The other night I was at the supermarket, and I was rolling my full shopping cart out to my car to load the groceries. As I searched for the car amidst the night, I met a female store employee who offered to assist me putting the groceries into my vehicle. It was a simple gesture, and yet it has a profound effect on me this cold winter’s night.

Here I was trying to get a task done, i.e. grocery shopping and then, when I least expected it, there was an opening.

Another example of an opening would be in the amazing sport of basketball While the game is played fast and players are bulky and run the court furiously, there is a lot of passing, dribbling, and spotting the basket in order to achieve getting the shot. Probably, one of the most breathtaking moments comes when you see a player take advantage of an opening and then watch as they drive hard and slam dunk the ball into the basket.

Again, you can witness the elements of skill, teamwork and luck all converge together to achieve a successful outcome.

Right now, with the beginning of the new year, there are some people, I suspect, who are feeling stuck maybe in their job or their relationships. Like someone carrying their groceries out to their car in the dark night, you can feel all alone, with just yourself to depend upon.

When someone emerges to help you, it becomes an opening. You no longer are alone, but you have a person who can assist you walking side by side with you. Companionship is important because it reminds us that human life is a shared endeavor. We are all in it together.

Sometimes, that sense of “being in it together “can be challenged when someone either cuts in front of you in a grocery store checkout line or in a lane of traffic. Being charitable when you are being disrespected is tough!

Life can become more meaningful when you look for the openings, i.e., that place in a conversation when a kind word can be expressed, or when an opportunity for professional or person growth occurs when you least expect it.

Here again is where the light shines in the darkness and where the openings give way to greater insight and experience.

Years ago, I climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan. I made the journey on the last day of the climbing season, and remember that I was holding on to a metal chain, balancing my climbing stick as I was traversing big rocks on the steep trail. The night was very dark. I had my flashlight until it went out. All of a sudden, I felt very alone, felt the wind whipping around me, saw only the light of the moon as it radiated light back towards Osaka and the lake district.

Unexpectedly, a Japanese man and his spouse from Yokosuka came up behind me and shared their flashlight with me. Together, all three of us used that flashlight to guide up the rest of the climb to the summit in order to see the subsequent sunrise.

I remember that this was a very important opening, not only psychologically, but culturally as well.

May we be receptive to all of the openings that we discover in life- with our family, our friends, our community.

May this be a time when we can companion with one another.

May it be so.