I'll start by telling you about a woman I will call Ellen. I got on the elevator at the 18th Floor to go down to the final Plenary Session on Sunday morning. A couple of floors down, a lovely blonde woman in a purple sweater stepped onto the elevator. I turned to her and said, "I think you're the only person here I haven't met this weekend."
Ellen is from New Jersey, and we ended up sitting at the same table a little while later, after I had gotten some coffee and cruised the bookstore one last time. We were asked to participate in a morning meditation exercise, and then to pair up for the final part of it. We were each given a stone.
Joyce asked us to pick up our stone and hold it close to our heart, and then to envision the person most on our heart right now.
The person most on my heart? My son.
Then Joyce asked us to talk to each other about the person who is most on our heart.
Ellen went first.
"I have a son," she said. "And for some reason, I'm glad that you are the person I'm telling this to right now" She spoke of how troubled her son is.
"He's a good person," she said.
Wow, I thought.
So, with tears in my eyes, I told Ellen that I have a son, as well. And he's in trouble. He's probably going to prison soon. "He's a good person," I said.
What Ellen said next is what I most needed to hear in that moment. "My nephew went to prison. It's been his salvation. It's the thing that has turned him around. He has a daughter. He's a good dad."
"My son has a daughter, too," I said. "He's a good dad."
In speaking of "findings that support compassion," Joyce Rupp said:
We are united in an unseen yet real way.
We experienced that unity in many, many ways over the course of the weekend. All five hundred of us. It's one of the things that gives me hope in times of upheaval and uncertainty; in the times in which we're living. Compassion is possible. Connection is real.