The other day I decided to walk to one of the many cafés in San Miguel, Zenteno Café, a quaint little spot situated at the tip of a street that ends in a sort of triangle. I had in mind to get out and do some writing amongst other people’s energy, change things up a bit from my normal write at home routine. Zenteno is perfect and usually full of others writing while sipping an espresso or latte. It’s a known gem amongst other cafés making it challenging to get a seat. See “quaint” for this cafe, is another word for very small, yet oh, so charming. I was able to get the last available seat near the baristas, my back against the wall everyone and everything became my view.
While en route I saw a young man I’ve seen several times in my neighborhood. He’s always friendly and wearing very lived in clothes that appear to be about two weeks past laundry day. “Hola!” I said with a wave while passing. “Hola! Como estas?” he returned, and so the greeting went, nothing out of the ordinary and all while I continued walking, him now following behind. When I turned to tell him I was off to the café to write, he extended his reach to me and in his hand was an ornament. “Oh, no gracias,” I said smiling at the gesture. “No gracias.” He continued to reach. “Es para tí,” he said, looking directly into my eyes then repeating. “Es para tí.” In that moment everything stopped including me. Here this young man stood offering me the only thing he had in that moment, and the look in his eyes was as though he’d searched and searched for something special, and it was for me. I know that wasn’t the case, but it was the case if that makes sense. I accepted the ornament from my heart and held it in my hand. “Muchas gracias.” I said bowing slightly. My spirit certainly recognized his in that moment.
As I turned to walk away all things came to the present moment. It was like God whispered to me and said, He is gifting you something, receive it. My eyes began to water and I experienced this feeling of intense love rise from my heart to my consciousness. How easy it is to say no thank you, turning down another’s offering before having an opportunity to be present in the moment. I had been preoccupied with writing and making my way to Zenteno that a default response became my initial response. I was caught off guard not thinking that our greeting would become anything more. Life is mysterious and beautiful in that way. We do not know what’s ahead of us until we get there, and it is when we get there that the truth shows on us. My truth was that I was caught off guard, which is a sign that I wasn’t present in the moment, because when we’re present in the moment nothing catches us in any other way. We’re standing in the open space of no-judgement, no-desire, no-motive, and no expectations. Being present in the moment is to stand atop a blank canvas. So when we’re caught off guard it means we’re standing elsewhere, which is exactly where I was when he extended his reach.
I was thinking that I didn’t want to take something only to throw it away. I had no purpose for the ornament, so what would I do with it? That’s when things came rolling down the hill into the puddle of my awareness: It isn’t about doing anything, Siah. It’s about being with the gift. It’s about being in the moment with openness and receptivity. It’s about allowing him to be blessed by giving and I saw just that in the instant he looked into my eyes and said, “Es para tí”—it’s for you. My heart expanded.
Too often we think about what we’re going to do. It’s a natural, automatic, default response, one that life has set up, or at least we’ve set things up that way—climbing the ladder of ambition, accumulating more to keep up with the Joneses, and changing ourselves to look like everyone else. Yet it isn’t real. On the contrary, it is a barrier to what is real, which is our being—for ourselves, with ourselves, to ourselves, and from there how we are being in the world, and in relation to others. It is when we focus on doing that we miss being. Being happens in the moment. It is impossible for being to take place any other time than the present of each moment, and it is there that we encounter the offering. Once I stopped walking and looked back into the eyes that held me, I felt the presence of God, which felt of deep love. It didn’t matter what I did with the ornament, because it was never about the ornament. It was about me. I pray to move through my days with an open heart of love and that was a moment to be just that. It took a couple of seconds to connect, but I am so grateful that it did, because it swept me off my feet. I heard the voice and listened, and the result was such deep knowing and connection with Spirit that it stays with me even now. That is what an offering does. It stays with you.
I tied the string of the ornament to the leather hook attached to the zipper on my backpack, and walked to Zenteno where I sat with an extra hot latte and a slice of warm banana nut bread with chocolate drizzled on the plate, and wrote Hallelujah. I felt such praise for the offering that I had to shout about the glory. A week later, the ornament still hangs from the leather hook on my backpack, a reminder to receive.