In the middle of a long retreat, my teacher gave me the practice of greeting all beings with loving kindness.
No biggie, I thought. I'm in the middle of a silent retreat with no eye contact.
The very next person to cross my path,was a woman I have huge difficulty with. Even without eye contact she came directly into my consciousness and my first reaction was, well, lets say not so useful.
I did all I could to just be with this woman as a being, who also wants to be happy, and sent her loving kindness.
Not so easy.
Shortly after the end of the retreat, she came and sat with me at lunch. She, with out much intro, asked my forgiveness for any harm she had caused me.[(inwardly) WOW!]
I live in a small town, and the culture is to take time to howdy . I often spend several minutes chatting up store clerks. We are not really friends, yet we know each other in a casual way.
One woman in particular I've sensed is seeking a spiritual life and I always make a point of speaking( and listening) with her. I saw her in a parking lot the other day, and in need of of hug myself went to hug her. She pulled back a bit and said-" I'm sorry I'm smoking a cigarette." I reached out, smiled and hugged her and said
"I love you just the way you are"
Few days later she left me a card.
"What a blessing it was to see you...an answer to a prayer!
I was chattting wit the Lord and I asked Him for people to accept me and love me for who I am-flaws and all. Whenyou told me tyou love me for me- WOW!
I don't need any more proof than that to know He is working in even the smallest of things."
"Who so ever welcomes you, welcomes me and whoever welcomes me welcome the one who sent me."
We are all called to welcome and to send out welcome and loving kindness to all beings.
It gets easier.