by Clarisssa Alverson
Often we hear the advice that it’s a deep spiritual practice to be fully present in the moment, yet when we pay close attention, the ordinary moments of our lives still seem ordinary. “Where are those magical moments?” we ask ourselves, “Why am I not getting more out of this?”. But again, this is just us getting hung up in the expectation that reality will be something other than it is, and that inevitably leads us to disappointment.
I’ve had three really intense spiritual experiences in my life, each of which left me profoundly changed at the core of my being. The last one happened about three years ago. It was an ordinary day and I was leaving work. I was driving out of the parking lot, and I passed one of my coworkers walking to her car. I smiled and waved at her as I normally do with people I pass on the way out. About 30 feet or so behind her was another woman whom I did not recognize at all. However, I began smiling and waving at her too. At first, a look of utter bewilderment crossed her face. I knew she was thinking, “Do I know this woman? Why on earth would she be waving at me?” but I went on smiling and waving anyway. Then, she broke into a beautiful radiant smile, and I knew that she understood that we didn’t know each other at all, but it just didn’t matter.
Suddenly, this overwhelming feeling of knowing beyond any doubt, that the universe is filled with love—knowing that, in reality, nothing else ever has been nor ever will be, enveloped me. Behind this woman’s look of confusion, behind her radiant smile, was a deep longing to be recognized and loved. It’s a deep longing in me too, and in all of us. It’s an aching need that is, at once, the desire to be loved, the capacity to give love, and love itself. It relentlessly urges us to reach out to one another, deeply yearning to connect at the level of our vulnerability and our imperfection, trying urgently to show each other the truth that just can’t be told.
It’s too easy to get caught up in the presentation of ourselves. “Am I acceptable? How do they see me? What does it mean when someone waves at me? What does she want? How should I react? Will I look like a fool?” But truly, love is simple, love is obvious, love doesn’t expect anything, love understands your confusion, love patiently waits for you to drop your self-doubts, and let it in. Nothing and no one you seek out can ever convince you that you are loved, until you are willing to see it for yourself. Only one thing hides behind a radiant smile or a look of utter bewilderment. You are love.