“Nature is full of genius, full of the Divinity;
So that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.”
~Henry David Thoreau
I met a Sudanese refugee this week that immigrated to the United States for work. He is an amazing man. I’ll call him “Steven.” Among the many humbling and gracious words he spoke, what shined most is his deep faith in God and enduring love for ALL people. He said he “vehemently” believes in doing things that “bring greatness” to the lives of others as well as himself. Steven is thankful to God for granting him many gifts and abilities, especially using them for “doing right things for others.” This brave and radiant young man gets up every morning with a smile on his face, knowing that God is always with him.
Three powerful themes emerged from my conversation with this migratory, luminous messenger. From his own words, first, we are not restricted by anybody or anything except our own choices. Second, a loving gracious God exists and “resides in us, with us, beside us, around us, and among us,” no matter what our race, religious, culture, gender, or life circumstances. And third, serving the one human body of God and individuals in our local communities can bring abundant JOY!
After meeting this delightful new acquaintance, I headed to our lake house, which is a few miles from a community that has a significant new population of Sudanese and Hispanic immigrants. I stopped at the local big box “Super Store” for a few grocery items. When I arrived, I felt different. As I looked around, I saw “Steven” everywhere. I walked up and down the aisles and couldn’t get the smile off my face. I was beaming with the grace-filled lessons of Steven’s love and joy. My heart was expanded and with each and every immigrant I saw, it grew even more with love, compassion, and joy. And then, something amazing happened.
As I was gathering my items and looking around, a young Sudanese child made eye contact with me, smiled, and waved. With surprise, my heart leaped out of my chest and I felt the presence of our shared Divinity and joy. It felt like a deeply sacred moment. There were no words between us, just a profound, yet brief surreal connection. We needed no words. We saw each other. I walked off dazed and intoxicated with the lessons of Steven stirring in my heart.
A few minutes later, in the next aisle over a family passed by. Not paying much attention, I was looking at my list when a young Hispanic girl pulled her hand away from her mom, and shouted loudly to get my attention, “Hi!”. I made eye contact with her, returned a smile, and said, “Hi!”
Seriously? Again? It was as if both kids were reaching out to me to share a soul moment. I was filled with gratitude. There was a familiar knowing among us. Our brief eye contact felt like an eternity of deeper seeing and recognition. I began to feel a universal oneness with everyone in the super store. I looked around with gentle compassion and curiosity. What was happening?
When life couldn’t get much sweeter, a third young Caucasian child laying on her daddy’s shoulder, lifted her head just a few feet from mine, grinned from ear to ear, and with the light of recognition in her eyes, greeted me with an adorable and engaging, “Hi!” I was enchanted as I stood soaking in the mystery of this unbelievable experience.
I thank Steven. His palpable love, joy, and heart for service, created a beautiful resonant field that ignited something in me. I believe the same gracious God, and Divine spark, which resides within Steven, resides within me, and within all people, including the three children I met at the super store. Maybe, the three children simply recognized it sooner than I did, and reached out in remembrance to reconnect in a beautiful living experience of Namaste.
[The definition of Namaste (pronounced na, ma, stay) is both a physical gesture and a spoken spiritual salutation, which is the recognition of the divine spirit (or soul) in another by the divine spirit in you. The word Namaste translates simply to “I bow to the divine in you.”]
(Image found with SCiAF, Scotland’s Aid Agency sciaf.org.uk)
Fruit is supposed to be sweet, right? Well, sometimes. Red juicy strawberries are amazing. I love red juicy strawberries. But sometimes, they are tart. My mother-in-law sprinkles them with sugar. Actually, if truth were told, there’s no “sprinkling.” She slices them and covers them with lots of sugar!
Bananas always did well at our house when the kids were home. I like them firm and on the greener side. My husband and boys like them when they start getting brown spots. And, my daughter loves them ripe. I’m not fond of the soft, mushy, super-sweet bananas. But it didn’t matter, because if they got to that stage and my daughter wasn’t around to enjoy them, they would get put in the freezer for the next loaf of banana bread. Apples are the same. We all have different favorites. I like my apples firm and crisp with a juicy, sweet-tart combination. I used to think the redder the apple the better, but that just isn’t true. Again, I’m not fond of the soft, mushy apples.
I’ve been eating a lot of blueberries this summer. This past weekend, I mindfully observed myself reaching for the larger berries first. And then I would eat the smaller ones in descending order – from biggest to smallest. I learned a lot from the berries. First, the larger ones aren’t necessarily the sweetest. “The bigger the better” is NOT true. I found large berries that were tart, sweet, and variations between. And the same is true for the smallest berries. Some of the smallest berries were succulent and heavenly. Why do I reach for the large ones first?
Until this past weekend, I have never eaten a blueberry that was smashed or broken open. Maybe it’s partly because I don’t want to stain anything. But mostly, it’s the reason I mentioned: I’m not fond of soft, mushy fruit. Soft and mushy usually grosses me out! However, everything changed when I accidently put a soft and mushy, broken-open blueberry in my mouth. It was stuck to one of those big berries and I didn’t see it. Instantly, when I felt the soft and mushy texture, I wanted to cringe. However, something amazing happened. The broken-open blueberry captured my attention with its sweet, pleasurable “real blueberry” flavor. It was as if I tasted a REAL blueberry for the first time. Yum!
Sometimes life is like that. Some of our experiences are on the firm and green side. Some are tart; others are sweet. Some are big; others are small. But it’s those times when we surrender and allow ourselves to be broken open that show us what we’re really made of – our true essence. I’ve been broken open many times in my life. As I think back on my journey, I remember the times I tried to put myself back together as quickly as I thought I could. It never really worked. There were other times when I was disgusted at the “soft and mushy” parts of me. Similar to that of fruit, I would try to throw away the soft and mushy, broken-open pieces of me. Discard them. I was broken… I must be garbage… disgusting. That never really worked, either. And then there were the times when I left my broken open self un-attended, and the soft and mushy quickly turned to mold. Yuk. That just left an unpleasant odor in my life. It’s sad… I didn’t realize the sweet essence of ME that was begging to be tasted.
I’ve been broken open again, and the experience this time is so different. The sweet nectar of the real me is a delicious new experience. I’m playing in the soft and mushy essence of divinity expressing itself through me. It’s messy and mushy and sweet. I am delighting in all the new ways of being. There’s no form and I’m not “broken,” I’m just perfectly “broken open.” Drinking in the joy of my true essence, I experience the fullness of who I really am. Maybe I’ve never before been truly developed to the point of readiness for the harvest of my full, mature, rich life. But in this moment, the suitable time has arrived, and breaking open feels like the perfect gesture to honor the season of my soul’s ripe journey. There’s nothing to put back together – to fix. There’s nothing to throw away – no garbage. There’s nothing stinky or moldy – I’m not spoiled. It is just the pure, blissful essence of the REAL me spilling out and expressing itself in the world.
Life is sweet… Break open!
I discovered fasting years ago for “spiritual” reasons. It became a spiritual ritual or routine that lacked the earth-shaking, rich and dynamic “Pow!,” because I spent so much of that time “disembodied.” At the time, I would much rather leave the physical realm and play in the ethers. At other times, I could be found “stuck” in my HEAD. Consequently, three years ago I could not walk a block without physical pain. My physical health was compromised and I was so “out of touch” and disconnected from my body. I spent months tuning in, listening, and learning from my body. I consciously chose to “move back in” and fully EMBODY my body. I went extreme to kick-start the process: 100% organic in and on my body, absolutely NO SUGAR, GLUTEN, CORN, DAIRY, etc. After I took my body back, I began a bi-yearly, ritual “love-my-body” cleanse, and remain gluten and sugar free. Life is so much “richer” and “sweeter” this way for me!
Now when I look at food, I delight in the colors, shapes, and textures. The different aromas enchant me. Recipes fascinate me. Great cooking captivates me. I marvel at herbs and spices! I’m mindful of experiencing the love and energy of the food in its natural, beautiful form and I can taste when meals are prepared with love. One of my favorite activities is to chop vegetables. I take pleasure in the energy and vibration of colorful, vibrant, living foods. I have learned so much about my mind, emotions, and spirit by moving back into my body and developing a loving, conscious relationship with my body and food. The gestalt of flavor, texture, temperature, and aroma is spectacular and satisfying in itself. Life has never tasted so good!
When I feel out of balance, restless, or down, I can often shift the energy quickly, by drinking in life and chewing on the nourishing beauty around me. If I have a craving, I ask my body what it really needs and it rarely answers food. Emotions are much easier to assimilate and digest. I routinely acknowledge what is sweet in my life… or bitter… or rich, pungent, or spicy. This has been a great practice that has developed mindfulness and a keen awareness of my relationship with food. This new approach has created a peaceful environment where I love my body, delight in food, and savor life.
I invite you to love your body and experience the tantalizing, radiant energy of vibrant, nutritious foods. The restorative value and healing power is abundant and limitless.
ENJOY YOUR… Juicy… Delectable… Sumptuous… Rich… Velvety… Creamy… Tart… Smooth… Decadent… Luscious… Delicious… Tasty… Melt-in-your-mouth… Sweet… Salty…Tangy… Flavorful… Spicy… Succulent… Mouth-watering… Refreshing… Zesty… Crunchy… Crispy… Sour… Tender… Golden… Light… Appetizing… Scrumptious… Nutritious… Savory… Indulgent… Heavenly… Delish… Pungent… Palatable… Yummy… Finger licking good… Lip-smacking… Exquisite… Divine… Nourishing… Wholesome… LIFE.