Kindness Is the Key


We recently spent a lovely week enjoying Paris, France. We only speak a smattering of French, but saying “Bonjour, monsieur” as soon as you walk into a shop or sit at a sidewalk cafe paved the way.

We were treated courteously, politely and distantly. The service was provided with a smile, but with very little personal connection. The language barrier created a ravine that was difficult to cross.

Enter kindness. Kindness showed up in small ways and rather impactful ways. Kindness bridged the ravine and connected us as humans, even though we did not speak the same language.  Allow me to share two examples.

Adventures in Traveling – By the Metro, Trains & a Car

We decided to take a day trip out of Paris to the medieval town of Chartres, home of the famous Cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres. It should have taken an hour by train, but an electrical fire the day before prevented that train from running.

We were sent to a different Metro station, to catch the train to Versailles. Once in Versailles, we were told to take “Bus 409” to La Verriere, and then take the train to Chartres.

It all sounded so simple when we stepped off the train at Versailles. What we failed to consider was that we were not the only people inconvenienced by the cancelled train.

We stood waiting for the bus, until we realized that we needed to buy a ticket. Waiting again with more people than could ever fit on the next bus, it was an hour before we hit upon a solution.

Hire an Uber driver!

We mentioned this idea to a man and woman who were also frustrated with the wait. The man (Peter) was in his early thirties and spoke excellent English. The woman (Margaret) was older and didn’t speak a word. They managed to send for an Uber, but the car never showed up. That request was cancelled and a new driver appeared after another 45 minutes.

Of course, just as the Uber driver appeared, so did Bus 409! People jammed onto the bus, cramming into every conceivable space.

We all fit into the compact car, grateful for the air conditioning. We shared information about ourselves, our lives and our trip to Chartres. By the time we arrived in La Verriere, we were no longer strangers.

Once on the train, Margaret kept trying to tell me something. I finally understood that she was offering her iPhone charger to me, so I could charge my phone. Her thoughtfulness and sincerity were quite touching.

When we finally arrived at Chartres (after 5 hours!), we waived goodbye to our travel companions. Their kindness was the bridge to a wonderful travel adventure!

Waiting at the Airport

Another example of kindness being the universal language occurred at the Charles de eu-france-paris-charles-de-gaulle-international-airport-arrival-hall-FX8MA7Gaulle Airport, as we were waiting to check our luggage.

It was very chaotic going through the steps to check our bags. While we were standing in line, I noticed that we happened to be in the middle of a large family. The older man and woman in front of us were talking with their grandchildren behind us. It was all in French and we couldn’t understand a word.

The line did not move forward quickly and the children were beginning to get restless. Since we had more than enough time to reach our gate, I offered for the people behind us to join their family.

Surprise then gratitude lit up their faces. It didn’t matter that we were from different countries; kindness was given and received.

About five minutes later, the grandmother came up to me and touched my arm to get my attention. When I turned to look at her, she gestured for us to move in front of their entire group! They moved to each side, creating an aisle.

I felt like royalty as we thanked them for their kindness. The only thing missing was the red carpet!

Walking past these people made me realize again that kindness is truly the universal language. It bridges differences in language, culture and religion. It reminds me of a saying that we could all remember:

Kindness is Free

Be kind. It’s your free gift to another soul who may need it.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

 

 

The Light Changed Today


The earth spins silently around the sun, revolving from day to night then day in the eternal celestial dance. The sun shines on all parts of the earth equally, without reservation or discernment. It also shines on all humans equally, no matter their color, culture or creed.

There is a special place created by man in 1260 that filters the sunlight through pictures and stories. This building is actually the fourth one to stand on this site, all dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. For more than 1,700 years, pilgrims have traveled to the Cathedral in Chartres, France to show their devotion to Mary and be blessed by her.

Pushing open the heavy wooden door and walking into the gloom of the interior, my eyes take a moment to adjust. Even thought I cannot discern details of the interior, I sense a vast space rising above me, seemingly to infinity.

Slowly, my eyes adjust to the gloom and I feel small, insignificant, in the face of so much space. What can hold me together so I don’t spin apart?

The stained glass windows. They hold the key to emptiness. They give meaning to my life, don’t they?

Sunlight from a zillion miles away filters through the glass, coloring the floor in colors of red, umber, green and gold. These pieces of color are assembled to tell the story of creation, destruction and the coming of the one who will save us from ourselves. The story of Christianity is told in these panes of glass, 1,100 of them.

It isn’t the minute details that fascinate me, but the sense of reverence that permeates the air. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have traveled to this spot to adore Mary, the mother of Jesus. They have walked these stones in their bare feet or with sandals that are worn through, taking one more step to reach their dream.

To see the Shroud of Mary that is encased in the far left corner of this magnificent Cathedral.

As I stand in front of the chapel, looking at the shroud, I can’t help but think of how many people have done the same thing. How many others have felt the energy of this simple piece of cloth that Mary wore while she was giving birth to Jesus?

The sunlight is filtered by the stain glass above the shroud. It filters the light through the stories told on its surface. It struck me that I was being educated by the people who created this art.

I continued to the opposite side of the Cathedral, passing several other alcoves and places of worship. Until I saw it on the floor, as if it were waiting for me.

A single beam of light, shining through a piece of clear glass. There were no stories filtering the light, just a clear opening for it to shine in all of its brilliance.

I stood in the pool of divine light and felt loved by God. In the place of a million stories (told in the stained glass and in the hearts of all who had ever set foot in this building), God found me. And he loved me, without my having to do anything but allow his love to flow into my heart.

The light changed for me in that moment. Accepting the gift, I now step forward. To join the celestial dance of love.

The Heart Dance.

When you know you are loved for who you are, not who you think you should be. When you know that you are enough, because you are loved for who you are. When you are seen and loved, just as you are, in this moment.

Why don’t you step into the pool of light unfiltered by stories, and join the dance?

Time Is a Blessing or a Curse


Paris is a city that embodies its history. Century old monuments stare down at snarling traffic; historic bridges span the Seine connecting the left and right banks; everything happened either before or after the French Revolution in 1789.

It’s what I love about Paris.

Time seems to stand still in many areas of the city. The small groups that gather along the Seine in the shadow of Notre Dame to enjoy the cool evening breeze are one example. The grand cathedral has been a gathering place for more than 850 years.

The enormous clocks that adorn the top of the Orsay Museum capture this idea perfectly. Roman numerals are used for each position on the face, and the center of the clocks are clear.

Look closely at these people – can you tell if they are young or old? Teens or adults? The silhouette of each person reminds me that a moment in time can be captured with a click, but time continues to move forward.

We can’t stop the flow, we can only grow and learn from the experience.

Look at this photograph again. Can you see through the clear glass to what lies beyond? It’s the Ferris Wheel that operates in the Tuileries Gardens, just outside the Louvre. It’s another example of how Paris adds a bow on top of centuries of history.

And to think that we see it through 19th Century glass that has stood the test of time (as well as marking it)! Ironic, don’t you think?

Ever Thought About Time Travel?


Time is such a funny illusion. We think that it controls us, when actually, we control it. To be more precise, we control our experience of it. Let me share a recent interaction with time and see if you don’t agree.

I was walking up the hill of Main Street, window shopping while enjoying the cool mountain air of Park City, Utah. This small ski town is a vibrant hub of activity all year round. The stores and restaurants that line the historic Main Street are trendy, cool and sophisticated. Think Aspen without the snobbery of the Uber rich.

Every other store seems to be an art gallery or photography studio. I admired them all, visualizing where I would hang a stunning oil painting of an aspen grove in my home. It was great fun decorating in my mind, until I saw it. The photograph that stopped time for me.

It was hung in the window next to another mountain landscape, but it told a completely different story. The image itself wasn’t as large and it was obviously taken by someone with an eye for the unusual.

I was mesmerized and hypnotized. Time stopped and I was caught in the web of wondering who built it, what was it and how old was it? Who were these people and how many different feet had walked up and down the steps that were just outside of this opening?

I stood in wonder looking at the bricks, thinking about the layers upon layers of materials that were painstakingly laid next to each other in the same pattern. Before the bricks could be laid, however, someone had to dig the hole and prepare it. Before that could happen, someone else had to design it.

As these questions (and so many more) swirled around my mind, I completely forgot about time. I stepped out of time and was living in the present moment, contemplating the past. I had no idea how long I stood there, absorbing the story of these bricks and the people who had created and used them.

Now, I as write these words, I can see that I stepped out of time while staring at this photograph. My mind took over my perception and I was instantly transported to another time and place. In those moments, I traveled through time!

Do you have any stories of time travel? Please share below.

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Another way to time travel is to meditate. If you have never meditated or just can’t seem to start a daily practice, why not try the 21 Day Heart Dancing Challenge? It takes just 15 minutes a day to meditate, journal and set an intention (the 3 steps of the Heart Dance).