World Travel with a Twist of Zen - Fields of Indulgence  
My Mom is a social worker and often goes into hospitals to assess the elderly for their eligibility to receive assistance from the state. In the elevator on her way out of the hospital she was standing next to an older woman and noticed she was teary. My Mom asked, “are you all right?”

Mom & I at the game
The woman replied “I’m here because my sister is dying of lung cancer. She smoked for 50 years and while she may have enjoyed the habit, she had an obligation to those who loved her not to kill herself in this way. What about those of us who love her and are left behind?” My Mom saw the pain in her eyes and asked if she’d like to sit in the lobby and talk. Over the next 30 minutes they connected to share in the sorrows and tears that life has inevitably brought each of them. The sorrows of life cut short before its time and of loved ones whose actions leave wounds that scar over, but never fully heal. After they had shared their stories, my Mom told her she had to go but that she “felt they were meant to have this time together.” They exchanged first names and the woman thanked her being there and both  women recognized that a special moment had occurred. They hugged and separated.

As my Mom told me this story, I felt admiration welling in my heart for her willingness to commune with someone in pain. How often do we see pain in others and make excuses about how we don’t have the time or the energy to give? Of course we can’t completely abandon our own needs to serve others, but can we just take that extra half hour to make a difference? Or can we take the extra little effort to smile at the person we pass on the street who may be having a bad day? To truly listen instead of waiting for our turn to speak? My Mom’s story challenged me to look at all the little ways I sabotage “coming together” and inspired me to do something about it. Those are the best kinds of stories :).

Neda's 1st Phillies Game!
On a practical note, we have been doing a lot of coming together here in Philadelphia as we catch up with family and friends and continue to make preparations for our trip to Bulgaria and beyond. We got to catch a Phillies game with the family (it was rained out in the 3rd inning, but we still had a great time) and to see our friends and families cute little babies! We also survived a category 1 hurricane (thanks Irene). Hope everyone else stayed safe during the storm! See the rest of the pics here

Our cute niece Ella!
Lilianna, our friends Beth & Ed's daughter!

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