Category Archives: spirit
“Don’t give up before the miracle happens.”
—Fannie Flagg in I Still Dream About You.
Hundreds of years from now, the children of our children’s children’s children’s children face a seemingly insurmountable challenge. To inspire themselves to succeed they look to wisdom from the past. They scan their retinas (because surely they’ll have Google Retina by then) for pithy, profound insights into the complexities of life.
Might they find inspiration from Rumi? Perhaps. Jesus? Also possible. Shakespeare, Einstein or Confucius might also be strong contenders. But they might also stumble upon some wisdom from another great wise man: Jim Carrey.
Who would have thought, right? But Carrey nails it in a convocation speech at (of all places) the Maharishi University of Management. In less than a minute he alludes to one incident from his life that encapsulates these spiritual principles:
- Be here now
- Make your decisions based on love not fear
- Ask the universe for it and allow yourself to be surprised by the miracle
- You can fail at what you don’t want, so do what you love.
“. . . all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment which are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying—I’m the proof—that you can ask the universe for it.“
He went on to say:
“My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant, and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”
The sun and warmth called to me at the end of the afternoon yesterday, so I ventured out for a big walk in my neighbourhood. I usually follow the same five kilometre route, but yesterday I took a different path. As I turned one corner, I saw a woman about five houses ahead of me make a hasty trip across the street. She went to the aid of an elderly man and his wife who had also heeded the call of the sun and the warmth, but who had walked a little too far. The man had run out of energy at the end of his driveway and couldn’t take another step—or stand for that matter.
My adrenaline kicked in, and I prepared to make a fast move to their aid. Just then, a car pulled over, and two young women hopped out. I couldn’t hear what they said, but I assume they offered help. The wife shook her head, so the girls hesitantly climbed into the car and drove away. I relaxed, thinking that maybe things were going to be okay. By the time I reached the house though, I knew the situation had deteriorated. The two woman could not support the man enough to help him to the house.
“Are you sure I can’t help?” I said.
The wife reluctantly agreed. “If you hold him, I’ll get his walker,” she said.
I stayed long enough to see him safely into his home. As we left, his wife said, “You both are angels. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
I had the remainder of my walk to ponder her comment and to remember other situations in my life when people materialized at just the right time in just the right place: a cab driver who drove me all the way home late at night even when I told him I didn’t have enough money to pay the full fare, the woman who provided the phone so I could call my parents after a car accident, and the grocery store cashier who shared some life wisdom and turned my dark mood into a bright one.
I thought about how strange it was that I had taken a different route that day, almost like I needed to rearrange things to be there at that time. I wondered what kind of forces in the universe work together to create these kind of scenarios.
I mused about how the woman had declined the first offer of help. She had more help than she needed really, but she didn’t want to accept it. I wondered how many human angels I have refused to accept.
I contemplated her gratitude and her sense of relief in response to something that had cost me very little. The situation for her was dire, but for me it was nothing more than a temporary detour from my path. I wondered if all the human angels who have appeared to me felt the depth of my gratitude, and I hoped that their aid was as light a burden for them.
Have you ever been an angel? Has a human angel ever come to you?
Yesterday my daughter and a friend took her dog for a walk. They strolled along a path beside the Ottawa River, and my daughter spotted a large patch of clover. Being a fun-loving and spontaneous type, she declared, “I’m going to look for a four-leaf clover!”
Her friend had doubts. She said, “Do you even know what the chances of that are?”
Undaunted, my daughter walked over, bent down and, without even having to search, held up a four-leaf clover. “I found one!” she said.
Life’s like that, right?
Sometimes we try, and struggle, and work to find something or to achieve a goal, but we don’t manage it. (Almost always someone nearby tells us not to waste our time because the odds stack high against us.) And then sometimes good fortune shows up right in front of our noses when we haven’t even put forth any effort at all.
There’s no explaining it. All we can do is keep the faith that odds-defying fortune can find us, and be ready to celebrate when it does.
The wisdom says: Bless that which you want.
Too often we resent other people who have what we want, or we declare ourselves unworthy of receiving whatever it is we desire. But the shamans of Hawaii believe that causes harm and drives away the object of our desire.
When we bless something, the first thing we do is shove negativity out of the way. When we bless, we don’t leave any room for the knee-jerk reactions like “Oh sure, why does he gets to live in a big house when I’m stuck in a tiny apartment,” or “Those shoes would look so much better on me,” or “I don’t want to be a multi-millionaire. I don’t want to have to worry about handling all that money.” When we brush that kind of negativity out of our lives, we feel better. So by blessing the thing we want, the first thing we do is inadvertently bless ourselves.
Second, blessings expand positive, creative energy in a way that the other person can feel, so their day gets a little brighter. Best of all, they reflect that positive energy back to us, so we feel even better than we just did. Then two people who feel really good smile and bless other people, who smile and bless other people, and so on, and so on . . .. The positives grow and grow in an ever-expanding circle.
Blessings increase the good in our own lives, so make this your challenge today: Look around, notice the things you want and bless them.
Last night at our book study we talked about Paul’s mystical experience on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9) We don’t know exactly what happened to Paul—accounts vary—but we do know that Paul experienced something dramatic enough to alter the course of his life 180 degrees.
He changed from enforcing rules to encouraging love.
We also talked about our own mystical experiences. There was no shortage. People shared stories of songs popping into their lives at the right moment, inner voices calming them or urging them into action, and visible reminders a dead loved one or feelings of their presence.
I noticed something, though. Almost everyone started their stories with qualifiers. “It might be just a coincidence, but . . .”, or “I don’t know if this is a spiritual story or not, but . . .”.
That’s the paradox of mystical experiences. We are physical beings, so we need something physical to happen so we can perceive a message: a sound, a sign, a feeling. But because the message we receive is carried via a physical medium, it makes it easy to dismiss as just the physical thing and nothing more. Skeptics and critics say, “You’re reading something into it that isn’t there,” or “It’s a coincidence,” or “You’re crazy.”
The very thing we need to perceive spirit is the very thing that makes us want to dismiss it.
Sometimes mystical moments give a person comfort or a gentle nudge in the right direction, sometimes they save lives, and sometimes, like Paul on the road to Damascus, they dramatically alter the course of a life. The common theme of all the stories we heard was this: every person received exactly what they needed exactly when they needed it.
All of the stories we heard could be dismissed as coincidence or the result of a vivid imagination. There’s no way to prove anything beyond the physical, but there’s also no way to prove that these moments were just coincidence. So we have a choice. We can choose to believe what we wish. I think it’s much more meaningful, comforting and just plain fun to believe that these moments that stop us in our tracks have spirit flowing in, through and all around them.
In future, when I hear someone begin a story with “I don’t know if this is a spiritual story or not, but . . .” I’m going to sit up and pay attention. The story is bound to be a doozy.