Before You Judge Me…

I judge people all the time. Don’t you?

I judge people for how they look, how they smell, who they know, what they drive, what they say, and in unusual cases, what they don’t say…

I was in Austin last week and my friend took me to meet Ina, who just turned 94.

Ina has lived in the same house for 90 years.

Her house is surrounded by bars and restaurants on what has become a main boulevard in Austin. The city has grown up around her.

But Ina refuses to budge. She was there first!

She remembered a time when the mailman came on a horse and buggy.

Now cars are whizzing past her front yard, which she was out front sweeping when I met her.

Ina is frozen in the hunched over position, as many 94 years tend to be… after carrying the burden of life…for 10 decades.

I couldn’t really understand what she was saying. She kept muttering and whispering.

And then I started judging her and thinking to myself:

“I’ve seen many 94 year olds in better shape than this lady.”

“I can’t believe she still lives in this house alone. She needs someone to take care of her.”

“How is it possible she still drives when she can’t even stand up?”


I am trying to start a conversation about doing better for our elders, and here I was breaking this old lady down from head to toe

But then, this 94 year-old led us to her backyard, which is one of the most dazzling and surprising moments I’ve had in many many years.

Her backyard is a masterpiece of landscaping and natural beauty.

We followed her along a winding path past blossoming trees and flowers and beautifully landscaped nooks and crannies.

Mind you, this 94 year old, hunched over, sounding as if she was talking jibberish, tends to this massive garden all by herself!

I had totally judged and misjudged this 94 year old and realized how naive I am about life and nature and the language of spirit.

I wanted a message, a quote, a cute little story from Ina.

And when I realized that was not going to happen, I started to pass judgement.

But “words” don’t tend a garden, nor a body, nor the world.

Annie Lamott said, “The thing about LIGHT is that it really isn’t yours; it’s what you gather and shine back.

“And it gets more power from reflectiveness; if you sit still and take it in, it fills your cup, and then you can give it off yourself.” 

To anyone out there, myself included, who judges others or who feels like you are being judged, can we change the conversation from one of homes and cars and jobs and clothes…to one of love and light?

Love and light. Love and light. Love and light.

It’s a powerful mantra, but only when you give it power.

A bustling town is growing all around this 94 year old, hunched over, her voice a faint whisper.

Is she an old lady taking up valuable Austin real estate?

Or is she a sage speaking the timeless language of Love and Light?

It’s all a matter of judgment.

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