Pancho's Look Of Love

Posted by Melissa Stephens on Mar 28, 2016
6018 reads  
I have only met Pancho one time, and even calling it a meeting is a stretch, as we never actually spoke any words. It was at the Saturday night community dinner at the ServiceSpace retreat in Bolinas last year. My husband and I had been invited to join the retreat goers, and to be honest, we knew no one there. I had reached out to Nipun about some work I was hoping to do at my school but hadn't done enough research to realize what an incredible soul he was. And yet he embraced me in the way that he always does everyone, with such acceptance and exuberance, and invited us to join the dinner.

Little did I know the ripple of impact that invitation would have on my life.

It was at that dinner that I first came to know Pancho. I didn't have a chance to speak with him directly, but I could feel his energy as he moved about. When it came time for our circle share, we gathered in the sacred space I assume the retreat goers had congregated in all weekend. We were about 60 people around, and the shares were incredibly moving. And then it got to Pancho. He was soft-spoken, but his message of love spoke volumes. When he finished, he stated he wished to connect with each of us individually by staring into our eyes. I didn't think he could be for real, since there were so many of us there. Surely a few seconds of eye contact could not make a difference.

But it did.

An incredible thing happened. I felt the energy become even more vibrant, something I wouldn't have thought possible, as Pancho silently held the stare of each person in that circle. I waited with great anticipation for my turn like I did as a small girl when I would go to the mall at Christmastime to climb in Santa's lap. Just like those holiday memories, even though I knew many others had sat in Pancho's gaze, the moment he caught my eye I felt like the only one in the room. It was the most honest, love-filled connection I had felt in a very long time. And though the actual eye contact lasted but a second or two, the intention behind it lasts even to this day.

See, I have not always been one to be able to lift my head to meet someone's gaze. It was too vulnerable, and perhaps I still carried the residue of shame from childhood. But I have worked hard to open my eyes to all that is good in the world...and to lift them in united compassion and respect. So when Pancho said he would meet each person's gaze that night, my anticipation was not riddled with fear as it might have once been. It was expectant with hope, and I was not disappointed.

And so I am rippling that out.

As a teacher of middle-schoolers, I have been gifted with a beautiful yet fragile responsibility to support these incredible beings at a time that is so uncertain in their lives. They may put on a brave face each day, but I know the battles they fight no matter how pristine the mask they wear. So I have taken a lead from Pancho. Each morning we begin our day with a minute of mindful silence. When we open our eyes, we go around the room with our gaze and hold each other in compassion and love for a few seconds. Some of the kids do this with ease, and it warms me to know they have not yet been dealt a hand that would cause their gaze to be cast downward. Others have a harder time. Still, they are beginning to become more comfortable with allowing themselves to be vulnerable in these precious moments so they can receive the love that this eye to eye connection so brilliantly delivers each time.

So thank you, Pancho, for taking the time that evening so long ago to relay to me with your eyes what the essence of the world is truly all about.


May I do the same for my students and may they...and may they...and may they.     

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Comments (14)

  • Brinda Govindan wrote ...

    WOW!!! Imagine if everyone who met Pancho spreads his gaze of connection and love with everyone else they meet..... Big hugs to you, sister, for sharing this gift with our children.

  • Yoo-Mi Lee wrote ...

    Melissa - thank you so much for sharing this story of the ripples of Pancho's all-encompassing love. May it grow in all of us.

  • Richard Whittaker wrote ...

    Thank you, Melissa.

  • Michaele Premet-Rosen wrote ...

    To meet Pancho was a great blessing. You so well express the "Panco experience", Melissa.

  • Guri Mehta wrote ...

    Thanks for sharing this Melissa. And what a beautiful way to start each day with your students. :-)

  • Colleen Choi wrote ...

    Beautiful Melissa!! This story reminds me of this video that just came across my FB feed of a teacher that compliments each child in the mornings... [View Link]

  • Audrey Lin wrote ...

    Stunning, Melissa. :) Your writing is a gift to all of us. Thank you for bringing such a beautiful quality to light for all of us.

  • Anne-Marie Bauer wrote ...

    This warmed my heart Melissa. Thank you for sharing this with us all :)

  • Madhur Khanna wrote ...

    Wow, this description of a beautiful moment of profound, deep eye contact; makes me await for my turn like a little girl too :)

  • Mihir Kaji wrote ...

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing Melissa :)

  • Melissa Stephens wrote ...

    Thank you all so much for your beautiful words! I love you all so much!!!

  • Pancho Ramos Stierle wrote ...

    Dearest sister Melissa, this is very kind of you and what a way to step it up :-) <3! If only we all could implement the things that touch our heart in the way that you did/do... look what happens to the smiles of the readers when you share your loving-kindness practices?! Now, go figure how your presence is impacting those young minds/hearts... May we all cultivate the positive qualities we see in each other to have an Amazon of compassion, kinship and courage. Sending you all my love and universal blessings so that you can share them with all beings who cross yournpath. Love you sister Melissa! <3 panchito

  • Melissa Stephens wrote ...

    Love you so much, Panchito :)

  • Frank wrote ...

    What a wonderful share of Love & Connection - That which we are made of!