A Sabbath snow

I was 10 years old when I saw my first flakes of snow. My father’s work had transferred our family from humid, tropical South Texas to the harsh, cold winters of Philadelphia.

As those bits of crystalline magic fell from the sky, I was in awe. How could God create such a miraculous thing?

Those winters in the early 1960s when I was a child were filled with blizzards. Mounds of snow blocked the front door, drifted into the corners of the windows panes, and outside, my brothers, sisters and I created snow forts and mazes.

My mother bundled us in snowsuits that made us look like aliens or Robby the Robot. After awhile she would call us inside, and even though we could no longer feel our toes, fingers or faces, we begged to play a little more. We laughed. We had fun. We couldn’t get enough of the white stuff.

Now, we are in the midst of a northeast blizzard wailing outside my window. And I’m wondering where that little girl went, the one who loved snow, who couldn’t wait to build snowmen and snow forts.

By the time you are reading this, hopefully the snow has departed and out to sea. But while in it this moment, I look out at tree limbs bending in mercy to the winds and walls of white whipping by in sheets. The distant landscape is a muddled blur, with only vague silhouettes of houses or hills poking through the blinding haze.

I am thankful to be inside, with warmth and food, praying for those who have to be at the mercy of this weather. Those who must be outside because of work or emergency services.

I am also thankful for snow as a spiritual teacher.

Snow is God’s way of making me slow down. To stop. Snow doesn’t care about my to-do list or where I have to be. It only invites me to be with it, in the present moment. Snow forces me to stop doing. When the snow is deep, I can’t drive around for errands, can’t be about my busy schedule.

I am inside, cocooned and stilled.

As a spiritual teacher, snow invites a silence that I believe we all need and crave. It makes of the world a hushed, contemplative space — a monastery of the heart — where we can truly listen to the Divine. In that stillness, we have the opportunity to truly connect with the essence of our soul.

We also may discover the gift of nurturing ourselves when we otherwise might not. Reading a good book. Curling up with a blanket and the dog. Mindless daydreaming. Naps. All can be savored as snow falls outside.

Snow also shows us beauty, blanketing the world in a soft, shimmering white. And light. That light reveals to us the beauty of God and reminds us, on a deep level, how much we yearn in our being for that light and beauty.

As snow drifts down in lazy flakes, we can also be reminded how it is like God’s grace, covering everything. Nothing is left untouched. Snow makes rough edges, smooth, and makes beautiful those objects we consider ugly. And it falls on everyone and everything.

Tomorrow, and perhaps the next few days, we will be digging out from under. Shoveling the walkways and plowing out our cars. There will be time for this.

There also will be time for play, for re-connecting with that young girl who once loved snow.

Crunching through it on a walk. Savoring the clean, bright purity of a world made new around me.

But for now, as the snow continues to fall, I am called to Sabbath time. A day of rest. Listening. Being. A gift from God.

 

 

 

Waiting

I’m still waiting for results from some medical tests. I’ve never been good at it. Waiting. I get anxious. Uncertain.

So I went back to read a blog post I wrote in 2015 about “waiting” and what I still need to learn. It seems a good time to share this again.

It’s also Ash Wednesday in the Christian tradition, a time to remember we are simply passing through here, and that in some sense, we are always a waiting people — waiting to return home.

And may we know, in the waiting, we are never alone.

*****

The schoolyard felt vast, a desolate ocean of concrete, as I sat there, waiting.

A five-year-old, I clutched my Cinderella lunch pail to my chest as I saw buses leave, parents pick up their children. And my insides churned. Where was dad?

As he pulled up in that 1950s station wagon, I jumped in the front seat and fretted in sing-song style, “I waited and I waited but you never came.”

Dad told me in later years he raced and rushed from his job so he could get there in time to pick me up after kindergarten. But sometimes, his work delayed him or traffic was heavy — and he was late. And while I waited, alone, I was filled with an overwhelming loneliness and anxiety.

Of course I healed from that experience and as an adult, it became a private joke between dad and me, especially if I was running late for some event with him and he would say, “I waited and I waited ….”

pain and sorrow womanI share this story because it seems we are always a people of waiting. And yet, we often see it as an inconvenience.

Let’s face it. Waiting is not popular, especially today.

Stuck in heavy traffic, at the airport for a delayed flight, at a doctor’s office, waiting for the cable repairman. You name it, and we wail and bemoan all this “wasted time” when we could have been doing something else.

The truth is, waiting is not lost time, but valuable if we choose to make it so. Waiting can be rich, inviting us to live in the present moment and to trust in the process of life — to surrender our timetable to the agenda of a Higher Power.

In other words, when we are forced to wait, we are no longer in control. The Divine is.

girl by oceanBut waiting is not all drudgery. It can often be filled with hope. And promise. In the Old Testament, the Israelites waited 40 years in the desert to reach the Promised Land. Mary waited for the birth of the Christ. The Buddha sat under a tree, waiting for enlightenment.

In this way, waiting is not passive — but active. Spiritual writer Henri Nouwen puts it this way:

“Active waiting means to be fully present to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening. A waiting person is a patient person … impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore, want to go somewhere else. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. Patient living means to actively live in the present — and wait there.”

Without this period of waiting, whatever wants to be “birthed” cannot be fully formed. Some examples that come to mind are the chrysalis of the butterfly. A child in a mother’s womb. A work of art or book in process. In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, writer Annie Dillard quotes poet Michael Goldman:

“When the muse comes she doesn’t tell you to write. She says, ‘Get up for a minute. I’ve something to show you. Stand there.”

If we were not to “stand here” and wait to see what is being shown us — to cut short any of our waiting time — we thwart whatever wants to take form and shape.

When we patiently wait, however, we are gifted and graced. One of my favorite authors, Sue Monk Kidd, writes:

“When the time is right, the cocooned soul begins to emerge. Waiting turns golden. Newness unfurls. It is a time of pure, unmitigated wonder.”

transformationI have to admit that I’m still not good at waiting. But I’m getting better. I have come to understand that the things of God don’t come suddenly. Often, the Divine is more of a mid-wife than a rescuer, one who patiently guides us through the process to new life.

And yes, like many of you, I wait. For many things. But I also know, as Jungian analyst James Hillman wrote, that “our soul is the patient part of us.”

So I try to listen to my soul more often, to sit with it in silence. But this time, unlike the little girl, I know I’m not alone. The Divine is always with me and within me.

With this inner knowing, with this sense of presence, I trust. In stillness. In anticipation. Waiting.

 

Word by word, step by step

I first saw Loretta at the dysphagia table in the hospital.

She was helping a stroke patient with his lunch. Dressed in white, she could have been any number of the nurses or aides who roamed the hallways and rooms of the acute care unit.

Eight stroke patients sat in a semi-circle, eating as best they could, and as I fed dad his food, I watched her from the corner of my eye.

As life draws to an end, compassion is more important than food.

She was different somehow. Older, yes, but also more caring than the many medical professionals in this unit who seemed callous performing their duties. She was present. She encouraged. She listened.

I was still learning who was who in the maze of dad’s care, while every day, mom and I and my brother would trek to the hospital.

There, we encouraged him out of the labyrinth of darkness into which he had entered after his stroke. Helped him move with the walker, encouraged him to speak words. And fed him. Stroke patients often have trouble swallowing — dysphagia.

So we sat with dad at breakfast, lunch and dinner at that table. Helping him eat. Spoonful by spoonful. Even though he would often use his knife with the pudding or his fork with the apple juice.

We had entered a strange world of shadows, one which had little light.

Until Loretta entered dad’s hospital room that next day.

She announced herself as the speech therapist, someone who would be helping dad regain vocabulary and communication. She sat next to him as he lay on the bed, was patient with him as he stared at her, trying to connect.

toddler-walkingSlowly, the journey began with Loretta and dad’s speech.

After he left the hospital, I would drive dad for his bi-weekly sessions with her, load him up in the wheelchair and push him through the hallways of the hospital to her office. There, in that cramped space for an hour I watched as she led dad, step by step, word by word.

He was a toddler, learning to maneuver vocabulary again.

She’d ask him questions. Ask the day, month, year. Engage him in conversation. And ask him to pray, understanding how much his life had been centered around God and faith, how rote prayers often return in speech.

A first-generation Mexican-American, dad spoke Spanish first. She said that often a first language kicks in for some people. I speak some, so I would talk to dad in Spanish.

Then Loretta began to learn more of dad’s story from me, that he had been a professional and inspirational speaker, how he had helped thousands with the speeches he gave around the world.

It seemed cruel that God would take away the one gift he valued.

After six months, dad ended speech therapy. But my friendship with Loretta was beginning.

Over the last four years, we have remained connected. Strange how a tragedy can lead you to new people and heart spaces if you’re open. We email when we can, have met for lunch and coffee when time allows. Share about our families. Pray for each other.

Today dad still has aphasia. The word “tortilla” seems to replace just about every other word and my heart smiles. But whereas he was silent before, he now forms sentences. Some days he is more lucid than others and for a few hours, I cherish the “old dad” remembering what he was like.

Letting-go21Yesterday, I had to have biopsies at the hospital. I emailed Loretta and asked for prayers.

As I lay on the table, waiting for the surgeon, anxious and terrified, Loretta surprised me by coming into the room. She’s a busy woman, with many patients to see.

She hugged me, kissed me on the cheek. She placed her hands on me and prayed and offered words of wisdom. She encouraged me to better self-care. I listened. And the last few months I have indeed been moving into more self-nurturing. Daily meditation, small walks, reconnecting with friends.

But just as dad has been a toddler, learning new words, I am still a toddler learning to love myself more.

I am teaching myself, step by step, to nurture that little girl who is often afraid, who simply wants to be acknowledged and loved. I can offer her that. I am.

bigstock-Woman-Silhouette-Waiting-For-S-5824100Now I wait for the results of the biopsies. And again, I struggle with staying present, in the moment, in faith and trust.

I attended a workshop a few years ago for people who were experiencing grief after the loss of a loved one. As everyone went around the room, sharing their stories that wrenched my heart, I heard each one say this, in varying ways:

“It didn’t feel OK. But I knew it was going to be OK. Even if it wasn’t.”

That’s what I believe now. It’s going to be OK, even if it isn’t.

And that, my friends, is grace.

As are the angels of light God sends.

All the lonely people

The diner was noisy and overcrowded. A friend and I finally found a booth next to the counter where three men sat, talking.

One was loud, his voice booming above the clamor of rattling plates, forks and knives as bus boys cleaned up tables.

He was perhaps in his late 60s, scruffily dressed, and he made his boisterous presence known.

“So there was my son, hurt and in a heap on the football field and my wife said, ‘That’s your fault. I didn’t want him playing this game.’ That was years ago when the kid was in high school. He’s got a high-falutin job in California and I never see him. And you know Rosemary died last year.”

The other two men lowered their heads. “Sorry, Jack,” they said and sipped their coffee.

Jack went on about the Super Bowl, asked the waitress behind the counter what team she was betting on and shared more of his life with the rest of us nearby, whether we wanted to hear it or not. He was retired, Vietnam war vet, and Eagles fan, depending.

Then Jack stood up, said goodbye to his friends, and left.

My heart went out to him as he walked unsteadily out the door.

loneliness-blog“He’s lonely,” I told my friend.

“He’s drunk,” my friend said.

Perhaps. But it didn’t matter to me. I saw a man who had a grown son living elsewhere, who had lost his wife and who was returning, most likely, to an empty home. Lonely. At least here, in this diner, he was visible. He was connecting with others. He had a place to belong.

At heart, I believe we are all lonely. It’s inevitable and part of the human experience.

I know I have been lonely in my life more times than I care to remember, especially when I’ve moved for jobs in new cities where I didn’t know a soul. Being shy and introspective didn’t make connection with others any easier.

Along the way, however, I’ve learned a few things about this human experience and one is that “being alone” and “loneliness” are not the same.

pain and sorrow womanMany times I enjoy being alone, without others. I like to spend quality “me” time doing things I enjoy. In fact, solitude often draws me closer to my spiritual center and to God. And when alone, I’ve learned to be comfortable with my own company, to treat myself with compassion.

Being lonely, however, is when I have that unsettling inner gnawing at my soul, a feeling of disconnection from others, an emptiness and emotional hunger that wants to be filled with any diversion as to avoid that pain.

Today, loneliness seems rampant. It seems we’d rather do anything other than face our loneliness. So we distract ourselves with Facebook, Twitter, TV or “whatever” it may be rather than face loneliness and ask what it has to teach us.

The late Henri Nouwen, spiritual writer and theologian, writes:

“When we have no project to finish, no friend to visit, no book to read, no television to watch…and when we are left all alone by ourselves, we are brought so close to the revelation of our basic human aloneness and so afraid of experiencing an all-pervasive sense of loneliness that we will do anything to get busy again and continue the game which makes us believe that everything is fine after all.”

So what do we do?

Perhaps we can transform our loneliness into solitude, a time to sense our oneness with God or all of creation. I’m sure many of us have stood in awe at a glorious sunrise, crashing waves, an unexpected rainbow, a majestic mountain range. We are all part of that glory so we are never truly alone.

If that doesn’t work, perhaps we might consider reaching out to others and helping them in their struggles. Offering a listening heart and hand to those in need is not such a bad idea during the times we feel lonely. And in the end, life has a strange way of giving back what we put out.

woman by door at oceanAnd sometimes, as uncomfortable as it may feel, we can simply “be” with that loneliness. We may choose to listen to what it has to teach us and know that as part of this human journey we share in that experience of loneliness — ironically — together.

In fact, loneliness and many other feelings we call negative can be great teachers, if we allow. Psychotherapist and spiritual counselor Matt Licata writes:

“Your sadness, your loneliness, your fear, and your anxiety are not mistakes. They are not obstacles on your path. They are the path. The freedom you are longing for is not found in the eradication of these, but in the information they carry. You need not transcend anything here, but be willing to become deeply intimate with your lived, embodied experience. …Nothing is missing, nothing is out of place, nothing need be sent away.”

Then again, we may choose to be like Jack, and head to the nearest diner. Shout and boom to the world that we are here. And for a few seconds, like him, we may distract ourselves from the pain of loneliness. Perhaps that, too, can be a part of the path and if we are open, part of the learning.

After all, we each have a bit of Jack in us. May we learn to bless that loneliness in our being. May we know we are never truly alone.

*******

 

Walking on three legs

I took a brief walk in the park the other day.

The wind whipped leaves past my feet, a frigid blast taking my breath away. But the sun was shining. I was happy to be outside, to feel comforting warmth on my face.

Step by step I meditated and prayed, my usual practice when I walk.

What filled me this time, however, was a tsunami of dread and fear. As a sensitive and creative spirit, I pick up energies. And those of the world have flooded me lately, so much so that I feel I am drowning.

I do what I can to balance what I call the “negatives” that I’m absorbing. I wake without media of any kind. I play soothing music, then meditate, pray and send love to the world, to those in need. I write. And when I can, I walk.

fear-of-love-7-21Still, as I walked that day, I kept wondering why we are in such turmoil on the planet right now. Why we can’t seem to find balance or at least respect for one another. Why I’ve been feeling and sensing so much hate that has left me depleted and exhausted.

And why we can’t see that fear and hate just don’t work, that when you come down to it, we’re all connected as part of one human family, God’s family.

All spiritual traditions teach us to love one another and Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In truth, I feel he meant something quite different. I believe he meant “Love your neighbor because that person IS yourself.”

I kept walking, a few folks with dogs passing by. In the distance a young woman approached with a black dog on a leash, running in abandon before her. As they came closer, I could see the dog was hobbling. He had three legs.

They stopped and he approached me, panting, tail wagging, full of unbridled joy, wanting to be petted.

dog-sunset“He’s wonderful,” I said. “What’s his name?”

The woman smiled.

“Brody. He’s a rescue and I was told he was born this way.”

I gave Brody more love said goodbye and continued my walk.

Brody held no strong opinions, no judgment, no “poor-me-I-have-no-leg” attitude. Brody was simply running on three legs with delight.

That cold afternoon, Brody became my teacher. I saw that like him we all have some kind of handicap, whether it’s visible or not. Our childhoods and life experiences have molded us to hold certain beliefs, to behave in certain ways.

Perhaps we have prejudices about a certain group of people.

Perhaps we have learned not to trust men or women because of the ways our father or mother treated us.

Perhaps we grew up believing that the other guy is out to get us or that life is cruel.

Despite our handicaps – whether we judge them as good or bad – we need to move past them. How? For me, the first step is always awareness. I can’t change anything until I’m aware of it. So meditation is my go-to process to sit down and really listen to what’s going on inside.

I think it’s easy for any of us to feel self-righteous about our beliefs. But many times, we need to sit in silence to hear what’s lurking beneath the surface. And then, we can choose to do something about whatever we’ve noticed.

holdingspaceforyourselffeatureIt might be sacred activism. Or it may be more sitting time in meditation. Or prayer. Or walking. Whatever brings peace to our souls and to the world is always my bottom line.

In her book How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life Susan Piver equates fear to those times when we simply lose sight of anyone but ourselves in our effort to secure what we think we must have.

“You want to walk over the backs of others in high heels and it feels gooood,” she writes. But that feeling is momentary and passing. What lasts is stepping back, taking a breath and looking at the bigger picture. Listening to ourselves. Listening to others.

I go back to Brody who was walking with his own handicap. He was able to overcome it — not by offering aggression or fear. But by simply giving and being love.

And isn’t that a good start for all of us?

 

A work in progress

I bumped into a friend walking her dog last evening. When I asked how she was, she raised her eyebrows in exasperation and said, “I just had a birthday.”

“I didn’t know. Belated happy birthday.”

The dog tugged at the leash and came to me, wagging her tail and begging to be petted.

“That’s OK,” she said. “It was the last birthday of a decade. The next one is the BIG 70.”

I smiled with understanding. I’m next — in a couple of years. The thought of 70 seems foreign to me since my spirit still feels and sometimes acts like it’s 21.

As I petted the dog one last time and she walked away, I got to thinking about life and what I’ve learned. Truth be told, what I’m still learning. Here are some thoughts.

Psychological-NoiseWebI KNOW NOTHING

That used to be the humorous saying on some TV show that I can’t recall. But seriously, I’ve found as I continue to age that I know nothing. In my earlier days I attended a wealth of seminars, workshops, devoured all manner of spiritual, psychological and self-help books, tapes and CDs.

In the end, they weren’t wasted. They helped me grow.

But if I’m honest, life has had its way with me, sometimes painful, sometimes joyful, and I’ve come to the point where I realize wisdom and knowledge are far beyond this frail, human mind and spirit. As Joni Mitchell sang, “I’ve looked at life from both sides now …” And sometimes, I really don’t know life at all.

But that’s a gift. Ironically, it’s only when I’m in that space of not-knowing that the Divine’s love and grace can have free rein.

LISTEN UP

I’m not seeing a lot of listening these days. This distresses me. We live in chaotic, uncertain times. It’s difficult to hold and open space to really listen and hear what the “other” is saying.

But when we’re in that space (see above, I know nothing), only then can we come to a fuller understanding of the other’s feelings or point of view. That takes some humility. And courage.

It doesn’t mean we have to agree. A friend and I had a heated political discussion the other day. It was difficult for me not to want to jump in and state my point of view. But I took deep breaths. Dug deep. Listened. We both found a bit more understanding.

An obscured figure behind frosted glass

PEOPLE WILL DISAPPOINT US

This one comes under the category of “expectations” and “acceptance.” Many times I’ve expected someone to do something or act in a certain way, only to step back and tell myself, “You’re not giving that person the freedom to be who they are.”

Another tough one. Yes, people will disappoint us. But it was Mother Teresa who said, in part:

“The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

LIFE IS SHORT

Blink of an eye. Really. If you don’t have that realization yet, you will. And I don’t like it, not one bit because my ego tells me there are all manner of things I haven’t done yet, like writing my best-selling novel or traveling to Spain or Scotland. Any or all of that may or may not happen.

But the truth is, I can only “be” in the present moment and live from there, plan from there, love from there.

arms openBE GRATEFUL

For it all. Even what we call the “bad stuff.” I’ll end with a story I’ve always loved.

Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker and Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II.

Because of her actions Corrie and her sister Betsy were held in a concentration camp where they lived in barracks plagued with lice. Lice were everywhere—in their hair and on their bodies.

One day, Betsy said to her, “Corrie, we need to give thanks to God for the lice.”

Corrie said, “Betsy, you have gone too far this time. I am not going to thank God for lice.”

Betsy said, “Oh, but Corrie, we are supposed to give thanks in all things. That’s what the Bible tells us.”

The thing is, the sisters had been trying to hold prayer meetings in the barracks but were concerned about the guards breaking in and shutting them down. But Corrie later found out, because of the lice, the guards refused to go into those barracks. And they were able to hold their Bible studies.

letting go open handI admit I’m not always good at giving thanks when things seem to go wrong. But I’m learning to be thankful for the metaphorical lice in my life.

And learning that I really don’t know a danged thing at all. And still learning to listen. To be in the moment. To accept all that is.

But that’s OK. I’m a work in progress. We all are. We can find comfort in that. We really can.

Because we are loved, right now, exactly as we are. Isn’t that amazing?

So we can take a deep breath, a sigh of relief. We can let go. Of our agendas. Expectations. Inability to listen. Our need to know everything.

For that, we can be truly thankful.

 

 

There are no others

Before the stroke, dad used to talk to anybody, anywhere. It didn’t matter. Waitress, cashier, postal clerk at the counter, stranger on the street.

He was fearless in approaching people and finding out their story. It used to embarrass the heck out of me, especially at restaurants.

He’d want to know the name of the waitress, about her job, her family. Meanwhile, as an awkward teenager, I’d cringe in my seat and hide myself behind the menu.

Now, as an adult, I understand. Dad was about connection. About recognizing the other as part of the whole.

It was about saying, “I see you and honor your presence” in the here and now. And about digging deeper to hear the other person’s story in a culture where we take so little time to listen.

So in my growing old age, I am following suit.

I travel the PA Turnpike on occasion and make it a point to chat with the person in the toll booth no matter how many cars are behind me.

Letting-go21As I was heading to a friend’s house on Christmas Eve day, I drove my car off the exit and up to the booth. I rolled down my window; the wind was biting and frigid. An African-American woman reached out her hand to take my fare. She looked exhausted and worn, a wool cap pushed down around her ears, her fingers peeking out of gloves with the tips cut off.

“How are you?” I asked.

She shrugged.

“You look cold. I hope they’re giving you some time off later for Christmas Eve.”

Then she spoke.

“It’s going to be a rough one.”

I waited as she handed me my change.

“My mother died a few months ago. It’s just not the same. I mean, she was there every Christmas, always there, and now …”

She stopped, her eyes tearing. She turned her head.

“I don’t know how I’m going to get through it.”

I took a deep breath and said, “Tell you what. I’ll say a little prayer for you, if you do that for me. I’m caring for my dad and it’s often hard. Maybe we can pray for each other.”

She smiled. “Thanks. And Merry Christmas.”

I wished her the same and was on my way.

It got me to thinking of how often I dismiss people — not out of meanness or arrogance (at least I hope not) — when I am caught up in my day-to-day doings. Sometimes encounters are simply functional, transactions that need to happen and then I move on.

women standing togetherBut lately, as I’ve said, I’ve been stopping myself. Taking time to be “present” to those I meet during the course of a day and truly “seeing” them as my fellow sisters and brothers. Sometimes people want to engage and talk, other times they don’t. I open myself to whatever wants to happen.

Some time ago, a friend and I were eating at a restaurant. Dad’s lessons came back to me and after the waitress took our order, I asked her name and a little more about her job (much to the embarrassment of my friend).

“Long day, I bet,” I said.

Raising her eyebrows, she answered, “You have no idea.”

I learned more. She was a single mom, one child at home sick, and she was going to her second job later in the day. I told her she was an amazing woman and she beamed.

“Gosh, thanks,” she whispered. “Nobody’s ever told me that before.”

I left her an extra tip.

Please know, this isn’t about something I’m doing that’s extraordinary. I know how subtle and insidious the ego can be. I share these stories only to propose how simple these exchanges are — and how life-changing they can be, on both sides of the equation.

In fact, being present to the people we meet during the course of a day is incredibly simple.

And as I age, I find myself drawn more and more to simplicity, pruning away and removing all that is of little importance. What I do find of importance, however, is the simple interchange of receiving the “other” (me and that person) as a gift — with a grateful heart.

I’ve come to see these encounters not only as sacred, but also as mini-surrenders. In other words, I’m giving up my time, my control of schedules or “whatever” to take a breath, listen and to see in them someone who is much like me, and I, like them.

birds flying girlSpiritual teacher, healer and writer Carolyn Myss has said:

“The inner work of personal transformation is not about personal healing for the sake of personal healing alone but to ultimately become someone prepared to take that healing to others, to become a channel of grace in the world.”

We become that channel when we come to the awareness shared in the following brief story.

A spiritual seeker once asked well-known Indian sage Ramana Maharshi:

How are we to treat others?

Maharshi answered:

There are no others.

So how do you want to be a gift of grace in the world today? To the other, who is you?