My father passed away this summer. It had been some time since we had talked…too long perhaps…but it always feels like that after someone dies. You yearn for a little more time with them- to clear the debris, to soften the edges, to find the love.
My father Albert was a mix of tender poetry and volatile outbursts. Like many men of his generation, he was trapped between his duties as a provider and his brilliant inner life. What he most wanted was to become a writer, one who wrote of spiritual matters, the meaning of life, the deeper path. He couldn’t quite get there- as his circumstances and issues blocked his expression- but his intentions were passed on to me, one generation later. In his own unique way, he passed me the karmic baton, loving his calling forward to the next generation. And on it goes.
When I think of my life, I think of all that has been loved forward: the grandparents who nurtured me, the English teacher who validated me, the strangers that smiled at me, the lovers who held me, the readers who encouraged me to write on. So many acts of love that landed deep within me, strengthening me at the core, energizing me for the next steps on the journey. Even now, I feel many of my ancestors close at heart, sitting on my shoulder as I write these words, loving me onward. There is no doubt- I have been loved forward.
And so have you. You are here, now, because you have been loved forward. If not by fellow humans, then surely by Grace itself. That we are here means we are wanted here. It means we belong here. It is our life’s work to uncover why. At the heart of this book is the belief that every individual came into this life with a sacred purpose at the core of their birth. We are not random concentrations of stardust, nor are we accidental tourists. We are divinely inspired, purposeful, and essential to this wondrous human tapestry. Although the ultimate romance is with our own soul, it is our experiences together that give birth to the essential lessons.
If we get off the dance floor, we postpone others’ lessons too. This includes those who came before. When we love our gifts forward, we also love them backwards. In the survivalist world of generations past, it was rare for anyone to even identify their callings. It was all they could do to stay alive. When you actualize your gifts, you aren’t just doing it for yourself. You are also doing it for all of the ancestors who were denied the opportunity to humanifest the treasures that lived within them. If you complete your task, however simple or humble it may be, you take them all to the next level. You breathe purpose for them, too.
And it’s not only the actualization of our gifts that loves them backwards. It’s also the healing of the heart. With every excavation of old material, with every clearing of our emotional debris, with every foray into a healthier way of being, we help to advance the collective heart as well. When we heal our wounds, we heal the world’s wounds. If we listen closely, we will hear the spirits of the ancestors breathe a sigh of relief. We are never alone on the trailways of transformation.
When I was young, I was in love with the beautiful French film ‘The Red Balloon,’ as was my father. The film captures the fascinating dynamic between a young boy and a sentient, silent, red balloon. I saw the balloon as a reflection of my own alienation. I wanted to connect with humanity, I trailed closely behind them, but I was often a little out of reach. And then, because I was different, because I was vulnerable in my isolation, I was trampled on by the collective. I can only imagine that this is how it feels to be a homeless person, or someone living on the edges of society. They want to be welcomed back, but they are afraid to be trampled on yet again. To love humanity forward is to embrace the red balloon in each of us. The cover image on this book is a testament to that vision of possibility.
Soon after my father’s death, I had the most vivid dream. I was driving a car when I saw a truck hit my father. I got out to help him, but he was pinned under the truck. By the time I got around to the other side, he was sitting up on a stretcher. The paramedics were trying to save him. I intuitively knew that this was our chance to say goodbye. I got up behind him, put my hand on his lower back, and he turned to look right into my eyes. It was so deeply real. All I could say was “Let there be love Daddy, Let there be love.” Repeatedly, like a mantra. He just looked at me, and smiled. Suddenly there was a beautiful black woman sitting a little above the stretcher smiling at me. She was an angel, no doubt there to take him home. And then I woke up. Not a moment later, thunder crashed through the night sky. I knew my father had finally made it home. Our tender goodbye moment had loved his soul forward.
Let there be love.