I was standing in front of an arrangement of roses with my uncle. We’d been in the dining room when I asked him if he had a simple piece of advice for me to find inner peace. When we stood in front of these flowers, he started telling me something important about the reason flowers need watering. But I did not let him finish his train of thought because I started crying.
To give you some context, I hadn’t seen my uncle in more than five years (since the last time I visited Mexico. I was a teenager then.). In his interactions with me and our family, his presence emitted, what I’ll call, a spiritual grandeur. In the words of Ada Limon, “I env[ied], I env[ied] that.” I wanted his spiritual grandeur, so I braved myself and asked him for spiritual advice.
And even though I’d only asked for one tip, in our conversation I gained a handful of insights I needed to start believing in and applying in my life. He talked about things I already knew. (He doesn’t know that I’m constantly working on myself spiritually, that I can be a self-help junkie.) He turned on a switch in me. The light was already in me. He gave me his time, his wisdom, and a healing energy. And I’d like to pay it forward through this blog post.
He said that I needed to forgive myself and to forgive everybody else. He said that no one is at fault. Since my tears welled up in my eyes three times during our conversation, he also said that I needed to cry all of that out of my system. He said that I could write everything that bothered me down, and then I could burn the pages. He said that we should be thankful even for all of those negative things that happened in our lives, and he paused after he said that for at least 30 seconds. He repeated that it’s important to analyze, think, and reflect. He repeated that twice: analyze, think, and reflect. He said that they each have a different meaning. He said that we come to earth to create solutions and not to create problems.
And even though I can’t tell you specifically how to apply all of this to your life, I want to share with you the impact this interaction had on me. I finally told my father that I loved him over the phone. For months now, I could not echo his I love you’s anytime we finished talking on the phone. (Along with the talk with my uncle, I think my experience with family in Mexico was also a cause for that. Seeing my grandfather sick and seeing how grown up all my cousins were made me think about how time goes by fast, life goes by fast.)
I want to leave you with a passage I love from The Little Book on Meaning. Laura Berman Fortgang writes: “To truly give freely, we have to know how to give to ourselves as well…having the capacity to fill our own being with love and forgiveness. ‘Physician, heal thyself’ (Luke 4:23). That is the wholeness and that is a healthy place to minister from. It requires the balance of a sound self and an outstretched arm to the next person.” She also writes that we don’t have to be completely healed to feel the connection of love.
Today I am grateful for my uncle and this energy of positivity that he transferred to me. What I can say of myself is that this journey of healing is not easy (on some days it’s easier than others). What inspires me is seeing how my uncle has reached a spiritual maturity, and that gives me hope that one day I can reach that level of spirituality, too.