I have been thinking a lot about ebb and flow, about the connection and separation of all relationships, about joys, sorrows, loves and losses of life. More specifically, I have been thinking about the beings that come into our lives, the experiences we share, the memories we create, the wars we wage and the love we make.

We are social beings, we require connection to be whole. We all have innate gifts, gifts that others need. It is through the sharing of oneself that gifts are given and received. Those gifts have the power to change our lives, to make a difference, to impact the trajectory of our path. We can rarely determine the purpose one being has in our lives, the lessons or gifts they are here to give us or soul level changes that will occur because of the interaction.

I believe that our souls seek sense and we obtain sense through our trans-actionable exchange with others. It matters not whether those others are people or animals, it is our shared moments in time and space with other beings that help us understand self, understand others and make some sense of life.

Life can be hard as though one is trying to run through molasses and life can be very fluid when we are symbiotic with one another. Think of the relationship between a child and their beloved pet; there is heart wrenching beauty in their unconditional, unspoiled love and acceptance for and of each other.

Whether you believe in fate, kismet, destiny or divine intervention it is my submission that we are guided towards growth and enlightenment through the beings that come into our lives. It is my contention that paths cross for a reason, a season and a lifetime.

Reason – a cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event.

Season – four divisions of the year, a period time to mate.

Lifetime – the duration of a person’s life.

If this is so, how do you know which category your interactions with others will fall into? Do you categorize too early, too intently or dismiss too hastily?

Imagine if you will, you see a homeless teenager begging on a corner and your decision to see them, to look in their eyes spurs you into making a commitment to deepen your relationship with your own teenager. Perhaps the beloved dog they have with them as their only love and support stirs such tremendous gratitude in you for all you and your four legged guides in your own life have that you decide to donate your time or money to local shelters to help homeless teenagers and animals. That interaction, that brief moment time may set in motion a desire to lessen the chasm between the fortunate and the less fortunate or to become an advocate for those that cannot speak for themselves or to collect blankets so no one is cold at night.

Can you imagine the gift of compassion that interaction could ignite? Did you miss that opportunity by looking through the lens of disdain and judgement or did you stay open to what is in front of you?

Imagine a tumultuous relationship with a boss leads you to decide to leave the safety of your known environment for the tenuous unknown, yet that very leap sends you to dizzying heights of personal fulfillment and success.

If you knew, would you choose to stay caught in ego or in such rigid desire to control that you missed what the universe was guiding you towards?

Imagine a lover comes into your life at the most unexpected time to crystallize the self exploration and growth journey you have been on. What if together you not only broaden each other’s perspective but you discover a previously unknown and unattainable capacity for vulnerability, intimacy and ecstasy?

Would you have overlooked this connection for better timing or opting to wait for your lover to come in a different package, one more conducive to the safety of your own perspective?

Are any of these opportunities more important than the other, more poignant, more life altering?

Each one is a gift in and of itself; some of the gifts show up with pretty wrapping and bows, while others are rolled in glitter to hide the ugliness beneath. Some we happily unwrap and hold up to the light to allow the beauty to shine and others we leave sitting on the table for another day, uncertain we want to know what is inside.

When unwrapped some of those gifts come in the form of lessons akin to mirrors and when placed in front of us, challenge our thoughts, ideas, judgments, beliefs. Or perhaps they reflect back the love you are ready to give and receive to yourself and others.

Some of the gifts, the ones in boxes with pretty bows on top when opened reveal a rage inside that causes a step backwards and tentative pause,  while others may show up with palpable anger on the outside but deep hurt and aching compassion on the inside just waiting to be held.

Which box would you reach for? If we are committed to being open to the universe, to life, to enlightenment, do we have a choice in the gifts we unwrap? No matter whether we have choice or not, no matter the appearance of the gift, make no mistake, they are all gifts. All designed to teach us, to heal our wounds, to expand our wisdom, to deepen our own sagacity, to find our purpose, to make soul sense and to guide us to our best self.

Now once opened how do we know if this gift is a reason, a season or a lifetime?

How quickly we dispose of some gifts, discarding them haphazardly in hopes of a shiny new gift, a bigger gift, a prettier gift while others we hold onto with a grip that could challenge the strongest vise.

Increasingly we live in a disposable society yet we continue to struggle deeply with attachment, attachment to self delusion, to ego, to relationships.

While there is such beauty in relationships, in the connection made, the vulnerability exposed, the deepening acceptance there is also the beast of relationships, the clinging, the attachment, the despair, the ego driven demand for stability and conformity.

How often do we hold onto a ‘reason’ gift by squeezing it tightly, molding it into what we want or need so we can be ok. We try to shape ‘season’ gifts into meeting our unexamined, immature, fear driven demands. How often have we tried to turn a reason or a season into a lifetime when it was only meant to be unwrapped, admired, examined, learned from and let go?

How often have we attached so strongly that we create a fantasy out of nothing or we impose our beliefs on others making it impossible for them to stay or for change to occur?

It is like falling in love with the elegance of a butterfly only to put it into a jar to watch it die without allowing it the necessary movement for its very survival.

Whether we are trying to fix those that do not want our assistance, swimming upstream against an immovable current or begging a lover not to leave, it is often our resistance to the flow of life that impedes the gift’s full capacity to give. It is our resistance to allow for pain to enter us in order to teach us, to witness the immense beauty of a butterfly that lands near us knowing fully we can never possess it, instead we must admire, witness and let be.

Can you imagine what would happen if we merely allowed life to teach us what it needs to, in THAT very moment, knowing fully that moments pass like breath, here and then gone.

Think of how often we pass over the gift because it does not look like it is supposed to? Or we overlook people, neglecting to take the time to see into their eyes, their soul, and their essence? Perhaps the homeless teenager desires nothing more in that moment than to be seen, not be invisible. Perhaps you meet someone who is so different from you that you think you have nothing in common ~ what a tragedy; we are all breathing beings with the same needs and wants. We all need each other, we all want love, connection and witnesses to our lives yet we rarely reach out our hand for touch.

It is through our soul connection with others that memories are made. The memories that make an old woman smile when she hears a song that reminds her of a night in Paris, or an old man cry when he catches a waft of his dearly beloved’s perfume long after her departure, or a family that takes their cherished four legged member on a last trip to the beach to die in joy surrounded by love.

It is soul connection that gives life meaning.

Gifts are treasures, whether small or large, whether tragic or joyful, whether for a reason or a season; all end up as lifetime treasures that live within us forever.

Perhaps the most precious gift we can give to ourselves and others is to lay open, like a river, welcoming life to flow in the direction it needs to over us, with us and in us with grace, amazing grace.