I just had what was one of the most powerful emotional experiences of my life. In many ways, it was the most powerful. There, of course, are the births of my daughters and my wedding that are the most important events. But, I just experienced unconditional love, which is something I have never experienced.
Unconditional love is love you haven’t earned. It is yours by birthright. It is largely unknown on this planet. We love people who have done for us, who have made us happy, with whom we have history and familiarity. With strangers, we keep a safe, appropriate distance, showing respect perhaps, but not love.
The last exercise of our workshop was this thing called The Angel Wash. As Mark described what we were going to be doing, my eyes turned toward the door. “How can I get out of this?” is what came to my mind. The 65 or so people in the conference were to form two lines, with each of us standing across from another, creating a tunnel. In turn, walkers were to slowly walk between the two lines, down the tunnel, eyes closed, slowly, while music played. The instructions were for the people in the lines to reach out to the person walking by, touching them, hugging them, speaking words of encouragement, stroking their hair, whatever came through us to encourage that person and show them love.
There are several problems with this scenario. First of all, I don’t touch strangers. As a man, as a black man, as a large black man, I give people their space. It’s what I’ve been taught. Touching strange white people and telling them I love them is major taboo. Second, it was clear there was going to be a lot of crying involved. Most people don’t know this about me, but I am sympathetic cryer. Watching someone crying always makes me tear up. I have to turn away to avoid crying, if not with my physical eyes, at least I would have to tune somewhere else emorionally. Last, I had gone all weekend without crying in front of the group, only breaking down once when this older lady and I had to share our stories during an exercise and after hearing her story another her 38 year marriage that had just ended with the passing of her husband, I had to talk about Shayna. I’m not sure if anyone else even saw it. Crying in a room full of people is not my thing. And, as a man, I’ve been taught not to cry in front of others. Very few people have witnessed this. It ain’t gonna happen here.
I planned my strategy to keep it together when it was my turn to walk. I’d just keep the emotions tamped down and power through it. The problem was I couldn’t walk fast as there were people in front of me. And, my eyes were closed, which intensified the experience more than I realized it would. Before I walked, I was in the line as people walked by. As the people began making their way down the line I would just touch their shoulders. That’s safe enough. Then, I realized that, since their eyes were closed, people were having a tough time navigating down the middle of the tunnel and staying paced behind the person in front of them. So, I would take their hand and hold it while placing the other hand on their shoulder, pacing and guiding them. Other people were saying things like “You are a beautiful light.”, “I love you.”, “You are deeply loved.”, etc. I didn’t feel comfortable saying anything. I just tried to pass energy to people through my intentions and my hands. Of course, those saying “You are a beautiful light.” had no idea they were saying Shayna’s name which began to get to me
When my turn came to go down the line, I steeled myself and stepped into the tunnel. I had no expectations of how people would greet me as I went by. Since my eyes were closed, I’d have no idea who was saying whatever to me. Not a lot of people here knew my story. So, I was overwhelmed with emotion as people put their hands on me, hugged me and I heard time and time again how much I am loved, by unknown beings. I have read many Near Death Experiences, enough to have an anticipation of what it will be like to pass over and be greeted by my loved ones. However, the anonymous nature of this experience may be what made it so powerful. It was blissful. Just surrounded by, enveloped in, and washed over by Love. Waves and waves. It was palpable. I was holding it together pretty well until someone said “She is always with you.”. Someone else said “You are a great Dad.”. The thing is I don’t know who said what or what they know about me or Shayna. And to hear that I am a great Dad is the highest compliment anyone can pay me. I burst into ugly tears. If possible, I would have fallen to my knees or left the room, but there was no escape. I was barely halfway down the line.
A guy, I don’t know which guy, I had hardly talked to any besides Mark, hugged me and gave me a deeply felt affirmation. I got to the end of the line and tried to regain my composure.
When you get to the end, you join the line again and greet the people coming behind you. I went back into my routine with a couple of exceptions. There is a relatively large woman I got to know during lunch yesterday. She told fascinating stories which I greatly enjoyed. She, like everyone here, is a beautiful soul. I hadn’t hugged anyone, even though we had all given our permission to be hugged. I wondered how many people would have hugged her or would have been capable of giving her a big bear hug to really wrap her up. It seemed right to give her one. Spirit told me to step out and hug her. I figured she would know it was me because I was the tallest person in the conference. Normally, I would have said no to Spiritual, but this time I said yes. We embraced for quite a while. Then, a few people later came the woman who last night asked a question about getting a hug from God when she gets to heaven. She’s been hearing from these woo woo people that God doesn’t have arms to hug her with. I stepped in and told her that God would hug her when she gets there and I gave her a big hug. Later, the woman I gave the big bear hug thanked me for the great hug.
After it was over a woman approached me and said it inspired her to see how Tywana and I are walking this pain together. She had been standing across from me when Tywana came by and I hugged her and kissed her forehead. Her husband isn’t ready to share his pain with her yet. A couple of other women said they were surprised to see my display of emotion. One said that it was surprising to see a man cry. The other added “Especially a black man.” I explained to them we are all the same on the inside. It’s society that doesn’t give us permission to be ourselves.
I have never seen so many tears from so many people. It was a cathartic experience and I believe a glimpse of heaven.
This is a ritual every church should add. Baptism is cool. Foot washing is cool. But Angel Washing is where it’s at.
Thank you so much for sharing that experience, your own Beautiful Light shines thru, as well as your daughters. Your wife is very blessed that you both walk together thru this journey, and it seems, at the same pace.
I also want to thank all those who worked so wonderfully to help us who couldn’t attend this time. I feel we weren’t left out, actually, I felt close to many as I watched and listened.
I remember this day and the moment when you and Ty hugged, both of you sobbing. I joined the hug and that was when my tears really, really began.
I was there with my mom who was 76 at the time and we were both touched and moved by you and Ty throughout the weekend, but especially during the Angel wash.
I had an incredible experience during the meditation Mark did with the loud breathing. I felt Christina‘s hand in mine so powerfully and real that I opened my eyes to see if it was Mark trying to get me to stand up or something (as the meditation was coming to a close).
But it was not. I was lying on the ground and she was there with me holding my hand. I closed my eyes again and experienced more of the love and connection through the hand holding.
Then she told me I’d always be able to smell her in her robe (which I kept/keep in a basket with certain poignant memory items).
Thanks Brian for sharing all that this experience meant to you. You and Ty are indeed Shining Light Parents, and are so blessed to have each other in this journey.
Sending love and light to you both.