A convergence of ‘random’ events proves to be anything but random. Connecting the dots of our experiences, reveals their hidden gifts.
What does spring, a celebration, a day in court and a symbol of redemption have to do with anything, least of all each other? Everything. Because hope springs eternal — and is the invisible thread that connects us — to our hearts, each other and our humanity.
I don’t believe in coincidence or ‘random’ moments of no significance. To me, like carrier pigeons, all moments come bearing messages of meaning — insight there to be culled. Like the great editor of your life, there to help you string the chapters together and see it all differently.
I’m going to share a story that weaves together seemingly disparate recent incidents in my life to demonstrate the interconnectedness (and my playful determination to figure it out and to always seek its deeper purpose). A woman’s search for meaning. And more importantly, to remind you to do the same.
And hey, if I’m going to suffer through some life potholes of emotional pain — well, I want to use it, not be used by it.
There are days when we awaken that seem perfectly ordinary where nothing seems out of place. And there are others. Like a morning recently when the alarm was set for 4:00 AM so I could catch a train to New York City with a friend to appear in Immigration Court on behalf of a man I barely know, yet felt deeply called to advocate for.
Humanity weaves our stories together — it unites our shared experiences; pain, sorrow, grief, jubilation, love and faith. It strips us of our titles, labels and job descriptions and unites us on a soul level. We don’t like to admit it, but oh how easily that can bond be cut.
How easily we can forget that we are already joined by a force greater than we know.
The key is to find ways to remember…and to see.
Immigration Court. In a sea of pained faces of all shades, lawyers dressed in suits scurry about holding the seeds of hope within their briefcases. The ominous cell-block-like building housing the courts with its stark corridors, fluorescent overhead lighting, windowless spaces and low energy swirls with a sense of collective anxiety flowing up and down the halls like a tidal wave. There’s nowhere to escape, though everyone would like to.
But it was also the morning of my son’s 19th birthday. And anyone who knows me, knows I love birthdays and celebrating them (mine and others). And it’s not all about the balloons, cake and pretty packages — it’s about the sense of rebirth that ushers in our individual true ‘new year’. Accompanying the candles and wishes comes a promise of renewal. And with that comes memory, both in body and mind.
In fact, each year as the birthday of my boy arrives, emotions swell up like clockwork — a mix of sentiment, profound love and gratitude — and memory.
I remember the night I headed to the hospital with my neatly packed overnight bag. Most of all, I remember my father sitting bedside in the delivery room as I slept. I also remember awakening to his face when the monitor I was attached to, began alerting us that the baby had gone into distress.
After a flurry of activity by staff, I was taken off the epidural that was causing alarm for the baby, Dad was asked to leave the room and I delivered my boy into this world very quickly thereafter. Safe and healthy, all was well. My father’s first grandson was born.
My Dad has been gone for almost 4 years now, and it is his face that I remember from that night. It is the same face that also thread throughout my life story as a symbol of what it means to ‘show up’. Whenever someone was in need, whenever there was action that needed to be taken, whenever there was something he could do — he didn’t sit by idly or say that perhaps he shouldn’t get involved. Nope, he showed up. In fact, we should’ve seriously considered putting that on his gravestone: Herein lies a man who knew how to show up.
I like to believe that I inherited this from him. His inability to sit idly on the sidelines flows through my veins as well. And when this wells up within me…I always smile and think of him. OK, Dad, I’m on it.
So back to that early morning on the way to immigration court. As I stood on the subway platform awaiting the next train, intentionally wearing my favorite necklace with a large symbol of a phoenix rising, I declared to my friend, “It is an auspicious day.”
We were showing up for a man in need. But we were showing up for ourselves, too — for our need to be needed, to do the right thing where we could, to touch our humanity.
I felt it was a good omen that all of these meaningful details were colliding: spring, the emergence of daffodils, my boy’s birthday, this court hearing, my necklace, the impending full moon. I was ready. I felt Dad at my side. He had shown me how to show up.
How could we receive anything other than the good results we desired after the alignment of all that?
And yet, despite it all…despite my confidence that the outcome of that hearing would go well…it didn’t. My friend and I left deflated, depleted and tied up in the red tape of a system that was failing the rights of many.
How quickly we can get derailed by outcomes, particularly when things don’t go according to our plans. What’s that saying — We make plans and God laughs. Ha. I wasn’t laughing that afternoon. In fact, I was exhausted mentally and physically — and was headed home with what felt like my phoenix-rising tail between my legs.
And then I was reminded of my beloved city of Paris — a place I called home for many years, a place in deep mourning. Despite falling prey to a formidable fiery foe, just the day before — the iconic and famed Notre Dame Cathedral still stood. Weakened and wounded for sure, but standing none-the-less. She was not going down. And neither was I.
When one door closes, look for another. When one outcome disappoints, regroup and find a new way. When a court ruling doesn’t go in your favor, keep digging — keep holding onto something larger than the pain — hope. Feel the disappointment, the dismay, the defeat, the fear…and then, be the phoenix and rise from the ashes.
There are times when you will simply need to grasp onto faith with both hands and hold tight. Trust in your resiliency to navigate what life has tossed your way. Trust that you are being called to help yourself or another. And when the outcome isn’t as you had hoped, know that it is guiding you somewhere, yet unforeseen with perhaps an even better outcome.
A career setback, a disappointing relationship, a turbulent encounter — it’s all pointing you in a new direction. Hindsight comes bearing many gifts and it’s important to gather them along the way. Timing is divine. This has played out in my life over and over again, but we often miss its glory because we get distracted in the momentary disappointment.
When we left Immigration Court that morning devoid of hope, we had to sit with those emotions as well. But by late afternoon, when we dared to step back into the ring — we realized that the perceived disappointing outcome, actually led us in another direction and revealed a new strategy. In other words, we were able to show up in a new way that we hadn’t understood just the day before that would change the trajectory of defense entirely.
Hold onto the possibility that life is working upon your behalf…always, even in the sucky moments (particularly during those).
There is a profound beauty and even great vulnerability that surrounds Mother Nature’s awakening each spring. As the ground begins to unthaw and soften, life tentatively pokes it’s head through. Is it time? Is it OK to come out? Is it OK to show up? And the answer: Yes, you are ready. Go forth.
Growth, expansion and healing are all possible. Celebration reminds us to remember — where we’ve been, the journey to here, the heartstrings that have been pulled, those who have pulled them. They are woven into the fabric of your soul and create the tapestry of your story. They all play a role. They all hold significance. They all have something to share.
Perhaps seeing the interconnectedness of the events of your life — the symbols, the memories, the hidden messages — can help you organize it all differently — and consequently help you see and tell a different story.
What are life’s seemingly insignificant moments trying to show you — what direction are they trying to point you in? Trust it, because you are far more powerful, intuitive and loving than you give yourself credit for.
If you were to assemble your life events differently, what picture would they paint?
I bet it’s a masterpiece!
Sometimes when life makes us uncomfortable, we are being called to see things differently. Are you being nudged to see something and show up somewhere new? Please share with us in the comments below.