Laurie Lee and ErnestoAs I was contemplating writing something for the month of February, often associated with Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write something more than a pithy description of what Valentine’s Day’s history has been, or the various definitions of love.

I, myself, had had a couple days of heartache and reflection following a family member’s moderately upsetting remarks. So I started doing a Kundalini meditation practice along with my regular practice, of connecting with my heart, my inner wisdom and communicating only with love and compassion in my heart, thought and speech. And then there was a task of finding a picture of myself on my camera while still on holiday in Indonesia for this Prac corner column. As I searched thru the 99% of photos that I mainly took, so very few of me, I came across one of me volunteering in Africa. It is one of my favorite photos of myself, as I can see the love I held in my heart for the little 1 year old orphan boy who had AIDS. His name was Ernesto, one I hope I never forget. As I was still feeling heartache and a little “less than” from this interaction with my family member, I decided to put the picture up as my wallpaper on my phone. It was to remind me of the love I held for Ernesto, and to also remind myself that love starts with giving it to yourself, that it is difficult to be giving love to others unless one is actively giving it to oneself 1st. I don’t think it is any fluke that the Buddhist “Loving-Kindness” or Metta practice starts with bestowing good wishes to oneself 1st. Part of loving myself is connecting with Spirit, and standing in the conviction that I am eternally One with the Everlasting, Ever-flowing love of God, that none of me or my experience is a mistake, broken or defective in any way. ALL of me is Divine, Perfect, Whole and Complete! That being said, what was this shame I was feeling as a result of my interaction with the family member? I equate shame sometimes with feeling as if I was “sinful”. The Latin root of “Sin” is “to miss the mark”, perhaps a modern day interpretation is “mis-take”? Knowing that I am not a mistake, nor are any of my experiences, I meditated on what benefit this experience was giving me. As I always try to practice the 3 “G’s” (look for the Good, the God and the Gifts in all my encounters and experiences), the feeling of shame disappeared. I knew what steps I needed to do to clean up my side of the fence and in a loving, compassionate way realized what probably the other person was feeling, confidently knowing that Spirit will guide me when we were in person again and the issue came up.

As the day passed and I was looking at the picture of Ernesto on my phone, I recalled how very sad and upset I was to hear he made his transition shortly after we left the orphanage. He was so young, so sweet, I remembered asking “Why did God allow things like this to happen”? A couple of weeks after he passed, I was at the end of a 6 day Spiritual Retreat where they had us stand next to our new friends, placing our hands on the backs of each other and send to each other as much Unconditional Love as we could through our hands to each other. As I felt my hands and the hands on my back on fire with all the love that was flowing thru them, it came as a shock-wave that that was the same feeling that Ernesto had in his little hands, that of extreme unconditional love as he placed his hands around your neck or gently on your shoulder. Tears of Gratitude flowed down my cheeks for this little being who was sent here so we could experience his unconditional love. Was this not the same as Jesus? Or Buddha, who despite being desperately ill continued to give blessings to the last of the thousands of people who showed up at his deathbed even though he was beyond the point of exhaustion?

My intention is to continue to show up as Ernesto did, to give to myself, to all other beings that unconditional Love that God showers down upon us all, known to me as God’s Grace. My 3 Gs have now become 4 G’s and more! So may I and all of you see and BE the Good, the God, the Gifts and God’s Grace to all those we greet and all that we experience. AND may you be blessed with God’s Grace in all things, in always, at all times. And so it is.

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