Everyday Angels

angels… are they cherubic little beings that can fly? White robed celestial blondes with halos?  Or are they just like us, only waiting for an opportunity to serve in a time of need?

I have had several extraordinary encounters that poke a little fun at the idea of the haloed image and show a different side to this idea.  Here are a couple of stories I hope you enjoy.

I was fixing up a little cottage to rent to some friends who needed a home.  I decided to install a bamboo floor, and being a die hard “do-it-yourself”er I was on my hands and knees laying the floor with the help of a couple of friends.  The project was humming along, but we were all tiring out and there was still a fair bit of floor to nail down.  The friends called, their moving truck was on its way – we only had a couple of hours before they arrived, eager to unpack and settle for the night.

Both my helpers had given up in sheer exhaustion.  I too took a short break, but since it was my responsibility I said a short prayer to the universe for help – I needed angels to assist me, since my helpers just couldn’t do any more.  Then I got up and returned to the cottage.

Shortly after I arrived back to the cottage there came a knock at the door.  I opened it to find two men – the movers – who had arrived a couple of hours early.  They were both wearing “Los Angeles” baseball caps (yes, a sports team, but I don’t remember which one).  Most of you know that translates to “The Angels”.  They looked inside at the floor, and asked if they could help – they were experienced at laying floors and got right to it!  We were finished in no time, their work was extremely high quality, apparently they were actual craftsmen.  Such an excellent cosmic joke and is there a deeper meaning?  You know I think so!

and, while I”m at it, one more story that actually happened to me –

I was holding a plant sale (among other things I’m a nurserywoman and hold occasional plant sales at my farm).  My signs for the highway – sandwich boards, actually – were all worn out and I needed new ones.  I’m not a sign painter but thought I might find someone who could do a good job, time was running out!  I went to the hardware store and bought some plywood and hinges to make the signs.  I was sitting in my little truck in the parking lot, getting ready to leave for home when a man knocked on the window.  I rolled it down (it was an old truck, no electric windows!) and looked up to see a man handing me a business card.  “Do you need a sign made” he asked me.  WHAAAAAAAAT?  Are you kidding?  I really said that!  After a short conversation it seemed that he was actually a professional sign maker.  I told him what I needed, gave him a small down payment and went home, wondering it I had been conned.

Sure enough, right on time, as agreed, he called and met me in town and he had created perfect signs for my sale.

Next time I need a sign, I know where to go!

Begin Within

A dear friend just passed along a beautiful piece of writing from Matt Licata – and part of the wisdom he included was profoundly illuminating about the ways we bully and judge ourselves.  Many people I know well confess to having a disarmingly well fed inner critic.   That voice is at the ready and willing to join sides with anyone who is bullying us – that is what “self-abandonment” means to me.  Yes, there is something “wrong” with me, yes  I accept your criticism and recognize my flaws…yes, I hate the same things about myself that you do…

Wait a minute!  What about love?  As soon as I kowtow to the negative, judgmental voice in my head I’ve stepped off the path of love.  It’s that simple. I feel it in my heart. And yet those voices carry on, but the way I’ve approached it is by imagining a volume knob, and imagining that I’m turning down the volume on that inner bully.  It is a lot like physical training, the mental training required to tame the wily beast we call our mind.  The workout includes gratitude, meditation and affirmations.  Preceded by realization and awareness of course…this information is as old as humanity – born and reborn into poetically nuanced truth. The Vedas, the Tao, The Dhammapada, the Bible, The Koran, The Talmud – each one has already codified a system to aid us in our quest for inner and outer peace.

Knowing that this wisdom has been available to our species for eons – might be a small clue that it is not the easy path.  There’s no quick fix.  Most if not all (I haven’t read them all) ancient texts teach that determination is a key element of success.  It can be called by other names as well – devotion, contemplation, commitment.  Making a decision and holding it forefront in our consciousness is far from being easy or simple.  Becoming a yogi or any other kind of devotee means adhering to the path of discipline and commitment.  It isn’t easy but the rewards are great.  But there is no need to believe me or any other religion or doctrine.  These suggestions are best tried for yourself.  If it’s true then it will be true for you, too…

“Begin within” is a bumpersticker I love seeing as I drive through town.   I’d like to live in a world that reflects my loving heart – and also to be part of creating a world that is free from bullying and hate crimes.  The wisdom of that nugget compels me to face the ways I bully and abandon myself – to remember the importance of training my mind to stay connected to the love in my heart.  This sounds so simple, perhaps reminiscent of a Hallmark card – and we all know that it is a heroic task.  It takes all the courage we have to turn directly towards our inner demons and face them down, deflate and disempower them.  It is an ongoing work, for all of us. I have witnessed a widespread propensity to project this accomplishment on another – a Guru or spiritual teacher. I’ve noticed that there is no way to verify that another has accomplished this wondrousness, no matter how glowing their resume and credentials.  It is the smaller challenge, in my opinion, to stay open for the duration of a workshop or satsang, and to embody open hearted lovingkindness for an hour or two.  And that is a worthy way to spend time, for sure.  One story I’ve heard (unverified, just so you know) is that it was in times past, important that one’s guru lived a two days walk from home.  In this way it was possible to keep a distance from their everyday lives, which are inevitably easy to judge.  Learning to withdraw our projections from others is also an important task on the path to open hearted living.  It means an end to comparing, to finding others superior to us (ah there is that self abandonment again) and what a relief it is, to level the field and embrace our own divine perfection.

Self-embracing is the healing for self-abandonment.  Love yourself.  No need to change anything.  Just. Love. Yourself.  End the quest for another who can do that for you.  Begin within…

a morning meditation

Breathing in, I fill my body with light
Breathing out, I give thanks for this divine moment

Breathing in I forgive myself
Breathing out I forgive everyone else

Breathing in I love myself
Breathing out I love everyone else

Breathing in I rest in awareness
Breathing out I rest my mind

Breathing in I feel light and free
Breathing out I release all that is holding me back

Breathing in I fill my lungs with light
Breathing out I forgive everyone who has harmed me

Breathing in I open to the divine light of love
Breathing out I forgive everyone I have harmed

Breathing in I recognize the Divine in all beings
Breathing out I send healing love to all

Mitakuye Oyasin
All My Relations