Sue is from Brooklyn. She is a true New Yorker through and through even though she hasn’t lived there in over 30 years. But it’s in her blood. “It’s how I am able to deal with the stress in my life...I’m a New Yorker.” In almost the same breath, Sue tells me that it was her stress that led to her succumbing to Bell's palsy - a condition that causes a temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles in the face. She is slowly learning to manage her stress with visits to the beach in case you were wondering.
Stress has always been a part of her life. She worked for years on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Eventually she and her husband moved to Maui for three years. They had no kids but plenty of pets. But right now she doesn’t have any pets or anyone in her life.
There is so much more to Sue than someone who speaks to angels, or hangs out with other people’s dogs, or being unemployed again, or only having $1.90 in her bank account. But like it’s been with so many of the people I have met this year, I cannot share publicly her truth, her pain, and her grief. However, I was able to share those things with her.
As she talked, I realized how much our paths were similar. I was able to offer my experiences with her to let her know I understood. It was those experiences that allowed me to be fully present and truly compassionate. At the time I was experiencing that pain or going through my suffering I had no idea who Sue was. But now I do. I know her. And now I know why. It’s KNOWvember after all.
I say this because Sue asked a question so many people ask me when the conversation turns to my faith in God. That is, “then why does God allow bad things to happen to good people.?” I didn’t tell her it might be to give us a voice or a connection to compassion for sharing later on in times like this. Nor did I tell her that bad things happen to bad people too. Nor any of the other fluffy platitudes we say when we don’t know what to say to a person. I didn’t need too. I simply met her in her question and shrugged my shoulders with her.
As we parted ways, I began to think that maybe we go through stressful situations so we know how to sit in someone else’s stress, take it upon ourselves for a moment, if only so they can have a break from it. After all, isn’t that what angels do?
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”