Look for the helpers on the way

light in jarI had brunch on Sunday with a friend, who surprisingly said to me, ‘I am constantly amazed that you choose to be my friend.’ I was surprised by this statement as I see her as part of my core team, one of my closest friends. Of course I choose to be her friend. She’s awesome in every sense of the word.

She’s smart, funny, compassionate, caring, loyal, fun to be with, generous and has a thousand other great characteristics. She is also my friend I turn to in a real crisis. She’s always calm, collected and provides stability for me. She is the one I called a few years ago when I had a particularly bad day. On that occasion she picked me up off the floor (literally), got me to breathe and sat with me while I talked with the police.

It was her that I turned to again this week when I had an upsetting experience on Monday afternoon. She was at work but instantly assessed the situation and talked to me over the phone, realising when I went into shock and made sure I made a warm cup of tea, put a blanket around my shoulders and she listened to me as I garbled my way through telling her what had happened. She made me feel better. She was my safety. The first one I thought to call because no matter what the situation, she helps me.

I had just hung up the phone with her when one of my other best friends showed up on my doorstep. As she came through the door she said, ‘I was just driving past and something told me that I needed to come and see you.’ I stood there astonished. How did she know? I hugged her and started to cry. She sat with me until the shock of the experience was over. By the time she left, I was fine, or as fine as I could be at that moment. I loved that she had listened to whatever voice had told her that I needed her at that moment.

In the days since, I’ve thought a lot about how we are all connected on a greater plane. How do we ‘choose’ our friends? Or are they chosen for us? How did my one friend know I needed her to turn up at that very moment? And how many times have you thought about someone and then had them call you or you’ve run into them when you went out? And how come sometimes exactly what you need comes through someone you don’t even know? I’ve been thinking about the people who have shown up in my life, at just the right time, with just the right message for me.

Some of these people, like my friends above, have been my friends for years. Other people turn up to help me out of the blue. And the more I surrender to letting others help me, giving up tight control over my life, the more the right people show up in my life.

I had a strange but amazing experience with this in Jordan. I had spent three days at Petra, hiking and soaking up the sights. I was exhausted and ready for a break. I wanted to head to the Red Sea, sit on a beach and do nothing for a couple of days, but through a weird turn of events I found myself booked into a camp in the middle of the Wadi Rum desert. I got up early to leave Petra, got lost on my way out of town (!) and then had a three hour drive to Wadi Rum village. The entire time I kept thinking, ‘Why am I going to the desert? I want to go to the beach.’ But something made me continue on my way.

I arrived at Wadi Rum village by 10am, parked my car and entered the house that serves as the office for the particular camp I had booked. There are lots of camps in the desert and you have to go into the desert with a tour group which starts in the village. You can’t just drive around aimlessly on your own. As I walked into the office/house, I met the manager of the camp and a French couple. I also realised there was a single man sitting re-packing his overnight bag, so I turned to him and introduced myself. The second our eyes locked, I knew we knew each other.

Not that we’d ever met. He’s an investment banker from Toronto who is 20 years younger than me. But our souls knew each other. It was the oddest feeling. It was like we had booked in to see each other, to check in on each other in this lifetime on this specific day. I’d never had this happen before. We spent the whole day together in the desert. We talked about everything and anything. Nothing felt off limits. Physically he helped me, instinctively knowing when I needed help rock climbing without me asking. I thought my vertigo would keep me from crossing a rock bridge high up over the desert but he took my hand, told me to look at him instead of looking down and we crossed it together. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t have done it alone. And I was rewarded with one of the best views of the day. That night we stayed up talking. It was like we knew each other for years. He couldn’t believe how far I’ve come on my journey, but he also reminded me that I had more work to do. And he gave me the encouragement to go home to Australia and start that work.

I doubt we will ever see each other again. And I don’t need to. But he came into my life at exactly the right time. He turned a trip to the desert that I was sort of dreading, into something magical and wonderful. And I received the perfect encouragement to keep going in my personal work.

One of my teachers calls people like this ushers. You know, the usher at the cinema or theatre who used to walk ahead of you and show you to your seat. They used a torch or flashlight to illuminate the darkness of the theatre, they showed you the next step, your next place, but then they retreated and left you on your own. They didn’t stay and watch the movie or the production with you. They stayed long enough to help you find your place and then moved on to help the next person.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a few ushers in my life. I’m grateful for the service they have provided me but they haven’t needed to stay. They have just provided direction or a reminder for me and set me onto my next place.

I love feeling that we are all connected somehow. That the words I write here help others (I know this because of the messages I receive and the shares on Facebook that I see.) And I love that the friends who help me, sometimes showing up out of the blue, are connected to me forever, even if I never see them again.

In a world that sometimes feels full of fear and hatred, it’s the personal connections, the helpers who show up along my journey, that give me hope and keep me going. And sometimes, the helpers don’t even know they are helping.

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