Tonight while in yoga class, our teacher asked us to go inside and find what it is we needed. I heard, "Trust...trust the adventure." You see, prior to being asked that, I was holding plank pose and fantasizing about eating some of the soy ice cream I have in my fridge. Chocolate Peanut Butter Feel-Better-Instantly Swirl. But trust, now there was something to really digest. I'd been grappling with questions lately around what I am committed to and had been feeling pretty weighed down by the whole inquiry.
As yoga concluded I heard, "Don't go home," so I walked to the nearest corner of State Street and waited. Suddenly, sounds of piano music filled the air. I followed it to the Capitol Building and found a man, Davide Martello, playing his grand piano to a mixed crowd who were captivated. I soon learned that Mr. Martello is from Germany and travels the world playing his piano. I sat down to listen and the beauty of this man's gifts filled me. A few songs in, Mr. Martello's depth and joy are so palpable I notice I feel happy, connected...whole. The heaviness of the past couple of weeks lifts. A homeless man starts whole-heartedly shouting, "Play 'Let it Be,' man...give us some Beatles!" As the familiar tune is playing, the homeless man sits down next to me and starts singing. Moved by the experience, I give him my full attention as he sings to me, "Oh when I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me...," and he pauses and looks down. Overcome, I tell him, "She does. She's with you." His eyes well up with tears and he leans towards me, "No, I'm dead inside. Mother Mary doesn't come anymore." Seeing light all around him, I say, "Sir, she's right here with you. Can you feel it?" "Someone told me I was dead," he says, "Look at my eyes." "I see your eyes and I see life. Give Mother Mary your pain," I encourage him. The next thing I know I'm side-hugging this tender-hearted man who wreaks of alcohol and street life as he asks me over and over again if Mother Mary is with him. I assure him she is and as I do, I feel my trust returning. I don't have to know all the answers; I just have to be present to the process. After a few minutes, he returns to Mr. Martello, makes another request and puts another dollar in his tip jar (yes, the homeless man tipped him multiple times). The joy and laughter return and I look around and continue to breathe in the space this man is creating by sharing his gift. And over the next two hours, as I can't pull myself away, I find myself hugging and talking to strangers, getting blissfully lost, and being deeply touched.
This morning I watched the news on Democracy Now! and realized that today is the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I was reminded again how terrifically and horribly vast our capabilities are to create and to destroy, to serve and to take, to heal and to wound. Tonight I got connected to everything that is right in the world. When the homeless man shared his despair, I felt it touch mine. When the young black man requested a love song and sang it to us, even though he shook and later declared he was terrified, I felt myself get braver. When the homeless guy requested "Let it Be" one more time and Mr. Martello obliged him, I felt myself grow more spacious with the people and circumstances in which I struggle. As I stood there, I ended up confessing to the kind man next to me that I really needed to go home and write this blog because I had let my fear of getting it right hold me back long enough.
As I parted ways with my new "friends" I hugged Mr. Martello and told him that he healed me tonight, and I could tell from his big smile that he gets told that a lot. When we live in a world of brokenness and injustice, we must seek out and create situations where our pain can hold hands with our joy; where we can believe again in the goodness of our fellow humans. When I asked Mr. Martello how he found his way to Madison, he said he'd wanted to come here a long time and he had always heard what a good place it is. Tonight, I know he's right. And, when I got back to my car and remembered my expired meter, I couldn't help but think that was the best $25 ticket I ever earned.
Rainbow A. Marifrog