As 2013 draws to a close and I reflect upon my lessons and discoveries of 2013, I am struck by the countless opportunities I’ve had to witness the kindness of people who have encouraged, supported and been a blessing to me. I am struck by the countless ways I have been taken care of and been confirmed by a Loving Universe when the knocks of life showed up to serve as a challenge to me.
The gift is not only those who have extended kind words, deeds and thoughts to me over this year. The gift is also my ability and willingness and openness to see and receive them, rather than miss their presence at the moment they were offered. This past year, I focused deeply on this spiritual word ‘love’, and the kindness it evokes in us, even in the face of what is unjust, disrespectful and untrustworthy.
Two events in the past couple of weeks have really brought forward the revelation that the power of love transforms our ‘enemy’ to become our ‘neighbour’. I went to hear Malcolm Gladwell speak on his new book, David and Goliath. The second memorable event is the passing of Nelson Mandela who has so graciously touched the world with his love and kindness.
Malcolm Gladwell wonderfully and creatively told the story of Alva Vanderbilt, a prominent multi-millionaire American socialite and a major figure in the women’s suffrage movement. She was a significant force in the passing of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote in the USA (the amendment being ratified in 1920, 40 years after its first draft). Gladwell offered to the audience that still today, we must remember this woman and her story so that we offer more space for women to re-shape our society.
Nelson Mandela was a lawyer and South Africa’s first black president. Through his love, kindness and savvy wisdom, he led his nation out of apartheid. He became a hero to black people, white people, to people around the world who believed and hoped that racism and apartheid systems can be put to death. President Obama is quoted as saying: “We’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us — he belongs to the ages.”
Like Alva Vanderbilt, we must remember Nelson Mandela as he showed us a way to offer more space for all races to re-shape our society.
Former NDP Leader, Jack Layton, who died in August of 2011, also spent many hours working for a just society. His life, marriage and work was a testament to the way we must offer more space for people of all colours and orientations who marry for love to re-shape our society. On his deathbed, he wrote these words: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”
We all have had challenges this 2013, and for some, quite significant. Those who follow the astrological unfolding of our time understand the significant influences that we as humanity and the Earth are experiencing at this time in history. I cannot help but wonder that these great teachers who came to show us what it looks like to love those who sit ‘in the other camp’, and who have now returned ‘to the ages’, still remain in the spirit of our nations’ hearts sharing their light and guiding us to a better world.
I invite you to look back over 2013 and look for where kindness and love showed up. Look for where you experienced it and where it brought a moment of inner peace. Then look again through the past year and see where you might have missed what kindness was shown and offer your deep gratitude for the gift of love that showed up in the way it did.
It may not seem evident at the time because the kind of change these leaders manifested in our world called for a shift in our consciousness, a shift in our legal systems, a shift in our psyche about what is legitimate. Such profound and radical changes are often met with great resistance and fear. The great love and kindness of these radical changes are often not understood or perhaps even experienced as a blessing in the moment by some.
Time and sustainability of their kindness and respect eventually awaken our consciousness to the deep reserve of love they shared with us. We offer our prayers of love and gratitude to the leaders who taught us to love. They also handed the torch to us to carry on. May we do so in whatever ways that brings out the best in each of us. And let’s see how many ‘enemies’ become our ‘neighbours’ still here in 2013 with what remains.