We are each whole people, filled with good qualities and bad. We are kind, loving, generous and creative. And we are also, at times, angry, bitter, mean or jealous.

Being fully human is about learning to embrace and be with all of who we are as human. It is not being angry with ourselves, trying to rid ourselves of these parts that we don’t like, trying to be perfect somehow.

It is about finding the information present in the good and bad, learning to be with all these parts of ourselves long enough to listen to what they have to teach us. It is about learning to be self-compassionate as we explore what it means to be human.

Everything is interconnected, day gives rise to night, and even at the mid of night, the dawn is coming. Summer and winter are not all one or the other, but are shifting and changing from one to the other. They are opposite and interdependent, everything being in relationship with the other. The tide moves from low to high; at high tide, low tide is present.

My wiggly, curly haired 8-month-old puppy girl was lost for two nights. She was seen running across the highway, she was spotted back at my house, she was so scared, she would not come to people. That night, my neighbor drove me around as I shouted her name and kept running the area.

Signs were posted, Facebook notified and community members responded. An employee at Planet Dog, who did not know me, walked around for two hours after her shift to look for Maple.

A woman coming out of Running with Scissors saw me crying on a bench, feeling more hopeless as the days passed. She consoled me and offered her story of a lost dog years before. Oxford shelter staff and community policing asked me multiple times if they could be of help, telling me they were thinking of us with their whole hearts. Many stories were shared with me about lost pets and found pets. I felt my community around me.

I live by the homeless shelter in Bayside. My neighborhood is often talked about as showing the hard side, the scared side, the brokenness of our city. My experience living here is not that. Not totally at least.

My experience is one of connectedness, kindness, mutual respect and healing. My experience is one of seeing humanity in all it’s grit, humor, aliveness, and most of all it’s capacity to survive.

Maple was gone for two nights. I thought for sure she had been hit by a car or stolen. My biggest fear was that she had been hit by a car and was injured and dying but that I couldn’t find her. I was hoping a nice family had picked her up and she was warm and fed.

On the second day, Earl called. He had spotted Maple. Well actually, he heard her. He heard her howling from up in the bushes by the highway. He listened and listened and got closer and closer.

He saw her up in the bushes, my brown baby up in the thorny bushes. He called the number on the sign and I was reunited with her wiggly, curly body, yelping as she tried to jump into my body. I wished I could eat her up to keep her warm and safe.

Earl was a man with a cart and a cross around his neck. He told me about hearing her and remembering the sign. I hugged him and thanked him over and over. I wanted to write this to honor him, his kindness, his open heart to hear and then to really listen, past all the traffic, to really hear.

I try to practice seeing the larger communities that we live in as representing all that is good in us and all that scares us. There is a relationship between us all, the rich and the poor, the homeowners and the homeless, men and women, white and black, all of us. This relationship is interdependent and interconnected. How we treat each other says more about the ones of us in power, the ones that have homes, the ones who don’t have to worry about our skin color or how warm or fed we will be tonight.

Can I slow down enough to listen, to hear the howls from the thorns, to hear the scared parts of myself and the scared parts of this neighborhood, the lonely parts, the painful parts? Can we all find the information that is inherent in our struggle as a city and make changes we are proud of as a community? What do we all need? What is our intention? What is possible here?

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