Walking Together (on Your Divine Mission)
On Monday I was facetiming with my good friend Jens Erik from Denmark, and I was absolutely blown away by how powerfully God was talking to me through him. As I’ve been sitting with the messages, they seem increasingly obvious and simple, to the point where I wonder if they will offer you any value. Still, I can’t deny their impact and value for me, and in keeping with the theme of this email, we are walking together—I will share the executive summary, and then some of how I came to hear these (for me) powerful reminders.
- Every aspect of your life is part of your divine mission.
- The metaphors aren’t just metaphors.
- When there’s noise, it’s just another opportunity to integrate your separate self. Nothing to feel bad about. You haven’t messed anything up.
- The message God is communicating through you comes through, no matter what you are saying. Your job is to embody and communicate authentically, vulnerably, with humility. God takes care of the rest—always!
Jens Erik shared some of the confusing and beautiful experiences he’s been having of (what I interpret as) the tension between the whole self, and the separate self. I told him his experiences resonated deeply with me, and he wondered about my personal experiences of the same. And for some reason (!!!) I shared the following:
On Sunday I was walking around the parking lot of a shopping center (Amy was in ARC looking for treasures she could reuse in an art project) and how there was an apparently homeless man who was standing near the exit with a sign that said: ‘living on a prayer.’ I found the sign both very funny (think Bon Jovi’s 80’s hit of the same name) and profound (it’s true: spirituality is the foundation of life).
I said hi to him as I passed the first time—we exchanged pleasantries—and on my second trip around the perimeter of the lot, I started feeling a strong urge to talk with him about his sign and his life. But I resisted doing so. Something about not wanting to monopolize his time while he was pursuing donations, plus I didn’t want to focus on being present with him, and then disengage when Amy was done shopping because this would communicate a lack of true presence on my part. [Can you hear the blah blah blah of my separate self behind my reasons for not talking with him?]
I told Jens I was feeling bad about not talking with this man. That I was sure I had missed out in a big way, having avoided the conversation.
Which reminded me of another encounter while walking several weeks ago. I like to say hi to the people I pass while I’m walking, and on this occasion the man I waived and smiled to, turned and brought his complete focus and presence to his reflections on how beautiful it was to be outdoors in nature. It was so powerful, I stopped walking to hear what he was saying. We talked for a few seconds, and then in the back of my mind, I started thinking about how I had a group session starting ten minutes after I was scheduled to return from my walk (assuming I walked all four miles at my normal pace) and as that thought crossed my mind, he picked up on it (because he was completely present!) and let me off the hook with a few polite words that disengaged us. As I shared about this experience, I recognized it as the second example where I hadn’t allowed myself to be present with the Divine as the person I had encountered. I had avoided walking with them …
Jens Erik started reflecting on the flow that happens when we’re actually present—and I said: I’m so good at that, but it’s always scheduled (sessions, classes, retreats, etc.). Our conversation turned to how the Divine is showing up in all these moments and what allowing ourselves to be present could mean for a deeper intimacy with God, ourselves, and the flow that is always present in this embodied dynamic—never mind the connection with those we would meet.
I remembered some years ago a time when Amy and I were on vacation in Breckenridge. I remember we were relaxing and talking in the condo, when I suddenly got up and said: “I need to go walk!” It was a strange compulsion that had to express. I walk every day, so that wasn’t strange, just the full-bodied urgency with which I had to start my walk.
As I walked up the hill behind where we were staying, I passed a man walking down the hill. We shared a pleasant greeting and went on our respective way. I quickly found the end of the road and turned around—before long catching up with him, and without any conscious effort or focus, we ended up in a very deep conversation. He turned out to be an evangelical Christian leader in the middle of a spiritual crisis who just happened to be vacationing in the same place—and just happened to feel compelled to start a walk some minutes earlier.
This time was different for me. I set aside my normal pace to walk at a tempo that was comfortable for him. I didn’t think about how my walk is normally an hour, it unfolded however it did. He kept sharing ever deeper details of his spiritual crisis. I kept responding, and just like when I’m in session, the answers were right there—some of the time it was images I could see, often phrases came out of my mouth that didn’t come from my thinking mind (often with references to the Bible that I aren’t in my awareness “normally”). Early in the walk he struggled with my spiritual perspective because I shared with him that while I have an intimate relationship with Jesus, I don’t consider myself a traditional Christian because I believe there are many paths to God. Yet he stayed engaged. He was surprised by what I shared with him, and while the general themes I was sharing didn’t surprise me, I was privately surprised that somehow I “knew” things about the Bible that I didn’t know I knew. Even as it was unfolding, I knew God has put us there to walk together.
As I was sharing all of this with Jens Erik everything started to click into place for me. I was reminded of how the Divine isn’t limited to the structures of our lives. Of how the metaphor of walking with you, which so deeply resonates with me isn’t just a metaphor! Of how profound the invitation to be present with a “random” person is – and so much more.
While we were talking, I told Jens I was going to renew my commitment to walk with – no matter when. And not surprisingly on Monday during my walk, someone wanted to talk, to connect, to be present. The moment it happened, I stopped and engaged. It was so beautiful! And I remembered something about being present outside of structure: time entirely disappears for me. It’s disorienting in a way, and so profound in another way. Because I tend to run my day on a schedule, it took being present with that feeling of disappearing into another dimension (while still standing in the world I occupied only moments before) to let it transmute.
When the other walker and I wrapped up our conversation I wondered: had we talked for ten or twenty minutes? I had no idea! Turns out (because, and I am laughing out loud as I’m writing this) that I was able to easily figure out how long it was, because my watch keeps track of my time and distance while I’m walking (of course it does). At the next completed mile, I was 2 minutes and 20 seconds “off pace”—what seemed like 10 or 20 minutes was less than 3!!
This reminds me of one of the “side effects” of doing deep spiritual work on a regular basis. The time allocated to the work, opens up such extraordinary space to complete everything—it’s as if more time is made through the deep work. And in some way that is actually the case, because deep spiritual work eventually leads to the illusion of separation falling away entirely, and time is an artifact of the illusion of separation.
And then there’s today, the 1st of December 2021 (I wrote every part of this letter to you above this morning. This part, I am writing in the afternoon. I didn’t know I would be writing this part earlier, but there’s no way I cannot include it).
I left for my 4-mile walk this morning at 10:21 – exactly 69 minutes before a once-a-month session with a client I’ve worked with since January of 2011. She may well be my longest standing regular client. If I walk 15-minute miles, I figured I would be back nine minutes before the session—in time to change out of my walking clothes and settle in for her session.
A little more than two and a half miles into my walk (on my way back towards home with no way to cut my walk short to “make up the time”) I said hi to a man sitting on a bench. He asked how my day was – I responded “Great!” and asked him how his was (still walking) and he responded. As I was walking a few steps forward I realized he was saying something more than a simple response and in my head I heard (KEN! STOP!! Be Present!!). So I took out one earphone (which stopped my walking meditation music) and walked back towards him.
He was telling me about how he was riding his bike while his car was in the shop, and how grateful he was that the repair was only six hundred instead of twelve hundred, and how he was meant to be on his way to California last Friday, but the ATM machine literally shredded his debit card, and then coming down from the mountains yesterday his car broke down, and how grateful he was that it hadn’t happened in the middle of Wyoming. Here was a man telling me how blessed he felt for the things that were happening in his life when someone else might have interpreted them and spoke of them differently. When he paused, I said: “God is so amazing!”
To which he said: “God is amazing! Let me tell you about a miracle that recently happened to my Mom” at which point he told me about how his mother had received her second COVID vaccine shot and not 15 minutes after receiving it she started feeling horrible and throwing up. She went to the Doctor, and they discovered a tumor that had grown in her brain over the prior three weeks – the cause of her reaction to the shot; something they would not have discovered for many months or years otherwise.
She needed surgery, but there was no room at the hospital for another patient needing brain surgery. But then one of the people who was in the hospital in the brain surgery wing had a miraculous healing, so a bed opened up, so she went in for surgery. When the surgeons opened her brain up to remove the tumor, they discovered a tumor that was so white (a color they’d never seen before) they were able to see all aspects of the tumor and remove it completely. And now his mom is cancer free.
I said: “God is with us, taking care of us every step of the way.” And he said: “indeed!!” at which point we talked about that, until I said to him: “Even this is an example of God’s presence!” and told him about this letter I was writing to you, and about how I am opening to God’s call to be present when I walk, and that our conversation was evidence of God’s presence. I told him I work with Spiritual Messengers – and thanked him for being a messenger of God in my life today.
He asked for my phone number – called me immediately – entered my name in his phone, and has texted me several times in the last few hours celebrating our divine connection (his name is Mark R).
==>==> God is SO AMAZING!!! <==<==
And we can experience that every single day, in the most mundane of activities, even when we’re just out for a walk, if only we open up to divine presence (which is everywhere).
I laughed and cried my way home for the rest of my walk, and despite talking with Mark for ten or more minutes, made it back with enough time to change and be on my call on time!
I don’t think there is anything else to say except: From the depth of my soul, thank you for giving me the opportunity to walk with you!
PS – Tomorrow’s Deep Dive Virtual Retreat is focused on developing a conscious integration practice. If the topic resonates and you feel called, I invite you to join this circle: https://kenwstone.com/deep-dive/