In the alcove of a storefront, close to the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire in Los Angeles, California, I sobbed in a homeless man’s arms. I did not know the man. Most likely I will not see him again. But I will not forget the moment our hearts touched in the intimate dance of raw truth: He lives on the street, and I, in a warm apartment.
Our exchange began when I commented on his dog. He smiled very proudly and said, “Yeah, she’s great. I’ve got her back and she’s got mine.”
As he spoke, he gently petted the dog. I reached into my wallet and took out all the money I had. Without counting or caring what he would do with it, I handed it to him.
He hesitantly took it. As our hands touched, my tears began. The man reached out, wrapped me in his arms and said, “It’s okay. We’re okay out here. Thank you for caring.”
As I turned to leave, he said, “I love you.”
I looked him in the eyes and said, “I love you too.”
Until then I had never said “I love you,” to a complete stranger, someone I had just met and with whom I had exchanged only a few brief moments of conversation. However, when I spontaneously responded to the man with “I love you,” I meant it from the bottom of my heart and with every part of my being.
There was no judgment. My soul was simply wide open, and the pure, honest emotion of caring deeply for the man came pouring out.
Each of us experiences countless transformational moments in life. Occasions when we are given the opportunity to advance the ability we have, as soul, to let unconditional love move through us without allowing fear, judgment, or expectation to stop us.
This was one of my moments, and I took it. I saw him and his dog and could have passed them by. But I heard my heart say, See him and tell him he is seen!
My choice to listen to and act upon love’s direction opened me to a lesson I was only able to learn with the willingness to experience the sincerity of our exchange. Holding the man and allowing him to hold me birthed a deep and profound understanding of what it means to be vulnerable to caring, without expectations or conditions. The kind of affection we want to experience. The depth of intimacy we long for. The magnificent feeling of being connected to unconditional love, within ourselves and in another human being.
I remember when I was young, my mother said, “We never know if someone we meet may be one of God’s angels.” My sweet, homeless man was an angel. He was a messenger of wisdom who taught me love is more than caring and affection for those closest to us.
Certainly the close relationships we have are the most important part of life. We have a deep fondness and a personal attachment to some people and pets. They are special to us and add to our life. We definitely would miss them if they were no longer around.
Yet no matter how deeply we care for our family and friends, every exchange we have with another human being, animal, and the natural world is an opportunity to fully feel our magnificent heart-connection to all that is alive. Because love is who we are, when we allow ourselves to be it.