Who are you listening to, who’s leading you?

Many of us seem to notice children when they’re near, even if we’re walking along a crowded sidewalk or getting on an elevator, at least I do. On rare occasions, these sightings are memorable, as was the case yesterday when I spotted a cherub surveying her surroundings over her Daddy’s shoulder as her parents strolled down the crowded downtown sidewalk, about 50 feet ahead of me.

The bright-eyed beauty couldn’t have been more than two years old; she had a few fingers in her mouth as she digested everything and everyone in sight. Then she caught my eye. I smiled broadly and waved hello. She stared back, pensively. I expected a toothless grin. But no, I was going to have to settle for an inquisitive stare. 

Walking at a faster pace than the young family, I was soon within a few feet of her. Aha! Finally, she gave me her toothless grin–and more. The expression on her little face curiously reflected surprise. In fact, it almost appeared that she recognized me. Within seconds, my suspicions were confirmed. 

Baby Girl pulled her fingers from her mouth, pulled her torso slightly from her Dad’s, looked at me very intently, then very deliberately, she touched her heart. As I walked by, her eyes followed me and her little fingers continued to speak to me, as she patted her heart, patted her heart, and patted her heart until I was out of sight.

The brief encounter completely transformed my short walk to my friend Janet’s home. The most I had expected of the day was that, while enjoying the warm day, Janet and I would find the definitive sofa for my new place. Never had I anticipated something as powerful as the silent meeting that spoke volumes.  

What if everyone began each day like that? What if, before we launched into the day, anticipating and bracing ourselves for the Earth drama, the distracting props, price tags, bills and bad actors, we crossed paths with a soul who connected with us on a soul-level, reminding us that we are more than bodies; we are, in the image of our Creator, Unconditional Love. More than that, they tell us–in whatever way they can–that we touch their very hearts. Would that give us a different perspective on Life, and set a more positive tone for the day?

That’s certainly what that encounter did for me. I saw no ugly sofas yesterday–OK, maybe a couple. But overall, most things looked amazing after communing with that little angel.

Finally, after Janet stopped instigating pure confusion by wandering into one showroom after another, discovering one beautiful sofa after another, I settled on one. It was lovely; because of the economy, the price was incredible. But I didn’t absolutely love it. The one I really, really wanted was a floor sample that already had been sold. To flip my frowny face, I reminded myself: If the sofa was mine, it would have been available.

Hoping that the sofa was in stock somewhere in world, I returned home and combed  the Internet for it. That’s what I was doing when another angel, my own little girl, taught me the second lesson of the day about listening to the silence:

Hearing the lack of enthusiasm in my voice about my sofa choice, Maiysha told me what I would have told her: Don’t settle. We both agreed that my spectacular new place deserved a sofa that was just as spectacular. Then my baby girl, who is wise beyond her years, volleyed another bit of her mother’s oft-repeated guidance: Listen to the silence, instead of trying to control a situation with your head.

“I believe that rooms have a life of their own; the space is alive,” she said. “The room will tell you what color it wants to be, and what furniture would best suit that space. Go into the room and listen for your guidance.”

It sounded like a task better suited for a room whisperer than a loud mouth, but I was willing to try. This morning Janet met me, and we walked over to the new building. We looked at the newly installed hardwood flooring and listened to the rooms–especially the living room, where the new sofa would be.

One of the first things I discovered was that the energy and dark color of the sofa that I had wanted so badly was not right for that room–affirming that the reason it wasn’t available was because it wasn’t supposed to be. I instantly lost the desire to search for it elsewhere.

I should mention that the reason I was moving to this fabulous place was because, although I believed that I had been ready months earlier, I was content to be still. I trusted that Spirit would lead me to my perfect home at the most perfect time. It has never failed me before. Each home has been consistently better than the last–even when I’ve been in a holding pattern, as I have for the past ten months–and always better than the home my brain had envisioned.

As we left the building, I thought about the mound of writing I had to finish today, including this post. But instead of heading home, I was compelled to walk to a nearby department store. It was en route to Janet’s building, so she decided to go shopping with me. Again.

After nearly an hour of walking in and out of showrooms, we were both discouraged–and I was confused. Was it my heart or my head that had directed me to go to the store? “I don’t see a thing in here that the room asked for,” I complained.

Janet nodded disgustedly. Hungry and tired, we decided to head toward one of the eateries in the store, relax, then head back to our respective homes. I can’t recall in what direction we turned; but suddenly, we stumbled into one sofa after another that was right for the space and my budget. We hadn’t seen The One, but we were infused with enough encouragement and energy to keep lookingIf it was there, I trusted that we would be led directly to it.

Moments later, there it was: a gorgeous, curvaceous, downright sexy little number, wearing white leather. She was sitting on a main aisle, nonchalantly waiting for someone to recognize that she was a class act. The girl wasn’t even wearing a price tag–probably thought it was way too tacky. Or maybe Spirit was looking out for me. If everyone passing that aisle had realized how much the price had been reduced, that sofa probably would have been out of stock when I walked by.

It was not the style, color or covering I’d had in mind when I began my sofa search. Honestly, had I seen it yesterday, I probably would have kept walking. But then, my brain was leading, which is why I had tentatively but unenthusiastically committed to the lovely but undesirable sofa in the other store.

However, after consulting the room this morning, after allowing myself to listen and trusting Spirit to lead the search, I got a much more exciting result: a tap, tap, tapping in my heart that revealed that I had made a real connection. Now I have a spectacular piece of furniture that powerfully complements the light, peaceful, healing energy of my new home. Continuing to listen, getting myself out of the way and allowing Spirit to lead promises to give me a more joyful experience in this home than I’ve had anywhere else. (For those of you who’ve been counting since Earth Is the Mother of All Drama Queens, it’s Home #28.)

Spirit makes no mistakes and will lead you nowhere that is not for your highest good. Who are you listening to? Who’s leading you?

Homage to Stevie Wonder and the Wondrous Melvin

“When you believe in things that you don’t understand, you suffer.”

I received an email a few days ago–the third or fourth time I’ve received it in the past year. It was the transcript of Rick Warren’s interview with Jim Dailey of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Decision magazine. This time, I printed it because I thought it might stimulate a thought-provoking discussion during my Drama Queen Workshops.

Of particular interest was this part of his interview, in which he addressed his wife’s experience with cancer–and prayer:

“We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her.”

My first thought was: What impact does a testimonial such as this have on millions who believe in the power of prayer–particularly the power of “two or more gathered in His name?” If a renowned man of faith has declared that God did not respond affirmatively when hundreds of thousands prayed together, what hope do they have when they pray alone?

When I asked this question this weekend at a phenomenal retreat for women, someone passionately responded, “[Rick Warren] doesn’t understand the awesome healing power of God!”

I was somewhat prepared for that because last spring, I wrote a post about a Chicago Tribune story featuring a Mexican immigrant who fervently prayed for her safety before leaving for work every day. For added protection, Artemia Torres, a devout Catholic, carried rosary beads and pictures of two saints with her. One day, she was wounded by a potential robber who shot her at close range.

When I asked spirituality authors on a social networking site what this said about the power of prayer, one replied, “Her heart belonged to God but not her walk. Now she’s placed in a position to rest, to be still. She can now hear God’s plan for her life. In that quiet still place we can hear God clearly.”

Fascinating stuff. In both cases, the respondents believed that the person petitioning to God was at fault when things didn’t go as they hoped. The assumption, of course, is that if we do certain things, say certain words in a certain way, we can convince God to do our will. That’s what prayer is supposed to do.

What if that’s not what prayer is all about? What if the purpose of prayer is to receive direction from God rather than give it? My dear friend Melvin, a man I’ve never seen but whom I’ve grown to love dearly, can teach us a thing or two about this.

Melvin’s journal, posted on the Beliefnet community website, caught my eye in December 2007, just as I was wrapping up the final chapters of Crossing an Unseen Bridge. A native Californian, Melvin and his adoring wife, Gabriele, live in Germany. He decided to remain after being stationed there in the military. 

Melvin is an author, father and grandfather who is experiencing a tremendous challenge with the fearlessness and unshakable faith of one who truly understands what God is and what God and prayer does (and doesn’t do). 

I’ve read numerous accounts of those who had near death experiences, of children who had stunned their parents by vividly recalling past life experiences–even guiding them to their previous homes and introducing their current parents to previous (read: freaked out) relatives who corroborated their stories. I’ve read about souls who had out-of-body experiences. But I’d read nothing like Melvin’s journal post recounting a memory of a dream he’d had years ago while in the military.

In that dream, Melvin left his body and felt himself traveling into the starry sky (His book is entitled A Trip to the Stars). Through his prose, I shared his surprise when he looked down and saw that he had no legs, feet, hands or body; he was a ball of pure Light! I also shared Melvin’s disappointment when another intelligent being of Light insisted that he return to the uniformed body on the beach. Go back? Now? There was so much more he (and I) wanted to learn about life outside of a body!

Decades later, Melvin’s body is now slowly shutting down, and he is fearlessly–in fact, joyfully–chronicling his journey back to pure Light. I am honored to be among the close friends with whom he shares his updates. Through his experience, he wants others to understand themselves as souls, not bodies, so I am sure he will not mind me sharing an excerpt from one of his messages:

“I can accept this as God’s will or [I can focus on] the biological facts and natural way of we mortals. Whatever, I am happy that my mind is clear and it is not painful. Eventually, if the present course continues, all muscle control will cease; only the automatic muscle activity will remain, such as breathing, heartbeat and swallowing. Then these will be slowed down. I am happy and enjoying each day in ways for which I have studied and prepared a life long.”

I have not read one case of a person who has experienced “life after death,” who does not look forward to leaving the body again–for good, eager to return to the living loving Light, ready to BE the Light once again. Melvin is no exception.

What does that tell the rest of us? As I told the young lady at the workshop this weekend, each of us had a plan and a purpose when we squeezed ourselves into these human bodies. We will fulfill our purposes if we don’t get distracted by things that focus our attention on our humanness or our bank accounts, instead of our divinity and our karmic accounts. It would be a shame to have a prosperous body and a bankrupt soul that has come here and achieved no spiritual growth.

As souls, not only did we know what we wanted to accomplish when we arrived, we gave ourselves a time limit and an exit strategy. Sometimes our exit strategies provide us a final opportunity to hold fast to our truth or to accomplish a spiritual goal.

What if, as souls, we wanted to learn to say, “Thy will be done”–and mean it? What if we wanted to remember that we are not bodies, and created dis-ease in our bodies to make sure that the lesson was really learned? What if we wanted to remember that there is only one thing in the universe–God–and created the illusion of loneliness and adversity for our classroom? 

How can we learn to honor another soul’s timetable for leaving a body if no one ever leaves? How can we learn to trust God unless we understand what God is? How can we overcome adversity like Stevie and Melvin?

It’s only when we believe in things that we don’t understand that we suffer.

More trust = more peace

I had a different topic in mind for this week’s homily. Then I was abruptly awakened and given a new one. It was almost 3 o’clock this morning. That’s when my phone rang. 

It was my daughter, Maiysha. She was in the Amsterdam airport, en route to South Africa, and she was in tears.

“It appears that my wallet is missing,” she said calmly, but I could hear the tears in her voice.

There have been many moments during her young life that Maiysha has made me immensely proud. The moment she spoke those words ranked among my favorites: Why? She’d told me that it appeared that her wallet, debit card and all her cash were missing.

Whoo hoo! Maiysha not only had heard the Loud Mouth’s rants, she’d internalized them. How many times had I told her that what happens on planet Earth is a physical appearance–only a shadow of what’s really happening in the world of Spirit, the Source of all Life? How many times had I said that when we believe that the physical plane is real and the spiritual plane is not, we’re more likely to live in fear, a state that prevents us from thinking clearly and responding appropriately when challenges arise? 

Those concepts are tough to embrace because, like most of us, Maiysha spends practically every waking moment with people who believe that physical life is Life Itself.  

“Remember to breathe,” I said, reminding her of the email message from “Loving Each Day” that I’d forwarded hours earlier. (If you’re ready to think rather than blindly accept others’ beliefs, treat yourself to a free subscription of these daily thought-provoking emails.) Yesterday’s message was:

“When you find yourself in a tense situation, for example, you may notice that you are holding your breath. Putting your attention on your breathing can help you relax and immediately be in the here and now. This practice, found in many spiritual traditions, is often referred to as mindfulness, being present, or living in the now.

“You may ask, since we’re breathing all the time, why do we need to practice it? What we’re practicing is conscious awareness of the breath. Then breathing becomes a concentration exercise that not only focuses the mind but brings many healing benefits as well.” 

– John-Roger with Paul Kaye
(From: Momentum, Letting Love Lead – Simple Practices for Spiritual Living, p. 61)

“I am trying to breathe, Mom,” Maiysha said. “Actually, it’s helping me stay calm.” 

True, she wasn’t flipping out, despite the disappointment of retracing her steps, speaking with empathetic but unhelpful airport personnel, and coming up empty. Plus, her flight to Capetown left in less than an hour. Luckily, she had her passport and boarding pass. A limousine was picking her up at the airport, and her hotel was paid. But she had no money–and no access to any. As much as she hated to wake me, she needed her Mom by her side at that moment.

As I “stood” in line with her at the customer service counter, a more helpful airline employee took one look at my child’s tear-filled eyes and offered to check the cabin of the plane, just in case she’d left it onboard. It was a long-shot, but the wallet hadn’t turned up anywhere else. What if she’d been pick-pocketed?

I started to get dressed so that I could dash around the corner to her bank, and withdraw her daily cash limit with the duplicate debit card that had her bank had issued me. Afterward, we’d cancel both cards and I’d wire the cash to a location near her Capetown hotel.

That resolved her problem on the physical plane; but we knew there was more. We began to look deeper, pondering the questions I always ask in situations such as this: “Why did I create this predicament? How does it serve me: What learning opportunities does it present? How does it help me grow spiritually?”

When we see exclusively with our physical eyes, we miss the information, answers and blessings from Spirit that are so close to us. Seeking the opportunities for growth in every  situation brings us closer to the “I am always with you” Christ Spirit that lives within us. It allows us breathe peacefully, not panic. 

Sure, it was possible that thieves might have made a hefty withdrawal from their karmic accounts by trying to steal money from Maiysha’s bank account; but we trusted that God would bring perfect balance to both sides. Trusting that, we also realized what a divine blessing it was that she was compelled to buy a gift for her Dad at an airport shop; otherwise, she would have been in Capetown before discovering that her wallet was missing. Finally, we trusted that the situation would resolve itself for everyone’s Highest Good.

It certainly was good for me to witness Maiysha moving through this dilemma fearlessly and peacefully. She was prepared to accept the outcome of the search of the plane, no matter what. She merely hoped that she’d discover the outcome before time to board her next flight.

Finally, she spotted the agent approaching her. Before I could ask, I heard her say, “They found it!” 

We breathed more deeply. What an opportunity had been presented to us. We could mouth the words, “I trust God,” and we can say we trust in a perfect outcome. But until we demonstrate that trust to ourselves, they are empty words.  

What was the “perfect” outcome here: having Maiysha’s wallet returned intact? No, although it was. Remember “thy will be done?” That’s what it means: trusting and acquiescing to the will of your Higher Self. “Perfect” was whatever her soul wanted the outcome to be, even if it meant that the body surrounding the soul went to Capetown penniless. Physical life is just a shadow.

Wow, you’re not going to believe this: The phone just rang again. It was the doorman. It appears that I left my wallet in a chair downstairs a couple of hours ago. I hadn’t even missed it. As I rode the elevator down to the lobby, I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony. It’s as if it happened so that the story angle I’d been given came full circle.

Yes, every card and every penny in the wallet were there. But I would have been as peaceful, even if they hadn’t been.

Trust me: You can do this. You can enjoy the peace that comes from trusting the divine God within you, no matter what appears to go awry on planet Earth.

Will you be in the Chicago area March 26-28? The Loud Mouth in the Balcony is conducting a workshop at the Women’s Leadership Conference. For more information on this event and the other dynamic presenters, visit my website: www.dramaqueenworkshops.com