This summer I went to a concert on my birthday. It was mid-July and the heat and humidity made it sticky and hazy. The concert was at an amphitheater. In the past, any time I have gone to a concert at an amphitheater, I have just bought lawn tickets. It is cheaper to sit on the lawn and it can be a fun atmosphere too. However, this time I wanted a seat and I intentionally purchased tickets with seats under the covering (heading into my mid-thirties might have had something to do with that decision…even though I don’t like to admit it!)
We got to the event early and cooled down with a refreshing snow cone. We started to see the clouds rolling in and it looked like rain was on the horizon. We found our seats and I was so happy to have a chair and a roof covering our heads. When the concert started, the place filled with beautiful music and singing.
I had purchased seats at the end of the row so I didn’t have to feel squished or “stuck” in the middle. I felt pleased with my seat selection and was thoroughly enjoying the concert. And then…..it started pouring rain along with thunder and lightning….
I turned around and saw hundreds of people standing on the lawn with no shelter. I felt bad for them. But I must admit, I also felt a little prideful because I had made sure to purchase a ticket that gave me a seat under the covering and maybe if they had done that too, they wouldn’t be soaking wet on the lawn.
Within a few minutes, the ushers were calling the people on the lawn to come into the aisles under the covering. Hundreds of people filled the aisles and suddenly I no longer had an “aisle” seat. I felt pretty squished and crammed and I’m sure everyone else did too. It felt uncomfortable. They were all wet and dripping water everywhere. I was distracted from the concert and just focusing on how uncomfortable it felt.
And then I stopped and really looked around. I was having one of those moments in life where something simple or inconvenient takes on a deeper meaning and purpose. I felt like this situation was representative of how we should all treat each other. It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Christian, Muslim, gay, straight, single, democrat, republican, handicap, mentally ill, poor, rich, strong or weak….we all deserve a chance to find shelter from the rain and the storm. It didn’t matter if people had planned ahead and purchased a seat under the covering. It didn’t matter that some might have thought the lawn ticket holders were “irresponsible.” In the moment, we all knew that sharing the shelter was the right thing to do.
I realized that sometimes sharing space is uncomfortable. The folks on the lawn were strangers to me, but we huddled in close to seek shelter. I think our world needs to stop fearing the closeness. We need to start embracing the habit of sharing our space (physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually). We live in a world now where we are so used to locking our doors, closing our curtains, putting up our fences and closing people out. We are so used to staying within our circle of people that are just like us because it is comfortable. But doing those things puts blinders on our eyes. It creates a fear that people that are “other” than us shouldn’t come close. If we don’t come close, we can’t become stronger together. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, shelter is considered one of the most basic human needs for survival. If we can’t even offer each other shelter from the storm, how can we work through our deeper wounds, like trauma and division?
It makes me sad to think of how divisive our country has become. I challenge everyone to get a little uncomfortable and step a little closer to someone who is not like you. It might surprise you how much you can learn from each other and how healing that can be. Let’s be intentional about sharing our space. And let’s be honest, that space in the aisle wasn’t even “mine” to begin with!
So while we are at it, let’s drop all our prideful feelings of entitlement and just meet each other where we are at. We must stop the judgement. My judgmental thought was “if the lawn people had been more responsible and bought a seat ticket, they wouldn’t be soaking wet on the lawn.” Yes, that is true…but it doesn’t mean I deserved to have shelter and they didn’t. This judgmental thinking has suffocated our ability to be compassionate…it has also made us numb and desensitized.
This judgmental thinking says things like this:
“Well, if the black man would have just put his hands up and listened to the cop, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten shot and killed…”
“Well, if that cop wasn’t so poorly trained and racist, maybe he wouldn’t have shot the unarmed innocent black man…”
“Well, if that addict would just stop using and get it together, maybe they wouldn’t be such a mess anymore…”
“Well, if that gay person really loved God they would turn from their “sinful” ways and be healed…”
“Well, if that parent had just been watching their kid more closely, that accident wouldn’t have happened and their child would still be alive…”
“Well, if his wife had paid more attention to him maybe he wouldn’t have cheated and left her alone…”
And all of those statements sound like this…..
“Well, if that person would just listen to my view and realize that I know everything, then maybe we wouldn’t be having this argument…”
See what I mean about losing our ability to be compassionate? We stand back from a distance and make these judgmental assumptions that bring us all further away from love and freedom. Let’s come close again and share our space. Sharing space and coming close brings more understanding and we all desire to be understood. We all just want shelter from the storm….and lately in this Country; it feels like it has been storming for months.