We arrived in the train station at 5:30 am. The first thing I noticed was a woman who had dropped her train pass. I reached down and returned it to her. The second thing was a man who left his boarding pass in the self serve kiosk. I gave it to the KLM ticket agent. The third thing was a woman who lost her scarf going through the turnstiles. I picked it up and returned it to her.
We were on the station platform waiting for the train to Schiphol airport. It was a cold and drizzling. Phoenix had a dull headache so I moved my bag to the side of the bench so she could lay her head down on my lap and be caressed. A few minutes later our train slipped into Amsterdam Central Station and we jumped up to get on.
In the early hours of the morning when you are both sleep deprived and coffee deprived it is possible to miss things, important things, as there are so many details to manage in a new and strange environment. New language, new customs, new rules ... new everything. What one takes for granted and what one does effortlessly at home takes a certain bandwidth to manage in a foreign country.
Up escalators, printing boarding passes, standing in lines, and going through security. Then I saw the sign: "Please remove laptops and place them separately in the bin." Instinctively, I reached around for the bag that usually straddles my hip like a saddle bag and it was not there. THEN IT HIT ME.
In less than a split second I felt the churn in my stomach and a bead of sweat trickled down the center of my back.. That feeling of dread. The feeling when you know something has gone terribly wrong and you are in the worst possible position to do anything about it spread over me like a black cloud. We stepped out of the security line and were immediately flagged. I said to the security people "I need to speak to the police, I've lost a very important bag." To their credit they took this very seriously and whisked us to the exit and told us how to find the police.
The clock was ticking now. I really had been outside the feeling of time until this moment when I realized we might have only a few minutes until the next train came through platform 7a where many people might see the bag. Our flight to Copenhagen would be leaving in 28 minutes. As the urgency rose, I could feel my head spinning. At once and without any warning I was in "emergency mode." Whatever calm I previously possessed had vanished. I was disconnected from Source.
Me: "I've lost my computer bag, can you help us?"
Police: "I'm sorry we don't do that sort of thing, you should see the station manager."
Me: "where is that?"
Police: "Down the stairs, past the information desk, go right past the flowers and it is on the right."
TICK< TOCK< TICK ... 23 minutes.
Waiting in line. TICK< TOCK< TICK ... 20 minutes.
Clerk: "Hallo, hoe kan ik u helpen"
Me: "I forgot my bag on platform 7a waiting for the 5:43 to Schiphol from Amsterdam Central Station.
Clerk: "okay. give your information to this man [she points to another staff person] and immediately gets on the phone to Amsterdam Central.
Second clerk: "what did the bag look like?"
Me: "It was a black over the shoulder computer bag with a MacBook Air, two books, some post cards and books from the Van Gogh Museum and a bunch of cords and stuff"
Clerk: [passing a note to the woman on the phone to the central station] And what is your information?
We give all the details of where we are staying in Holland and then we must leave trusting that these people will do their best.
Me: "thank you for all your help. What is the next step.
Clerk: "Wait. We'll call you if we find it."
With that we collected our things and dashed back to the security queue.
TICK>TOCK< TICK ... 14 min to departure.
Thankfully we were sent to a short line and passed through security without incident. Walking fast and thinking about sprinting to Gate 26A my heart was beating fast, my stomach still churning, and feeling very warm as I had not shed my jacket.
TICK<TOCK>TICK ... 7 min.
Phoenix: Okay. We're here. We made it. And, if you really want to get your laptop back…YOU NEED TO STOP RIGHT NOW! Pull your Quaker practice toward you. This can only go one of 2 ways, Fear or Faith- and it’s totally up to you. You can do this.
Me: [I just wanted to cry. When my father died I inherited his laptop. As a thing it had no value other than as a machine, but as an object it contained all the sentimental value of my father’s notes in it. I felt as if losing it was losing a part of my father and a part of his connection to me]. "You are absolutely right. I've got to shut down this fear right away. There are many good people in the world and some of those good people are helping us right now."
Phoenix: "You're going to have to pull that laptop toward you, but before you can do that you must let go of the fear that you'll never see it again."
PA SYSTEM: "Would all KLM passengers on Flight 1125 please report to gate 26a. Final Boarding call!!"
TICK > TOCK > BING!! ... TIMES UP.
I've never had to center down on a deadline, but if ever there was a time to do it -- this was the moment. Gathering years of Quaker practice into a single moment, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and asked God for help.
Phoenix: “First of all, there’s nothing actually ‘lost’ in the universe -- only temporarily misplaced. There is an energetic practice you can use when you misplace something… where you wrap a golden lasso around it and pull it back toward yourself. If you want to do this, just imagine this in your mind’s eye."
Like a spiritual cowboy, I spin the golden lasso in a big circle over my head and hurl it out into space toward the bag on the platform in Amsterdam Central Station. It finds its mark and with one yank, I cinch it up tight.
Just then I got a message from my father. "I'll find it and make sure it gets back to you. It will be easy for me to do from where I am."
Phoenix: “You should ask your dad to help you."
Me: "He's already on it."
And then our jet was in the air. Cut off from all communication, the only thing there was to do was wait.
An hour later our flight touched down in Copenhagen, and as we made our way to the baggage area my roller bag snagged on something. It was a baggage tag from someone else's luggage that read "Bag Me Take Home." We cracked up. Coincidence?
As we moved through the airport we keep seeing signs for "baggage re-claim" instead of the “baggage claim" we’re used to. Coincidence?
Then, Phoenix’s eyes land on a bright red book in the airport bookshop, with the word ‘FEAR in all caps. She feels like she should approach it, so she does. She’s never seen it before. It’s Bob Woodward’s new bestseller on Trump, “FEAR: Trump in the White House”. She turns it over and the first words she sees are Trump’s own: “Real Power is ‘Fear’.” She shows me this. Coincidence?
Is real power fear? Is real power faith? What is real power?
We find a hotspot and check messages. Nothing. I started to feel the dread creeping in again.
Phoenix: [with that look on her face when she knows something is happening with me] "This is only going one way. Don't go there. Have faith.”
Me: "okay. probably too soon to know anything. I mean someone may have turned it in and gone home after an all night shift."
Phoenix: "let's give it some time and call after we get to the hotel."
Me: "yes, yes, yes. "
Exhausted, we arrive at the hotel and take a long, much-needed nap. After waking, we're sitting in the room and Phoenix asks me to check in. "Close your eyes. Where is your bag and computer now?"
Me: [pause] I sense into the universe… It's in a cage in a room somewhere in central station.
Phoenix: okay, it's time to call.
Me: I don’t want to make the call.
Phoenix: But you have do it. I can't make that call for you. You’re the only one who can pull it back to you.
I overcome my fear and pick up the phone. I reach Rasheeda in the baggage reclaim department.
Me: Hello, Rasheeda. That is a unique name."
Rasheeda: "do you know it?"
Me: “As a matter of fact I do. It was the name of the woman who ran a house I worked in when I was in Scotland." (Coincidence?)
Rasheeda. "I am from Morocco, where was she from?"
Rasheeda: “But you didn't call to learn my name, did you?"
Me: “No, I'm looking for a bag. A black bag with books and a computer. I made a report to the Station Manager at Amsterdam Central Station, and they said they’d call me if it got turned it by anyone. Do you have a record of that report?“
Rasheeda: “No, I haven’t been told anything like that. But, let me just go check to see if your bag is here after all.”
(a couple of minutes pass…) I’m excited. I’m scared. Honestly, I don’t even know what to feel… The anticipation is killing me.
Rasheeda: “Okay, there is ONE black computer bag… Can you just tell me the name of the books inside, so I can tell if it’s yours, or not?"
Me: “Yes, I can! ‘The Powers That Be’ (side-note: that’s a book about spiritual power being greater than physical power, LOL!) and "The Outermost House" (a book of observations on Cape Cod.)
Rasheeda: “That’s great! Your bag is here… Let me give you your reclaim number: 8000 932 573.
Me: “Oh my God, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Rasheeda: “You are very lucky. This almost never happens."
Me: "Maybe it was luck, but I think some other factors were in play."
The message that this story brings into my awareness is that in life there are many possible outcomes for any given situation that are determined by our intentions. Our intention, which is an expression of our will, is likely to influence which world we inhabit. By asking for help, by invoking the golden lasso and allowing myself to engage in an act of faith it became possible to to alter the fabric of the universe (what is sometimes called the morphogenic field)- like when a scientist observes an experiment and by just observing, alters the outcome.
But ... and yes there is a BUT ... to have a willingness to have faith and surrender (even when things (seem) outside of our realm of control) one has to also accept that there might be an unintended intention, a shadow intention. First, be aware that it might be there and second, know that it is possible to accept both ... BUT THEN CHOOSE which intention to adopt and which to let go of.
In my case I wanted to get the bag back, but I also had a shadow intention, a fear, that it was stolen. A fear that there were people with mal intentent toward me. A fear that I am a victim. I chose to give up the fear, surrender into faith, and let it come back to me.
The other half of faith is trust. Trusting that the outcome that happens might actually be the best outcome and not being too rigidly attached to having things turn out a certain way.
Here are the queries I am considering regarding faith and trust:
"Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("I give you a new commandment, That ye love one another as I have loved you") (John 13:34)
"If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."
— John 13:14–17
For the past week I have been thinking about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. I got started thinking about this in a conversation I had with my friend Jac about the book of John about the seven gates Jesus must go through:
When we do an act of service, it is an opportunity to acknowledge that of God in the other. It may also be an opportunity to get connected to that of God in ourselves. I can't think of any other time in human history when people look more at screens than each other. This is important because the more time we spend in screens, I think, the more we get disconnected from Source. The more angry, distracted, and upset we get by the fear mongers.
When I took a deeper look, centering down on this image of Christ washing the feet of the disciples, another thought came to me besides service and humility. That thought was equality. The servant and the master are equals. When I consider the damage this image does to the hierarchical system it pleases me. Domination is a huge theme among humans. We feed on it, we honor it, and our political system is organized around it. It is a parasite that is destroying society and the planet.
If we can approach each other with honor, humility, and equality through acts of service then just maybe this is a way to bring the divine into daily life. No amount of looking at screens can accomplish that.
Queries I am contemplating now:
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