Night Stranger

I pulled up to the curb in front of the home of a couple I was going to visit. They’re good people with 2 beautiful children. They have a yard in the back that is beautifully landscaped by the husband, educated in horticultural studies, and a home of inviting warmth made so by the wife.

As I exited my car I noticed a woman standing across the street. She was bundled up in layers of thick wool to keep out the New England January cold – the damp, frosty kind that can freeze your naked core in an icy grip if you don’t prepare for it. Yet, as cold as it was, she, silent, focused, stood on an empty residential street at night flipping through sheets on a clipboard.

In the time I took to gather some things from the back of the Subaru, about 3 minutes, she remained in her spot looking through her papers. My guess was she was canvassing the neighborhood for a political organization. But whatever the reason, she thought it was important enough to work in the cold.

“Are you in the neighborhood canvassing?” I asked.

“No,” she replied, “I’m……” but I couldn’t make out the words at all and asked her to repeat it.

She crossed the street over to me while saying that she is going door to door doing fund raising for Amnesty International. Faithful to the script, she went into the general mission of Amnesty, the issues they deal with, and so on. I cut her off kindly to say I was aware of what they do in general.

She then proceeded to explain the specific reason for which she was going door to door which was to raise awareness and funding for an Amnesty program whose mission is to end violence against women worldwide by calling for the enforcement of existing laws and the passage of new ones that serve to protect women and guarantee their justice in the event of crimes committed against them.

The passion she had for this cause, evident in her articulation of it and the energy in her words, was in itself a great service. There is that part of us that will always choose to see things with enthusiasm and fresh optimism. We need to always stay in touch with that. It nurtures us with inspiration that makes all things possible.

The world needs it, too.

That may be one reason why children fascinate us. To them all things are possible before they begin to learn and live within boundaries. Their minds are wild and free and their actions are without self consciousness and unscripted.

Nature’s beauty lies rooted in its wildness and freedom. Pristine beauty and primal dramas are played out in a symbiotic balance of form and function. Yet, within both, is a youthful spirit that remains ever new and ever seeking expression. You may be a person of however number of years in age and yet within you are cells that are only seconds old! Think about that!

So I challenged her by suggesting that while many causes and programs are in place to resolve issues, money is being spent to throw at problems that continue unresolved. And in saying this I did not mean to say that I think it’s all money and effort wasted but rather to suggest that the money and effort could be used differently if our goals were re-framed.

Rather than view violence against women as a problem to be solved let us look at it as a thought that needs to be changed. First, it is easier to change a thought than it is to change a behavior. Second, through a method of sincere, earnest inquiry we can more easily trace the originating factors of a thought or belief than the confluence of contributing factors of a behavior because all behaviors have their roots embedded in the soil of thoughts and beliefs; therefore, by beginning to address the issues more internally at the level of thought we shorten our journey to understanding.

We were engaged in meaningful discussion even if peppered with lofty ideals that seem simplistic and childish to the modernized mind. Our ideals serve us, they nurture our needs and inspire us when in doubt. Dreams are not childish but they are child-like — they do not conform to reality and always have something to say.

We talked long enough that the menacing New England cold finally found its way to my naked core. So we called it quits and after exchanging words of gratitude and warmed by the rays of inspiration, we parted – she on her journey and I on my visit.

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