The Kind Stranger Chapter 4: A trip to the pottery.

Good morning!”

I’m getting used to the Kind Stranger sneaking up on me and surprising me.  Behind his smiling face is a playful sense of humour. Here I was getting on with my life, preparing breakfast in the kitchen. In he came, looking for me. KS is always welcome in our home.

“We’re going on a short trip today,” he said. “I’ve something to show you.”

By now I have learnt that he hears the deeper thoughts I have and responds to them without me needing to verbalising anything. I suspected this was another similar moment. It was.

But of course we didn’t need to get the car out and disappear down the road.  No, the Kind Stranger invited me to sit quietly with him, rest my mind, and wait. A few minutes later, I knew we were on the move, and soon we arrived at a village square.  You’ll probably have been there yourself.  It had an array of houses gathered around a village green.

“We’re going just over there”, he pointed to an old building with a light burning inside. We wandered over, he lifted the latch and we stepped inside.

We were in a workshoppy room, with pots everywhere, in various stages of completion. This, I realised was the village potter’s house, and I was unnerved to find that the old potter, working away at her wheel in the corner was oblivious to us.  I tried to talk to the old woman, but she didn’t hear me.  It was as if I was invisible to her. I slowly realised that I was.

I turned to the Kind Stranger to ask what all this was about when he put his finger to his lips to quieten me. He smiled. “Just watch,” he whispered.

I moved over to a workbench, pulled myself up onto it so I could sit more comfortably, and watched as instructed.

The Kind Stranger came and stood by me, and put his hand on my arm.  He often did this to reassure me and help me to relax. I felt myself take in deep breath and exhale slowly, feeling my shoulders drop and my breathing slow.

The Potter got up, moved past us, and unseeing, made her way to a bin of clay. Lifting the lid, she removed a lump of pure soft clay. Cutting a small amount from the lump the potter took it over to her wheel and began to carefully press it, mould it, and shape it. She took such care, and I was intrigued to watch her skills in action. Several times she stopped the wheel, and looked contemplatively at her amazing creation. It was absolutely beautiful. She had used her lifetime of skill to form a fine elegant pot that would undoubtedly be very valuable when it was finished.

Turning it slowly, she looked at each facet, checking it on the inside, on the outside, and smiled – a bit like the Kind Stranger did. Then, all of a sudden, she stopped. She had noticed a tiny flaw, a little impurity in the clay, hidden imperceptibly on the inside of the vessel. I expected her to pass over it, or take some spare clay and fix it somehow, but she didn’t. No, she gently put her hands around it and with the wheel spinning, crushed the entire pot back into a single lump of clay, and she began to make it again, a different vessel.

It hurt me to watch. I felt sad that such a nice pot would never be used by anyone or admired. Even though it was flawed it was still beautiful, still useful, still worth something. The mark was on the inside, not really visible, what was the big deal?  But I could see that to the potter it mattered. This was about her making the very most of the clay.

Something was happening inside me as I realised that the potter was not going to settle for second best. Of course, she knew that, in her hands, there was no need for any concern at all. She knew just what to do. This was clay of the highest quality and my guess is that she had paid a high price for that raw material. She had no desire to leave the clay flawed by an impurity and had no intention of moving on until that vessel was…

Exactly. The Kind Stranger  looked over at me and winked. We made our way out of the potter’s workshop, and soon we were back in my kitchen. I knew what this was about, and he knew I knew. It was about me, the value of my ‘clay’ and what I really needed right now. If I would allow myself to be …

I caught his eye. He smiled approvingly. Great. He had heard my unspoken decision.

The Kind Stranger Chapter 3: The Hug

When I was a child I remember playing hide and seek. We hid somewhere – in a cupboard, under a bed, and waited to be found. I remember the excitement and the peculiar emotion it created, as the finder crept from room to room in our rambling farm house looking for us. I remember so wanting to be found.

When I became a man and my own children were small they would run and hide and I would make a big fuss about “wondering where they were” as they hid, only half-hidden behind a curtain, desperately attempting to suppress their give-away giggles. When it was their turn to find me I wanted them to enjoy both the hunt and finding me, so I hid where they would find me easily.

These memories go through my mind now as I recall the mornings when I was waiting for the Kind Stranger to come. I knew he would find me if I sat quietly. I also knew he could not be manipulated or forced to come. He was far too strong and powerful for that. He had given me the key to our meetings: I must wait quietly. Like the little children, I was desperate for him to find me and, of course, he did.  He had promised.

I was in the garden, sitting at one end of our old swinging seat.  I had been there quietly for maybe ten minutes or so when I felt him come and sit at the other end. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was there. You’ll probably know that feeling by now. It’s marked by an overwhelming sense of knowing that I’m loved, wanted and accepted just as I am, sitting just here, even though I don’t deserve it.

“Good morning,” he said, with joy in his voice, “And by the way, I’m not here because you deserve it, but because you’re now my friend.” He’d read my mind. It was as pointless to pretend I could hide my thoughts from the Kind Stranger as it was for the children as they tried to hide, giggling behind the curtain. He knew.

“And yes, I do very much.” That was a surprise. The thought had crossed my mind to ask him if he enjoyed coming to be with me like this.

“Thank you.” I said very quietly. It was lovely to know that he was so sensitive to me. I’d never had a friend like this ever before, and I was so very grateful. I felt him look at me directly and smile with love in his eyes.  Apart from my admission of my need on that day I met him, this was the first time I’d actually spoken to him out loud. Looking back, ‘Thank you’ was the perfect thing to say. I was just so so deeply thankful. I said it again, from the bottom of my heart. “Thank you.”

You know how I mentioned earlier how it felt as if he put his arm around me? Well, it felt like that again. I felt surrounded, embraced, hugged, by him. It was a warm, caring, ‘family’ hug, the sort of comforting hug that a loving older sister or brother might give a little child. I breathed “thank you” again, but the words were unnecessary.  He knew.

It was such a special moment for me. It is well established by now that physical contact, a meaningful touch, a simple caress makes such a difference to people, but this was so much more. It was all encompassing and went so deep. Although this wasn’t an actual physical touch, it felt like it – a bathing of my spirit, an acceptance of me as a person – it was as close as it gets. I drank it in, more and more, soaking in it, allowing that hug to overwhelm me, and it did. I started to sob.

I sat and cried on and off for the next ten minutes or more. They were tears of relief. I’d been found. It was as if his hug was melting the core of my being, softening it again, and the tears were merely a stream flushing away the debris of years. And they did flush it away. As the emotion subsided, I felt clean, whole, refreshed.

I turned to speak, but he had slipped away. That was OK. I knew he’d be back.

I also knew that his hug would be mine for ever.

The Video is here: http://www.youtube.com/user/serx50#p/a/u/0/DMqOmKBz2ug

The Kind Stranger. Chapter 2: The Second Encounter

Read the previous chapter? Then enjoy the second chapter of this amazing story…

It was the day after I met him that I first noticed a change. Now, as I think back, it is hardly surprising that it would affect my future life.  I had experienced something very special, and through the night I tossed and turned and wondered about it all. Was this really just a remote chance encounter, or was I missing something?   The Kind Stranger had singled me out for his attention. This was new to me – it had never happened before – well, not like this anyway. I didn’t know how significant it would be.

I felt both weakened and strengthened at the same time by that first encounter. It was the weakness that felt strangely good. My carefully constructed defences had softened. I had softened. I could sense myself more flexible, more open, and much more relaxed. For the first time in years I felt safer, stronger, in fact much stronger inside.

I decided to make a drink and sit down quietly. And that’s when I heard his voice again.

It felt so close, and it was not just in my head. It felt as if he was in the room with me, not physically, if you know what I mean, but definitely here. I put my drink down, and just sat, relaxed, attentive, waiting.

I know this sounds weird for a rational human adult, but to me it was as real as the chair, the drink, me sitting here, and I felt a wave of warm emotion as I heard the Kind Stranger’s voice again, as real as yesterday.

He was smiling still. You can tell when someone is smiling, can’t you. And this time his voice was quieter, more personal, almost intimate, but with that wholesome respect and trustworthiness I’d begun to associate with him. It wasn’t a whisper, just reassuringly quiet. Perhaps he knew I needed to hear him that way today.

“I said I’d come.” I heard him smile. “You can trust what I say.” How did he know that my trust in people was at a low ebb these days? “I’m here to remind you of the truth,” he said gently, “the truth about you.”

I wriggled a bit in my chair (I won’t admit to squirming!) and took a moment to settle myself. He waited. I took a deep breath, and as I relaxed he gently continued.

“From the moment you arrived on this earth as a human life until the moment you depart from it – and that includes now of course” (he smiled again) – “you have been, are, and forever will be of indescribable worth. The word I’d like to use is ‘priceless’. No amount of gold, diamonds, or any number of banknotes in any currency would compare with your worth.”

The Kind Stranger stopped for a moment to let his words sink in. They needed to. I had long doubted that I was worth anything much. Yet in his voice was a wonderful reliable confidence. He knew he was right, and in the deepest caverns of my soul I heard myself receive his words as truth for me. For the first time since I was a tiny child, I realised how valuable I really was. Priceless.

Overwhelmed, I felt my emotions well up. A single sigh, suppressed for so long within those deep echoey caverns, rose within me, and as I breathed it out, the doubt was gone. I knew the truth.

“I’ll be back soon.”  I think I may have felt his touch on my arm again as he left, though I could have imagined that.

I sat awhile, comfortably alone and at peace, consciously and unconsciously surrendering each part of my life to what he had told me. It would change everything.

Watch the video of Chapter 2 .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i9AjJCXI_Q

“Kind to Self”

I love the refreshment of tumbling water.
I love the refreshment of tumbling water.

If there was one thing we are truly short of in this world, it is people being kind, and not least, kind to themselves. “Kind to Self” is an essential ingredient to healthy living – and in case there are one or two who think “Selfish!”, that is not what I mean. Being selfish in that negative sense is a result of trying to compensate for an absence of true kindness.

When you know kindness, you do not need selfishness. Kindness is the perfect antidote.  Kindness brings strength and authority to your life. It is not the same as pampering. A kind parent isn’t one who lets a child run rampant and buys whatever they demand, but rather gives that child security, and provides flexible boundaries sufficient to explore risk and still enjoy a sense of conditional safety. “Kind to Self” means taking responsibility for your own happiness and not hoping everyone else in the world might make you happy. “Kind to Self” results in inner freedom.

When it comes to being (or is it ‘doing’?) “Kind to Self”, I plan to be the expert and I’m keen to learn how to do it better. When the container that is my life is filled and overflowing with kindness, the people around me are going to well-and-truly benefit from that overflow.

That’s the reason I’m off on my motorbike in a minute. I need a short break from the delights of Powerchange to be alone with my thoughts for a morning. (Roy will get a break from me too!) In my case “Kind to Self” is to honour the need I know I have to recharge. I’ll give myself some individual attention, some positive solitude and come back refreshed.

See you later!