I went to see Fr. Greg Boyle speak today. Fr. Greg is the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention program in the world and the author of the incredible books “Tattoos on the Heart” and “Barking to the Choir”. If you are looking to feel that sense of humanity, kindness and purpose that is hard to grasp, read his books or listen to his YouTube videos, you will not be disappointed.
Today, among several poignant themes he spoke about, he talked about ‘kinship’ and the connectedness and belonging we all desire and seek. He shared the words “God delights in us, always.” He said if God were here, God would say “Oh, you’re here” and delight in us just being here. Whether you believe in God or not, the idea of being delighted in just because you are here, can stop you in your tracks. It does me.
Our desire and need to belong to one another is ‘kinship’ and we forget that we belong to one another. We forget that we are alike and that we all need to feel connected, noticed, valued and loved.
(here is a Ted Talk video of Fr. Boyle speaking on Kinship and compassion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipR0kWt1Fkc)
As I moved through my day today, thinking about the messages that Fr. Boyle spoke of, two thoughts come up for me – first, who do I delight in? and second, who delights in me? (other than God). The first one is easier for me to answer than the second.
Who do I delight in? That’s easy! My children. I delight in their smile, their curly hair, their restful faces when they sleep, their silly dances and their proclamations of “I love you mom.” I am filled up by them just because they exist in this world.
When I think about who delights in me, that causes me to stop and wonder “who does?” I am a single mother and don’t have a partner who delights in me. My children delight in me ‘just because I’m here’ (and when I give them ice-cream or buy them a new toy) but somehow this feels different because I am their mom. I’m not sure it is different though – I’m still contemplating that.
The idea of delighting in someone brings to mind the images and words and tears of so many mothers, fathers, babies and little children with whom I have worked. Whether a mother who is so in love with her child and can delight in him as she nestles his head beneath her chin or the mom who is so overwhelmed that she is not able to be glad that he is here. Of the baby who is embraced in the warm and snuggly arms of its parent and feels the joy that is created in their parent ‘just because they are here’ to the baby who does not now know this pleasure because mom or dad is struggling with their own traumas that may have started when they were a baby and whether or not their own parent delighted in them.
I think of the mom of a toddler who wants to disappear in the store when her child starts to tantrum as she believes that others are staring at her and judging her. Or the father who wants to bathe his child but the child prefers her mother, bringing up for the father a feeling of rejection and unwantedness.
There are times when we forget that we belong to each other. Instead of leaning in and finding the mutuality of our experiences, we pull away, feeling dejected and isolated. Instead of seeing ourselves in someone else’s pain and struggle we assume they condemn us for our shortcomings. Fr. Boyle said ‘when we stand in the circle of compassion we remember that we belong to one another.’
So, I offer you this question: who do you delight in just because they are here and who delights in you just because you are here? How can you step into the circle of compassion and how can you extend that circle to others? How do we, as men and women, mothers and fathers, remain in kinship with each other so that we may delight in one another?
Please post your thoughts below😊