‘I see frightening things and good things side by side.’

Thought for the week: Ruth Tod hits the roof

'The room where I meditate looks out over the roof tops of our town, from the mayor in his grand house to the prostitutes at the Red Lion.' | Photo: by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash.

The room where I meditate looks out over the roof tops of our town, from the mayor in his grand house to the prostitutes at the Red Lion. From here I try to see things as they are, without judging, simply noticing what is. I see frightening things and good things side by side. It is all there. People struggling, and people like me with a house and garden to enjoy. Against a backdrop of worrying politics, neighbours help each other. I try to watch, learn, understand and accept.

Acceptance does not mean withdrawal. But I do try to let go of fear. As I do, I feel a sense of openness to the power of love and wisdom. Just as fear creates more fear, so acts of courage and compassion create more courage and compassion. Acts of wisdom create more wisdom. The spaciousness that I find in acceptance has given me a softer yet stronger energy. It has also helped me to find new ways of seeing. Most people, including our politicians, are frightened. Acceptance gives the space to see us all as human beings who are longing to feel safe.

In the stillness I reflect on this universal need. There are many different ways of feeling safe and searching for safety. Our grandson sleeps in a tent in his bedroom. His bed then became a trampoline and broke. Now fixed, it is a place to lie down and read. We create our own safety mechanisms depending on our upbringing and experiences. When I see cadets march on Remembrance Sunday I feel frightened, while others feel protected. I want the lockdown restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible, while others will be content to have them stay. I see safety in building bridges and reaching out. Others see safety in building walls and turning their backs. Some are desperate for change. Some are frightened of it and want the status quo, however harmful it is. We cannot dismiss these different feelings. We need to understand them because they are held very deeply.

I return to the roof top and look out. Having acknowledged that our political leaders are frightened human beings, struggling to help the country recover, can I understand them better? Can we imagine walking in another person’s shoes? Can we imagine taking on their role, get inside them, and even adopt their body language and ask to be interviewed? What do we learn? Fear and the longing to feel safe will not be the only needs that we find we have in common. How can we build bridges so that we learn from one another? And learn we must, from everyone.

We talk a lot about weighing up risks. I cut out a two-dimensional circle, with a picture of the Earth on each side and people holding hands around the edge. It hangs from the ceiling, turning in the warm air. I long to see our country leading the way towards a more compassionate, sustainable world. How can we use our deep knowledge of humanity to help make this vision come to life?

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