It is no accident that, on the cusp of HuffPost's new section, "GPS for the Soul," the following miraculous demonstration of doing so comes to the fore. The timing could not be more perfect. Historically, the conversation about heart and soul has held them as merely individual matters. As the following illustrates, however, our soul's GPS operates on a mysterious level much larger, more inspiring dimension than going solo. It is a good thing, too, for one genius, one Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, or Mother Teresa no longer can solve the complicated problems of our world. (More on this in coming weeks). No, to resolve what is before us requires creative collaboration, where each of us, responding to our own internal guidance system, in service to something beyond self-interest, helps the human race move forward, one heartbeat at a time. Together.
Last week, (see archives), I promised the next principle that we do well to implement, if we want to create a bigger win for body, mind, soul and planet. Coined by Volunteer Coach Bill Courtney, it goes like this: "Be there for one another ... one heart beat." Easy to say, another thing to practice. But, when it is, magical outcomes come about, as we realize increasingly that we are here with greater purpose than we suspect. Gandhi put it this way:
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others."
One heartbeat. It is said that our greatest miracles are unknown to us. But there is one such event that's arisen whose time has come to be shared, cherished, and forwarded to anyone you know open to what's possible, for those tired of bad news, politics, and power struggles. The miracle comes through you: at work in the world, through the power of love, as you free yourself to be yourself in service, when you have no agenda other than to follow what is in your heart.
A short time ago, unbeknownst to us, the course of a life was about to change. In the wee hours, a cry goes out to the Good. It does not matter what you call the Good, for it is known by many names, is clothed by infinite costumes, speaks all languages. You need not be religious to know its existence. All you do need is an open heart, a clearing mind, and awareness that love is a choice, and a way, and only you can choose to participate in soul awakening through whatever is before you.
The story. In the midst of this very stormy dark night, an unknown man sits in front of his laptop, rereads what he has written, and pauses to breath before striking "send." We do not know why he hesitates, but something deep within his own guidance system directs him to do so. It is not yet dawn. Silently, he tells me later, he rehearses his plan, reviewing checklist.
The fresh bowl of water and cat food is ready. You never know how long it will be until someone realizes Mr. Puggles will need to be fed. The litter box has been cleaned, newly stocked. Likewise, the refrigerator has been emptied. No need for someone else to clean up your mess, he tells himself. Now, time to review the note for a final edit, in preparation for the last exit. He does so. "Yes," he says to himself. "What else can be said? It's nobody's fault." He wants to make this point clear. Lots of folks have lost their job. Maybe even more have mourned a lost pregnancy. It surely wasn't his girlfriend's fault when the baby's heartbeat stopped, three weeks before birth, or the doctor's. Things just happen sometimes. Nobody to blame. Still, the devastation remains. How to go on?
His face slips into his hands. Unable to hold back the tears, a rivulet pours down both cheeks. The dam has burst, his heart cracked open. Reaching now to press "send," sound of an early bird, outside the window, catches his attention. Again, he pauses. Something in the song beyond catches him by surprise. Whatever happened, he wonders, to his own song? Why did he stop singing?
And, then it happens: The miracle arrives right on cue. Something housed in his depths gives way, sings out through the debris of his fractured life, a too-long buried hope, a dream for more than this. Just then, something beyond himself sounds a plea: "Please, if there is anything out there that can hear me, please, please show me there is good in the world, after all, that there is kindness, as well as misery, that there are those who have compassion, and a voice, that there are those who take the time to remember what we are here for..."
Everything stops, grows still.
He waits, his index finger poised above the key. Just then, the wren sounds another note, immediately followed by a message on his screen. Looking up, he spots incoming mail. He does not know the sender. It reads: "Whatever you are doing, stop. Read this. Pay attention. Pay it forward. Pass it on to anyone you care for." Scrolling down the page, he finds multiple group lists, six iterations in total, filled with multiple names he does not know. "Six degrees of separation?" he wonders.
What he finds astounds. Later he tells me, "I am not a praying man. I gave that up long ago. Just never got the answer I wanted. But this, the timing of this, I couldn't believe, still can't believe." And then he told me someone he did not know had sent a link to someone he did not know, and so it went until it reached him, somehow. The link and content connected him here, to you and me at our café, during an ongoing conversation. "I do not know what made me pause to rest here," he said, "but I did, and something made me eavesdrop in on what you were saying to one another."
What he witnessed was your kindness to one another, your compassion, encouragement, humor and tears, your offerings, and creative contributions, your engagement with life through connection to one another, one heart beat, alive and well. Nobody trying to be a hero, nobody running for office or striving for the red carpet. Here, in this humble corner of the world, he felt love, remembered he was an extension of that one great heart and belonged, free to be himself.
Here, in this place, you changed a man's life. Here, without striving, or overreaching or efforting, but rather, by simply being your own beautiful selves, by attuning to your internal guidance systems, you reached out to one another, leaving space for an invisible man to take a seat at the table and listen from his heart. Making space altered his course from jumping off the bridge he'd planned and instead taking a leap of faith back into the life of his heart and soul, one heartbeat at a time.
As the sun rose that morning, this 39-year-old man -- I shall call "Everyman," "Everywoman," and "Everychild," hit the delete button on his suicide note and turned, instead, to feed Mr. Puggles, himself. Nine months later, Mr. Puggle's friend has begun to involve himself in life in ways that renew his heart and wonder. And, since then, he told me, he's been frequenting our café. He tells me he sits alone but no longer feels alone, as he witnesses the power of love alive in our world, as you care for yourselves and each other, through the miracle of the Web. "It really is a magic of sorts," he chuckles on the phone, "a world wide web, that has us in its hands, that's there if you decide to trust again, to participate. Who knew?" Who knew, indeed?
Just now, reflections of the golden rising sun are painting the buildings west of where I write, sending out my thanks to you. My gratitude for all you have given our nameless brother. Bless you. Never, ever forget, or doubt the difference your GPS makes, when you rise above self-doubt or indifference, reclaiming the moment for what needs a voice in your heart. Never, ever forget or doubt the difference you are making through your outreach. Keep sharing. It changes lives. Hence, one of the four cornerstones described in The Love Project: Coming Home. Forward whatever touches you, every day. Someone is out there, as we speak, waiting for a message. You never know who's watching.
Next week, a love letter to the one who waits in silence. Meanwhile, remember the 10th principle: "Be there for one another. One heart beat."
Your turn: What made a difference in your life when you most needed it? I'm listening!
New: For those who have asked, copies of "The Love Project: Coming Home" are now available in a second printing. Contact me, below.
For more, see carabarker.net. For updates, contact me at carabarker.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. To save time, click on Become a Fan. Thank you for paying this forward to everyone you know. You just never know who's waiting.
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