August 17, 2016 Spirit of Compassion

One of the things I love about Punjabi culture is the richness of virtues like compassion. We are taught to respect elders, brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers and guests from a young age. Many of us actively involve children in service of to our communities and temples.  When we involve kids in acts of showing compassion to others, they learn this virtue for life and it becomes a part of them.  This thought reminded me of my neighbour Joe.

Joe passed away a few years ago. His memories still live on in our neighbourhood. One could not ignore his boisterous personality. In his thick Portuguese accent, he proudly expressed his strong opinions about almost everything. Because he was so direct and honest, he was sometimes misunderstood and viewed as being too abrasive and nosy. He kept a beautifully manicured lawn, perfectly pruned fig trees and an impeccable garden. He took great pride in watering his plants. On his daily walks, he would keep an eye on things in the neighbourhood. If he saw that your tomato vines needed support or the garden needed water, he would take care of it for you. He treated everybody’s property like his own. Every year he would climb up the fig tree and pick the figs – at the age of 80. He would then bring a big bowl full for our daughter and say, “here you go little Bambina!”
On our Vancouver street the parking is public. So when Joe put cones in front of his house to mark off his parking spot, the other neighbours got upset. What most of us didn’t know was that he had been suffering from cancer for a number of years. It was difficult for him to walk long distances to his car when he was undergoing painful treatments Nevertheless, Joe wanted the neighbourhood to remember him just as he was so he never mentioned being terribly sick. He didn’t want pity or be treated differently. A lot of us realized then that those cones were placed in front of Joe’s house for a very good reason….Joe’s kind character should have spoken more loudly than “taking up a parking spot.”
Many people are fighting battles nobody knows about. How many times do we assume things, jump to conclusions – not really knowing the full story or daily struggles one may be going through?


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