Sitting back with a cold beer; Joe shouts with excitement, his team retakes the lead in the 9th with a home run. The night has been unbearably hot, a late shower provides relief. A cool breeze ushers in a soothing aroma from the little rose garden under the window. Everything is perfect for Joe in this moment of now.
From the corner of his eye, flashing lights stimulate his consciousness. Turning his head, Joe notices a police car has pulled into his drive. His heart beats wildly as he slowly walks to the front door. He knows something is wrong.
Mike; the local sheriff, strides awkwardly up the walk. The sheriff's visage and body language confirm Joe's angst. Before Mike can make it to the door, Joe blurts out " What is it Mike? What has happened? "
Sitting numb on his couch, the ballgame stirs in the background. Mike seems to be speaking but Joe can no longer comprehend the words. For the moment Joe has become catatonic. His heart is racing, his stomach ties in knots ready to reject his evening meal. Everything slows down. Like in a dream, sound becomes drawn out to the point of the indiscernable. Adrenalin courses through Joe's body, he wants to fight, he wants to run, but neither are an option.
Mike, has just informed Joe, his mother and father were murdered in a grocery store robbery, gone wrong.
The only lucid thought which came Joe's mind was " Is there such a thing as a grocery store robbery, gone right? " How silly the mind can work in a crisis.
Joe knows his life will never be the same.
During the weeks and months following the tragedy, Joe's family (like families often do) grew very close. Love; once taken for granted, became a very important aspect of the home life.
Joe spoke with grief counsellors, his pastor, friends and family but never was able to resolve his grief and anger.
One day six years later Joe found himself alone on a park bench. The sun had just set over the Pacific ocean. The hot evening air, seasoned by the rich scents of kelp and salt, provided welcome relief. All of a sudden Joe could feel a strong breeze at his back. This was unusual, the prevailing wind almost always came from the sea. Borne by the wind was a rich floral bouquet of a small rose garden 15 feet behind. Joe notices the small rose garden, shocking similar to the one he still keeps tended at home.
The flood of memories hit Joe like a brick, in a flash his head reels, visions of that fateful night six years ago. Anger and loss seep back in. Comforting feelings for the raging ego, they are always close at hand.
Wallowing in his grief, Joe spies a Hobo walking down the path.
Pushing his shopping cart, the hobo hums a familiar tune. It is the song Imagine by John Lennon. The same song Joe and his wife Sally played on their wedding night. He stops the cart with a jolt. The redeemable plastic pop bottles and empty beer cans bark out their disharmony with inertia. The man looks keenly into Joe's eyes. They stare at each other for an unsettling time. Joe's discomfort swells, just as he is about to rebuke the Hobo, the man speaks.
Why do you suffer so?
Stunned by the query, Joe fights back the urge to tell the man the get lost.
He doesn't know why, but Joe hears himself saying I miss my mom and dad.
Where in the hell did that come from.
Why did I say that? Why here? Why now? I'm talking to a bum collecting beer cans. I must be going mad.
Shocked, Joe sits in disbelief as the man invites himself to sit down. He introduces himself as simply Eckhart.
Joe shakes Eckhart's dirty hand. Still in a cloud of confusion, their conversation commences. Nine hours later, Eckhart walks away.
Looking around, Joe spies the little rose garden.
He ambles over, falls to his knees and weeps for an hour. His life is forever changed.
It is Christmas morning, 17 years after his parents died. Joe no longer carries his anger, his pain has been replaced with love. His baby grand daughter teeters on his knee. Laughing with happiness, she sways left, right, forward and back as they share in the pleasure of the horsey ride. Looking around at all the love, Joe enjoys a perfect moment of now.
Just then, his wife approaches around the corner of the living room. She stops suddenly and takes in the happy moment.
Joe notices tears are streaming down her face. He gently places the baby on the floor, rushes over to Sally and with trepidation he asks her what is wrong? Sally gently caresses his cheek, looks in his eyes and says I love you. She places his Christmas present in his hands. They hug, kiss enjoying the moment.
Seated, Joe begins to open his gift with a question of uncertainty. The photograph, name and title of the book leave him breathless.
Joe weeps uncontrollably, his wife rushes to his side joining in the cascade of emotion. His children look on in uncomfortable confusion.
The book lies restless on the living room floor. Eckhart Tolle, " The Power of Now." Joe picks up the book, holding it like a chalice, he kisses the photo of his long lost, but never forgotten teacher.
Later that evening, with the children gone back to their homes and his wife reading in the living room. Joe sits down at his computer to compose an e-mail to Eckhart.
It is ironic that you probably don't remember our acquaintance five years past.
In my greatest moment of despair you taught me love.
From your guidance I went on to learn of truth, love and oneness. I have come to understand the synchronicity and beauty of my parents death. I have come to see this event as a manifestation of love.
I do not forgive the murderers. Instead, I understand forgiveness is not required, as it reflects the dualistic trap of the ego. The tree of love you have planted my dear Eckhart has borne fruit.
I never expected to see you again.
My path to truth has been a long journey. Each time my foot slipped I thought of you. For the first few years I thought you were God. Friends and family thought I was crazy. They would say " how can you confuse God with a Hobo pushing a shopping cart. " Last year I came to understand that you are God, I came to know oneness.
Namaste; with love, your student Joe.
* Although it includes a real person, this story is fictional.