That we humans affect each other is a given, a statement of the obvious. Yes, each of us is responsible for ourselves and has to independently do the hard work of self-realization. However, we share the human condition and so our personal journey is affected, like it or not, by the words and actions (or at times, inaction) of others in our sphere.
Often, it is the people closest to us, those with whom we live and work and play, who provide our greatest challenges and who are our toughest teachers (because they KNOW how to expertly push our buttons!). And it is these same ones to whom we will often turn for solace and strength when we feel weak or tired or afraid and are in need of comfort. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the voice and hands of God work through perfect strangers. So I'd like to tell you here this morning a story from my own personal experience with someone I did not know.
I was at the grocery store. This is a place I go out of sheer necessity-its not "fun" for me. I actually find it stressful, as the adulteration of our food here in the US, with chemicals and preservatives and GMOs and dyes is out of control...so to feel like I am not poisoning myself and my family, I spend a lot of time reading labels and pondering choices. But that is a discussion for another day, let me not digress.
This particular visit to the store was being squished in to a busy day. I had a million other things on my mind and a long, long list of "Things I Need To Do" running like a ticker tape on the TV screen just behind my eyes. I had my "head down" and I was on a mission to get what I came for and just get on with the rest of it.
So I ended up in the check out line and recall being instantly irritated at the piercing wail of the raggedy, snotty-nosed little girl sitting in the cart just in front of me. It was a sharp, unpleasant sound but it had the positive effect of jerking me right out of my own head.
As I focused on the child and her mother, I had the sense that a situation was spiraling out of control before my very (now-Seeing) eyes. The mom was about to LOSE it in a major way. She was obviously at the end of her tether. Her hair and clothing were unkempt, her skin was sallow, her eyes were wild-looking, her hands were shaking as she tried to unload her groceries onto the conveyor belt. And the child was now screaming. Almost in slow motion, I saw the mother's hand raise to, as we say in Trinidad, knock the little girl to Kingdom come....ie hit her really hard...and just then, I sprung forward and reached between mom and child.
Shocked by the insertion of a stranger into the drama, both mom and child stopped short. The wailing stopped. I began to engage the child, chatting with her about silly things, telling her what a good girl she was (hey, a little well-placed BOLDFACE lie is occasionally warranted). I simply distracted her and her mother was able to finish offloading the groceries. As she was waiting to pay, I chatted to Mom too, telling her that I admired how she how she managed to shop with a little person in tow (THIS was the pure truth) and commiserated about how much there was to do in so little time in a day, it seemed. By the time they were checked out and ready to go, something had palpably shifted and that "edgy" feeling of violence about to occur had passed.
I'd like to say that it was "Wonderful Me" who acted in this way. But truly, there was no conscious processing of thought-related action of which I was aware. Rather, I felt like I was propelled by an unseen force. When I moved between mother and child, I had the sense that I had been pushed (almost a physical sensation)! That whole episode was as much a lesson for me as anything else. It confirmed my suspicion that we are each here to be used by the universe in ways we can't even imagine at times, but to which we have to be open. It made me resolve to stay more and more aware as I move through the world, to make myself more and more available for positive interaction as I go through the motions of ordinary living. It also made me very grateful for all the times when strangers have been kind to me and made me feel less isolated and more hopeful...all those times when my own soul has received the balm of a compassionate touch or an "I've been there-I know how you feel" glance. As imperfect as we are, we are each all God has to work with! We are each of us, an ambassador of the Divine, with physical arms that can hug and physical ears that can listen and physical hearts that can commiserate.
So I will end where I began: saying that we ARE each responsible for ourselves, our inner growth, our discipline, refining our ability to remain unaffected at our core by whatever happens on the outside. But we are also responsible for loving each other in ways big and small...those we know, those who are strangers....holding the knowledge that what we do/don't do DOES make a difference, right where we are. This is what it means to me to navigate the world with Christ Consciousness.
Just one more thing about which to think here: we may never see the full extent of our actions, but the law of karma is absolute, playing no favourites. Literally, what we sow, we shall reap. Let's all try really hard to sow good seeds and realize an abundant harvest. And on that note, here is a most beautiful video...grab a tissue....or enjoy your own snotty sleeve.
There is a place of peace within each of us which remains ever still, simply observing the drama of life unfold. At some point, somehow, by sheer Grace, we are gifted the experience of it. And so begins the Process for which we were born.
The start of the journey is simply this: the dawning of awareness that such a space of Stillness even exists in us.
The next stage is occupied with Doing. We choose things which resonate with our hearts: how we come into that space, what we do to reach it...worship, practices, ceremony, becoming a chela, a devotee. At first, we "get there" just for snippets of consciousness, milliseconds of time. We begin to sip the tiniest sips of the Divine Nectar. All we want is to get Drunk on it, but we recognize that we are not yet properly conditioned. We are like budding athletes-we know we have to train hard for the Big Event.
So, we enter the next phase of the journey, which is occupied with discipline and tempering of the steel of our spirits, and control of our mind. We find we begin to linger more in that internal cocoon. We see our life shift. Many distractions drop away. The usual material goals become meaningless. What we long for most is that deep "peace that passeth understanding" and Union with The Source of All Things. Oh how we long. Nothing seems to fill the void and stem the craving. The more we drink the nectar, the more we want. We are like crazed addicts.
And then, one day, just like that, all desire leaves us. Impartially, we watch even that go. We are now Ready.
The culmination of the journey is this: the recognition that the journey itself was a mirage...all of it! However, paradoxically, it was of vital importance, for without it, we could not see through it. We laugh and laugh and laugh at the absurdity of it all. We laugh so much, the yet-blind ones call us "mad", which only makes us laugh some more.
At last, we SEE: we never were anything but that which we sought. We come Home to our true Self and see for the first time that we were There all along. The Union was always Complete. And now, all that remains is Bliss.
The culmination of the journey is Being.
It seems like sometimes, the Universe decides that YOU need to hear something and it is going to apply itself intensely, so that the message is heard loud and clear. How the Universal Mind juggles all of us humans and our highly individualized "soul-lesson plans" is an ongoing source of amazement to me. Each of us gets what we need, just exactly when we need it, in order to grow. "FOG" seems to be the only thing with which the universe is concerned, where we are concerned: Facilitating Our Growth (hey, remember where you heard FOG first :-)-it's one of my corny bests ). And we may as well get on board: It ain't taking 'no' for an answer. Makes me think of the Borg declaration: "You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile". Like me, here this morning, about to describe one of my personal lessons for you, when I should be doing other pressing things, but am compelled to write...resistance is futile.
A few years ago now, we were on vacation: a much, much needed one. It was a sun and sea trip, which is THE only kind, if you really need to RELAX and rest your hiney. Just to sit under a shady tree, smell the salt on the air and listen to the waves crash, is therapy for body, mind and spirit. Of course, I may be biased in this view, having been born and grown (although Hubs asks me frequently..."What are you? Like, five????!) on a caribbean island.
In advance of this vacation, I bought a great pair of sunglasses. You have to understand, I am not "good" with sunglasses: I sit on them, I lose them, I have one lens pop out, crash and fragment on the floor as I am peering at something on a grocery shelf...all kinds of weird stuff. I'd lost the immediate predecessor to this pair.
This time, I swore, it was going to be different. I was going to use my sunglasses "thing" as a way to work on my conscious awareness. I WAS NOT GOING TO LOSE THIS PAIR. They were super cute, they were not cheap and I had all sorts of ego boosting compliments when I wore 'em. In retrospect, I should have known I was being set up!
So Hubs and I went for a really early morning beach walk, as is our custom when we are at the ocean. He's a white guy, right? He once got a sunburn, to my aghast disbelief, under a large umbrella after 4PM one time in Mexico! So in
deference to his delicate pink skin and woeful lack of melanin, we walk in the cool of the morning just after first light.
Which, it so happens, is a time of great beauty in the Caribbean. I was so in the zone, me and my sunglasses, on this
particular morning. Peaceful, feeling stress drain out of body as my toes squelched in my favorite place to walk on a beach: just where the water reaches up maximally with the tide and dampens the sand. It makes me think of Jesus: who, the bible says, walked the line between Judea and Gallilea. Geez, am I ever gonna get this story told? Back to it...
We get to the end of the long stretch of beach and observe that this is a place where a few local fitness buffs do push ups after their morning run...one superman look-alike was just finishing up. So of course, I decide I too am gonna ACT buff. With my newfound sunglasses awareness, not wanting them to fall off my face or bash into the rock if my arms gave out (a most likely scenario), I gingerly removed them and hooked them inside the straps of shoes I was carrying.
I managed, I think, maybe three rock push ups (so hard!), the last of which was mostly a pose for a photo Hubs snapped. I grabbed my shoes and we began the 2 mile trek back "home" for brekkie. The beach air makes a person hungry, especially after adding in two point five push ups.
Needless to say, we are almost back when I suddenly realize the sun is now much brighter than when we left and.....WHERE ARE MY SUNGLASSES? Damnit, damnit, damnit....they are no longer in my shoes (still carried in my hand), they must have fallen out at the rocks, WHY did I not miss them when we were at the rocks, I am so stupid, they were expensive, I am so careless, yeah-some conscious awareness builder I am, dumb, stupid...and so it went, an incantation of negative self talk. Or rather, absence-of-self babble.
So that I can finish this tale in time to get to work this morning, to make a long story short, I walked all the way back
to the rocks right then, and again in the early afternoon...just to see if perhaps someone had found them and left them atop one of the now-STUPID rocks, and again in the evening...just in case. I walked maybe 10 miles that day, back and forth, STUPID CARELESS ME,looking for those STUPID sunglasses, obsessing, fantasizing about seeing someone wearing them and going up to them, accusatory, hands on hips, imperiously demanding my property back.
I am describing for you a total and complete mindtrip, in all its pointlessness,in all its whirling, in all its
self-abnegation, in all its drama. And I was in a foul mood, stomping back along that beach, for the last time around
sunset...another spectacularly beautiful time of the day in the Caribbean...but do you think I was able to appreciate it? Ha. And all because of the "loss" of a material thing, which actually, made me even more pissed off because I knew I knew better. Wow. Was I ever embroiled in a shit storm for sure.
And then, the Universe, having played Its cards just right all freaking day long, saw that I was ready. As I scanned the people ahead, looking for the "perp" (who was probably a receeding wave of the ocean!), I saw some small children frolicking at Jesus'/my line on the sand. And then my (UV-unprotected) eyes focused in on one little girl about whom my FOG(gy) brain registered something wasn't quite right. And I look closer. And I see that her right leg, was facing backward. Understand what I am describing: the left leg faced forward, as normal; the "front" of the right leg faced entirely backward. She could not walk, she could only shuffle one way or the other, depending on which leg she employed.
Right then and there, I froze and my mind STOPPED for the first time that day since losing my glasses. I became a perfect observer and I watched this little girl play and shuffle and laugh and express joy of being: despite having an extremely challenging physical affliction. I recognized that all this day, with my two legs set facing just right, legs that I had used to walk, in angst, up and down the beach a million times...compared with this child: I was the cripple. I was the emotional sideways shuffler. I was possessed by a feeling then, of incredible humility and gratitude: that child was my teacher, quite shamelessly used by the Divine (as we all are). A powerful right hook, landed by a gimpy right leg.
She has never left me, though I looked but never saw her again that trip. She lives with me now, and every single time I start wigging out because of something material, she and her little legs set askew, stand before my mind's eye and anchor me back to what is real and not illusion, what is spiritual and not material.
By the way, that afternoon, The Universe smiled, and expressed its immense satisfaction with Itself at a lesson well delivered and well learned, by producing one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. Admittedly, Its kind of a bully sometimes, like the Borg, but actually, I can't wait to be assimilated.
Above is a photo of the glasses pre-loss and below, their Last Known Sighting (look carefully, they are hooked in atop the shoes) at the Dumb Ass Rocks and the Posed Push Up. Happy Day to you. I see YOU.
We have just returned from a quick trip home to Trinidad. Its purpose was to get mummy moved and settled in to her new little place there. And while it was not a vacation in the usual sense of the word, it was a break from our daily routine and that is always a good thing. So ALL travel is good travel, purely from that perspective. Oh but for me, it is so much more.
My mom, for most of her adult working life, was employed in the city office of Eastern Airlines for its full tenure in Trinidad, so our air passage was free. I looked upon an airplane as some looked upon a bus or a car and my earliest memories are of flying long distances and being in places-afar.
This spliced a wanderlust gene, I think, into my DNA...and so as an adult, there really is no choice, when opportunity presents itself, whether I should go or stay: I always choose to go, despite now having to pay for my tickets, a TRUE bummer. But hey, I don't amass houses or jewels or cars: the treasure of this life of mine is 'held' not in bank notes or stocks but in experiences, may of them engendered by my wanderings. Even my wonderings are often tethered to my wanderings. Yes, I agree, that last sentence was extremely corny.
One of the things I love the most about traveling is getting to people watch. Freed of the ever present To Do list of regular life at home, I can more easily slip into the role of (surreptitious) observer and am always impressed by how much is visible when one really LOOKS.
This time around, I seemed to see a lot of physical pathology. A guy with a golf-ball sized tumour just behind his ear. Another with a cleft lip, whose speech indicated that he also had a cleft palate. A lady with a MD Anderson hospital bracelet on her wrist. The heart wrenchers: little children with obvious physical and mental disabilities. I began to think about the miracle of life and how many wondrous things have to come together just right, on a microscopic, cellular level in order to allow a human being to be "perfectly formed" and free of pathosis. Then I began to consider what is it that constitutes health.
I noticed that many of those humans with issues whom I observed, were still able to laugh and engage fully with life. I could discern a light in their eyes that was the same Light at the soul of the Universe. Behind-the-ear-tumour guy was kind and helpful. Cleft lip/cleft-palate guy was very smart in a grassroots way and had skillful fingers. The disabled children were mischievous and playful like most all children. And those around them (family members, physically unafflicted), it seemed, were given the opportunity to shine also...like the husband of MD Anderson-bracelet-lady, who was so tender and loving with her. There was, in fact, a lot of beauty just beyond that which could be considered, in one regard, imperfect or a raw deal.
This led me to consider also how much people free of physical issues may yet be burdened by emotional pathology. How much baggage (yup, another travel-related quip) might each human be carrying with no obvious outward signs? How many times have I been shocked by the suicide of a person who, on the face of things, had a life which most would envy? Robin Williams comes right to mind: smart, funny, ethical, wealthy, lovely family....yet tortured enough to end his journey early, by his own hand.
One can be riddled with disease and yet be at ease. One can be in perfect physical health, but an emotional basketcase. I conclude then that "Health" must be a certain mental state, rather than a purely physical one. Healing may not always confer physical well-being, but it ALWAYS confers mental well-being. To come therefore, to the natural end of our human lives, and depart in a state of peace means that we will actually die totally healthy. Isn't that a delicious juxtaposition?
I seem to have journeyed from where I began, into the subject of death. I've a lot more to ponder and discuss with you on this specific topic but I must get on with the business of today's living, as I am back at home and the ToDo list is nestled up close. I'll leave you with this short, beautiful animation on Death and the final consideration that to die well, we must train for it by living well...and that is mostly an exercise in training our mind, rather than our bodies.
Let us practice being well today...TRULY well.
I am a field of awareness. Any thing beyond that is identification with form...