I had the most amazing conversation with my father last night.
I was telling him about my upcoming “Healing History” trip to Poland, Germany, Ireland and Northern Ireland where I’ll be meeting amazing people working to heal the vestiges of the past that we carry into our present lives.
I know I need to write about it.
Dad said, “You gotta write about it.”
He reminded me how words that come from the heart can inspire and support others when they need encouragement, care and love.
“I read the letter you wrote me before you went to Australia all the time,” he said. “It could be a guide for life!”
That year, my father and I were both going through life transitions. He was beginning retirement from over thirty years of being a professor. I was leaving my full-time job at the college to focus on having a more balanced life and on growing my coaching practice.
I was burnt out from working more than full-time. I needed to take care of my body, reconnect to nature and do something that inspired me that wasn’t just intellectual or pedagogical.
So I went to New Zealand and Australia to learn about permaculture and do a 500 hour residential yoga teacher training. I think it was hard for Dad that I was taking time off my teaching career to spend six months down under. (I didn’t give up my job at the university, though. That would come later, when I would answer the bizarre call to go live in Jerusalem. But that’s another story.)
I needed to take time for my healing and to follow my calling.
As part of my commitment to an open-hearted life, it was stuck in my head somehow that I always wanted people close to me to know how much I loved and appreciated them. I wanted to share what was really alive in my heart. I didn’t want to wait until the end of their lives or mine.
I often thought that people close to me should know now whatever I would want to tell them if I would never see them again. I know. That sounds dramatic. But it helped me live life from the heart. I will always tell you what I appreciate about you. And I will always look for the unique things about you that there are to love.
(I really believe that you should always let people know how you feel about them. Don’t wait. The time is always now.)
So before I got on the plane for Auckland, I wrote my father this letter.
You know how they say that when you put out love, you get it back multiplied (or something like that)? Well, last night, it felt like all the love I shared with Dad at that time was returned to me a million-fold.
It was the encouragement I needed to really commit to blogging again. To write about the journey of healing, heartfulness and wonder for life; hoping that as I share from the heart, it might touch the hearts of others who resonate with my own.
So here’s the letter:
I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I want you to know I always love and appreciate you very much. You’re always in my heart. I always think about you and mom no matter where I am in the world or in my life.
I am grateful for all your love and support and how hard you’ve always tried to take care of us. I know that we don’t always agree about what should be done in life in general, but I am walking my own path. No matter how much a parent loves a child and wants to care for and protect that child, everybody has to find their way by coming to know their own heart.
There are no clear answers in life and we’re all just doing our best given what we’ve experienced. I know you have done your best and I know you know that I have done mine.
I try to be a good person, a good daughter, sister, friend, teacher… Just as you do as a father, husband, teacher, son…
We don’t always know what the highest choice is for us or for others, but we try. I am just doing my best to be me and that, I think, is one of our biggest challenges in life.
In a world where there is so much pressure to conform to what others want of us–from our families, to our communities and cultures, it’s not always easy to be truly ourselves, and to live what is most important to us.
It is also hard to let others do the same without wanting them to do what you think they should do. But that is the lesson of love…
Love helps us deal with the pain and uncertainty of life, and our desires and fears for ourselves, others, and the world.
It helps us accept ourselves and others, however we were, however we are, and however we are going to be.
Love helps us grow into more than we once were. It helps us accept that everything we live has a purpose.
Love helps us forgive all that we and others have lived absent of love. It helps us let go and let be without wanting to control the outcome of everything for ourselves or others.
Love helps us trust that everything is exactly as it should be for us to learn and grow into who we really are.
And love is everywhere and all around us–the light that is there even in the darkest nights of the soul.
If we look into ourselves, we find that it is the essence of who we are. Always there. Ready to guide us home.
Even as you have your concerns about me going far away, trust that I have been preparing for something that will help me be more myself. I am listening to my heart, my light, my love, and my joy.
Although I will be back in a few months, when I am away, you are always in my heart. I am always thinking of you and excited to share my stories, discoveries and inspirations with you.
I hope that as you have more time for yourself as you go into retirement, you will learn and discover and be inspired in new ways. I hope you open your heart to new possibilities. And I look forward to hearing all about them and sharing the new gifts and joys that life will bring us in the days to come!
I know that I will find these things on my trip and beyond, and I’m excited for what life has in store for me.
I am forever grateful that even as you don’t always understand my choices, that you support me to follow my heart and walk my path. It will, in the end, always guide me home. It always does.
From my heart to yours,.