Living Well, Dying Well

I just finished reading a book by Gregory Boyle, who happens to be a Jesuit priest in California. This book, “Tattoos on the Heart,” led me to laughter, tears and inspiration. Gregory is the founder of Homeboy Industries, a program he started about 30 years ago to assist boys and girls who were involved with gangs. In order to assist these young people, slowly over time services were created to help them change their lives. These include tattoo removal, Homegirl Café, a bakery, workforce development and much more. The café and bakery provide jobs for the participants. Parenting classes assist those who have children but who were never parented.

Mary Friedel-Hunt

Their literature states that “Homeboy Industries has evolved into the largest gang intervention, rehab and reentry program in the world. Each year it welcomes 8,000+ people through its doors seeking to transform their lives.” One must read the book or watch the documentary on Amazon Prime (“G-Dog”) to soak up the incredible facets of this program.
Having spent about 20 years of my life working with adolescents either in the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago or in residential treatment, and knowing well the challenges inherent in this work, the book astounded me. I highly recommend it.
So why am I sharing this with you, the reader? Well, one of the statements Gregory made in his book was: “Close both eyes, see with the other one. Then we are no longer saddled by the burden of our persistent judgments, our ceaseless withholding, our constant exclusion. Our sphere has widened and we find ourselves quite unexpectedly in a new expansive location, in a place of endless acceptance and infinite love.”
Seeing life and people and situations with the “other eye” is seeing with the third eye. According to tokenrock.com, “In many Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, the third eye is known as the ‘inner eye;’ the mystical and esoteric concept referring to the ‘ajna’ chakra.” The third eye refers to the gate that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. It is our ability to see what might be, to see potential. Everyone has access to his or her third eye. For example, when you have a hunch and act on it. Another explanation is simply to see with our hearts.
As soon as our mind becomes involved, judgment is not far behind. I believe we all started out as children seeing with the third eye, the heart. We just took in the world without judgments before we were taught about fear. Once we learned to be afraid, it was more difficult to see with the third eye or with our hearts first.
With work, we can return to that way of seeing, i.e., become more childlike (not childish). No easy task and it demands balance, of course. There is a place for love, fear and judgment. But think about what our world would be like if we chose to “close both eyes and see with the other one.”

Mary Friedel-Hunt MA LCSW is a clinical social worker, thanotologist and certified bereavement counselor. She can be reached at mfriedelhunt@charter.net; P.O. Box 1036, Spring Green, WI 53588; or www.PersonalGrowthandGriefSupportCenter.com. Vincent Kavaloski’s “Parables and Ponderings” will return next month.