chocolatecakejpeg1A reminder of love in a world where love is often hidden…

Do we know the people we love?    We say we  do, we say we love them,   we feel love when we think about them – and often, those real moments of love in which we can feel the love itself – are hidden in the folds of daily life,  the worry that permeates our world in these times,  the routine of automatic communication that leaves no room for the beauty of what love truly is.

When I first started in transformation education at Landmark Education, there was a course I took in which we had to create a “map” of our closest circle – those people who are in our lives on a regular basis, with whom we interact daily, or at least weekly, who create the fabric of our lives.

My map was virtually empty – my son and my ex-husband and a sprinkling of friends around the country.  I realized that I didn’t have a circle – I didn’t have a community, I didn’t have many people with whom to weave a rich, textured fabric in my own life.

I went up to the leader, embarrassed to admit that my map was meager. She listened to me, looked at my almost empty page, and said, “Make them up!”   I went back to my seat.

I stared at my map, stunned by her instruction, feeling silly and alone. After a few moments, I thought, “I have family. I rarely talk to them, but they are my family nevertheless. Why would I make people up when I have a whole family that I could be close to?”

In that moment, I took a stand that my family would be what I would transform for myself – I would get in communication, I would learn about their lives, I would be there for them, I would love them.

So, let me tell you about my brother, Ralph. He is strong and dependable and has always been there for his family. He’s not quite a year younger than I am – something we joke about, that we are the same age for four days out of the year. He’s married to his high school sweetheart and has four girls, Nicole, Tiffany, and the twins, Jacki and Julie. He is an engineer by education and worked at Rohm and Haas for all of his working years, retiring in January of 2007.

And he never talks. Not that he can’t talk – he doesn’t talk. Or he didn’t talk to me, anyway. To illustrate, I was in a car with him for a long ride about 10 years ago, babbling away in the seat beside him until I realized he hadn’t said anything for a quite some time. I said, “My jaws hurt from talking so much! It’s your turn. Tell me what has been going on with you.” After we laughed at the strange injury to my jaw, I shut up and we continued driving.

We rode in silence for 15 minutes. Finally, the silence was unbearable!  I turned to him and said, “I can’t stand it any longer…! Aren’t you going to say anything?” We both laughed and that was the end of that.  We continued on and I talked the entire time.  I never did find out what was going on for him.

I had rarely seen or spoken to him since.

I took my stand for love and family.  I started calling my brothers and sister… and little by little, I was invited to family events and dinners. The summer after, I was invited to my brother, Ralph’s, house in Avalon with his family for their yearly summer vacation.

Before I left, I actually thought about who I would BE in the presence of his family — I didn’t want it to go the way it’s always gone – a lot of automatic interactions, a lot of opinions and defenses, a lot of awkward moments – and my brother, once again silent in my presence.   And so, I created myself as being Love, no matter what came up, no matter what anyone said — I would not babble, I would not lecture, I would not talk all the time – I would not defend my opinions or positions about anything. I would just let it all be the way it was and simply love them.

The week was beautiful — the grandchildren were there – Sophia, Luke, and Olivia — and so it had that magical quality that young children always bring to a space… laughing and running around and giggling – running into the waves at the beach and getting sand all over us — I let myself get carried away with it all.

Finally, on the last day I was there, everyone else had gone to the beach and my brother and I were talking at the house about the plant he had just finished building in Shanghai. He had spent almost 2 weeks out of every month traveling to China for the three years prior to his retirement. He mentioned that he had pictures of the plant.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have asked to see them. My Goodness! It was a plant for  — I didn’t even know what kind of products! This time, I heard something in my brother’s voice…. I asked to see the pictures. He seemed surprised but pulled out his laptop and started showing me hundreds of pictures of this project in Shanghai that had consumed his life for all this time.

The more pictures he showed me, the more he spoke — he pointed out the glass walls, the interior details, and the “water element” that the Chinese people believe is good luck… how challenging it was to create this side of the building or that pond….  I heard his admiration for the Chinese people and his love of their country…

I was looking at the pictures and I was glancing at my brother’s face… how animated he became as he spoke of something that he had devoted his life to over the past three years…!  I realized that this was the first time I had ever truly listened to him.  He had a whole life I never knew about – a passion that excited him and was a driving force in his life – all hidden from my view!

I was overwhelmed with love for him….

I was suddenly sorry that this had only come up on the last day.   I wanted to sit there and listen to him for hours more…   I didn’t want this time to end.

Soon, it was time for me to leave to take the bus back to Manhattan.

I gathered my belongings and positioned my suitcase by the door. I walked back to where my brother was sitting, now watching one of his favorite car races on television. I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, “I love you so much,” I said and turned to go. I heard his voice as I walked away….

“Same here,” he said.

The tears came into my eyes, moved in a way that took me by surprise.  I grabbed my suitcase and wheeled it out the door and down the street towards the bus stop.

I sat on the bench, waiting for the bus, thinking about my brother and all the things I never knew about him – not because he wasn’t willing to tell me but because I wasn’t open to hearing them.  Before that, it was always about me and there was no room for him.  For the first time, what was created was a space of love, devoid of me and my ego – that allowed the magnificence that he is – and always was — to rise up and shine!

I now know that love can only be seen in an empty space…. a space of allowing and giving and silence and presence…. a space where all is open to the love that is always there….

Like right here, right now…

Deliciously yours in the Glory of it all!   Linda

“A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another;  as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

dontwelookalikeexceptfortheredhairmeandralphHere’s a picture of me and my brother, Ralph Ruocco.

 

 

 

 

 

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

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I always think of myself as generous and giving AND — guess what? I have found that my generosity is often tempered by what I think I can “get away with” and still look good, while protecting myself every step of the way. Last week, I got to see what true generosity can — and does — provide… an experience of Grace and Love…

Early in the week, I received an email from a friend – let’s call her Maddy — not someone so close to me, but more than an acquaintance – someone who is in the spiritual and transformational conversation with me, but not someone I regularly call or email. She was reaching out to her transformation “community” in order to find support around creating an opportunity for a plane ticket to a course in San Francisco that we are both taking together – in fact, we were heading there for the weekend last week. She found herself without a plane ticket to go – and, unless she was able to generate that ticket one way or another, it was now too late to get an inexpensive ticket – and she would not be able to come.

I read the email and my first instinct was to delete the message. “Not my responsibility….,” I thought.

Something stopped me.

What hit me is that I have often been in that very same situation – waiting until the last minute or thinking that money that I expected to come through would actually come in on time – only to have everything fall through and there I am left with no resources, no recourse – and feeling bereft and alone. As I looked at the email, I was inspired by how courageous she was to step out into the unknown and ask for help.

Yet, here I was, in not much better circumstances myself. Oh, I was going for the weekend, but it hadn’t been easy to pull that together. I had a reservoir of frequent flyer miles from which I had pulled in order to create my own ticket – and had not much more in the “kitty” from which to draw. I was saving what remained for my own ticket to the last weekend of the course in May.

That was two months away.

I called Maddy and offered to “create” a miracle with her. I told her that I had miles that I could give her in return for her working with me to generate my own plane ticket for May. We talked about it for a while, and she reluctantly declined. She didn’t want to put me — or herself, for that matter — in an uncomfortable situation in which she would feel obligated to “pay me back” for the free miles given to her now. We agreed to “stand together” in the space that anything could happen and that a miracle would arrive for her.  I hung up the phone.

I think of myself as someone who steps out on the power of the Word every day of my life – “God provides” is not simply an aphorism to me.   I put my faith and trust in God and He treats me like a “lily of the field” – I have never known Him to fail me.   So, you can imagine….. Miracles happen often in my life….

I couldn’t shake the feeling all day that I had something to give and if I really believed in my faith and trust in God, I could give what I had and really “put my money where my mouth is” and create my own miracle for the trip in May.

I called her back – and this time, I freely offered the miles. Believe me, my ego – that part of me that thinks there isn’t enough for everyone – was screaming inside me, “How could you do this? What will you do when you need to go in May?”

My ego was no match for what was there in the space for both of us: creating and loving and Being…

What was there was an amazing Presence – a sense that this was greater than either one of us. Maddy told me that a miracle had already happened – she had half the flight already and only needed the one-way ticket back… As we made plans for how we would work that out the next day, we both let our walls down to each other and allowed for that there would be a way to have this work. We surrendered to the love in the space and said, “This shall be.”

I went back and forth all night between ego – wanting to keep everything for myself – and Self, knowing that by being willing to surrender to whatever it was that was there for me to do would give me riches beyond what frequent flyer miles could provide.

“A Course in Miracles” speaks of giving this way: “To give and to receive are one in truth,” (Lesson 108). The fact is I would have felt that something was missing if Maddy could not be there – I was being generous for myself as well as for her — “All that I give is given to myself.”  The next morning, Maddy called to say that she had both ways on the ticket and that she didn’t need my miles after all – but – and this is a big “but” – we both knew that those tickets showed up in the clearing that we were being for her to come.

We are all powerful beyond anything we can imagine AND we do not walk this way alone. There is One Who is with us always… and it is easier to experience that when we stand together in love…

And…. Love is the thought that God is…

Deliciously yours in the Miracle of it all,  Linda

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  Matthew 18:20

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

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Last week, one of my seminar leaders, Kristi, wrote to me that her Corgi, Bella, had died… a lovely email tribute to what was so clearly a beautiful partnership between Kristi and her beloved dog…. her friend, really…  I loved how Kristi wrote, “Bella had me wrapped around her finger (paw)…”    Bella died on her own birthday after a long and happy life with Kristi  — and Kristi was communicating in celebration of Bella’s life and the contribution that she was to Kristi and everyone that met her – how everyone who knew Bella “fell in love.”

 

It reminded me of the night my friend, Suzy, had called me, frantic, to come quickly to the animal hospital on 61st Street, near the East River.   Her Corgi, Bart, was sick and the doctors thought he would die.  I’m a Reiki Master and she wanted me to come and offer Reiki to Bart. 

 

I ran over to the hospital and what a sight…!  My friend on the table, arms wrapped around her little Corgi, talking to him and singing softly in his ear, and he was lying with his neck up around her neck and he was so quiet and still, listening to her voice.  It was late at night and the hospital was quiet and still and all you could hear was Suzy singing to Bart…

 

For so many years, I had seen them together – everywhere Suzy went, Bart went, too…  She loved him with all her heart and I could see that that was only surpassed by how much he loved her… He trotted along behind her on his short little legs….  yet, sometimes, Bart could have quite the mind of his own and be off down the hill if he spotted a squirrel or an interesting human with a toy or a treat! 

 

Everyone loved Bart – children squealed when they saw him, and even adults could not resist his enthusiastic charm, not to mention how many men Suzy was able to immediately engage in intimate conversation because they, too, could not resist Bart – he was an instant icebreaker!  When I stayed with her, he would come up on the bed and sleep with us — and, even I, who was not Bart’s “Mom”, found myself totally enamored with this little lump of love.

 

It strikes me that dogs are a particular kind of pet….  while cats will choose the times they want to be with you – and often they don’t! – Dogs are most happy when they are around people.  I’ve heard many people say that dogs are “unconditional love” – and — if only we thought as highly of ourselves as our dogs do!  Never judgmental, never aloof, always by our sides, no matter what….

 

My family had three dogs when I was growing up, and our German Shepard, Toro, was “my” dog.  I could never sneak into the house late with Toro around – my father would come out of his room, awakened by Toro’s excited whimpering, lean over the upstairs banister and say, “I knew it was you.  Toro only sounds like that when it’s you – that’s his ‘love pant’!”  I could do no wrong in Toro’s eyes…  what’s even more important is that I didn’t want to…. Toro would lope into the room and my heart would melt… I loved him with all my heart, just the way he loved me.

 

So, here’s the question…  Why can’t we be like that with each other?  Love is the same – it just gets blocked sometimes.  We don’t block it with our animals, why do we let those walls go up with our fellow man?  We don’t have to be right with our dogs, we don’t have to prove anything to them, we are always “enough” for them…

 

Hmmm…  we are always enough for them…

 

When we are enough, we don’t have to be anything other than what we are – and that feels so good and we feel so lovable — we don’t feel a  need for protection and we can love right back – with all our hearts…

 

What if we could love everyone that way?  What would the world look like?    Just thinking about that possibility makes me smile…

 

So, there was Suzy, singing softly into Bart’s ear, “How much is that doggie in the window?  The one with the waggley tail…” – she said that was Bart’s favorite song… (what is so funny about that is that Bart didn’t even have a tail!).  I started doing Reiki on him, pouring all my love into his little body and, after about 10 minutes, he heaved a big sigh and passed over – I had never seen life pass from a living being before – it was a sight so beautiful… so peaceful…  I felt blessed to be there…

 

The nurse came in and took Bart out of Suzy’s arms.  As I waited for her to pack her things, I walked to the window and looked out to the East River beyond, the moon shining down on the water.  I knew Bart had died – I had my hands on his body when he breathed his final sigh – but I didn’t feel that he was dead… because he wasn’t… I felt him as strongly in that moment, looking out the window, as I did when I felt him breathe his last… 

 

When love is present, anything is possible — even in the face of death, love is always there – and love never dies…  

 

Suzy buried Bart’s ashes in her garden in the front of her house, under a big beautiful tree….  to this day, she calls it “Bart’s garden…”   She says that Bart was actually an angel, sent to help her learn about life… She thinks he did his job well….

 

This is for you, Kristi, and for you, Suzy – and for all my friends who love their animals….

 

Happy Birthday, Bella…  Sweet Dreams, Bart…

 

Deliciously yours in the grandeur of it all, Linda 

 

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you. 

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