Love In The Present Moment

I’ve been wondering lately if it might be possible to find love and express love in everything I do.

I ask myself, is this what Yeshiwa (Jesus) and Buddha did? Is it what Mother Teresa, and Gandhi did? Does the Dalai Lama live this way?

When I ask myself this question, my first response is- no way!

No matter how spiritually connected I may feel at a given moment, I don’t think I could remain conscious enough to let love flow through me like this.

There are just too many triggers for me in life. I’m not even sure I could do this for thirty minutes straight. Could you? Could any but the most spiritually gifted among us?

So, I think to myself, maybe it would be a good idea to set my sights lower. Perhaps there might be a way to increase my awareness enough so that I could hold others gently in my heart and offer them some love, realizing that even if I couldn’t do it all the time, this would still be better.

But I suspect, even this would be very challenging, and this starts an inner dialogue. Part of me has already decided it is not possible to find or express love in every moment, so why try? This part of me is ready to let myself off the hook and I haven’t even begun.

Another part of me enters the conversation with this thought. If you only do the things that are easy, what will you ever accomplish in life. Are you not going to try? Are you that afraid of failure?

A third voice requests my attention. It’s quieter, but there is power in it. It asks me a simple question. What would it change for you if you could find and express love in all that you do?

I hear snickers in the background from the first two voices and then silence.

There is a peaceful momentary pause, giving me a chance to respond. Well, I thought, it could change everything for me.

I would be able to lighten up, to release my fears, to draw others into my world, to smile with ease, to open my heart, to give, to graciously receive, to hug with my whole being. A list flows out of me. A truly wonderful list. I can feel its presence and its power.

The first voice returns and speaks loudly, sure, this sounds very nice, but how do we get from (here) where we are to (there) where we want to be? Do we have to put on rose-colored glasses first?

The third voice takes no offense and offers soothing words and a question. Do you like treasure hunts?

We ask the third voice, where did that come from? It waits patiently until we answer.

Well, yes, we do.

Wonderful it responds. I want to share a secret with you. You knew it at one time, but have forgotten, so let me remind you.

One of the most beautiful things about this world is that we’ve hidden treasure everywhere.  Every single experience you will encounter throughout your life has treasure in it. Some lie on the surface and are easy to spot. Others are buried deeply and may require you to dig to find them. But each one of them is worth pursuing. They may at first seem dusty, but each will sparkle and shine once you polish them.

How do we find them we asked?

You find them by opening your heart and expressing love. The more you do this, the greater the love you will experience. It’s up to you and what you choose. Choose wisely, my love.

All the voices quieted but one.

I want to try, it said.

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Dream Big

One day I decided to go for a walk. What I thought of as a very long walk. My wife, Maureen, drove me to a town quite a distance from our house, kissed me and said goodbye. I had nothing with me, other than what I was wearing. Several hours and sixteen miles later I finally arrived home. I felt exhilarated that I could walk so far and happy for the up close and personal view I’d given myself.

Ordinarily I drove everywhere. I realized that I missed a lot by zooming by, with little time to glance at the scenery or connect with the little things along the way.

Sometimes my life feels this way too.

I’ve discovered that I am not the only one who likes to walk. My friend, Sketch (Mike Wurman), who created the magnificent cover design and interior illustrations for my book, talking with (god), decide he wanted to go for a walk too.

His version of a walk was to trek the entire Appalachian Trail, all 2,190 miles. He broke it up into four sections, rather than doing it all at one time, which doesn’t tarnish the accomplishment at all to me. I think it is a spectacular achievement.

He told me it was a wonderful experience, filled with so many events, emotions, new friends and worn out sneakers. I know it must have been challenging in many ways and I wonder about all of the opportunities there must have been to quit. But he didn’t. He finished, and stared out at the world from the top of Mt. Katahdin in central Maine, the journeys end. I wish I’d been there with him.

There are two other people I’d like to mention.

Before I do, I’d ask you to bring to mind some experience or project or dream you have that seems too incredible to contemplate. You know the ones I mean. The big, big, big ideas that you think would be major life events. I’ll give you a minute. Okay, keep your idea in mind.

A woman named Mildred Lisette Norman decide at age 45 that she wanted to make a change to her life. She wanted to dedicate it to a cause, one that rested deeply in her heart…peace. She set out and became the first woman to walk the entire Appalachian Trail. She liked walking so much that for the next 28 years she crisscrossed the united State seven times. She said in 1964 that she stopped counting the number of miles she walked at 20,000. Some have tried to estimate her actual total based on her trips and have suggested it is likely to be over 43,000 miles.

This astounds me, especially when you consider that all she brought with her was a comb, a folding toothbrush, a ball point pen and her message of peace. She relied entirely on the kindness of strangers. Can you imagine? No extra clothes, no food, no medicine, nothing to protect herself from the rain or the wind or snow. It boggles my mind.

Everywhere she went she spoke about peace. The inner kind and the outer kind. Part of her message was, “when enough of us find inner peace, our institutions will become peaceful and there will be no more occasion for war.”

And then there is Angela Maxwell, who on May 2, 2014 set out to walk around the world, ALONE. She sold or gave away most of her possessions and piled what was left onto a rolling cart that she either pushed or pulled for six and a half years and over 20,000 miles. She traveled to four continents and a handful of islands, building relationships and sharing herself with the world.

Angela says her goal was never about the pace of her travels, but rather the faces she met along the way. She seemed to know that it was important to slow down and pay attention and to give more than you receive along the way. She has dedicated a portion of the funds she receives from donors to support her organization, Her Future Coalition, which is devoted to creating a safe haven for survivors of gender violence and human trafficking.

Big dreams. I’d say so. But what makes them both real and spectacular to me is that they each had a purpose, a drive, and a desire to share with the world. I too want to share with the world.

And, I hope that all of your big dreams come true.

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Listening

I took the picture in the banner above last summer when part of my family was vacationing in the Adirondacks in New York State. The brook was at the back of the property and was a slice of heaven for me. I am most at home in the water and was able to lay, almost completely submerged, feeling the rush of energy from the water as it passed over my body. Pure bliss.

One of my favorite past-times is to create ‘rock people’. I’m sure it’s some kind of throwback to a former life where the formations guided my way when I traveled long distances.

I love being able to find rocks of all sizes and shapes and see how they fit together. It’s very tricky business to be able to balance them and every so often, they tumble and I have to start over. That’s okay with me. Maybe it’s just the rocks way of being part of the process, so I get it just right.

I like this photo because it suggests that one of the rock people is talking to the rest of the crowd. I’m not sure what a rock person would say to other rocks, but the scene intrigues me.

I started thinking about ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ and how different the two concepts can be.

According to one on-line dictionary, hearing is the ‘faculty of perceiving sounds’, while listening is either, ‘giving one’s attention to a sound’ or ‘paying attention to what another is saying’.

I began wondering which I do more often. When someone is speaking, whether near me or to me, am I hearing them or listening to them? I am conscious of there being sound, recognizing cadence, tone and volume, but am I truly hearing

them?

I ask myself what kind of a listener am I? Am I an active participant or is my role more passive? No doubt I vacillate, depending on the speaker, the subject or the circumstances.

I also wonder, when I am listening, what is the quality of my attention? Am I evaluating what is being said or perhaps, judging the content? Am I listening, but also preparing for my response, so that my attention is split?

One further question jumps in, what part of me is doing the actual listening? Is it my head or my heart?

These are a lot of questions. I think they are worth considering.

You see, I am also a speaker of words, trying to convey thoughts and ideas and feelings. I want to be heard. Not just the sounds that come from me, but the essence that is me. Maybe you want that too.

It feels to me that true listening is a gift, one that is beyond measure. To have someone paying careful attention to what you are saying and also to what you are feeling. To have someone listening from their heart, what a joy-filled present to offer another.

So, how does one offer this? To me, that becomes the rich, fertile question.

I don’t know if it is humanly possible to be a good solid listener all of the time. We have so much going on inside ourselves that it makes it very difficult to be an open channel. That’s not meant as an excuse, but rather an observation.

I believe being an active, compassionate, deep listener comes from the place inside us that knows love. There is a connection between us and the speaker. Our heart takes over and our breath slows a bit and our mind stills. We let go of our need to be right and our desire to fix anything. We become sponges, absorbing the words, thoughts and feelings of another human being who is trying their best to navigate this wonderfully incredible world of ours. We open to their need to be heard. We recognize that we are a part of a sacred exchange.

What a treasure to experience the divine in the hearing of sound.

And what a beautiful thing it is to give the gift of listening to another.

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