Follow Me

Two weeks ago, a young man approached me in the Grade 6 class with a book to share. “Ned” held a volume of transcendent paintings called Imagine A Night. As I leafed through the pages with him, I was transported to another land, that of the imagination. Suitably equipped with my smartphone, I zoomed to Amazon and ordered. On Monday it arrived.

Today, as the kids were silent reading, I sat on a counter and came upon …

Imagine a night
When snow white sheets
Grow crisp and cold
And someone whispers
“Follow me”

The painting showed bare winter trees, and a snowfield which blended into a room full of white beds. A young man walks through the night, holding a lantern. A girl rises from sleep and beholds the glow.

Follow me

All was silent in the classroom. Eyes roamed over secret stories. I fell into the lantern, opening to the mystery.

Who do I follow?

Ego me pronounced that I follow no one. Broader me saw the silliness of such rigidity. I bring my own flavour to the world but I’ve also been taking notes on other lives for decades. I stand on their shoulders.

Here are my influences:

1. My dad (Archer Kerr) … a gentle man who loved making kids laugh

2. Arnold Palmer … a championship golfer who played the game with passion, and treated everyone like a king (or queen)

3. Yo Yo Ma … like me, a cellist – one who made my heart soar as he caressed The Swan

4. Cam Clark … my best friend since Grade 10, whom I can always laugh with

5. Jim Bailey … a social work instructor who showed me the oomph of living far more than he taught me counselling skills

6. Adele Zezza … she of the beaming love to her daughters, and out into the world

7. Johnny Haslam … my boss at the Prince of Wales Hotel. Always a smile, always a helping hand for this young man of 20

8. Sally Armstrong … a meditation teacher who looked way inside me and saw goodness

9. Jody Kerr … my dear wife, who glowed when she said “husband”, and loved me through my foibles (still does)

10. Patricia Albere … who sees me and shares her vision of a mutual world with all who have ears to hear

***

Quite a crew of inspiring folks
I followed
They led
I lead

Praise

There were about twenty of us tonight on an internet call of the Evolutionary Collective Global Community. I enjoyed practicing 1-1 with one of those folks, assigned randomly by some computer. And then the group had about ten minutes at the end for sharing.

“Tessa”, a woman that I had met in Asheville a couple of weekends ago, started speaking. I never know what people will say, but usually their words come from deep down in their experiencing. What a treat to be on the receiving end of such realness.

Well … “receiving end” indeed. Tessa began talking about me (!) She mentioned the deep love that I show in these internet gatherings. (Gulp) She told the group about my love for my dear wife Jody, and the book I had written for her. (Gulp again)

I wanted to avert my eyes away from the cast of rectangles that lay before me. I wanted to hide. But I decided not to. “Just look, Bruce, and listen.” Tessa had moved on to talk about someone else but I was still writhing and sighing, writhing and sighing, within her words.

My small brain had its typical response: “You’re not that great, Bruce. Actually, you’re quite ordinary. You’re a nice guy, but nothing off the charts.” Plus “Don’t let your ego run roughshod here, my friend. You’re not exactly the next incarnation of Jesus. Get a grip!” Or “Tell them about the times you’ve been mean to people. They need to hear that stuff too, you know.”

Thanks for the feedback, small brain. But what’s true here?

1. I’ve very rarely been purposely mean to anybody. In fact, I can’t think of the last time I did that.

2. I’m extremely unusual. I’m likely more spontaneous than 99% of the population. I love the word “silly”, and “weird” is a pretty good concept too.

3. My love for my fellow man is immense. I am deeply compassionate towards those of us who are suffering. I want each one of you – family, friend or “stranger” – to be supremely happy.

I don’t often get praised so directly. I don’t have much practice in dealing with it. Perhaps I should simply accept it with grace and return to loving the next person who comes my way.

Yes, that would be a fine thing to do.

1:59

That’s the time I meditated this afternoon … hour and minutes, not minute and seconds. The time doesn’t matter. The space does.

I’ve meditated a lot over the past eight years and it’s sure contributed to my life. These days, however, eyes open beckon far more than eyes closed, talking far more than silence. Still, quiet times in my chair are a blessing.

I only got five hours’ sleep last night, and usually that’s a red flag that meditating won’t work. Oh well, I decided to give it a go.

I went quiet inside within a few minutes. Several times, my body slumped down and then I’d pull myself up a bit later. In the past, the falling seemed to point to a deeper opening of the heart but times appear to have changed. It felt like I was on the verge of sleep, a very peaceful sleep.

What was missing during the first hour was the upswell of love that’s become such a part of me. I was simply blissing in the peace of it all rather than feeling the sweetness of others. And there’s nothing wrong with bathing in the holy water. It’s just that I want more.

Then, as a gift, a tiny smile caressed my lips. I felt the seeping in of love … ever so slowly. It wasn’t aimed at a particular person. It just covered me like a rainbow. Energy was flowing out of me, and the falling was gone. The love was unbidden, undoing and undeniable. I was simply floating with friends on the river which I stumbled upon.

Pushing doesn’t work. Pulling’s not so great either. Something far bigger than me is doing the heavy lifting. Thank you, my mysterious benefactor.

Light Without … Light Within

I’m so much enjoying being online with members of the Evolutionary Collective Global Community.  We often reach a consciousness together that includes all and loves all.  Really, it’s addictive to be with other human beings in this expansive way, where I look through my laptop screen and see my brother or sister.

So … I was going to a concert last night at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in downtown Toronto.  It was a fundraising event for the Wounded Warriors, an organization committed to supporting veterans of combat, and first responders, who are walking the rough road of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

The concert started at 8:00 pm.  Our EC call was scheduled from 7 to 8.  Google Maps showed me that there was a small park across the street from the hall.  “I’ll go there, be with my friends for fifty minutes or so, and then rush to my seat.”  How strange, part of my brain said.  Sounds like an addiction to me.  And I guess it is – an addiction to loving.

I found a bench in a well-lighted area of the park.  The Selfie view on my camera showed me that there was a lot of light falling on my face.  In fact, there was a lot of light everywhere.  The buildings were aglow, especially one which had a huge mural on its side, suggesting gift wrapping paper being pulled away to reveal the treasure within.  Yes, the image was surreal.  I thought of rearranging myself to offer a more neutral background but some deep part of me said no.

Just as the call was starting, with folks from all over showing up on my screen, a fellow came up to me:

“Can you spare some change?”

I said no.

“How about $20.00?”

“No, I don’t want to do that.”

“You need to give me money.”  (A louder and closer voice)

“No thank you.”

His face contorted and he moved still closer.

I walked away … briskly.

I was carrying my phone as I escaped and no doubt the online folks experienced flashes of pavement and grass.  A minute later, I was back to my spot and my aggressive companion was nowhere to be seen.

I guess my sudden departure scared people.  Sorry, folks.  “Nicole”, our hostess for the call, asked me if I was okay, if I was safe.  I said yes, with a big sigh bubbling up.

***

Soon it was time for the 1-1 portion of the call.  As I talked to “Ben”,  my fear began to fade.  We both marvelled at all the folks who were strolling by my bench.  I worried that me holding up the phone would look like I was videoing them, but then that contraction also floated away.

Somehow, and magically, both Ben and I experienced Toronto strangers as a flow of brothers and sisters.  They were with us, not against us.  And the lights of all these buildings in downtown Toronto seeped into our collective hearts.  I was the source of my well-being.  The gentleman wanting money didn’t carry the day.  I did.  And there was goodness all around me.

Pollyanna?
Naïve?
I say no
An inclusive future beckons us

Love Spoken

I returning to volunteering in the Grade 6 class yesterday.  I was only gone for ten days but gosh I missed those kids!

“Jeremy”, the teacher, asked me if I’d like to say anything to the class about my trip.  Yes, I certainly did want to.  I could have talked about the beauty of the hills around Asheville, North Carolina as the trees were starting to turn.  But no, there were more important things to say.

I asked the kids if adults should tell children the truth, even if it’s possible that they wouldn’t understand.  The verbal and non-verbal messages coming back to me were clear: “Yes.”

I spoke about how the 32 of us in Asheville experienced a deepening of love, and not only for family and friends … for everyone.  It’s the type of love where you want the other person to be so very happy.  I told the kids that I loved each and every one of them.  It’s so clear in my heart that I want the best for them.

During the rest of the morning, sprinkled amidst the work that needed to be done, I had a few conversations with individual children.  As we talked about this and that, I felt great relief inside, and peace, that I had told them what was true for me.

***

Last night I was online with the Evolutionary Collective Global community.  I think there were fourteen of us.  Half of the hour is spent doing a practice with one other person.  After that, there’s the chance to share your experience.  I had my screen set up in Gallery View, so I could see everyone.  As different folks spoke their hearts, I just gazed at my friends … in awe and love.  Then I pressed the “Raise Hand” button:

“I’m looking at each of you in Gallery View, one after the other.  And I’m loving you, one at a time.  It’s why I’m here on the planet.”

Again, I spoke what was true, and again I sighed into the sweetness of it all.  Loving people is what I’m meant to do.

Eight years ago, when I went to my first meditation retreat in Massachusetts, there was a moment in the hall when an interior voice came through so clearly:

Love them all
Light the world

Let’s do that together

The Open-Hearted Ones

There’s no shortage of fine people sprinkled throughout my life. I just did the math: I’ve lived for 69 years and 300 days. That’s 69 x 365 + 17 (leap years!) + 300 = 25,502 days. What are the chances that at least one kindness has come to me every day of my existence? I’d say 100%! So no wonder I’ve turned out okay.

Yesterday evening I went to a spiritual group in London for the second time. The host welcomed me like a long lost brother. The hostess did the same. Plus two other folks who were there a month ago smiled at me with “The Real Thing”, “The Full Meal Deal” or any other commercial image you can think of. And … I got four out of four hugs.

You can try to fake a smile but the whole world sees. You can slap someone’s back in a hug until the paramedics may have to be called, but that’s not real. We all know what’s truly real, more genuine than the clothes on your back. The eyes say it all. We love. And so it was for me last night.

I shared with my twelve companions how I long for eyes and hearts who speak the truth of love. I know and love many folks but most of them rarely if ever bring their mouths to tenderness, adoration, deep togetherness, “being with”. Last night’s circle was so willing to speak its truth, its communion. Thank you, dear humans. And I’ll keep planting seeds with the beloveds of my daily life.

***

There’s a Husky Truck Stop on the freeway near Belmont. I went there for breakfast today. Something went wrong with my order. “Fred” had joined me at the table ten minutes after I arrived and his food showed up briskly, while I continued to sit there lusting over tiny peanut butter containers (I finally gave in). I asked my server and she checked with the kitchen. “The cook lost your order.” Even though I suspected that the lady at my table had forgotten to put the order in, I realized that “explanations” were irrelevant. Life throws momentary interruptions my way, and truly who cares? I am happiest when I look over there and see the beauty of the other, whether mistakes are made or everything is tickety boo.

My food eventually came, although it was mostly wrong. My hunger almost propelled me to eat the sausages and scrambled eggs I didn’t want but I decided to get my needs met. More waiting … and then eating.

As I was slurping my last cup of coffee, my replenisher “Barbara”, laden with a pot of decaf, slipped a ten dollar bill onto my table. “You shouldn’t have to pay.” Barbara is a volunteer in the restaurant, and I opened my mouth to protest, but no words came out. I thought back to my own volunteering at school, and the kindnesses that I often send over to kids and adults. “Don’t take away her joy of giving.” So I didn’t.

I look back at my life and see that I too have been a fine person. We’re everywhere, you and me: eyes shining, hearts opening, hands touching.

Day Seven: Honorary American

I was so taken with the Waffle House restaurant that I decided yesterday to visit another of their stores – on the way from Cincinnati to Columbus, Ohio. Maple syrup and me!

I walked in the door and was soon greeted by all four employees: Jess, Juanita, Annabelle and Ashley. Four smilers. Beyond my menu choices was true contact – American to Canadian and right back atcha.

We joked around, I sang “O Canada” and other customers joined in the chuckling. How can I feel so at home in a chain restaurant hundreds of kilometres from home? Easy, when it’s populated by human beings.

As my mouth is waffling its way through breakie, Juanita appears with … a gift. It was a little paper hat, adorned with the stars and stripes. I was being declared an honorary American! Thank you, Juanita. I wore it proudly, both then and in Scarlet on the freeway.

And then it was time to hit the road. I exhibited the beginnings of wallet-emerging behaviour but Annabelle cut me off at the pass. “It’s on us.” I felt the twinges of protest but they blew away in the breeze. “Thank you.” We all waved goodbye … honorary and honoured, planetary human beings.

On to Columbus, a smile firmly planted on my face. Partway there, I pulled into a Shell station to get online with Evolutionary Collective folks. “Wear the hat, Bruce.” So I did. Soon, five other people were placing hats atop their heads – a ball cap, a couple of toques, a wide-brimmed jobbie and (from our friend in France) a beret. Well-hatted, we opened the hour with our companions. Sweet.

We affect each other
We see each other
We love each other

Day Five: Circles

Café 64 again. There’s a couple standing just inside the entrance. I glance up at them and before my brain can get into gear, I hear words inside my head: “the beloveds”. I sit back and wonder at my mind. How can it be that my thought-less expression saw strangers as most precious human beings? Such a mystery. And what is happening to me that I may be including everyone in my love?

(I wrote a little about Sunday on Sunday night. I’ve written nothing about Monday and the same for today. (Sigh) Plus memory is not my best subject. “That’s okay, Bruce. Just give ‘er a go.”)

Now it’s a dejà vu from Saturday. Family of four sits down. Two little kids. The boy starts playing on the floor. A waiter comes by and kneels down. “What’cha doin’? Is there magic stuff down here?” Boy smiles. A waitress joins in … on her knees. “Look at that. Gum!” Boy re-smiles. And I watch the consciousness of love show up in the employees and in the child and in us onlookers. Grace is catching.

***

Now, as I remember, there also was an orientation session on Sunday. May I remember some good stuff …

There was a time when I was sitting across from a woman and watching words bubble up in my experience. A friend of mine was standing behind me. I’ll call her “Jessica”.

I saw myself standing still. Other humans touched me at various points on my body. As each did so, my hand or elbow or calf would start melting and fall gently to the floor. I was dissolving, and the waves of energy took me apart. Soon, all that was left of me was my beating heart. All those hands reached out and squeezed the pulsing organ, feeling the in-and-out. Then my blood dripped between many, many fingers.

I think it was at that moment that a jolt of lightning lifted my body up and tipped my chair backwards. Jessica held to my shoulders and I righted the ship. “I’ve got you.” Spasms coursed through me. I shook, again and again. I smashed my knees together to stop the explosions, but that didn’t work. They subsided for a bit and then blew off their lid again. Jessica loved me.

Oh my.

At the end of the day, we were placed in a circle of eight people. While person number one took twenty seconds each to gaze into the eyes of us seven, the rest of us gently embraced him or her with our eyes. Music such as John Lennon’s “Imagine” rolled us through the silence.

Communion … person after person after person. Eight humans each being the centre of attention for seven others. It was a blessing, and continues to be in my memory. We were together in love. We are together in love.

Sometimes the moment brings me to silence. Such as right now.

Day Four: Love Blossoms

It’s not just in the orientation: love can unfold when the soil is rich. Derek and I started our day at Café 64. A woman smiled at us in welcome as we walked in the door and she never stopped. It didn’t matter who Dawn was talking to – the love came rushing out of her eyes. A couple walked in with their very young kids and Dawn was down on one knee in a flash, cooing at the infant. I shook my head in wonder as she greeted new folks. Finally I asked her: “Do you smile in your sleep?” She smiled.

Now in the hotel, our Evolutionary Collective orientation was well underway. During one practice, I was opening to the love offered by my two partners. A fellow looked at me and said “I want you to be so very happy.” No one had ever said such a thing to me. His words and eyes went deep into my heart. I was transfixed. Such a pure wish for my well-being.

Later in the day, it was again my turn to be the focus of attention. Three partners gazed into my eyes and then shared what they saw inside me. I heard words such as “spark”, “surprised at being loved”, “explosions”, “you are love”, and “both childlike and wise”. I was nourished. I was seen. Near the end of my time, the others were asked to call forth even more of me, for me to be an even deeper Bruce. Woh. And when it was someone else’s time to be at the centre, I delighted in looking way deep into their eyes and calling forth their best.

Six of us went to supper, and unlike many of my group experiences, the conversation was not watered down. We wanted to serve each other. So often comments were responded to by one of us, rather than the new speaker immediately starting up a new topic.

At one point, after I had been joking with Derek, he got really angry with me, saying that I wasn’t respecting his boundaries. I went to his eyes and stayed there. Even though I was churning inside with the criticism, I loved him from eye to eye. We maintained the gaze for a long time, and held hands for a bit. In the words of one of our witnessing companions, we “returned to love”. I was moved by our courage to “stay on the inside”, to not let the issue overwhelm the relationship. And our friends held us in love.

A white rose shone amongst us all.

Day Three: Loving Strangers

Our Evolutionary Collective orientation started today. Thirty-two of us gathered in a hotel meeting room to feel our way into “unity consciousness”, the sense that “we” is so much more powerful than “I”.

I knew about half the people in the room. Many of them I love deeply. I expected that when we’d do spiritual practices together, I would experience big differences in the depth of connection I’d feel with loved ones compared to strangers. The actual result? Not so.

Our first experience centered on two concentric circles of human beings. Our leaders had figured out a way for us to spend twenty seconds with each person, looking way deep into their eyes. Silent communion. Melting. Being with. It was a stunning cycle of love.

Later a new configuration was presented to us. Four chairs made a cross shape. After each was occupied by a fine human, another four folks took their places behind each chair, with their hands resting on the seated one’s shoulders. The lower people each looked into the eyes of the person across the way, while those standing did the same. The seated folks took turns describing what they were experiencing while all these eyeballs up and down met their partners. A multi-level lattice of sweet energy amplified by a sequence of voices. Immense power flooded me, and I was in love with humanity, especially the unique versions in the room.

As the afternoon flowed along, I “saw” a broad ribbon twisting around the room, festooned with all those lines of energy crossing at right angles. At the centre of each intersecting line was a human being and there were many, many intersections. A glowing community of life … stretching worldwide.

After day one, we’ve already created a holy space together. More opening to come on the morrow. To love and to be loved is a blessing beyond compare.