While there is still a sliver of February left, with its message of love commemorated on Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d conclude the shortest month of the year with a brief word about the power of love.
Most of us are familiar with the teaching of how just a small bit of light can illuminate a vast darkness. But less known is the powerful message underlying homeopathic medicine: how just a tiny nudge of perfectly designed energy, applied at the just the right place and time, can cause huge transformation. That’s how the infinitesimal doses of substances selected to be “homeopathic” or energetically similar to the state of a patient’s disease can cause vast healing changes in the body, mind, and spirit. This phenomenon also underlies the so-called “butterfly effect” of chaos theory — how the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can set off a sequence of events that leads to a storm. In my book, Active Consciousness, I also discuss how small choices or acts can change the course of our trajectory into the future.
We have all experienced the consequences of a small act — a sentence uttered or a slight facial expression — that has a profound effect on us. This effect might be positive or negative, but somehow it hit us at exactly the right moment and in exactly the right way so that it changes our lives. A small compliment by a teacher can send us hurtling toward our life’s work. A snide remark uttered and forgotten can have a long-lasting negative influence on the life of the recipient.
My mother admitted to me when she was in her 90s that she suffered from lifelong embarrassment about her legs and would always wear stockings, even under pants. I could see nothing wrong or unusual about my mother’s legs. Nevertheless, she had developed this psychological complex because of a mean remark made by some girl in grammar school about her legs being “shiny.” At the time my mother heard these thoughtless words, she was recovering from six months bed rest after a near-death experience with rheumatic fever at age 10. The illness left her with a heart condition and many emotional scars as well. But who would have thought that a girl’s comment about my mom’s “shiny legs” would lead to 80 years of self-consciousness? Yet these words were heard at precisely the right time and place to cause this effect.
The same goes, of course, for small acts and words of kindness. Who knows what effect your smile, your holding a door open, your friendly chitchat with a stranger, might have? It could literally change the course of their life, and by extension, the lives of many others. Once again, a story from my own family.
I have written before about how my brother is mentally ill. He lives in a facility for similarly disabled adults run by DePaul (which, by the way, is a great organization — I highly recommend you direct donations of discarded clothes and other items to their collection facilities). Although my brother has been unable to work for most of his life, he drives, volunteers at the synagogue, and has a few friends. But he has many gloomy days as well, feeling despair and isolation.
For my brother, one of the highlights of each day is a visit to Starbucks. In fact, he will drive over 30 minutes to a particular Starbucks because the people who work there have been kind to him. Most of us view the greeting of a store clerk as something “pro forma”. We don’t give it a single thought. But to my brother, when a clerk smiles and says “Hi Buddy!”, it brightens his entire day. He tells me so. In fact, although he might feel like spending the entire day in bed (and often does so), it will be the motivation of hearing “Hi Buddy!” that gets my brother out of bed and dressed, to drive 30 minutes through snow-laden streets to Starbucks. And because of that, the rest of my brother’s day brightens as well. Maybe he’ll stop by the synagogue, maybe he’ll take a walk at the mall, maybe he’ll be more motivated to shower, and maybe he’ll eat more properly too.
Who knows what effect your small act of love might have? If you are inspired to offer one, it could be your higher Self, your small angels whispering in your ear. Don’t hold back! It could unleash waves of consequences that are more powerful than all the voices of fear that surround us each day. In fact, it may actually be small acts of love, not huge battles, that transform our world for the better.