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.