Walking home this afternoon after voting and getting a flu shot,* I spotted a mound of stuff on the sidewalk up ahead; a couple of women wearing red tee shirts hovered near this pile. “Oh, Lord,” I thought, walking towards them. “Here it is, absolute, concrete proof, as if I needed it, that this neighborhood’s unaffordable. Because here are two poor, evicted souls’ worldly possessions thrown onto the sidewalk!” And I wondered if/how I could help.
The two women, tired and overwhelmed, sluggishly went in and out of the apartment building next to the sidewalk mound; without drama or tears or energy they kept adding bits and pieces to the pile. “What’s this about?” I asked one.
“Trash!” she replied wearily. And I realized she and her co-worker had been hired to clean. They were not being evicted.
Just then a tan station wagon pulled up; the passenger window rolled down and Alex Pirie, a wonderful activist I’ve known for years who works at CAAS, a Somerville anti-poverty agency, called out to me. “Is this an eviction?” he asked.
“Exactly what I was wondering,” I told him. I nodded to one of the women. “But she says this is trash.”
We looked at the two exhausted women. We looked at each other. And then, reluctantly, we shrugged. Because although we both understood that Something Bad had transpired to cause all that stuff to be tossed on the sidewalk, we were powerless to help. Those harried cleaners knew nothing but their own fatigue and how to get done what they’d been hired to do so they could move on to their next job. More information would not be forthcoming.
Powerless to help the poor souls who owned that stuff, yes, save to hold them in the Light. (That Quakerese for “pray for them.”) But what an energy boost when Alex stopped and rolled down his window and asked that question! Because although I know there are good people doing amazing things all the time, sometimes I need to be reminded. (Okay, let’s be honest, here. LOTS of times I need to be reminded!) Sometimes I need to remember it’s not all up to me! Or about me. Sometimes I need to celebrate my/our interconnectivity.
“We all are so deeply interconnected; we have no option but to love all. Be kind and do good for any one and that will be reflected. The ripples of the kind heart are the highest blessings of the Universe.”
― Amit Ray, Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style
* Did you? Have you?