Healing Light Center
Mattea Nicchitta

(805) 300-0930

Ah… another day of hiking. This time I'm feeling strong. As I entered Wildwood, I noticed three Latino young adult men. One of them had an Alaskan Husky on a leash and the dog was agitated and barking very loud. As I approached the guys, they seemed nervous, speaking in Spanish, and pointing at the tall grass. One of the men picked up a large rock, walked over to the grass and held it over his head ready to forcefully drop it down. I was not sure why he was doing that until I saw a silver black striped rattler slither around the rock and into the tall grass. At that moment I realized he wanted to strike the snake. I said to him “don’t hurt it, it’s just being a snake.” I could see that my words were landing on deaf ears. I let them be and hoped that the snake would get away. A few minutes later the boys passed me on as I continued on the trail. I guess they were done, and off hiking they went.

But for me, I was bothered by their violence. My knew jerk reaction was to judge and be upset. The thought of their need to crush the snake came in and out of my mind the whole time I was hiking. About an hour later, as I was making my way out of the park. I reached the spot where I had seen the men, were I had seen the snake. All that was there now was dry grass and people walking past it. As I looked around at the area, I suddenly had an aha moment.

Those young men were really frightened for themselves and for their dog. That thought surprised me since I've seen many snakes during my hikes but really, unless, I bother them they don't bother me. So, yes, it was an aha moment for me. They were so frightened that all they could do was react with violence. What happened next really surprised me, I felt my heart area soften and literally something opening up. I could feel their fear and I got it, they reacted in a way that made sense to them. Another softening of my heart. Even more surprising was I suddenly felt compassion for them. No more anger or intolerance.  
It is easy to say, I should show compassion for that person or that situation, etc., but honestly, sometimes I cannot get there. In this situation I really got it. One, I had to have patience to give myself the space to mull it over. I then had to put myself in their shoes and that lead me to empathy and with empathy came compassion.

"Patience, Understanding, Empathy and then came Compassion."

All the time hiking I thought it was the young men who had to change but at that moment, I understood. Compassion and kindness must start with me not someone else. Being compassionate has been my practice for a while but this experience was a good reminder that I still need to practice on a regular basis. One, two, three times is not enough. Just like anything else we want in our lives, we need to practice it over and over to strengthen that muscle within us.

“It’s easy to judge. It is more difficult to understand.
Understanding requires compassion, patience, and a willingness to
believe that good hearts sometimes choose poor methods.
Through judging, we separate, thru understanding, we grow.
                                                                                                                                         Doe Zantamata


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