About five years ago our dog went into heat as we were driving in our minivan with her across the country to visit family. Scout is an adorable small-breed half-pug, half-lab and she was six months old at the time. The veterinarian had assured us that she would most likely not go into heat any time soon. Well, about one hour out of Denver she went into heat, and the next few weeks we were buying doggie diapers, chasing Scout across parking lots through the mid-west, and trying all sorts of remedies to deal with the situation. A few days later in Shreveport, Louisiana, we were changing Scout’s diaper outside of a 7-11. My teen boys were holding her collar as I was struggling to put on the diaper as Scout was patiently waiting for us to complete the process, when a plumber’s pick-up truck with a plumbing logo and various pipes and tools arranged in racks and lock boxes in the back of his truck pulled up and parked beside us. A large white man wearing jeans and a white t-shirt with a huge beer belly and a John Deer cap got out of the truck and looked at us changing the diaper on our designer dog with a puzzled expression. He stared at us as he walked past into the store and I heard him say with a chuckle to himself, “I’ve seen everything now!” I can only imagine how funny and how strange we must have looked to him.
Every day we may seem strange, funny, inspiring and even scary to each other as we look through the lens of our own beliefs and perceptions. Our differences may seem insurmountable at times depending our point of view. Republicans and Democrats may mistrust each other, people of different races, cultures, sexual orientations, gender identities or ethnic backgrounds may use our differences to perceive each other as different, scary, strange or bad.
Even though I looked strange and possibly crazy to that plumber from Shreveport, inside he and I are the same. He has a family and friends he loves and cares for, and that love him in return. Even though he may never change diapers on a designer dog, he and I have the same love at the core of who we are. This love is the common bond of humanity that we all share. We may have differences about politics, religion race or many things, but inside we all have the same blood and bones and the same hopes and dreams for ourselves and our loved ones and the same common humanity.
During this holiday season, the core of unconditional love at the heart of every human being is what brings us together in our families, our communities, our nations and in the world. This consciousness of unconditional love brings us back to the reason for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or whatever your celebration at this time. Whatever your religion, ethnicity, gender, family situation or state of mind at the moment, it is entirely possible to have the awareness of unconditional love transform your day, your holiday season and your life. All it takes is to look through the egos and the mask you see on the people around you. Look past the pain and anger or the judgement you may see at times in those around you and look for the heart of love in the person in front of you. Whether he or she is a plumber from Shreveport, a socialite from New York, a republican or democrat, a convict or a minister, somewhere in there is a human being that loves and cares just as you do. When you see that love in others, you will also see a reflection of the love inside yourself, and no matter what issues divide you, something good can happen if you are willing.
Every now and then I still think about that plumber in Shreveport and I wonder if sometimes he still tells the story of the crazy family with the minivan and the Colorado license tags at the 7-11 changing the diaper on their dog and inside I smile.
Have a blessed holiday season,