Love is who we are, when we allow ourselves to be it

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.

Do YOU Care?

Some people think we should pray for God to take care of what is wrong with society and our world. Prayer is excellent, as long as we realize God is waiting for us to fix what is wrong; to fix what we created.

You and I may not have personally created everything negative in society. But as part of our human family, we collectively allow global negatives, such as corruption, greed, environmental destruction, denial of history, misogyny, injustice, discrimination, political tyranny, abuses of power, dishonesty, and inequity, to exist.

Regardless what negatives we are challenged to face, first we have to admit there is no superhero coming to our rescue. God gave each of us the strength and willpower to change our lives, relationships, and world for the better. So God is waiting for each of us to step up and take the positive actions necessary every day to be the inclusive, peaceful, and loving change we want to see.

This raises two critical questions:

How can we rationalize waiting for a savior to save us when we need to be our own saviors, by addressing our challenges head-on?

And unless we are dedicated to being people of integrity and empathy, how can we possibly work to right our wrongs?

It is really very simple.

GOOD = honest, kind, responsible, inclusive, humble, forgiving, peaceful, respectful, nonviolent, ethical, fact-based, and thoughtful. To name a few.

EVIL = dishonest, cruel, irresponsible, divisive, arrogant, blaming, disrespectful, violent, corrupt, miss-information, and thoughtless. To name a few.

There is no ambiguity between good and evil. On which side we stand is clearly evident through the words we speak, the beliefs and attitudes we hold, and the behaviors we display.  Yet, there seems to be a perception among some people that because we consider spirituality important and we are devoted to God we are to “turn the other cheek” or remain silent and simply watch while negative and evil consumes us.

Well, my personal hero, Jesus, certainly took sides. He spoke up against those in political and religious influence who abused power over others. And, he would absolutely do the same thing right now, and in a courageous way! His courage should be enough motivation for us to get busy in service of positive political and social change.

To love God and be the positive change we want to see in the world it’s time we agree on what we are fighting for – God  – who is on the side of all that we consider Good. Respect, equality, honesty, patience, peace, thoughtful resolutions to our challenges, and punishment for those who abuse us, divide us, limit our rights, cheat to win, suppress our vote, or seek to rule us. ⠀⠀⠀

Let’s be the positive change we want to see by being active in service to positive political change.

  • We turn off hate, lies, miss-information, dis-information, blame, and divisive speech from anyone and everyone whose behavior does not align with what we consider good.
  • We seek fact and evidence rather than go down the rabbit-hole of infotainment, click-bait, fact-less opinion.
  • We stop blaming others or making anyone the enemy.
  • We open our eyes to the truth that there are groups of corrupt people who are working to take over our government and  governments around the world.
  • We acknowledge abuses of power with clarity, honesty, and open hearts by listening to those whose words and actions are based in integrity, evidence, and fact.
  • We call out and punish those who are evil.
  • And, we CARE by getting active in service of positive political change.
  • Register new voters.
  • Speak out against the abuses of voting rights in your state or country.
  • Question people who simply say “trust me,” or “believe me,” and who desire to suppress evidence.
  • Turn off anyone whose divisive messages are designed to manipulate negative emotions within us in an attempt to get us to side with them against others.
  • Don’t trust anyone who does not want you to know the truth of their actions and intentions.
  • Vigilantly monitor your children’s use of social media. Purveyors of hate and disinformation actively recruit young people through both subtle and overt racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic messages.
  • Consider the positive that is gained through differing with other people. Just because we disagree with someone does not make them wrong or us right. Often, truth is what we find when we stop to consider another point of view.
  • Challenge the perception that those who live a spiritual life are submissive and must turn the other cheek regardless of how they are treated. While patience and forgiveness are behaviors of living aligned with soul, so is standing up for what is right.
  • Make thoughtful and informed decisions about whom to support for positions of authority. Ensure their consistent behavior is aligned with the core values of Jesus-like integrity, with what we consider to be GOOD.

American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” You and I are the thoughtful and committed citizens who can change the world. Because seriously, what is in it for all of us who love God and who seek truth and justice, is saving the world and our democracies.

Which is exactly what God would encourage all of us to do.

Let’s Care About the Wake We Leave in Life

When I was young, I often went out on the boat with my dad. He liked to fish, and I enjoyed being with him. I adored the chill of the early morning air and the sunlight dancing on the water. I was in awe of my dad’s skill as he took aim, casting the lure between the branches of a long-dead tree, now partly submerged in the water near shore.

To reach the magical spot I enjoyed, we first had to cross a big lake. My father made certain my life jacket was on tight. Then he pushed the boat away from the dock. Once we were safely clear, he put the motor in high gear and we were off, speeding toward our destination.

I did not enjoy facing into the strong wind created by the high speed. Holding on tight, I looked backward, observing the effect the boat had on the water as we raced over the calm surface. Spray shot up over the bow, wetting us. Buoys jerked up and down as we sped by. A flock of ducks quickly took flight, their tranquil morning disturbed by our waves. When we were closer to land, our boat’s wake crashed hard against the shore.

After what seemed an eternity, we arrived. My dad slowed the boat down and turned the noisy, smelly, water-churning engine off. He moved up front to an electric trolling motor that silently propelled us the rest of the way, leaving only a small ripple as evidence of our passing.

As we moved slowly, without upsetting the wildlife, I delighted when dragonflies landed on the boat. Fish swam close by, undisturbed by our presence. Once, a bird came and sat for a brief moment on the steering wheel.

When it came time to head back, I became disappointed. Too soon we were off again, zooming across the lake, our wake disturbing the water and everything on it as we went by.

Many years later, during an especially hard period, it dawned on me: I am like a boat. I too leave a wake as I travel through life. Today, I choose to move at a slower, more purposeful pace, although I have not always selected the right speed and direction—in the form of responsible behavior—that represented me well to myself and the world.

There was a time when I behaved as a fast boat, churning up waves of drama and chaos that crashed hard over me and others. Many of the people I knew in that “former life” will confirm it. When I wrote a check that bounced, my embarrassment caused me to take out my frustration on the mean old bank. Running late, I aggressively honked at the cars in front of me or became impatient with pedestrians crossing the street. When I had loud parties, I ignored the impact on my neighbors. The plastic cup I carelessly threw in the gutter became part of a swirling mass of trash in the Pacific Ocean. Lying caused people to distrust me.

Over the course of my life there have been many times I did not care about the wake my behavior created. The truth is that although I may live in a free country, I am not entitled to behave as I please! I am not free to do what I want without regard to the consequences of my actions. Action without accountability is not free. There are always consequences!

The more I allowed myself to push the boundaries of what is morally, ethically, and socially acceptable, the higher the level of negative payback I received. It was eventual and inevitable.

Extensive personal freedom requires me to operate at the highest levels of personal integrity. Doing so maintains my positive advantage within systems that often allow and encourage pushing acceptable boundaries to intolerable and ridiculous extremes. The notion it is suitable to act without caring about short- and long-term consequences is completely egotistical, motivated by the impatience, immaturity, and thoughtlessness of my self-centered ego.

Even though my name is Regina Victoria, I am not in line to any throne, or entitled to special privileges. What I receive in life—respect, good relationships, financial stability, academic success, and a good job—I am responsible for earning. A peaceful, joyful, and fulfilled life does not just magically appear. I must create it.

My actions create my life, and I want the best life. How I allow myself to behave is the true indicator of how much I care for and respect myself.

Yes, there was a time when I did not have the level of awareness necessary to recognize how my actions impacted other living beings. Today I realize caring about the wake I leave is what makes me feel fantastic about me. The gratification I receive from working hard to do the best thing for all concerned is more satisfying than another person’s praise. Assuming accountability for my behavior results in my loving and respecting myself.

At the end of each day, as the last thoughts filter through before sleep, we want to remember we did our best to be a representative of the finest humanity has to offer. Today we want to remember we made the world a better place for our being alive. Today we want to remember we were appreciative of the gift of life.

In gratitude for the gift of each day, we lead with our heart to create a living legacy of which we are proud. There is nothing naïve, submissive, or weak about supporting the ascendancy of our peaceful, courteous, patient, and responsible heart. True power is choosing to stop rushing through life without paying attention to our actions. Real courage is slowing down to keep our heart open to care about the wake we leave.

Enjoy life at a slower, more aware, and peaceful pace. Create a living legacy of which you are proud and for which you will be admirably remembered. You will positively impact other people and living things, which is a fine bonus, like getting toppings on the most delicious ice cream sundae of life for free.