"...Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste
There's so much to celebrate
Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe..."
As we move towards the new year, I have been thinking about this Josh Groban song from The Polar Express, "Believe" and its message of hope and encouragement to dreamers and believers...of every age, in every place.
And today, I couldn't help but remember a conversation I had with a woman I met in South Africa last year. Sitting under a canopy of trees outside The Wild Duck, a charming coffeehouse in a coastal village on the edge of the Indian Ocean one day, I discovered how universal our most dearly cherished hopes and dreams, actually are.
I'd been writing in my journal, picking at a salad of sun-ripened tomatoes, fragrant, leafy basil hand-picked from the kitchen garden near the back door, and fresh mozzarella from a local farm...all drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, syrupy, aged balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with flaky sea salt...I was in heaven. The African sun beating down on my shoulders was laser-like in its penetration, reaching deep beneath my skin to where it warmed my bones to the marrow, while a cool ocean breeze curled around my ankles in the shade under the table.
This was where I met Maggie. She was also sitting alone, at a nearby table. She asked me if I were a writer and when I answered, "yes," and introduced myself, she quickly picked up on my American accent and asked if she could join me for tea. I was eager to learn as much as I could about my host country and urged her to move her things to my table.
Our conversation moved easily...and briskly...from American myths and South African traditions, to our personal dreams for the future and our hopes for our families. She was a single mother of two who worked as a paralegal and was on a weekend holiday, I was...and still am...a married mother of 5 who practices spiritual healing and writes. But when it came to our hopes and dreams, we couldn't have been more alike. We were like "twins daughters of different mothers".
We both longed to know that we had always (at least tried) to "do our best" in raising our children. We both hoped that we would be "around" to see those children happily launched in their lives...professionally, personally, spiritually, and emotionally. We each prayed/hungered for our children to be healthy, for our parents to feel honored and loved, and to see our siblings find peace. But what was most arresting about what we held in common, were our dreams for ourselves.
We both wanted three things...to love and be loved, to know that our lives have purpose, and to know that we are making a difference in the lives we touch, and the world we live in.
Time seemed to stand still that afternoon. We had boiled our deepest hopes and dreams down to these three fundamental desires after only a couple of hours of talking and laughing and crying together. And we did. We talked and laughed, and cried...as if we were long-time best friends. And in those hours I discovered that this was all it took to actually find the very thing we were most looking for. And we found it by spending those hours, just listening deeply to one another's heart.
And in that space, we each discovered that:
1. we could love and be loved. I felt really listened to by my new friend. I felt her love and her care. And in exchange, by listening to her dreams, hopes, and desires...I had loved her, just by caring about what was most important to her.
2. we each felt that our lives had purpose...profound purpose...that afternoon. For me it was arrestingly clear...I was over 10,000 miles from my home, my office, my community...all that was familiar and represented years of developed connections and networks...and yet I felt alive with a genuinely focused sense of being, and an incredible awareness of my place in the world.
3. we had each, undoubtedly, made a difference in the other's life. I know that I felt a clear confirmation of my relationship with, and service to, something greater than myself. And I think we both knew that we had helped the other find clarity of purpose, a thread of divinity in the sweetness of our humanity with one another, and had seen something of a release from things of time and place at a seaside table, with a stranger, on the edge of the world.
I don't think of Maggie everyday...or even every week. But I remember our conversation, and the universal divinity I discovered in our common humanity...constantly.
I believe in those common hopes, dreams, and desires. I know that they are the common spiritual DNA we share as children of one Father-Mother God...regardless of age, race, gender, spiritual practice, socio-economic background, profession, nationality, hereditiy...anything. This common hope is what I now hear in the voice of every person I speak with, see in the eyes of everyone I meet, expect in the heart of every man, woman, or child I am blessed to share even a moment of my life with.
Mary Baker Eddy, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, says:
"With one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth, and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science."
I can't think of a law, a science, or a Principle I would rather spend my every moment in the research, practice, pursuit, proof, and affirmation of.
Thank you Maggie...and each of you...
Kate Robertson, CS
[photo credit: Jon Belmont 2009]