Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Was Holding the Stone.

A conversation ensued today, the eye opening, lump in your throat kind- I was steered towards a wonderful and wise woman, Patty, who shared an amazing story related to the Atonement. It pierced my heart. I cried. It was such a cleansing experience, as I have recently experienced one of the toughest emotional moments of my life.

This is the story she shared:

She used to work for a big company in CA, (that manufactures airplanes), cough, cough. They got into some kind of trouble, thus initiating a 4 year review from the government. During this time she was assigned to a special committee along with a woman she couldn't stand. This woman had a gorgeous body which she exploited. The guys on Patty's team stared out the window every time she'd walk past- she slept around with a lot of the guys including one of the directors of their committee.

This woman, we'll call Leila, constantly sought Patty out to complain, complain, complain. She wasn't a happy chappy. Leila was a divorced mother of 2 and would gripe about not wanting to pick her kids up, waiting till the last minute possible Sunday night-till she HAD to get them...Patty, copacetic ("so she thought"), would begrudgingly ignore the constant bellyaching, rather than tell Leila to just, "shut up!"

Upon returning from a business trip to Georgia, Leila sat down at Patty's desk as usual, but this time she looked nervous. She confided in Patty; her leg had swollen up while she'd been away on business and it concerned her big time. Patty said matter of factly, "It's hot as sin in the South right now. It was probably just the heat." "No", Leila replied. "This isn't normal. I've had cancer in this leg before and I'm worried it's come back." She revealed a portion of her swollen leg where Patty could see a major section of flesh had been removed and skin grafts had been performed." (Everybody has their hidden flaws).

She went to the doctors and found out the cancer was back in full swing. It had spread throughout her body. She started chemo. The regiment wasted her. Her once exquisite strawberry blond curls were replaced by ornate scarves...her director boyfriend turned cold, which meant her bills weren't getting paid. A former boyfriend, lower on the company totem pole, stepped up to help her through this dark time. He said he'd always loved her and her kids...

Eventually Leila's health did not allow her to work. She was admitted to a hospital and wouldn't live much longer. A message came to Patty saying, "Leila wants to see you. Can you come today?" Patty declined due to a small cold she was nursing- not wanting to pass that on to Leila and have it knock her out. The next day a second message came, "At this point, what difference does it make if I catch a cold?! Please come." Patty conceded. The floor where Leila 's room was located was silent and bleak, the kind of place people go to die. When Patty entered Leila's room she stopped. Hundreds of white specks were fluttering about. Leila's family had hung tiny white angels and pictures of her kids from every surface imaginable.

Patty still wasn't feeling charitable towards this woman! Even as she looked at her ravaged reduced state. Her hair was nothing more than an oily clump of string sitting atop her head. (From all the lotion the nurses had applied attempting to make her scalp as comfortable as possible).

Leila was sleeping. Patty felt relieved. She thought, "I'll just quickly leave a note to let her know I stopped by." But before she could slip out, Leila opened her eyes. "I know someone's here, I just can't see who it is. Please, come closer." Patty walked to the bedside and upon identifying herself Leila burst into tears.

She begged Patty to crawl into the bed with her and hold her. Patty complied. This woman then told Patty how her father had passed away when Leila was 9 and her mother committed suicide when she was 15. Patty was the "mother" Leila had since longed for. Leila said she would stare at the family photos that lined Patty's office walls and ask herself, "why can't my family be like this?" It was at this moment that Patty realized she was the one holding the stone. All this time she'd thought she was being so cordial, so good, so polite...she too was a sinner. The Atonement was just as much for her as it was for Leila.

We cannot judge others. We have no idea what consumes their time, occupies their thoughts, or dictates their actions.

We don't know the hearts of anyone else but our own. Leaving the telepathy of the heart to The Master is a continual lesson I am learning.

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