Excerpted from God and Love on Route 80: The Hidden Mysteries of Human Connectedness by Stephen G. Post. (Mango Publishing, August 15, 2019)
The boy (Stephen G. Post) had no astonishing spiritual experiences like seeing a blazing bush on a rocky mountaintop, nor had he ever heard the voice of God telling him to do this or that like some prophet of old. He was modernly skeptical of such things, although not dismissive. It was only a simple recurring dream that came to him about a half dozen times over a couple of years—identical in its details—that started him off on a different kind of road trip that no one could ever have anticipated, much less condoned. The boy learned many lessons, here is one for you…
How to Follow a Dream—Lesson Eight:
Love can get us to where we want to go, but hostility only gets us marooned. Love works, it will make us welcome on the bus all the way to Cleveland or wherever. If we want to succeed at anything really well, we can do so only with love. We might otherwise have partial successes, but nothing great or lasting. Boys build their stone temples in life, and sometimes they are torn down as a spiritual test of character. They build their careers, their families, their communities of worship and their friendships. They buy houses and build new walls and plant trees that will last forever. They invest all their time and energy and heart. But sometimes these things get thrown down, and the stones fall and break. Things meant to last go way, and the monuments of meaning we build sadly perish. Leaving some place we love because we don’t see a choice can feel very bad, but the Buddhist will say that no one should be overly attached to place, and anyway life is a journey, so we are pilgrims by necessity. All a boy can do is press ahead and learn resilience.
The lesson here is that no one ever said that following a dream would be easy, that there would not be hard and painful tests to endure. Buildings can be thrown down, but these are necessary tests, mainly because we get too comfortable and we start resting on our local laurels so we cannot see that we still have miles and miles to go. Boys need to be disrupted at times. So God has to wipe the slate clean, often by sending along someone to make things difficult. Someday we may return to the place where we started, but way usually leads on to way, and the place we knew and loved so much begins to look a little strange and unfamiliar as the years pass by.
One thing that infinite Mind can do to make difficult moves a little easier is to cause a dream in the perfect old man who will feel called to meet us late at night with the perfect walking stick, the one that we desperately need for assurance that the infinite Mind is at work out in front of us even before we leave town. Those who make no mistakes make nothing. We can only drive forward. Self-forgiveness really matters, but it can be hard to do.
Humor is the fastest, fleetest way of giving—it can change pain to joy in a mere millisecond.
Sir John Templeton once quietly told the boy that “Love heals mental illness.” He further thought that, since love helped heal emotions, it could also, by doing so, help heal physical illness.
Imagine being ill and having a caring physician, nurse, social worker, or pastor connect deeply with you at the level of affective empathy and compassionate love. You suddenly feel a renewed sense of significance, free at least for a short while from anxiety, fear, anger, bitterness, despair, and the other negative emotions that come with the territory of illness. Perhaps just yesterday someone said something callous and demeaning that caused those emotions. But now you are grateful just to be alive, you feel shielded from stress, and you are able to gather the strength you need to move forward. You may even be able to laugh, as you suddenly experience the sense of affirmation, tranquility, and security that comes with the experience of being loved. All because someone has bestowed upon you her full and attentive presence.
This person did not do anything “big.” She did not put herself at any risk, although sometimes risks do come with the territory of being a healthcare professional. She simply behaved with warmth, kindness, patience, and understanding. Perhaps she just asked, in a tone of voice that expressed empathy and caring, “Is there anything you might want to make your stay with us a little more comfortable?” Small is beautiful. The quality of your experience—or anyone’s—as a patient is mostly the accumulation of just such small interactions that leave you feeling respected and cared about. These acts heal, and they are themselves a form of medical intervention and treatment.
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Stephen G. Post, PhD – For over twenty years, Dr. Post has spread the science of giving and commitment to the greater good across the globe. Funding over fifty scientific studies at top universities and conducting his own research, Dr. Post lives and teaches the uplifting message that by giving to others, we become our fullest selves. Post is the lead author for Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving, the founding director of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, and the founding director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook University in New York.
How to Recognize Signs & Synchronicities That Can Guide Your Life
An Evening Lecture & Book Event with Stephen G. Post
Saturday, September 14, 2019, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
To learn more and register, click here.