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Give Your Time and Attention

One of the most loving things we can do is give people our time and attention.

John Bruna
That's one of the many things I've learned from John Bruna, a former Buddhist monk, who has returned to Syracuse for a couple of weeks to teach people how to live meaningful lives.

I spent the weekend with John, first at a workshop he gave Saturday and then Sunday by the lake in Cazenovia.

As we sat by the lake, I had what felt like a divinely inspired idea: go visit my former father-in-law Bob, who is back in the hospital. We have never been close and I haven't seen him much since my marriage ended. Suddenly, it seemed like the most important thing I could do.

Cazenovia Lake

I went the next day. Bob is frail and thin and looks much different from the man he once was: a master woodworker who served in the Navy. It took him a minute to recognize me, and then he started talking, just like the old days. He talked about himself and about his son and about our children. Sometimes I could understand him. Sometimes I couldn't.

As I sat there hearing stories I've heard a hundred times before, I thought of John's words "one of the most loving things we can do is give people our time and attention," and listened attentively, as if there were no place else I'd rather be.

Then the real magic happened. Walking to the hospital elevator, I noticed I felt lighter, happier, completely content. Peaceful. I think I'll go see him again soon.

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