Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Communion of Hello Love

I was listening to Sofia Diaz and Diane Musho Hamilton Sensei this morning on a conference call. They spoke of autonomy and communion. I was taking notes and breathing and enjoying the Saturday morning cool. In the side bar, I wrote: "Hello Love is communion." It is the dance of merging. Just for a moment. We are all autonomous and individualistic. We know how to separate and create. But Hello Love reminds us that we also know how to MERGE. We know how to breathe beyond our comfort zone and into something much larger and life giving.

This poem by Czeslaw Milosz captures this communing:

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills.
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn't matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn't always understand.
(New & Collected Poems 1931-2001)

We stand in the glow of ripeness in our moments of Hello Love and we have no idea whom we serve in doing so.
It is a chain of goodness that begins the moment we dare connect.

Big love.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Hello Love Experiment - CHAPTER TWO

It's been an amazing month. The Hello Love Experiment is ready for its next unfolding. It's remarkable how the energy starts to swirl around a new intention. I've been talking about the Hello Love Experiment again with renewed passion and commitment and suddenly I'm receiving phone calls and emails and offers of help. Friends and strangers are reminding me of the power of these two little words.

Chapter Two of Hello Love is a kind of Back to Basics.

Here's what I'm going to do:
1) Talk about Hello Love wherever and whenever I can
2) Practice Hello Love daily
3) Remind everyone how SIMPLE the practice is:

a. Meet someone's eyes
b. Say "Hello Love" -- silently or not
c. See what happens
d. Repeat

And finally

4) Create a Hello Love Day that will be celebrated across the world in 2010. I will choose point people across the globe that will decide how to practice hello love in their community and we will all share the results of our simultaneous experiment!

As with any labor of love, there are many moments of questioning. Does this work? Will this work? How can I invest more fully? Am I crazy? But thankfully these days, there are even more moments of great JOY and a profound inner knowing that this is exactly the work I must do.

And there's lots of work to do! So, if you want to be a part of growing the Hello Love Experiment, let me know!

BIG LOVE to you all.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Hello Love in Prison

This story came from a wonderful woman in Arizona who has been experimenting with Hello Love for several years now. She always checks in with us to see what is developing and has been amazing about supporting our efforts. The following story is what Hello Love is all about:

Back in 1998, after reading the book Conversations with God, Book 1, I
attended several retreats facilitated by the author, Neale Donald Walsch.
At the second retreat one of the women present stood up and said that
because the author had been receiving numerous requests from inmates in
prisons around the country who had read this book and desperately wanted to
correspond with like-minded folks about the different ideas and concepts
from the book and about spirituality in general. So Walsch and his
foundation, ReCreation, started Books for Friends, to send hundreds more of
these books to prisons and then to match up inmates' names with people on
the outside who were willing to discuss myriad spiritual and metaphysical
concepts with them. I was one of those people who chose to do this and have
been doing so since 1998.
One of my inmate friends is housed in a prison in Florida and I have
been corresponding with him for about ten years. Last year I told him all
about the Hello Love Experiment and sent him your Home page. Shortly
thereafter he wrote, saying it sounded like such a wonderful idea.
But yesterday I got a letter from him that showed the Hello Love
Experiment in action, and here are his words:
"I must share with you how I handled the situation I was in with a
so-called 'friend' of mine. He was angry with me and even wanted to kill
me, or so I thought. So I tried the Hello Love Experiment. I looked at him
and smiled and said 'hello love' silently and a big smile came across his
face. So we are at peace now. Thank God."

It certainly inspired me to practice more!
Love to all.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lemonade and Hello Love

My daughter Kate woke up yesterday and wanted to set up a lemonade stand. I was reluctant. I was tired and too pregnant and didn’t relish going to the store for supplies. I had a quieter Saturday morning in mind.

But Kate LONGED to set up a lemonade stand. She asked me how else a kid is supposed to make money. I told her I’d be happy to pay her a dollar to help me move books into the garage. She didn’t like that idea.

Finally, I relented. We went and bought ice, lemonade and paper cups at Vons. I bought one carton of lemonade. (No, we didn’t make it from scratch). It was a grey day and I was fairly certain she would get next to no one stopping by.

I was wrong. Kate set up her table. She made a sign that said “Lemonade 10 cents” and placed it in front of the table. I brought her lemonade and ice and some change. She sat down and BEAMED at cars passing by. She waved. She smiled. She was delighted.

Within 15 minutes, we had 20 people come by. People stopped their cars. Families walking by stopped and bought five or six cups. We met about 10 new neighbors. We had to close the stand for seven minutes while we ran to the store for more supplies. (By this point I was delighted and fully on board).

Kate was the embodiment of HELLO LOVE. Everyone she saw she welcomed in and wanted to share her delight. She was fearless and radiant.

I realized part of my reluctance in the beginning was about feeling hermit like. I didn’t really want to interact. I didn’t want to open up. She was wide open and curious and willing and wanting to interact with all.

We all have a lot to learn from a joyous 5 year old. All our grumpy resistance to meeting the world crumbles in the face of such eager, open joy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Humbling Moments

Too many blogless days have passed. I finally have a moment alone and I’m seizing it. I talked a lot about Hello Love at a wedding I attended last night. It was good to be sharing the experiment and good to have people respond so favorably.

Something happened yesterday that I’ve been wanting to address. I found a long lost friend on Facebook. He was a dear friend in the summers of 1983 and 1984. We did Shakespeare together at Interlochen Arts Camp. I haven’t seen or spoken to him in at least 15 years. I am so happy to reconnect!

I was catching him up on other Interlochen alumni and much to my embarrassment found myself writing the most simplistic, judgmental stuff. “She’s moved to Idaho and has become hugely religious. She seems happy.” “He’s a Jehovah’s Witness and his wife doesn’t like me and ever since I mentioned astrology, he hasn’t written me back.”

After I hit send, something just felt off. I was communicating what I knew. But it was nothing but reductionist gossip. It was separating and quietly judging. And I thought, “here I am doing the Hello Love Experiment. What is wrong with me?”

The wedding I attended last night was a mixed faith wedding. The bride is Jewish and is from Israel and the groom is originally from Virginia and his family is Christian. This is not unusual. But what did seem unusual was the complete lack of tension. It was a beautiful blending and honoring of family traditions. It was a beautiful honoring of the members of each family. There were no reservations. There were open hearts and minds. It was lovely to be there.

I know I am an open-hearted, open-minded, compassionate human being. But I also catch myself reducing or minimizing another person’s choice of faith when I don't completely understand the choice or when I feel the choice is somehow limiting.

When my friend wrote me back he said,”I guess matters of marriage and faith can’t be argued with too much.” He focused on all the positive info I had given and kindly ignored my oversimplifications and sensationalizing. I was grateful and humbled.

I guess it’s just a good reminder for Hello Love. Part of Hello Love is greeting a person with love. And part of it is LISTENING to how that love is received. And when we genuinely offer love, it opens something in another human being and what is shared from that offering must be handled with respect and care and an attempt to understand even the most outrageously different points of view. So, ANY conversation where another person is sharing something meaningful in their lives is a conversation that must be honored and held with sensitivity and understanding.

A good wake up call for me. It’s too easy to categorize people. It’s too easy to be dismissive. I want to listen and communicate in ever more compassionate ways.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Perfect, Stone-hard Beauty of Everything

I love poetry. Many of you that read this blog may know that. One of my favorite poets of all time is Mary Oliver. My husband put this poem in a card for me on my birthday three years ago. I love it.

The Poet with his Face in his Hands

You want to cry aloud for your
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn’t need any more of that sound.

So if you’re going to do it and can’t
stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can’t
hold it in, at least go by yourself across

the forty fields and the forty dark inclines
of rocks and water to the place where
the falls are flinging out their white sheets

like crazy, and there is a cave behind all that
jubilation and water fun and you can
stand there, under it, and roar all you

want and nothing will be disturbed; you can
drip with despair all afternoon and still,
on a green branch, its wings just slightly touched

by the passing foil of the water, the thrush,
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.

-Mary Oliver

One of the reasons I love it so is that there is always the thrush, puffing out its spotted breast who will be singing of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything. We can be in our deepest despair, our most self-pitying moments, our most self-absorbed state and if we only look out and beyond ourselves for a moment, we will see the ‘thrush.’

This is part of the beauty of Hello Love. Hello Love reaches out beyond our despair, names someone love and releases us a bit from our constriction. It reminds us of the beauty of interconnection. It reminds us – if we look closely – that others are carrying their burdens as well. But one look can light a path for both to welcome the song of the thrush.

Hello Love sings out the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Backing up into Hello Love

I almost ran into someone in the Trader Joe’s parking lot yesterday. It wasn’t fun. I had pulled into the narrow entryway when someone started to back up without seeing me. I quickly started to reverse but then saw a man standing by the store entrance with a rather horrified look on his face signaling me to stop. I turned around and there was a woman pushing a cart almost directly behind my car. She look startled to say the least.

Thank goodness I didn’t hit her. I took a moment and said a small thank you that I avoided that.

I apologized profusely and she kindly accepted the apology. She ended the conversation by telling me to just be careful when I’m backing up. It’s a kind of interesting philosophical life question. What might you hit if you start going in reverse?

In any case, the man by the storefront was glaring at me like I’d done it on purpose. And even though the woman had been gracious, I began to feel very small. I pulled into the parking space, turned off the car and just sat there for a few minutes beating myself up.

I found myself saying things like, “And here I am with a Hello Love sign on the back of my car. What kind of Hello Love is that? I’m just a flaky, spaced out pregnant woman who is not being present. I should just go hide.”

I found it interesting that I had immediately thought about Hello Love. And my inclination was to apologize for having such a sign on my car when I’m driving like such an idiot. My immediate desire was to disappear.

I think we tend to do this to ourselves in other situations. I’ll be honest, I’ve even been reluctant to go out and hold up the Hello Love signs since I’ve been pregnant. I immediately leap to the feeling that people will think I’m just a crazy pregnant woman standing on the corner.

This gets to the root of – at least MY PROBLEM. And I suspect others might feel something of the same. Somehow, unless I’m in the best, most radiant, most amazing state, I don’t think I’m worthy to be talking about love. I guess I feel like I need to be inhabiting a kind of transcendent place to spread the love or to not feel silly daring to be that vulnerable.

I wonder if it’s why many people don’t dare to extend. I wonder if the monologue goes something like, “Well, I’m screwed up in so many ways, no one would possibly love me so why should I dare extending love to anyone else.” It’s a kind of protective stance so we won’t have to suffer rejection.

But that’s what we’re all learning about in this experiment. It’s certainly what I’m learning. No matter what state we’re in, no matter what blunders occur, no matter how many mistakes we make, we have an opportunity to stand in love. Others may not be wanting or ready to accept that love if we’ve really botched something, but we never have to apologize for continuing to stand in the stream of love.

Every moment, there’s an opportunity for us to forgive ourselves and continue to stand in that rare place of being daring enough to extend love and vulnerable enough to receive it.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Pregnancy Pillows and Hello Love

It’s 3 am. I guess one glass of green tea at 7 pm isn’t a good idea. Or maybe this is just the way it’s going to be for the next 17 pregnant weeks. We shall see.

Anyway, have you ever seen a pillow like this? It’s saving my life. It actually makes it possible to sleep comfortably no matter how big my belly.

As I was all nestled into it tonight in the two hours before I woke up and could no longer sleep, I started thinking about the glorious metaphor of this pillow.

You may just have to experience it yourself to believe me, but when nestled right at the center if feels as if I’m buoyed on all sides, protected or enveloped in a great white nest. It’s as if the womb I’m providing to wrap around my new little boy has a big soft replica outside my own body.

I must say, pregnant or not, I wish this pillow experience for everyone. Maybe I’m just 3 a.m. delirious, but there’s something so comforting in the feeling of being supported and held in this way.

My husband jokes that he’s been replaced by a large white pillow and I must admit I feel a bit like I’m on a raft on our bed, but the ability to fully rest my body and relax comfortably far outweighs the disadvantages.

And how in the world does this relate to Hello Love?

Rather like this pillow, Hello Love allows us to soften into a quieter, more true part of ourselves. Words have such power. And whether we speak them or receive them, when we speak of love -- when we name someone or are named love, for a glimmering instant we feel the truth of who we are.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Dare to Love Daily

I am a student of the Tibetan Master Djwal Khul. In the 1930’s and 40’s, with the aid of Alice Bailey, he wrote over 30 books on education, astrology, a new world religion, and a new soul-centered psychology. He is a teacher of the Wisdom of the Ages and offers clear, potent, life-changing words about the necessity of intelligent love disseminated with power and potency through group work. As an astrologer, I have read his book "Esoteric Astrology" many times. He is an unceasing source of inspiration.

I mention him today because he also writes extensively about love. His definitions of love are unlike any I have read. He suggests (as I wrote in an earlier blog) that we do not even begin to love until that love is applied impersonally to groups, nations and the planet at large. Love has little to do with our sentiments or feelings towards family and friends. It has little to do with where we feel an affinity. It has everything to do with the selfless certainty that all whom we encounter are worthy of our upliftment and attention and intelligently applied compassion. It has everything to do with an unceasing stream of the will-to-good for all.

One very simple statement he shares is:

“There is love in all of you but it needs expression, and for that the group exists.” – Discipleship in the New Age, Volume II, p.15

This quote caught my attention today and inspired a suggestion for all of us.

Let us think about the concentric circles of care in our life. Let us think about the people we love and then too, the people we care about and like but don’t –in our personality lives – love. Let us think about the people we see everyday that are simply the cast of characters in our living.

Now, imagine if we were to take time each day to express love unreservedly to the members of each of these circles. These circles are our groups. The only way we begin to truly love it to take the welfare of the groups of which we are a part, into our heart, into our circle of compassion and care.

We are entering an age in which we must progress together or not at all. Until we learn how to love even those with whom we feel the least affinity, we are stuck in our own prison of jealousy, judgment or pride. Again, this is not a matter of being nice or liking everyone in the world. It is a matter of including all, sharing our light and intelligence for the betterment of the world.

Hello Love is one way to practice the expression of love within the group. We can practice it in the group that is our family with members with whom we feel friction. We can practice in the group that is our work community with those we easily write off or make fun of or generally ostracize. We can practice it in our community as we study our tendency to make certain groups “the other.”

Whether we are willing to admit it, we are on a long march together. And the moment we consciously choose, through our lack of care or indifference or meanness, to leave anyone behind even in our thoughts, we are slowing our own journey as well.

We are all walking though life with so much love that remains unexpressed and yet with so many opportunities to extend this very love.

Let’s begin a ‘dare to love’ campaign now.
Who are you next to this moment?
Whoever they are, they are worthy of your love.

Hello Love. Open your arms of care.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Auto Love

There’s much to be learned about Hello Love in your very own car. I’ve had to laugh at myself several times in the last week as I observed my inner monologue. On the street, we all have to be civil or polite or at least indifferent. In a car, it seems, all judgment, rude behavior and indignation are back on full throttle.

Admit it. How often do you look over to a fellow driver and actually think something even remotely nice about them? Do you ever even dare smile? But even more to the point, how often do you find yourself swearing in ways you never would outside your car just because someone nudges in ahead of you or speeds up at a time you wish they wouldn’t?

And the car horn. The horn was invented to be used in an emergency—to alert another driver to possible danger. I don’t believe it was intended to stand in for a call to the immediate environs about how impatient or indignant or powerful we are. I also don’t believe it was invented as a universal release for all our pent up unexpressed daily frustration.

My suggestion. Start practicing Hello Love in the car. In fact, every time you want to honk your horn, think Hello Love instead. You’ll crack yourself up. Really. You’ll find yourself on autopilot ready to cuss out a fellow commuter and you’ll end up naming them love. And then you’ll think, “Wow – what if they really are love? What if LOVE looks like that.” And it does. It does look like THAT.

Once many years ago, I accidentally cut a woman off in traffic and we ended up next to each other at a stoplight. She turned to glare at me and I looked back and said (through the closed window), “I’m so sorry.” She could hardly believe it. It’s as if years melted off her face and she turned into a sweet, soft, welcoming thing. “Oh, it’s okay!”, she mouthed back. And we smiled. That happened 15 years ago and I haven’t forgotten it.

I think if we turned our heads to the car next to us and sent a little Hello Love to the anonymous driver on our left, we’d all have some similarly unforgettable connections.

Let me know if you try it.