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Posted By Opening the Heart

My friend, Rick, produced the “This I Believe” segment for our NPR radio station in Rhode Island, where I live. Each time I hear it, I ask myself “What is it that I believe?” And each time the answer comes back the same: “I believe in perspective.”

This summer I read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s amazing book A Team of Rivals about Abraham Lincoln, a man of deep integrity, kindness and wisdom. He not only suffered the loss of a first love and the death of a son, but nearly lost his beloved country to a brutal civil war that went on for five years and split loving families apart. I heard a story that Lincoln, in the midst of his darkest time, asked a cabinet member to compose a thought that would, somehow, comfort all: “This, too, shall pass”. Four words that might provide perspective in good times and bad….

Forgive me, but having grown up outside of Boston and gone to Fenway Park many times with my brothers and dad, I’m what you could reasonably call a ‘home boy’, a die-hard and unrepentant, raging, avid Red Sox fan. I would grimly joke with our New York relatives about getting through the New England winters by first going to our local Providence clinic for an inoculation against resignation and hopelessness setting in before April’s Opening Day. Over 80 years of Red Sox frustration and failure to win a World Series- not since 1918, when my dad was a little boy.

Then came October 16th 2003, the night Aaron Boone of the dreaded Yankees hit a home run in the 11th inning to end any chance of the Red Sox going to the World Series. It was a new and painful low in my Red Sox fan career. I called my friend, Stan, to commiserate: “How ya doin’?” “Not too good, Jon. I’m actually thinking of ending it all.” “Stan, what if, after you die, you go to a place where they keep showing the ’86 Mets-Red Sox World series- over and over and over again?” Stan still credits me with saving his life that day.

 So why am I telling you this? Because without that Aaron Boone home run in ’03, the Red Sox four game sweep of the Yankees and eventual World Series championship in 2004 - the first in 86 years!- never would have felt so incredibly amazing! Perspective.

 For the 30 years that I have been coming back to the Opening the Heart Workshop, I realized that it was primarily because of the transformative miracle that I witness in the circle of brothers and sisters, from our first circle on Friday night to our last on Sunday. On Friday night it seems to me that many faces look anxious, self conscious, maybe hopeful. On Sunday there is a dramatically different feel to the energy in the room as I slowly scan the faces. I sometimes say that when we look into another’s eyes and see difference, we experience fear; when we look into another’s eyes and see no difference, what we experience is nothing but understanding and compassion…. Perspective.

 With Love and Respect,