I write this article about the importance of living in the spirit of loving-kindness, in memory of my former student Alina Tarbhai, her mom Afina, and the passengers on flight PS752.
Our lives are interwoven. Our destinies are intertwined. This is an irrefutable truth.
Like many, I have gone through the dark night of the Soul, trying to make sense of horrors that media brings to our doorsteps and into our homes carrying messages of fear and hate. Instead of coming out of devastating experiences with bitter, angry hearts seeking revenge, we can choose to nurture reconciliation and restitution. What if we combined energies towards bringing more Light and Love into our lives and into those of others who are still here trying to find their way on this planet?
The reality of human tragedy hit home really hard when one of my former students from 2002-2005 at Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School, Alina Tarbhai, was on a plane with her mom on a sacred pilgrimage, as a passenger on Ukrainian International Airlines plane flight PS752 which crashed only minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport on Wednesday, January 8, 2020.
Around the world, we suffer terrible losses of life in many forms and on many levels, to tragedy, both manmade and natural. Fires consume areas in Australia now larger than England. There are all kinds of strife caused by earthquakes, tectonic shifts, volcanoes, tidal waves, droughts, floods, famine, disease, war and all kinds of pollution expanding above, below and within the earth. Our lives are interwoven. Our destinies are intertwined. We are not alone.
Instead of being devastated, shutting down in the face of catastrophe regardless of source or intent behind it, what if we turned our own realities around to give life more meaning? What if we became better custodians for the world and more compassionate caretakers for each other? To those of us who are still here learning our spiritual lessons, I ask: “When life goes sideways, instead of wallowing in self-pity, misery, and depression, what if we focus instead on spreading Hope through missions of compassion and pilgrimage aligned with our higher purpose, like many who have gone before us?”
What if we acknowledge and accept our sacred responsibilities to nurture hope, light, community, sense of purpose and live with love in right relationship on this planet?
What if we commit to being more aware Caretakers of Mother Earth and compassionate Custodians for each other and for the life vibration she holds for us? How daunting and overwhelming would such undertakings really be if we moved forward, one step at a time, like the little boy who said “It matters to this one” has picked stranded starfish off the beach, throwing what he could back into the life-giving ocean?
What we think, do and say even on a very small scale matters. Our prayers have weight, yet feel light as a feather when we lift them together. We need to stay in a very light-hearted space to raise the love and unity vibration of Human Consciousness. I’m a retired school teacher whose extracurricular outreach activities with students gave my life meaning. Other than pray and spend time with the elderly, what do I really do now to make a difference that positively impacts lives? Many of us, when we reach this golden age wonder “Where do we go from here?” No matter how old we are, how limited we feel in our abilities, we can still contribute to making the world a better place, even if it is just listening to others’ dreams, believing in them and celebrating the good. We can all live a purposeful life.
When my maid of honour called me this afternoon, we both cried on the phone as we talked about coping with this most recent tragic loss. We agreed there is power in prayer when many people pray at the same time for good. The goodness of individuals can reach out through prayer and giving to reinforce faith in the goodness of humanity as a whole. There are many kind people on this earth who want to enhance the quality of life for all. What can we do from our own little parts of the world to be helpful? We need to stay in a very light-hearted space, no matter what winds blow our way. Mother Theresa shared many words of wisdom with the world:
There are no great things, only small things with great love. Peace begins with a smile.
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those. Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. If you judge people, you have no time to love them. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love. If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
Bottom line: We can each do our best, whatever that is, wherever we are, to inspire and uplift one another, rather than be bystanders. We can do this in memory of those we love, in memory of loving people like Alina Tarbhai who perished on flight PS752.
I used to encourage student leaders like Alina in elementary and high schools to get involved in community outreach. Many like Alina, continued on into their adulthood, carrying hope for humanity. That unpaid part of my vocation was the best and most meaningful part of my life when I taught in York Region.
Even after retirement, it is hard for teachers to put encouragement to rest. It is healthiest and best to rekindle our own spirits to be revitalized rather than just allow ourselves to fade away dreamlessly ‘sick and tired’ in nursing homes. We can ‘listen’ and talk story to help young eagles spread their wings and fly again. Bearing this in mind, I will use my talents to help keep others’ dreams alive. I am currently encouraging an Elder whose vision is helping heal war veterans and other survivors suffering from PTSD and brain trauma.
Maybe the hurt from the loss on flight PS752 can help foster more love in the world. I know Alina would like that. The elder she knew as George Charles – Midday Star certainly would.