brown sand love text on seashore


When my inquisitive daughter was about 3 ½ years old, we had a conversation about perspective. We looked out our back door at the houses around and I asked her to count how many she could see. Three. Then we went to the second floor and I helped her count – seven. And then we went to the roof, looked at all the houses we could see and concluded it was more than she had numbers for. I told her something like “This is what perspective looks like when you get older, you know that everything fits into a larger picture and you are able to see more of it.”

Even for my very verbal daughter, this was mostly lost on her but I could see her trying to think about it. When I recently heard a Ten Percent Happier podcast with Father Gregory Boyle and he presented the most expansive view of love and its power to change that I’ve ever heard, I felt a little like my daughter trying to understand perspective. His view is so big and powerful, that it might take me years of practice to fully understand.

 Father Gregory is a Jesuit priest whose work as a pastor in the poorest parish in Los Angeles that was also in the area with the highest gang activity led him to start Homeboy Industries. It’s a number of different businesses than serve to employ and train former gang members and serve the community.

“People change when we are cherished.” – Father Gregory Boyle

Even though Father Gregory was talking about love in terms of gang intervention, a topic that has little intersection with my experience of life, his expansiveness offers a whole-hearted practice of love that I found mind blowing in its potential to change us from the inside out. Here’s how he described it in a nutshell:

“The practice – Catch yourself before you are judgmental. How do you stand in awe at what people have to carry rather than in judgment at how they carry it? You are catching yourself all the time.”

Father Gregory Boyle

And when he was asked if he ever messes that up his reply was, “Only all the time.”  

Providing more detail on the practice, Father Gregory described,

“So part of the invitation is to catch yourself. Our hard wiring would direct us to demonize. Demonizing is always the opposite of the truth. You are about to do it with the shooter in Uvalde. At no point are you cosigning on bad behavior. You are just saying two certain things. Everyone is unshakably good.  We all belong to each other.

“Now let’s roll up our sleeves. How do we help people? How do we pay attention? How do we notice people before they buy high-powered weapons? How do we include people? How do we move people out of the isolation that depletes their sense of hope? How do we infuse people with hope for whom hope is foreign?”

Father Gregory Boyle

 Father Gregory just buried his 255th kid that died as a result of gang violence. And yet he still is touting this incredibly hopeful vision of how we belong to each other. The work he’s done over 40 years is phenomenal, heart-breaking and transformative. His take on burnout and how to avoid it was fascinating.

“You go to the margins not to make a difference, you go to the margins so that the folks there make you different. If you go to the margins to save the day, and rescue people, fix people or even to make a difference, it’s about you and it can’t be about you. So you burn out. You burn out not because you are so compassionate but because you made it about you.”

Father Gregory Boyle

Like any athlete that has practiced his or her jump shot so many times that it looks easy in their hands, Father Gregory makes loving people no-matter-what sound simple. I know, as I suspect we all do, that it isn’t easy. But maybe that’s something that perspective teaches us – that simple ideas when practiced over and over again have amazing power to change.

What do you think about the power of love? Do we all belong to each other? Do people change when they are cherished?

For most posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at or follow me on Instagram @wynneleon

(featured photo from Pexels)

24 thoughts on “Expansiveness

  1. Hello Wynne,
    With regard to the “like” I just clicked at the bottom of your post, it should have had a X factor of ten! What an incredible post; it resonated so strongly with me. I loved every word!. That was such a wonderful way of illustrating perspecitve to your daughter.
    I loved all of the quotes you shared, but this part of one, definitely resonated: “The practice – Catch yourself before you are judgmental.” To me, with what I write about enlightenment, etc, I call that “prior to the bi-furcation” point. It’s where we recognize ourselves as all-pervading Spirit (Consciousness) prior to entering the apparent world of duality in which the person (“Art”) might “think” about a subject and, thus, label or define it. I believe this is why it is expressed in the Bible that God saw that all was good, very good. On that note, I have to share that this post was good, very good!
    Keep bringin’ it! 🙂

    1. Bi-furcation point – a great way to describe it. Thank you very much for your kind and generous comment and adding your take on it to the conversation. I appreciate it, Art!

  2. I love your perspective on perspective, and the way in which you shared it with Miss O. I believe that each one of us is a spark of the Divine, and therefore we are all part of the One. In that sense, then yes, we do belong to one another because we ARE one another.

    1. I love how you say “we belong to one another because we ARE one another,” Julia!! That is pure poetry. Yes! And I know you live that way and light up the world because of it! Beautiful!

  3. Father Boyle is a wise man. We are much to quick to hate, to judge, and to condemn. He is a example of “Love the sinner and hate the sin.” Unfortunately that isn’t how our brains are wired by default. It is something most of us have to learn along the way.

    Like most things that can be learned, most will not try to learn it. It is easier to live on autopilot.

    1. Oh, Fred, you have really hit on a truth here – yes, it is easier to live on autopilot. And yes, it is something most of us have to learn along the way (or maybe all of us). Here’s to hoping that people like Father Boyle can inspire us to try to learn it!

  4. I share this sentiment with you, with regards to parenting, or just being a friend. Relating to another person’s misfortune by letting them know they aren’t alone in doing something embarrassing is not only very helpful for the other person, it’s bonding for both people.

    I’ll say “I feel your pain, done that too!” works great with kids, and with adults an exaggerated “I have NO idea what you’re talking about!” is a wonderful way to defuse an awkward moment. When telling a child NOT to do something, saying “Ask me how I know!” lets them know in a humorous way that we learned something the hard way.

    I see no reason to pretend that “nothing like that ever happens to me”, when it just isn’t true! We know it, and importantly, they know it too, so why put up barriers?

    1. What a delightful and wise comment, as always, Tamara! And I love, love, love your statement, “Ask me how I know.” That is just brilliant. Right – why pretend otherwise and miss out on a bonding moment!! Thank you, my friend, for adding your wisdom to this post!

  5. I did not know Father Boyle. I think that it’s thanks to people like him that we can still hope for the world to become a better place. Great post Wynne!

    1. I agree Cristiana! It is people like Father Boyle and his huge expansive heart that gives us hope in this world! Thank you for your kind words, my friend!

  6. Great post, Wynne!
    I liked the following quotes so much that I reread them several times.
    “You burn out not because you are so compassionate but because you made it about you.” – Father Gregory Boyle
    “People change when we are cherished.” – Father Gregory Boyle
    Selfless service with love, wow!

    1. You nailed exactly what grabbed my attention, Chaya. Amazing thoughts, aren’t they? And I love how you summarized it – selfless service with love! Yes, yes, yes!

  7. I love how you explained perspective to your daughter 😎

    In my home city we have a man named Dave (who is also a good friend) who works tirelessly with the homeless population – caring for them and providing for them especially through the winter when things are tougher. He does this on his own time and dime (and donations from others). These people are often harshly judged by others but Dave knows them well and differently. I was reminded of Dave when you described how Boyle views/approaches people from a position of non-judgement. It’s really the key to everything Dave does. Starting from place of judgement can shut out all the good stuff – like love, respect, compassion, understanding…

    Thanks for the thought provoking post Wynne!

    1. Wow, Dave sounds amazing. And I love your comment that starting from a place of judgment can shut out all the good stuff. It’s amazing how limiting it can be. Thank you for sharing another great example of what working with an open heart can do, Todd!

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