Dear Ones,

Each time you welcome this paper into your day and open your hearts to the parts of my soul I’m willing to bare this week, well, I am humbled and honored.

When this column launched back in 2016, I was cautioned that it may not run for long. I supposed that I had very limited time to communicate with you in this way, and so I went for it: down to the nitty gritty of everything I have ever wanted to say, and all my new musings as the journey into my own heart expands and contracts, expands and contracts.

Thank you for being with me throughout so much of that expansion and contraction. Your readership inspires me to keep digging deeper, to communicate with more compassion and inclusivity.

To be honest, I have had to overcome a lot of adversity and separatist mentality over the years, and some of that showed up in this column. And you were here for me, week after week.

How I would love to keep this relationship going, to keep my heart rippling to yours, and your support rippling back to me, and our growth rippling into our communities, and our communities rippling out new awakenings, deeper brotherhood and sisterhood, and so on.

Truth is, there are lots of changes in the publishing world, and I never ever know when it is going to be my last time connecting with you here.

However, I keep getting the green light for more content from your publisher. So as long as you keep welcoming me into your hearts each week, I will be here with you.

Sometimes when I write this column I have a unique feeling come over me. It is as if my heart and psyche have connected with someone who will eventually read the piece. I suddenly feel a concern, a fear, or a curiosity that seems to come from outside of my own mind. Next thing I know, words are flowing, sometimes in a tone and vocabulary that does not match the plan I had for the column that week. I just let it flow. We are deeply connected through space and time.

Sometimes it feels as if I am connecting to one person specifically. Like me and ol’ Ed or Gary, Kerry or Kenny, Sarah or Linda, Evelyn, Anne, Danyelle, or Grandma Blain and Grandma Elaine … are having a conversation that week. This is my way of being with you when Spirit has called me to be physically elsewhere.

Currently I am writing you from Trang An, Vietnam, where the 2017 version of King Kong was filmed. The beauty outside my window is beyond words. I will try my best to capture it in photos for you to include in future travel stories.

Vietnam is reminding me of the importance of not assuming anything.

Last year, when I first announced that I was going to Vietnam, someone wrote me to say they had lost respect for me because I am coming here and stated that the people here are godless killers.

I do not know if that man had experience in Vietnam. Everyone gets to select who to respect, who to lose respect for, who to judge, and what assumptions to make. I’ll leave those selective folks alone, but as long as I have this pulpit here, I am going to use it to write a different biography of humanity.

The final two interviews I conducted back in Olney, Illinois were with Vietnam vets.

One of those vets was tender John Thomas who said, “We just have to continue to get rid of all this hatred … That hatred, that’s what’s going to cost us … I hope and pray we can find a way to be able to live together in peace...”

What a perspective from a man who has experienced so much. If Mr. Thomas can see things this way, then so will I.

I walk down the streets of North Vietnamese cities and trudge through the muddy roads as the rain falls on this Trang An village, and I pass by hundreds of locals each week.

During my first few weeks it seemed like locals were a closed-off kind of people. Stiff faced and not so communicative. If I wanted to, I could have assumed that they were unfriendly.

Truth is, many of them know very little English - if any at all. The folks who do speak English can be unsure of their pronunciation, so they are embarrassed to practice speaking.

Once I understood this, I decided to communicate in smiles. Sure enough, once the locals see that smile, stiff faces widen, eyes light up, and a childlike enthusiasm for human connection exudes from their energy field.

The locals can feel my heart through a smile and I can feel their heart through their enthusiasm, and maybe you can feel that enthusiasm all the way back in Illinois.

May that enthusiasm for human connection inspire many more ripples.

I AM with you.