About a week ago, during one of the most severe windstorms of the decade, I discovered the perfect opportunity to test my spiritual practice. Our home- like thousands of others in Rochester, NY and surrounding areas- lost electricity, internet, heat and eventually water.
With the loss of external power, I felt a loss of my own internal sense of power and safety. I felt a knot form and tighten in the pit of my stomach as a wave of fear washed over me. And yet a part of me knew that this feeling of foreboding was out of proportion to my current circumstances. Because at present, my condo home was still warm, there was food in the fridge, there was water and I had candles and flashlights. My neighbors were nearby and my son was safely with his dad, who thankfully still had power. I did not have to worry about him. It was just me.
Yet I still felt fear. And then it hit me. It was just me. My fear was that I felt alone, even abandoned. It was a feeling I was familiar with- showing up in many different settings. Leaving India as a child. Leaving a marriage. Being a single parent. Leaving traditional medical practice. Running a solo pediatric practice. Opening a solo holistic practice. Living alone. And so on and so forth. Again, and again- this feeling of being alone. Being separate. Apart from the whole. Not supported. Not loved. Abandoned.
As I was pondering this, my friend Janice called me, asking how I was doing. I shared what I was feeling.
“Come and stay with me, if you want. I still have power” she offered generously.
“That would be awesome but I don’t feel like I can drive. It doesn’t feel safe.”
“Yes, the roads are pretty bad.” she said. “Well, what would the Course say about this? This feeling of separation has been coming up for me as well.”
She referred to our study of A Course in Miracles.
“You know, I could quote you a lot of lines from the Course.” I replied. “But what I need is an experience. I need to be shown for once and for all that I am not alone. That I am loved. That love is still here for me.”
Joining with a friend is powerful indeed. Even from the medical literature, we know conclusively about the power of social connection to support healing from many diverse medical conditions ranging from breast cancer to heart disease. Yet when you join with another for the purpose of deep healing- to know the Truth of who we are beneath the appearance of external events- the results can be miraculous.
Minutes after I voiced clearly what I needed- to be shown that I was not alone, that I was loved and supported, a text came through from my neighbors in the adjoining condo. They had forgotten something and were going to retrieve it and then head to stay with family in Fairport. I did not know that they had decided to not spend night at the condo. And I had forgotten that they had family in Fairport- not far from Janice’s house.
I immediately could see that they were the answer to the prayer of my heart. I did not have to ‘push’ through my fear but rather open and allow an experience of love. So, I decided to accept Janice’s offer. And my neighbors were more than happy to give me a ride! I quickly packed an overnight bag with the essentials- pajamas, toothbrush, toothpaste, clothes, and of course, my Course book, and a journal. ?
And within minutes, I was safe, with my neighbors, in their car, driving to Janice’s home. I did not ‘think’ myself into a ‘positive’ state of mind. I was given an experience- where I felt safe, loved, and supported. As I sat in the back seat, I saw the stretches of neighborhoods without light next to surrounding areas still with power and light, as well as the many trees felled by the wind.
Yet my fear was gone for I had been shown that I was not alone.
As Janice welcomed me into her home, full of love as well as light, heat and hot water, I gave her a big hug. I was like a child receiving what she most wanted at Christmas! We spent the evening like two friends at a sleepover- chatting, watching a Bollywood movie and sipping warm, herbal tea. I felt like I had awoken from a bad dream or nightmare that felt so real when it was happening. But now the fear was gone and all I felt was a sense of gratitude and lightness inside my heart.
The following day after Janice dropped me back home on her way to work, I realized that I did not have access to my car either- which was in the garage that I could not open because I only had a remote and could not locate a key. Once more, I watched the fear rise. I felt myself begin to feel overwhelmed. No heat. No power. No light. No hot water, and now no car! For those of you who live in Rochester, you know that not having a car is like not having shoes to walk outside. ?
Walking back to my condo, again, I found myself talking to my Inner Guide. I shared all the feelings coming up for me and asked for help. I was reminded that the purpose I had given to this whole experience was to be shown love, that I was supported and I was not alone. I pondered if I should call a locksmith or what was the best way to handle this situation. I also could see how this situation was putting me again and again in needing to accept help- and this felt very uncomfortable. I was used to being the one who was the helper.
Just as I was tuning into the Inner Guidance, my friend Aiko’s text came through. She wanted to see if I was affected by the storm and talk to me about an upcoming summer retreat. I shared with her my predicament. Aiko still had power at home but her work was cancelled due to the power outage. She had most of the day off and she offered to help. Another miracle!
We drove together to pick up dry cleaning for my son, go to the bank and then have a wonderful Indian buffet meal at one of the local restaurants. As we joined in honest heart-to-heart sharing, everything else that felt so important- electricity, light, heat, hot water- all seemed to recede from my awareness. Right now, right here- just where I was – all the love I needed was here ready to assist. I hugged and thanked Aiko and she thanked me for our sharing.
When I returned that evening to spend a second night with Janice, we both decided that we would allow this time to be used like a retreat- spending time in meditation, journaling, watching movies to inspire and uplift, and honest heart-to-heart discussion. We even cooked and ate meals together; she taught me about cooking gluten- and dairy-free and I shared with her recipes for Indian kichadi and basmati rice with Indian spices. Once more, the purpose of our time was dedicated to joining and healing instead of fear, worry, panic or even holding a grievance against not having power.
Over the course of the next day, I received multiple texts and calls from other friends, clients and even my insurance agent- all asking if they could help, and inviting me to feel free to contact them for anything.
An experience that began with fear and panic now had transformed into a living testament of love. Beneath the lack of external light and heat, I was shown that there still was love. Always present. Ready to care for me. Ready to assist.
When I finally got home a few days later, after the power returned, I was grateful for heat, hot water and light. Yet I was also grateful for the beautiful lesson in love that I received.
And here is an inspiring song from my new friend Sean Mulcahy that speaks beautifully to the Love that is always present. The Love that is always ready to assist. The Love that we truly are.
(If you feel inspired to listen to more songs from Sean, or contact him directly, please check out his website here.)