act is simply a false strategy for attaining happiness. When false strategies for happiness are accompanied by bombs and guns, the results challenge the limits of the human heart. As the global community discerns how to respond to this situation and the complexity of all violence around the world, may our hearts and minds be guided by the prophetic wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr. who called us to a courageous love that transcends sentimentality:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
This is our deepest conviction here at Copper Beech Institute. May the violence which is ubiquitous in our world today, inspire us to deepen our own practice of kindness and love. May we practice compassion for ourselves as we seek understanding in a confounding time. May we practice compassion for those who are directly touched by violence. May we practice compassion even for those who seek to end their own suffering by causing the suffering of others.
For many around the world, the springtime is a time of sacred celebrations. As we journey into springtime’s unfolding, may we find an infinite reservoir of courage to respond to all beings and to all moments in compassion. In this compassion we find that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. May it be so.
We invite you to learn more from Brandon at his Copper Beech Institute weekend retreat, Walking the Path Together: Mindfulness Weekend for Couples, May 6-7, 2016. He will co-lead the retreat with his wife, Susan. For details and to register click here.
Brandon Nappi is a spiritual teacher, speaker, and writer who passionately believes in the capacity of the human spirit to awaken. He is founding director of Copper Beech Institute, a retreat center for mindfulness and contemplative practice in West Hartford, Connecticut. Copper Beech Institute offers more than 40 retreats and programs to foster peace and resilience in everyday life.