Recently I had the honor of observing and sharing a moment with the man with a jackhammer. It was a picture perfect afternoon, and after a morning of work and house busyness, I took off on my bike along Lake Michigan to walk one of my favorite beaches in Chicago (Rogers Park area, for you Chicagoans) and sit on a bench right on the beach facing the crystal clear lake. The waves were rolling in with that feel of eternal change and motion that feels so peaceful to the soul.
On the street leading to the beach, a crew was working on a sidewalk with jackhammers. My first thought was there goes my quiet. But as I passed them, I actually stopped my bike and sat for a moment observing this crew at work. Instead of being irked, I felt myself move into appreciation for their willingness to do a job that most people take for granted. Everyone loves a fresh sidewalk or road, but who really wants to be standing on a loud jackhammer day in and day out, year after year? And yet…
As I watched the crew under the clear blue sky, I saw these men smiling and laughing with one another. They seemed quite relaxed and jovial actually. I, in watching them perform their task with such ease, also felt at ease and marveled at the millions of ways we each spend our days. So many different paths, each with their own challenges and pleasures—truly an infinite number of possibilities to experience physicality and evolve as a soul.
Eventually, I went on down to the beach, and had myself a glorious walk and then settled on my bench. A few minutes later, I noticed that it was totally quiet. Apparently, the crew was on a break, and one of the men walked down and stood a few feet from me. I watched him as he took out a cigarette and began simply to stare at those breathtaking, gentle waves. He stood there for a long time in total stillness and silence, except for the hand going up to his mouth every now and then. He seemed lost in his own reverie.
I wondered about his life, his dreams, his family, his interior world. Suddenly, I felt tears spring to my eyes as I dropped into that Soul to Soul space of Oneness. From the outside, we appeared to be so different—age-wise, gender-wise, ethnicity-wise, presumably economic-wise. But, I felt such a deep sense of love for this man. Just because…
I wasn’t interested in the labels and the details, I simply felt a kinship with another courageous soul who has taken on the difficult task of being human. For a brief moment, we shared space and time while both experiencing the exquisite beauty of our physical landscape. All else faded away.
He eventually went back to work, and I eventually got back on my bike for the ride home so that I could greet my children after school, drive to practices and make dinner. However, the moment with the man with the jackhammer has stuck with me. We pass by souls all day long. Do we really see their beauty? Do we really feel their presence? Do we understand who they really are beyond the physical mask?
Let’s all try to drop into this beautiful space of oneness more often! For we are all truly in this together…
# # #
A modern bridge between the mainstream and the mystical, Annie Burnside, M.Ed. is a soul nurturer, award-winning author, and teacher specializing in parenting, conscious relationships, authentic living and spiritual development. Her book “Soul to Soul Parenting” won the 2011 Nautilus Silver Book Award.