I did it again. I listened to the voice in my head and not with the unity of my heart.
I recently spent a week in Florida visiting my family. We rented a house near the ocean, so I was able to walk on the beach each morning, just after sunrise, soaking in the sights and sounds. It was glorious. I had forgotten how vast the ocean is when viewed from the shore and how magnificent the cloud formations can be.
Caught up in my own thoughts, I was startled to see a woman sitting in the sand directly in front of me letting the waves wash up on her legs. My initial thought was this woman did not look like she belonged on the beach. She looked a bit rough and clearly out of place.
Thinking that she had not seen me, or at least telling myself that maybe she just didn’t want to be disturbed, my plan was to give her space and walk around her. But she had seen me.
Before I could maneuver behind her, bypassing the whole situation, she looked up at me and said, “I love your shirt.” I had to look down to see what she was talking about. My tee-shirt said simply You Can’t Buy Love—But You Can Rescue It. Life is Good.
As I was looking down and trying to figure out what I was going to say in return, she pulled out her phone and with tears in her eyes, held up a picture of her dogs, and began telling me about them and how much she missed them. In that moment, there was no difference between me and the rough woman who did not belong on the beach that I had tried to ignore. I took out my phone, and with tears in my eyes, for both of us, showed her pictures of my dog in return. The connection between us was real. And I had almost missed it.
In judging this woman, I had created a separation between us where none actually existed. If I had sidestepped the encounter, I would have missed the space between us, a space filled with profound awareness and tenderness, with honestly and the grace of surrender.
In thinking about this chance encounter on the walk home, I was struck by how many zillions of tiny decisions and events had to occur for our paths to cross that morning on the beach. Out of an infinite number of possibilities, this very experience was created and made possible. And I had almost missed it. But the woman on the beach, the very one I labeled out of place and a bit rough, knew the truth all along. She led with her heart and in turn showed me the way.
We are all connected. And the connections are real. We need only to see with our hearts to discover them, to revel in them, and to learn from them.
Blessings be for all such moments. Our shared humanity is too precious to miss.