Character is not a fancy coat we put on for show. It's who we really are. Michael JosephsonYesterday I attended an all day seminar sponsored by HUB. It was a day of great speakers, brilliant ideas and many shining moments. One moment, however, resonates, fills my heart and opens me up to the wonder and the power of Love.
After nine stimulating hours of sitting in a hotel conference room, listening and learning, feeling inspired, touched, compelled to hear the call of my human spirit awakening to its brilliance, I walked out of the room feeling full and complete. I said good-bye to a few people, chatted with one of the speakers about a possible course he might be willing to come and put on at the shelter where I work, and headed towards the exit.
The hotel is comprised of two separate buildings, one across the street from the other. To access either building from the other, you take the elevator to the third floor and walk across a covered bridge which spans the busy avenue below.
When I had arrived that morning, I wasn't sure which building the session would be held in. I'd parked in the first spot I found and had to take the walkway over to the other side. In trying to get back to the other building that evening, I couldn't find the elevator, nor the stairwell. I was lost.
As I walked around the lobby, looking for help, I saw a waitress setting up a buffet table in the lobby restaurant. I walked over to ask for assistance and as I approached, she looked at me, smiled and said, "Louise. How wonderful to see you."
I knew I knew her but couldn't place how. "Hi!" I glanced at her name tag. "Claire*. I know I know you but I can't remember from where."
She smiled. Glanced around to see if anyone was within earshot. "From the shelter," she said. "I was a client there."
My eyes widened in wonder. "Wow! I wouldn't have recognized you. You look fabulous," I told her.
And she does. Her once gaunt face has filled out. Her eyes sparkle. Claire, when I knew her at the shelter was a crack addict. While there, she drifted in and out of sobriety, in and out of rehab with never a stint of sobriety lasting longer than a couple of weeks.
When high, she flitted like a butterfly, laughing and joking with everyone. When coming down, she drifted through the room like a wounded sparrow, dragging broken wing, fluttering feebly, fearful it would never fly again. When sober, she volunteered. Helped out where ever she could, constantly staying busy in the hope she would not succumb to the call of the drugs eating at her peace of mind. "I want to be sober," she would tell me. "I really want it, but I'm too scared to let go of the drugs."
She's been clean and sober for ten months.
"I'm loving it," she told me. "Love being sober. Love getting to know me again," she laughed. "I was too afraid to do that before." She glanced upwards, pointed above. "It's a miracle. I'd be dead by now if He hadn't found me lying in the dirt and picked me up. I am so grateful for His Love."
We chatted for a bit. My eyes welled up several times as she told me about her journey, her struggle, her letting go and surrendering to Love. "Nobody here [the hotel where she works] knows where I came from," she told me. "I'm not quite ready for that. But, my family knows and they still love me so I figure I'll get there yet."
She gave me a hug. "I want to come back and volunteer. I want to help others," she said. "And I'm writing. Just like you told me to. I write every day."
I gave her my card. "Please call me soon. I'd love to go for coffee and chat."
She took my card, tucked it into her pocket and gave me another hug. "I've always wanted to thank you for being so kind and gracious. You always treated me, and everyone else, with respect. It meant a lot. You reminded me of what was possible even when I was high and running scared."
I wanted to brush off her compliment. To slip away and let it slide off me. I chose instead to hold onto it. To accept it. Receive it. Honour it. To let her words lift me up and to give her my appreciation for sharing her feelings with me.
"Thank you," I said. "Your words mean a lot to me. Seeing you has made a wonderful day into a superb event. I'm so glad you are alive."
If I had chosen to go outside and walk along the sidewalk back to the other building, I would never have seen her.
If I had not been lost and stopped to ask for directions, I would never have encountered her.
There are no accidents.
Only moments to live with gratitude and love. Moments to fill with the joy of knowing, in this moment I am complete. I am enough. I am a shining spirit radiating Love.
Yesterday, I attended a HUB conference and was moved by the powerful words and actions of the people surrounding me.
Yesterday, I was reminded of the magnificence of the human spirit when it soars free of limiting behaviours that tie us to the belief we do not deserve Love.
Love is all we deserve. All we need. All there is to fall into. Love makes us shine.
* not her real name