I'm not sitting with a still body and mind.
I'm not walking a winding path, quieting the clamor in my head.
I'm standing outside at the door, waving in cars and walking women and their companions into the building. I'm chatting mindlessly, trying to give them something to hear and focus on, something to drown out the cries of, "They kill babies here!" I'm standing on the sidewalk, waiting.
Escorting at a local women's health center on the mornings they provide abortions is an exercise in living my personal values and religious principles.
I am not Buddhist, but many of the principles of Buddhism inform my personal, spiritual development, chief among them Mettā, or LovingKindness. There are seven principles of Unitarian Universalism, but the first two in particular have called to me, planted themselves deep in my mind, begging me to nurture and cultivate them.
I'm trying to shape myself into a person whose default setting is Mettā, who persistently holds in her mind the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and who practices justice, equity, and compassion, in all human relations.
And so on escorting mornings, I practice without ceasing.
I'm filled with easy love and compassion for these women whose dignity I'm striving to preserve by walking with them and acknowledging their fragility and humanity. But while the work of escorting is a way of walking my talk, as it were, it's the waiting in-between patient arrivals that is my true mediation.
It's when I'm standing alone and silent in the cold, looking across the parking lot at the women and men holding their bibles and rosaries, the women and men who moments ago shouted painful words at fragile women, that I have to work at lovingkindness and compassion. And so I say to them, within myself, "I see you."
Namaste, Shalom, Salaam, Amen, Carry the Flame.