All suffering is either anticipated or remembered, but never experienced in the present moment. The more present you are in the now, the more your suffering disappears and the awareness of the presence of overwhelming love becomes more insistent, more alive and more real. This love then begins to influence your every action, your every thought and your every emotion and you enter the flow more easily and more consistently until your life becomes an expression of the Divine.
When people don’t feel heard and understood, then their positions and their rhetoric get more extreme and they resort to bigotry and hatred. This is when people start demonizing the other side and are willing to lie, cheat and steal to get what they want because they believe the other side is evil. This right/wrong, black/white thinking is the problem and it happens in marriages, in friendships and between the different groups in our society.
The teenager looked like he was about 15 years old and the gun was shaking in his hand as he held it high and pointed it at me and said, “Give me everything you’ve got!”
It was two months before we were getting married and Liz and I were returning home from a graduate school class we had together. I was putting my key in the front door of my house when Liz, tapped me on my shoulder to get my attention. When I turned around I saw this guy with a gun running across the lawn with his friends waiting in their car on the street.
The bonds of love and trust you have with your family, friends and loved ones and your community is one of the most important things in life. It’s more important than fame, power, sex, money or anything else that most of us strive for in this life. Don’t get me wrong, I think money, fame, sex and all those things are great, however ultimately all that is just a cheap substitute for the real thing which is the connections of unconditional love with the people in your life.
About five years ago our dog went into heat as we were driving in our minivan with her across the country to visit family. Scout is an adorable small-breed half-pug, half-lab and she was six months old at the time. The veterinarian had recommend Dramamine for car sickness and had assured us that she would most likely not go into heat any time soon. Well, about one hour out of Denver she went into heat, and the next few weeks we were buying doggie diapers, chasing Scout across parking lots through the mid-west, and trying all sorts of remedies to deal with the situation.
When I was in the 5th grade, my father quit a lucrative practice in orthopedic surgery to work full time at a neighborhood clinic for free. Then he left the clinic to work full time at our church, again for free. At the time he had six kids and eventually a seventh on the way. His parents and his sister thought he and my mom were crazy but they looked at it differently.
This past semester, my son had his heart broken when a girl he had fallen for decided she liked his friend better and started dating this other guy. Over the past few months he has gone through anger, hurt, denial and loss. He came to me yesterday and told me he was learning to love unconditionally because he had finally come to the place where he wanted her to be happy, even if it was with someone else.