(Continued from Reconcile, A Story: The Travelers, Part 1)
Relief washed over the travelers as they each found a home in which to stay. But still the gruffness of the town’s inhabitants felt awkward, and difficult to navigate. Were the townsfolk angry? Were they inconvenienced? Like-Minded wandered into the kitchen of her host home. “My friends and I are very grateful for your hospitality.” Curtly, her host responded with a nod and little else. “This town is such a beautiful place, and the townsfolk seem such generous hosts. Yet my friends and I are feeling unwelcome by the sparing use of words and the gruff tone that is used.” Like-Minded is a very brave soul, willing to ask hard questions to find out what the other is feeling or experiencing. Without a smile, or even a nod, her host sat down with a sigh and gestured towards a photo on the mantle. It’s old and faded appearance belied it to be of a loved one now deceased. “Everyone of us has one, or many, of those photos on our mantle. That is the only way we could carry those we lost from the old country. When we arrived on this little bluff, we had nothing more than we could carry. We built this town with the determination that no traveler that came to us would leave without warmth and food. Our pain has hardened our speech but softened our hearts.”
Empathy and Compassion were housed with another traveler whose wheel had fallen off his cart as he tried to bypass the town earlier in the day. “I hate this town, and now I’m stuck here till I get that wheel fixed. Just too uncomfortable to be with people who don’t like ya. And there’s no private place to stay – you’ve always got some grump in your face. Can’t even get a decent meal without having to sit next to some ogre.” Empathy smiled, a tiny, little, knowing smile. He understood that feelings can be powerful, especially in the face of misunderstanding. “The gruffness of the townsfolks’ words are off putting, but what seems to negate their tone is their generosity and gracious hosting.” Compassion turned to his bunkmates, “I’ve been wondering about the story behind their way of being. What made the townsfolk choose gruffness in their pain? And what made you, dear sir, so desirous of avoiding simple gruffness?’” The early morning, wheelless traveler sighed – “The gruffness feels like my alcoholic father before he left to drink every night away.”
May we pursue like-mindedness by appreciating the feelings and experiences of the other, without judgement. May our compassion grow to yearn for the story behind the presentation. May our empathy increase our understanding of powerful emotions and their effect on ourselves, our families, our communities.
(To be continued in Reconcile, A Story: The Travelers, Part 3)
Photo Credit: NappyStock, https://nappy.co/NappyStock
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