Love is. We are. All One.

The program
The program

To say that I have enjoyed the preparation for our wedding this month would be an understatement.

I have loved it, delving into each element to create something that is a reflection of C.C. and I, our relationship and the atmosphere we want to create on our special day.

Yesterday, my dear friend WC finished my outfit. It was a bigger job than either of us anticipated and her commitment to getting it done, her gracious sharing of her time and talents is amazing. I’m not sharing pictures!  That would ruin the big surprise! But I love the colours, the way the skirt flows and moves and how, because the fabric is from India, my mother’s heritage will be with me as I walk down the aisle. It is beautiful.

When I came home, I told C.C. I was going down to the studio to work on the programs. “But I thought you already had them worked out?” he said.

“I’ve changed my mind. I thought of a better way, something that’s more elegant than my original idea.”

He paused. Smiled and replied, “You know you are going to have to quit inventing things pretty soon, right?”

If I had long hair I would have flipped it over my shoulder and given him a coy, don’t state the obvious, kind of look. Instead, I shrugged one shoulder, and said, “eventually.” And headed down to the studio.

We are less than 3 weeks away from our wedding date and I am almost done. Almost.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the creating for the sake of creating. I have a vision of what our day will feel and look like and I want to ensure I have all the elements that will surround each and everyone of us in beauty. I want our guests to feel that what they are experiencing is a special day, a day to celebrate, to connect, to know that love is not just ‘in the air’ but all around, in our hearts and minds and every breath we take.

For C.C., I want him to know that there is nothing in this world I would rather do than be married to him. That our love is deep. That our love is a forever kind of love capable of weathering stormy weather and blue skies flowing into tomorrow. That even though we are marrying in, ‘our later years’, we can celebrate and be excited and be happy and be in awe of this thing called love and our decision to be married, forever.

For our children, I want them to know that love is enduring. That while their parents have taken circuitous routes and along the way, stepped away from love they thought they never would, we are the cummulation of all our missteps and footsteps to this altar where their father from one marriage, and their mother from another, join together to say, I do, take this man/woman and these children to be my family. My tribe. My home.

And for our guests, I want them to know that love is eternal. It is filled with hope and promise. It is a covenant that even when we have taken missteps in our journey they were not in the wrong direction because they lead us here, to this moment, this possibility of turning towards another and connecting in love.

Love is a circle. A constant sea flowing all around us. Love is perfect but we forget sometimes, to see it through open eyes and caring hearts, allowing instead our fears and limitations to hold us separate from the promise of its presence.

Sometimes, in our belief we don’t fit into the circle, we move in and out of love, fearing it is not for us, believing it will not find us.  Love never has to find us. It is always present, always strong. And all we have to do to know its truth is believe with all our hearts we are worthy of the thing that connects us all, Love.

On April 25th, C.C. and I will be standing together with our children, stating for everyone to hear our belief in the power and the promise of love to heal, to connect, to create. And in our standing together, we will be the love we know is present.

Love is. We are. All One.

 

Tears know the language of our hearts

I violated one of my cardinal rules last night. I cried in public.

Oh don’t worry, I didn’t do the sobbing mess of a puddle kind of tears that run mascara down my cheeks and make everyone rush for the kleenex, or possibly the Atavan. But I did cry. Or at least my eyes welled up and a couple of drops trickled down my cheeks.

It is primordial, this cardinal rule of not letting anyone see I care. It dates back to childhood days when as the youngest of four, my siblings would tease me endlessly about being ‘such a baby’. My siblings liked to tease me. I chattered a lot and asked questions that no one could answer, not that I really expected an answer, I just liked the wonderings. I believed in magic and fairy tales and was, or so they told me, ‘a spoiled brat’. In fact, ‘the brat’ became my nickname until well into my twenties when my mother suggested I might want to quit signing my letters home, “The Brat.”

I didn’t want anyone to know it bothered me. I didn’t want them to see that their words stung. And so I smiled and pretended it was okay. They kept telling me to ‘grow up’, ‘stop being so childish’, to get a life and I wanted desperately to fit in so I created rules for myself that would, I thought, make it possible for me to be part of the crowd. I thought my rules would keep me safe.

Crying was not acceptable and so, along with my rule of not crying in public I created an even bigger, inviolable rule, “Don’t let them see you care.”

Over the years I have learned I don’t need to play by my self-imposed rules. Where once I thought they kept my heart safe, I have learned these rules only keep my heart from beating freely. Challenge is, while my rules no longer serve and protect me, the ‘don’t cry in public’ is a tough one to boot out. When public tears threaten, my critter puffs himself up in fear-based indignation screaming at the top of his lungs that I must “Stop it!” And if that doesn’t work, he convinces me to dive for cover in humor.

The public tears came at Easter dinner last night. Our dear friends Kerry and Howard had invited us to join them for their annual feast and along with C.C.’s daughter, son and his girlfriend, we spent the evening enveloped in their warm hospitality.

Kerry is curious. She wants to know what makes people’s hearts beat freely, what stirs their souls and awakens their dreams. After dinner, she always asks her guests to answer a question. Last night’s was, “What is one significant blessing you’ve experienced since last Easter dinner.”

When TC, C.C’s son shared, I felt the tears start. And they just kept threatening to flow.

Such love. Such appreciation, gratitude, beauty, vulnerability.

It was all there at the dinner table and I was in awe and humbled by the heartfelt sharing of everyone.

And then, C.C. shared.

He was sitting right beside me and I felt his love embrace me. I felt myself wrapped up in caring and I just wanted to cry.

Instead, when it was my turn next, I said, “C.C. He’s my greatest blessing since last Easter. End of story.”

And I smiled.

And then I remembered, I am safe. I am okay. I am loved.

And I took a breath.

“Actually, the greatest blessing is learning to trust in love. To know that ‘disagreement does not equal rejection’ is true. That C.C. and I can disagree, argue, fight even, and it’s not the end of the world. It isn’t all over, in fact, it is our capacity to move through our disagreements that strengthens and deepens our love.”

And a tear fell.

They do that when confronted by truth. They fall. Gently. Peacefully. Joyfully.

Tears know the language of our hearts. Tears know the words our hearts cannot speak. Tears know our truth.

Once upon a time, I hid my tears because I didn’t want anyone to know I cared. I didn’t want them to know that I didn’t understand what they were saying or why it hurt my heart. I didn’t believe it was okay for my heart to hurt, or that I had the right to speak up when it did so I hid my confusion behind my smile and laughter.

Today I know, my heart only hurts when I try to pretend I don’t care.

Today, I want people to know I care, deeply. And so, I let my tears fall because I  know my tears are perfectly okay to express the joy and gratitude that flows like an endless river of love streaming from my heart.

Today I know, when I am moved to tears by the beauty of the hearts beating all around me, it is the greatest blessing of all.

Of saints and the not so saintly

My father was a complicated man. Gregarious and generous, he loved nothing more than to invite strangers to our home for dinner and engage them in debates about politics and religion. Often, if his guests’ views were in alignment with his, he would pick the opposing perspective, just to get the conversation going.

He was a man of strong opinions and loud voice.

Conversely, he was soft-hearted and an easy mark for travelling salespeople who came to the door. I wondered sometimes if they had a secret list that only those who took to the road to sell vacuums and china and encyclopedia and Bibles knew about. On it, my father’s name was at the top. Go see Louis. He’ll buy one, maybe two of whatever you’re selling.

Over the years, my father bought pots and pans, a vacuum, a floor polisher, cutlery and sets of knives, beautiful china and at least two sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica. He also bought a Bible.

It was bound in red leather with gold embossing. The pages were paper-thin and silky. And then, there were the pictures. Beautiful, full colour, full page photos of paintings of biblical theme. Delilah cutting off Samson’s hair, pillars of salt, caravans to Damascus and Jesus and Mary and Joseph and all the Saints.

I loved the photos and would spend hours lying on the floor on my stomach, pouring over the Bible, reverently running my fingers over the paper as if through osmosis the stories could come alive in my veins, and thus my heart.

Along with the Bible, my father  also purchased a companion set of four books. Bound in red leather, The Books of the Saints told the stories of all the Saints ever canonized. From A – E, G – L, M – R, S – Z, each book also included beautiful photos of the Saints. I coveted those books, would sometimes sneak into the living room, take one down from the shelf and sit in the quiet of the morning eagerly reading and re-reading the stories of these what to me seemed almost deities and what they’d done in the world to become a Saint.

I wondered if I would ever have the courage, the strength of character, the heart and The Belief to do the kinds of things they had done to find my place not just in Heaven, but among the Saints of the world.

My mother told me I wouldn’t. I was no saint.

In fact, according to my mother, I was so far from being a saint she despaired there would ever be enough prayers in the world to get me out of Purgatory once I died.

It didn’t seem right to me. How could my fighting with my sister over who got to turn the pages of the Bible when we prayed together as a family on Friday nights keep me from Heaven? How could arguing with my brother over which Saint was the best Saint prevent me from one day being canonized myself? And how could asking question and after question about Who is God and where does he live if he’s only in church on Sundays displease God so much that he would slam the gates of Heaven shut even before I reached them?

These questions and more plagued me as a child. They caused me many a sleepless night, many a furrowed brow as I tried to figure out how to be  God-fearing, as my mother told me to be, when I knew that when I was scared, I always acted out.

Acting out was my middle name, or so my family told me. In fact, I came to believe so whole-heartedly in my inability to toe the line, conform and behave like everyone else, I gave up all hope of getting to Heaven, let alone becoming a Saint.

Which meant, I gave up on God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

In my pre-teen, I think I’ll take this literally because it doesn’t make sense to me mind, it was God who put his son on the cross. Why would I want to have anything to do with someone who thought it was okay to crucify his only child? If it could happen to Jesus, it could happen to anyone and I for one had absolutely no desire to be crucified by angry, vengeful crowds who feared anyone who believed differently than them.

Turning my back on my Catholic upbringing, and the faith of my childhood, has been a blessing. It has given me space and courage to separate faith from religion and find myself where I stand, completely and fearlessly in Love with all humankind. No matter which God or what pew we worship from there is nothing separating us except our differing viewpoints. It’s allowed my heart to embrace my saintly and not so saintly qualities without fearing that the God of my childhood would not accept all of me.

And, it’s allowed me enough time and space to see that those four books and the beautiful Bible of my childhood were a rich and verdurous field of possibility. Filled with wonder and awe they continue to inspire my heart to seek the saintly in every sinner and the beauty in every soul today.

May this Easter weekend bring each of you great richness of spirit, beauty of heart and wonder in your soul.

 

All we have to do is let each other know, we care

Yesterday, while on the phone with my eldest daughter, she stopped the conversation for a moment to thank a man as he walked past her. “Thank you for what you did,” I heard her tell the stranger. “You really made a difference.”

Earlier in the day, as she was leaving the hospital where her fiance has been for the past week, she started crying in the elevator. A man in the elevator followed her out of the hospital and walked behind her. After a few moments, he called out to her and asked, “Are you okay? Is there anything I can do?”

That question from a stranger helped her feel better. Less disconnected. Less alone.

JM, her fiance, had surgery a week ago and it is not all going according to plan. Complications, set-backs have all impacted his smooth recovery. That morning, another set-back had caused concern for both her and JM. “This is not uncommon,” the medical team supporting him tells them, but that doesn’t ease their concern, and fear.

Fear is not a good companion, especially in times of medical unease. It causes the mind to wander into dark and dim corridors. It blocks the light.

For Alexis, my daughter, fear is the unbidden companion stalking her peace of mind and confidence in the medical system. “Nurses are so busy, mom,” she said to me on the phone after I commented that they were doing everything they can to help JM. “What if they’re not able to do everything they can because they’re too busy?”

My heart is heavy. It is not easy to go through any medical situation. Your fate is in the hands of strangers; of those you must trust to be doing their best, to know what is the best thing to do and to be putting your best interests at the forefront of every action they take.

It is not easy feeling helpless and for my daughter and her fiance, it is compounded by the uncertainty of his progress in recovery.

For my daughter, it is also compounded by the love she feels for this man, and her desire to ease his pain, to know that he will be alright and to help him with more than just her loving presence and calming words.

Sometimes, all we can bring is our loving presence and calming words. Sometimes, there is no other action we can take to change a situation or be of service than to be present for someone where they’re at.

It is how I felt Monday morning, kneeling beside the man on the sidewalk. There was nothing I could do to change his journey. Nothing I could do in that moment to change the course of history, the path that lead him to that moment in time when our paths intersected and he crumpled to the ground and I knelt down beside him. Uncertain as to what I could do, I did the only certain thing I knew to do. I could not leave him lying on the sidewalk without stopping to ask how I could help.

Eckhart Tolle wrote, “When you become uncomfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.”

Listening to my daughter tell me about the man who stopped to ask her what he could do, kneeling beside the man on the ground, reading your comments in response to my post yesterday, it struck me that, stopping to ask about one another, caring about each other, reaching out to support one another, that is what all of us can do to change uncertainty into infinite possibility.

I don’t know what will happen to that man next. I don’t know if he will awaken from the darkness of his despair. I do know that had I not stopped, I would have carried the uncertainty of wondering if I could have, should have, done something other than just pass him by.

We don’t have to shake up the status quo or write the next great novel. We don’t have to find the cure for the common cold or discover hidden treasure to make a difference in the world.

To make the world a different place, all we have to do is look out for one another. All we have to do is let each other know, we care.

And in our caring attitudes, in our compassion for one another, burdens are lightened, pain is lessened and the darkness slips away into the light shining from our hearts connecting us in love.