I ride the van to Moria and many people pile into the seats. Daniel, a man with a huge smile (yes, he has just spent the night in the camp) squeezes in next to me and we start talking. Within less than two minutes, he asks me "what I believe in." No small talk, no fluff. Heart to heart right from the start. The conversation we have on the way back to the Center in a mixture of English and French is more substantial than many conversations I have had with people I have known for years. That's 20 minutes into the job.
She walks into the makeshift boutique and looks for a coat to wear instead of the pretty one her neighbor lent her. None of the ones we have hanging fit her small body so I tell her that I will look into the stock and to come back in a few minutes. She returns and tries on the two coats I set aside for her, picks one she likes and walks away out of the store holding her bag and saying: thank you for giving me a chance.
He is less than 4 years old with big green eyes. He follows me around the Center and flashes a bright shiny green paper heart at me as though he is doing some sort of magical mischief.
Memory and I are working together in the shop, getting it ready to open. She is fast and super efficient, while laughing and trying on coats for herself. She too, woke up in Moria this morning. At lunchtime, she shows me where to go to get food and I find her later reading a book called The Secrets to Happiness. When I mention chocolate, later in the afternoon, she reaches into her backpack and hands me a bar of Crunch.
A beautiful young couple from Afghanistan tells me about how the engine of their boat died on the passage to the island, in the pouring rain four months ago, and how much they prayed to get here safely. Mehdi's eyes light up like a Christmas tree when he tells me about his vision of becoming a soccer coach somewhere in Europe. Somehow, I think he is going to do just that.
She looks tired, sitting on a bench and gently rocking a stroller back and forth in front of her. We catch each other's eyes and smile in recognition of that universal, primal movement.
We are much more alike than we are different.
Island Bliss Retreat
July 12 to 19
Happiness Retreats in Italy
"Thank you for sharing your wonderful, heartbreaking, exhilarating experience with the world."
"Thank You Laura for sharing, for teaching and spreading loving kindness. "
"I think I love you. You bring good things into my life, or remind me of things I love and know, but have let go of."
"Laura, you are so good for me. I laugh and sniffle and get the shivers when I read your essays. Thanks so much for letting all your wonderfulness run around loose."
"Heart-achingly beautiful, your words and how you reveal your truth."
"Thank you so much for who you are and what you share with the world. Your mere being transforms lives as it has transformed mine. This particular post did to my heart what water does to parched soil."
"Thank you for your gentle words that are packed full of wisdom. I have been struggling with the concept of what words can do to another person when they are negative words. Your words are the flip side of our word power, and shows how delightfully powerful kind words can be. Thank you."
"Once again Laura Lavigne takes you on an adventure of the heart. She has a way of pulling you right in the car with her. Asking you to consider changing a fear to taking thoughtful action. Whether she's teaching a class, leading a retreat or heading for a happiness sprinkling, Laura will invite you to shed old ways of thinking and be completely authentic. Join in!"
"Essentially pure love.
I enjoy how Laura is kind to herself and to us other humans who dance in and out of each other's lives. "
"Don't miss an post!
You can count on Laura for warmth, humor, charm, and a lift to your day and your heart. She inspires me to be braver than I am, and to love the world out loud. She's a gem, and a generous one at that!"
I write because this is the way I am able to taste life more deeply.