This is a true story and I am thrilled to share it with you, as not only is it significant in the telling of unconditional love, compassion and gratitude, but also in the synchronicities of life too.
It was a beautiful Sunday lunchtime in May 2012 and I strolled back into South Kensington after attending my first ever meditation workshop. I don't think I was really sure what to expect from the class but I left feeling refreshed, calm in mind and excited to be spending the rest of the afternoon enjoying the Capital.
With a flower gripped tightly in my hand and an apple tucked into my handbag, both of which I had received that morning in the workshop, I embraced the day ahead of me. It was unusually hot weather for the time of year and everyone looked noticeably more cheerful. The street was busy; some people were proudly carrying their Harrods shopping bags, some wearing the latest designer shades, all chattering happily in the glorious sunshine.
Caught up in the joyfulness delivered by the sun's rays, I hadn't noticed the middle-aged lady huddled in a disused shop doorway. With a small rucksack by her side presumably holding the contents of her life, the world seemed to pass her by without much attention. Dressed in ridiculous ill fitting clothes and worn out shoes, she smiled courageously as fellow beings from every walk of life barely glanced her way. Suddenly remembering the delicious juicy green apple tucked inside my handbag, I turned and walked back towards her.
"Would you like an apple?" I asked her.
I have never seen such gratitude in someone's eyes, and as she took the fruit from my hand she thanked me over and over again. From the bottom of her heart I knew she was grateful and as I watched her take the first bite, love overwhelmed me. I have given to homeless people countless times, but this was different, our hearts touched and for that moment it wasn't her or me, it was we. I walked away with tears streaming down my face. Had I finally realised the meaning of true unconditional love and compassion?
Returning back to my hotel room I immediately placed the flower in a glass of water. I had arranged to meet a friend whilst in the city for a bite to eat, so after a quick freshen up and change of clothes, I set off to enjoy the remainder of the day. There was something I needed to do first though and I knew exactly what that was.
I picked up the shopping basket and wondered around the store collecting sandwiches, orange juice, crisps, water and cakes from their shelves. The supermarket was only a few yards from the hotel and I had spotted it the previous day on my arrival. I filled a bag full of goodies and returned to the middle aged lady in the doorway. To her delight I handed her the bag and then headed towards the tube station with my heart singing.
The following morning I meditated alone for the first time, seated on a chair by the window of my hotel room on the 27th floor. It was the beginning of a working week for most and I was heading back home that day to continue rebuilding my new life. I stared across at the flower pondering whether I should leave it behind in the glass of water, or pack it away into my suitcase. The telephone interrupted my thoughts as reception called to say my taxi was waiting to take me to St Pancras Station.
As I stood by the lift waiting for its arrival, my thoughts once again trailed to the middle aged lady in the doorway. I wondered about her plight, but without being in someone else's shoes we can never fully understand their difficulties. Kindness is all we can give.
"Good morning Madam." One of the hotel staff cheerily passed me by. He then stalled, turned around and headed back towards me. I realised he was holding a huge bowl in his hands and couldn't believe my eyes to see that it was overflowing with delicious juicy green apples.
"Would you like an apple madam?" I barely heard his words.
I off course accepted the apple with a beaming smile and a huge thank you. I tucked it inside my bag for the journey home and the flower I left in the room with a note saying 'Please water me!'