Living in San Francisco, seeing a homeless person is a normal, everyday occurrence. They are on the street corners, sitting outside a restaurant, or in front of the drug store. It’s easy to walk or drive by without acknowledging that that’s a human being; a person with feelings and emotions.
Working as a police officer for twenty years, I looked at the homeless as a nuisance. I had to have them move along, tell them to stop panhandling, threaten that next time I would give them a ticket.
If I looked at every homeless person as a human being with feelings and emotions, I don’t think my heart could have taken it. I had to shut off that part of myself in order to survive seeing human suffering.
Now that I’m retired, I have learned how to acknowledge and embrace my own emotions and feelings. My meditation practice and Yoga Nidra has been an amazing avenue for me to heal myself. I realize now how much I had shut off certain parts of myself in order to survive.
The other day I was driving and stopped at a red light, I looked over and saw a woman digging through the public trashcan next to a bus stop. She was probably in her 50’s and she was pulling out cans and plastic bottles. I watched her for about a minute and the word that came to my mind was ‘Namaste’.
I had just had a conversation with a friend that was asking me about the word ‘Namaste’ and it’s meaning.
Namaste translates to – “I bow to you.”
A couple other translations are:
The divine light in me, acknowledges the divine light in you.
The God in me meets and greets the God in you.
It is a soul greeting another soul. I think of it similar to a handshake or a hug. The word has significance and meaning to me, it’s not just something I say.
This woman had feelings and emotions and I don’t know the events in her life that led her to a place where she was digging through a trashcan. I am no better than her. I am a human being acknowledging her presence.
I am thankful that I am able to recognize another human’s suffering and acknowledge that they matter in this world.
I hope next time you see someone who is less fortunate than you, you recognize there is a soul that deserves to be acknowledged.