Reading to the Kids

Before I left for Senegal six weeks ago, I asked “Jeremy”, the Grade 5/6 teacher, if I could read to the kids when I came back. I love novels and all the characters, and changing my voice to suit each of them.

During silent reading time in class, I had roamed through the world of 11-year-old Martine Allen in Dolphin’s Song. What an adventure! I eventually figured out that this was the second book in a series about Martine and her friends. In Senegal, I downloaded the first book onto my phone and sped through it. The White Giraffe is aimed at kids but this loosey goosey adult was entranced by the action, the decisions the children made, and the ups and downs of relationship.

Yesterday Jeremy said yes to a young girl and an impossibly tall mammal. “Why not this afternoon, Bruce?” I glowed.

And so we began. I told the kids to put their lives between the pages. Are you like Martine, or Ben? Maybe not. What would you have done or said when X happened? Many of the young ones leaned forward, ready for an engrossing tale.

Lauren St. John knows how to grab her readers’ attention. How about this on page one?

The night Martine Allen turned eleven years old was the night her life changed absolutely, totally and completely and was never the same again.

Okay, Lauren. You’ve got me.

Martine was home in bed, dreaming:

It was a wild goose with a broken wing. But instead of helping it, some of the children began tormenting it. Martine, who could never bear to see any creature hurt, tried to stop them, but in the dream they turned on her instead. Next thing she knew she was on the ground crying and the injured bird was in her arms. Then something very peculiar happened. Her hands, holding the wild goose, heated up to the point where they were practically glowing and electricity crackled through her … Suddenly, the bird stirred. Martine opened her palms and it shook out its wings and flew into the violet sky.

Do dreams come true? Does this girl have the gift of healing? How can I possibly resist this story?

Our soon-to-be heroine was home in England. And the house was on fire! Lauren places us Canadians inside that choking bedroom:

Martine stood paralysed with terror. Far below her, the snow glinted mockingly in the darkness. Behind her, the room was filling with smoke and fumes and the fire was roaring like a factory furnace.

The snow was mocking Martine. Oh … what exquisite writing!

An ordinary writer might have said “Martine started crying.” But there’s no ordinary here:

Martine’s eyes streamed.

Even with all the panic, The White Giraffe isn’t emerging as a one-dimensional story about preteens. There’s already plenty to chew on about loving and being loved:

And Martine had smiled at him and thought how lovely her parents were even if they were sometimes a little weird.

Lauren has me. I hope she and I already have the kids. There are worlds to explore together.

Day Six: From Dakar to Toubacouta

It was six hours on the plane from Belgium to Senegal and then the journey really began. Goodbye to the world of winter coats and mittens. Lingering were long-sleeved shirts and jeans. Another world said hello. Ousmane picked Jo and me up at Dakar Airport (Lydia and the kids would be flying on Christmas Day). The sun was declining but the heat still made its way to my bones.

Like so many cities eastward across the pond, I never got to know Dakar. The airport was far away from downtown. The highway taking us four hours to the east was the only paved road I saw.

Minutes from our beginning, I saw my first wild donkey of the journey. Soon a few goats came meandering by. Later a pig or two emerged from the darkness to say hello. I remembered: this is normal here. And I remembered something else: people are everywhere, hanging with friends, some strolling casually about a metre from speeding traffic. I saw piles of huge green melons accompanied by a lone host, simple shops crammed inside and out with black folks, and huge tractor trailer trucks parked almost everywhere. A reddish dirt covered the land, broken up by scrubby bushes and strange-to-me overarching trees.

Jo announced that we were going to buy groceries in the next town – Mbour. I was expecting the tiny rooms and roadside stalls that I had seen last time in Senegal. But we pulled into the parking lot of what looked like a mini-Costco. “Woh. This does not compute.” Shopping carts. Rows of cans and packages. Counters labelled above within “Mon Boucher” (my butcher), “Mon Poissonnier” (my fishmonger) and “Ma Boulanger” (my baker). Checkout counters with conveyor belts and scanners. I was almost back in London, Ontario, Canada.

What snapped me awake were the folks walking the aisles. Women in startling colourful dresses with matching hair wraps. Some men (the unwesterned ones) flowing in their floor-length robes of white, grey and even turquoise. Babies snuggled low on their mommas’ backs. One stared long at some fellow from Canada.

Jo asked me to contribute to our carts. Bissap are bushes plumb with berries which Senegalese women harvest so that Africa can taste bissap juice and jam. Alas I couldn’t find any bissap jars. What was there was baobab jelly, made from the iconic baobab tree. I couldn’t resist. At this moment, I still don’t know what it tastes like. Soon I will.

Our carts were mostly full as we walked to the checkout. A young girl with purple hair was scanning the purchases of the previous customer. When the belt was clear, I started piling our items. I soon realized that the belt was not moving, so I began moving our stuff closer to her as she scanned. And I kept it up till we were done. At the end, she gazed at me sweetly and said “Merci”. I returned the sweetness.

Back on the road, the darkness illuminated all the moving human beings. Gas stations, storefronts, the front doors of homes were all places to gather. Wispy shapes blended with the chairs and trees.

Ahead, from my vantage point in the second row of the van, the rear ends of huge trucks loomed above. Time and again, the lorries crawled along at maybe thirty miles an hour. I breathed in their gas fumes and coughed. This went on for at least two hours and my lungs were sad. The rest of me was just plain tired. Toubacouta, dear friend, where are you?

We rolled in to Jo and Lydia’s home after midnight. In pretty much collapse mode, I sat down with our welcoming companions Ice Tea and Fatou, devouring a long loaf of bread lathered with a chocolate peanut butter spread.

And so to the closing of the eyes.

Day Four: A Walk on the Wild Side

I helped out for an hour yesterday at Lydia and Jo’s funeral services business, taking tape off a flat of urn boxes and then placing them on shelves according to colour. It felt great to contribute.

She had to continue working after that and suggested I go for a walk. Lydia knew of a scenic route that would take me into Oudenaard, where I could meet up with daughter Lore at 5:00 pm, after her exam.

Lydia wrote out detailed directions, naming all the streets and a few landmarks. As she told me all this, I followed along with Google Maps on my phone. Piece of cake!

Soon I was out and about on the streets of Maarkedal, joying in my touristic explorations. Ah ha – there’s the Boulangerie Vermeire that Lydia mentioned. A bakery sounds good to me. My purpose is not merely to admire architecture, but also to eat yummy food. Inside, a large custard tart beckoned me and resistance was futile. I munched as I strolled on, happy in the world.

The street curved past city hall and a towering church. Lydia’s directions were spot on. Okay, jog right at the t-intersection and find the sign for Ladeuze (a street). Yes, there it is. Now onwards to an imposing cream coloured house, then turn left onto a narrow paved path (about two feet wide).

The next half hour was bliss … fields to the left and right, cutesy homes out in the middle of nowhere, a stream cutting in from the left and accompanying me on my journey. A ringing bell came from behind and I made way for a smiling cyclist. And another. Then an unsmiling runner. We shared the path. Past a wee stone bridge, I climbed onto a vista of farm and home, clumps of trees and a meandering waterway. Such a gentle place was surrounding me.

And then …

No more named streets
No more juice in my phone
A niggly trembling in the heart

I paused. I breathed. I smiled. This was going to work out. I’ll guess about the turns. I’ll ask locals to point the way. I have Lydia’s list of street names. I’ll be there for Lore.

The path widened into a narrow road, with railway tracks joining me on the left. Ahead was a woman walking her dog. I never caught up with her to say hello. The land was slumbering under a grey sky.

“Turn left at the Nissan,” said the instructions, assuming I was on the road called Diependale. I wondered if that was a big assumption. I walked into a shop and faced a rough-looking fellow. “English?” I intoned. The reply was a vigorous shake of the head and a flood of Flemish. I pointed to “Diependale” on the sheet, and the gentleman shoved his hands downward, which I took to mean I was in the right place.

So onward, and soon a Nissan dealership presented itself. There was supposed to be a bridge over the Scheldt River but none graced my eyes. A gentleman was sitting on a bench. “English?” > “A little.” A minute later I was pointed to the river and city hall beyond. My step sprinted.

What astonishing beauty glowed from the walls of the building. I broke away from the wonderment as I realized I didn’t know what time it was, nor the location of the Tacambaro statue where Lore and I were to meet.

The solution was obvious: go into another shop. The woman inside was surrounded with jewelry displays, and was fully anchored in English. She went outside with me and pointed past the city hall. “Go straight. You’ll see the statue.”

And so it was. Lydia had shown me a photo of a young woman reposing in marble, and after several blocks a shining whiteness parted the moving cars and people. I stood beside the lady at 4:50 pm. Lore came along shortly thereafter.

It was a grand day for walking into the unknown, trusting that the goodness of the world would blossom.

Walking Alone

I love my Belgian family. We laugh together. We explore together, often wandering off the beaten path. And we support each other: Curd getting tired after so much driving in unknown areas, me coughing over here and over there. Etcetera.

And then there was a time for me to go out and about … alone.

I wandered along the Viale della Repubblica towards downtown Riardo. A narrow street beckoned upwards to the right and I followed my raised eyes. Beyond a tiny square stood a stone shrine to Maria. I thought of the thousands who have stood there.

The cobbles launched again, so steeply. Soon I was at the base of narrow steps that soared above the world. Balconies and potted plants greeted my climb. It was just like in the movies, and like a painting of an Italian piazza that hangs in my home. I stopped … stunned. I was really here.

The beauty of the scene embraced me, and yet a niggling feeling came my way: there were no people. Closed wooden doors told me that there were homes here but no one came out to say “Hi.”

I stood in the loneliness. It was so clear that ancient architecture and grand vistas only go so far in the creation of happiness. I need eyes meeting mine.

I ventured up and around and up some more till I saw the shade beside the castle approach. The gate was closed but I enjoyed resting in the lee of the stones. Just me. Just what I needed.

***

In the evening, we decided to eat at a restaurant a couple of miles out of town – the Masseria delle Sorgenti. I wanted to walk some back roads to get there. I believe my friends found that strange. They drove. My old friend Google Maps showed me the way, through a neighbourhood of Riardo and then out into the countrywide of vines, rows of small plants and huge bushes overflowing with white and pink flowers.

Once again, I wanted to be alone in the world.

The light was fading and I’d agreed to meet the folks at 8:30. All was quiet over the fields and part of me lounged in the solitude. Sadly, the other section of Bruce was well-scheduled, and so I didn’t give myself fully to the fragrant moments. Didn’t even take any photos.

Mr. Google told me that taking this road, that one and then the other would take me safely to my destination. And then I spotted a twinkling terrasse across the flowing land. Perfect … only about ten minutes late. That’ll do fine.

As I turned into the driveway, I noted that the sign said “Villa Ida” rather than “Masseria delle Sorgenti”. Not a problem. I pushed my chest out and strolled onto the patio, seeking my kin. There were little knots of humans spread across. I made my gracious rounds of the tables but there wasn’t a Jo or Lydia to be seen.

Huh? How could they have got lost? Google said I was here. You’d think that in a car they’d have been able to achieve that as well.

I spoke to a chef. I had just uttered the word “Masseria” when he threw his arms in the air, aiming his outstretched fingers way to the left.

Well … Back to the road. Down to the highway. A large sign announced my restaurant but I had no clue about how to find it. Two young men in a car pointed down the way I had come.

***

Just so you know, thanks to WhatsApp, and Curd picking me up amid the darkness, I was reunited with les Belges. The pasta was delicious. The company was better.

Ciao until tomorrow.

Day Three: And So We Begin

I walked out of my door this morning to the scent of wood. There’s a pool at the motel and workers are erecting a fence around it. It’s redwood, and the smell was sweet. I just stood and breathed it in, and life entered as well. There is great beauty available on the inhale.

The fence is composed of long horizontal boards, with a few inches of air separating each piece. From the window table of the breakfast room, I gazed at the design. The walls create the feeling of sanctuary but the openness allows contact with the world beyond. And we humans need both: a sense of home, of safety, as well as the need to reach out to others. I love symbols.

Kaitlyn and Ryan were back for breakfast and I was looking forward to talking to them again. Although they were friendly, they said no to my request to join them. As I watched them head to their room, I was sad. I felt the intentional distance. And I wished them well, knowing I’ll probably never see them again.

This afternoon, we members of the Evolutionary Collective begin our adventure. We’re at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, a collection of old stone and wood buildings created by Julia Morgan, one of the first women to break through the glass ceiling of architecture. And breakthroughs in our lives are possible for all of us over the next five days. Perhaps one hundred people will share the consciousness that is both personal and global, timeless and evolutionary, raucous and sublime. What will come to be? I don’t know.

***

I walked my suitcase to Asilomar this morning, and greeted kindred souls in the lobby. I knew there would be an online mutual awakening practice at noon, where we see each other in little rectangles on our screens. I decided to bolt for the beach with my smartphone. One boardwalk looked like it would go there, and I sallied forth. Sand dunes full of tiny exotic plants came my way. As I walked at some distance from the resort, I finally figured out that the boardwalk was climbing. 11:48. Push on or admit defeat? I stood for a bit, and soon was retracing my steps.

Another boardwalk seemed to be seeking water. 11:54. I trotted across 17 Mile Drive and there was the expanse of sand. Rocks to the right at the water’s edge. I plunked down on a fairly flat one and checked out what the worldwide folks would see, using selfie view. Yes! Waves rolling ashore and bubbling up on rocks. At 12:00, my friends from here, there and everywhere got to see the Pacific.

I could only hold up my phone for so long and then I dropped my arms, leaving people seeing me and the sky. After a little rest, here came the seascape again. And the pattern repeats. I was determined to give my best, to have the world see the beauty. Along the way, young families strolled by. I loved the wee little kids. And surfers in wet suits. And a school class eager to dig for tiny crabs. All of us together.

***

Now it’s late. There were 86 of us in the room, including 13 newbies to this depth of the work, including me. We did a practice where groups of five EC Core members would beam love to us new guys. All told, I got to stand and sit in front of thirteen groups of fine souls. At the end of it all, I knew I belonged, in a way that also thoroughly respected my uniqueness.

***

I am very tired. Time for bed, my friends. See you on the morrow.

Long Haul Trucker

I went to a men’s breakfast at a church in London this morning.  Before the food was rolled out, I took a seat in the foyer next to a fellow wearing shorts.  He was an old guy (sort of like me!)  We talked a bit of this and that and then I asked if he was retired.  He was.

“I was a long haul trucker for 45 years.”

I love learning about other people’s lives, especially if they’ve done things that I never have.  I’ve often wondered what a trucker’s life is like.  The flow of the open road sounds marvelous but being alone for so long feels like misery.  I’m not a “go it alone” type guy.

Robbie has been happily married for many decades.  But he’d often be on trips for five weeks at a time.  I asked him if 90% of his married life was spent away from each other.  “Yeah, that sounds about right.”  I asked how you keep a relationship going through such lengthy absences.  He smiled immediately and his eyes seemed far away.  “It’s not a problem.”  I looked again, and there was love.

My new friend mentioned that he had an accident once but that was 8,000,000 miles ago.  I asked about driving across the continent in winter.  “I know what to do when it snows, even when there’s freezing rain.  There’s a lot of weight in that rig but I just go slow when it’s slippery.”  Alrighty then.  Clearly driving truck isn’t for me.  I get so tense when the temperature is around 0º Celsius and the clouds are dripping their blessings.

I asked about whether trucking companies put pressure on drivers to cover a lot of ground fast, to absolutely make deadlines that are thousands of miles away.  “No, I had plenty of time to meet their schedule.  But I didn’t want to sit in coffee shops blabbing to other guys for two hours.  Can’t make money that way.”  Okay, I like making money too but I also want to spend time with folks.

Robbie said that often he’d have a trip that went something like this: Toronto > Laredo, Texas > Vancouver > Boston > home.  I can only imagine.  Did he drive alone?  “Yes, I love the peace and quiet, just turning on the cruise control and watching the world go by.  I’m a loner.”

He showed me a photo of his bright blue rig.  He was beaming.  “Two bunk beds in the back of the cab.  Lots of room.  After I got my max ten hours of driving in, I’d pull off somewhere and snooze away.”  Oh my.  So alone, but that’s what Robbie chose, so good for him.

Now the man is retired but I can see the blacktop in his eyes.  He says it’s a challenge for both him and his wife now that he’s home so much, but no big deal.  Here’s a fellow who has so many miles to look back on.  He seems at peace with himself.

We’re both a lot hungry and the bacon, eggs, beans and pancakes are ready for us now.  And anyway, I’ve already been nourished.

Day One: Up, Up and Away

Oh yes … another roaming of the world. Who will I meet? What moments will I cherish? Will I let myself be undone on the other end of the continent?

Since my flight zooms away at 6:30 pm, I had time to go to school. It was March Break last week so I hadn’t been surrounded by 12-year-olds for ten days.

On the road through farmland, I spied a V way high in the sky. I slowed and wondered as at least 80 tundra swans flew over Scarlet. These huge white birds come through Southern Ontario every spring on their way to the Arctic. They flowed out both ways from the leader, their wings appearing to be in unison with their friends. The power … the grace … the sense of a group direction. Wow.

And now in the classroom. As I opened the door, I heard a few cries of welcome, even with the Math lesson in full swing. I decided to sit back and see if any hands went up for help. There was only one, and I helped the guy, at least a bit. I wanted to have conversations, to hear about the kids’ vacation adventures, but the task at hand was long division. Inside, I felt a loosening, a relaxing into the possibility that today won’t be about 1-1 moments. I smiled, sat off to the side and waited for the approach of any kid who wanted to talk.

As the morning twirled away, a few young ones came over, curious about San Francisco. One girl told me about Los Angeles, and all the cool tourist stuff to do there. Another one talked about her sister waking up screaming one night, in great pain. She’s fine now. It was clear to me that it doesn’t matter what kids and I talk about. The moments of being together are all that I need, even if there are few of them.

Now I’m deep in the concourse of the Toronto Airport, enjoying an arugula and feta cheese salad. I’m so pleased with myself for not choosing some high-fat alternative.

I’m thinking about “Jeff”, the fellow I lined up with in front of US Customs. We were in long looping lines with probably 200 other folks. And we got talking. It doesn’t matter who went first … I’m pretty sure that both of us were open to conversation. Jeff lives in New York City and we’re both in love with the place. I got to revisit my favourite moments from two months ago, much to his delight. Central Park! The MET! The 911 Museum! The noise and hurry! How astonishing to launch right into life’s joys with a so-called stranger. Jeff even knew the San Francisco area and recommended a ferry ride to the cutesy village of Tiburon. After visiting the customs guy, we bid each other farewell with “Have a good life.”

Now I’m beside my friend “Philippe” on a big Boeing plane, 298 of us zipping along at 900 kilometres an hour. We’re heading to the Evolutionary Collective meeting on the weekend, sharing plane seats and a hotel room. We’ve talked for two hours about falling in love, living freely and uniting with the people around us. We’ve shared joys and foibles. We’ve leaned into the future and found mystery there.

Tomorrow morning, we go in search of a healthy restaurant and emerging miracles. What will San Francisco and Berkeley share with us? If we listen very, very carefully, all will be revealed.

San Francisco

I get aboard the big bird tomorrow.  Here I come.  The main reason I’m going is to gather with members of the Evolutionary Collective Base Camp group.  Our contact so far has been online, where we do the Mutual Awakening Practice and delve into the worlds of integrity, trust and giving.  Now we get to see that each of us really has legs!  The EC is a marvelous vehicle for exploring consciousness.  We aim to spread love across the world, irrespective of religion, culture, race, gender or any other variable you can think of.  Who knows what we can create during the upcoming three-day weekend?

Before the meeting, I have two days to explore San Francisco, and then two more afterwards.  Jody and I were in the city thirty years ago.  We loved sitting in a sidewalk café on Lombard Street, which was very steep.  I remember seeing a gentleman push a woman in a wheelchair … from two blocks down, to us, and disappearing two blocks up.  It was astonishing.  Then there was Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, the basking sea lions, the sun on the ocean, the long loaf of sourdough bread.

What will beckon me on Wednesday?  Right now it’s a mystery, like much of my life.  Will I repeat the itinerary or branch out to parts unknown?  Plan B sounds more exciting but I know I’d be fine with the Lombard viewing and biting through soft sourdough.  Still .. a tour of Alacatraz at night?  A stroll through Haight-Ashbury, the former hippie heaven?  Why not?

Perhaps I’ll set off in the morning with my active brain decommissioned, wondering what’s around the next corner, and having no need to see a top ten tourist attraction.  Maybe I’ll spot an old guy on a bench and talk to him for an hour or two.  After all, that’s how I met Lydia and Jo – on an Alberta hiking trail, and look where I ended up (in Belgium and Senegal with them).

On my recent trips, I’ve enjoyed blogging every day, from Day One to Day End.  There’s a rhythm there that I love.  It’s not appropriate to share the specific practices we do in the EC but I can give you a general flavour of us being together.  As for the world of San Francisco, the sky’s the limit for my words.

Come with me on the journey.  I promise you surprises, laughter and a bit of communion.

 

Twenty Flights

Perhaps I’m crazy.  Over the years, several people have volunteered that opinion.  I seem to be throwing myself into life in an unprecedented way.  I’m going here, I’m going there.  And mostly I’m flying through the air (with the greatest of ease).

Between now and early January, I’m stepping aboard twenty airplanes.  This will involve a major dip into savings.  It’s not that I haven’t considered the financial fallout … but I’m doing it anyway!

It’s all about love.  And the physical distance between my loved ones and me will decline to zero, again and again.  I will be looking into the eyes of Canadians, Americans, Belgians and Senegalese, and I will see beauty there.  I will truly be a world traveller, something that has not been true in the past.

Here’s my itinerary.  The dates are approximate but you’ll get the idea:

1.  March 19 – Toronto to San Francisco for the Evolutionary Collective Base Camp three-day weekend

2.  March 27 – San Francisco to Toronto

3.  April 30 – Toronto to San Jose, California for the EC five-day event “All Together Now”

4.  May 9 – San Jose to Toronto

5.  June 5 – London, Ontario to Calgary, Alberta for my nephew Jaxon’s high school graduation

6.  June 13 – Calgary to London

7.  June 28 – Toronto to Edmonton, Alberta to visit my friend Sharyn in Mannville, Alberta and my brother-in-law Lance and his family in Longview, near Calgary

8.  July 12 – Calgary to Toronto

(What?  One day between!  You’re nuts.)

9.  July 14 – Toronto to Amsterdam, the Netherlands

10.  July 15 – Amsterdam to Brussels, Belgium to visit Lydia, Jo, Lore and Baziel

11.  July 20 – Brussels to Rome, Italy to go ‘splorin’ with Lydia, Jo, Anja and Curd

12.  July 30 – Rome to Brussels

13.  August 4 – Brussels to Amsterdam

14.  August 4 – Amsterdam to Toronto with Baziel (Lydia and Jo’s son – age 14) and Olivia (Anja and Curd’s daughter – age 14)  to explore Toronto, Niagara Falls and Belmont for two weeks

15.  December 15 – Toronto to Amsterdam

16.  December 16 – Amsterdam to Brussels to visit Lydia and her family

17.  December 22 – Brussels to Dakar, Senegal with Lydia and ten other Belgian folks to visit the kids we sponsor in Toubacouta, Senegal

18.  January 4, 2020 – Dakar to Brussels

19.  January 8 – Brussels to Amsterdam

20.  January 8 – Amsterdam to Toronto

***

Why did I tell you all this stuff?  So you’ll think I’m super cool?  So you’ll think I’m absolutely full of myself?  Well, no. These trips are an expression of my need for contact, true communion, “being with” across the miles.  There’s some power surging up in me, demanding I pay attention.  My beingness has been deep for years, and that will continue.  Now it’s time  to get out there far more and do things – Bruce actions that make a difference in Belmont, San Francisco, Nukerke, Pompeii and Toubacouta.

Whatever happened to that recent fellow who wanted to hang out in rural Massachusetts for three months … in silence?  He’s still here.  It’s just that he’s been transcended and included.

On I go

Day Three (and Four!): In Love

I’ve been totally absorbed in supporting the members of the Evolutionary Collective as they meet in New York. So I haven’t blogged since Friday. I’ll make up for it over the next few days!

***

(Saturday) Usually when we hear that someone is in love, we think of a couple. Yesterday, I was “within love” with thirty other people. The eastern part of the Evolutionary Collective Core is meeting in New York for three days. And I get to assist. Although it’s not appropriate for me to share the specific practices we do, I can give you the flavour of our togetherness.

In this work, we make contact with other human beings. We “see” each other. Maybe that’s where the word “core” comes from. And we also go far beyond the relationship between two or three people. We’re participating in the evolution of consciousness in the world towards a place where no one is left out. Someone walks into a room and the group’s response is “Super! Another person to be with, to learn from, to love.” I sense a yearning in the world to touch – physically and spiritually. May love evolve through all of us.

(Monday) I’m in Scotty’s Diner on Lexington Avenue, waiting for my friend “Terry” to join me for breakfast. Yesterday late afternoon, we two assistants sat in the lobby of the Affinia Shelburne Hotel, realizing that all our EC friends had left for airports, trains … for home. I felt a momentary loneliness but then it came through clearly – neither distance nor time can separate us. They’re all with me as I sit here tapping away.

Before our meeting was to start yesterday at 10:00 am, the room manager “Denise” realized that the candle at the front of the room had burned out. The hotel didn’t have any appropriate replacement so I volunteered to find one downtown somewhere. Mr. Google told me about Diptyque a few blocks away, and it was open! The candle shop was down some corridor in an office building. Even with the shortness of time, I trusted that all would be revealed to me in moments. It turned out to be many moments. And when I got there, the store was dark. Ahh … truth in advertising.

I looked inside and wondered at my calm. 9:35. Clearly it was time to discover the glories of riding a cab in NYC. Bed Bath and Beyond was about ten blocks away. The cabbie was friendly and efficient. He commented that traffic was so light this morning. Okay, not exactly my perspective.

Into the store I rushed and asked for candles. “Downstairs, turn left, way down the aisle past pet supplies.” Sure, I can do that. I found a lovely round candle in a clear glass container … looked kind of elegant. I paid for my treasure and was soon back on the street, arm up, flagging down a cab like a local. 9:48. The driver heard the hotel address and headed for a freeway ramp. Yay for local knowledge.

9:57. Therough the door of the meeting room. Candle placed on the round table at the front, accompanied by a lovely bouquet of floors. A box of matches sat there, invitingly. Done deal.

This morning, in the darkness of my mind, I stubbed my toe on the two-inch rise from the kitchen to the bathroom. Oww! And now, after breakie, it still hurts a lot. Strangely and miraculously, though, I’m not adding anything to the pain. No “Ain’t it awful?” No angst about how life is treating me unfairly. Clearly the human beings I’ve just spent three days with are having their effect. Once Terry leaves on his bus for New Hampshire, I’m off to explore Central Park … slowly.

There, I’m back on track with you. Wonders of New York are ready to welcome me. Please walk with me over the next four days.