Riding the NYC subways for the first time I've experienced a divergent mix of feelings ranging from panic to exhilaration, confusion to confidence. Gradually though, I've begun to make sense of the complicated stew of numbers, letters, colors and street names that guide riders through the multi-dimensional maze of stairways, passages and turnstiles surely inspired by those Escher sketches of impossible structures.
The collective desire to move forward is evident even in our weather. Record hi temps have buds bursting open overnight, adorning branches with spring's spectrum of lush green. Perhaps it's the cosmos' promise that the intensity of the current primary elections is a fruitful step in the evolving consciousness of the nation.
Funny thing about "issues"...just when we think we've transcended one, the universe brings us face-to-face with an opportunity for even greater mastery.
There's a wonderful interview with award-winning actress Barbara Robertson in March's The Monthly Aspectarian. She describes how she came to terms with a character who said horrible things to her daughter. Barbara's preparation for the role is also a great practice for cultivating compassion for the horrible things we ourselves say or hear.
Charles Holt tours the world and lives in a frequency of abundance. Wherever he travels, whatever he desires appears. The last time I saw him we attended the grand opening of Dallas' new Performing Arts Complex. Waiting to cross at a crowded intersection, Charles struck up a conversation with a total stranger who turned out to be a faculty member at Southern Methodist University. By the time we crossed the street, she had booked him to teach one of her performing arts classes before returning to L.A.
As kids, we were obliged to give up "pop" for Lent. I took a legalistic approach. Every chance I got, I'd belly up to the soda fountain at Watts' drugstore and order a vanilla phosphate. Adhering to the letter rather than the spirit of the law, I rationalized that the blend of flavored corn syrup and soda water was most definitely not pop because it wasn't packaged in a container with a top to pop. I could earnestly say I had fulfilled my religious commitment. Clearly, I experienced little in the way of spiritual preparation.
Stuck on an elevator with a geeky stranger I tried striking up a conversation about the wild temperature fluctuations this month. "I don't even think in Fahrenheit," he said, thoughtfully. "Only Celsius." End of conversation.
Looking back, I see a geeky approach is well-suited to spiritual practice, too.
Reporters are trained to cover the 5-Ws (Who? What? Where? When? Why?). They're good questions for making sense of human drama. But I'm convinced too much focus on the 5-Ws detracts from our spiritual power. Focusing instead on deeper questions of purpose and potential, allows us to redirect energy from perpetuating drama to creating fuller, freer lives.
I once asked adults working with Sunday School students to identify the moment in life when they absolutely knew what it meant to love unconditionally. Some said they've always known. A few said it was when they were loved by a cherished pet. Others said they learned to love without strings when they had their own children. All agreed it was a continuing journey in which we give and receive love at deeper and deeper levels of our being - and that children have a better handle on unconditional love than most of us.