While touring around on my European River Cruise I was struck by the goodness in humanity. Everywhere I went, from the Czech Republic to Germany to Austria and to Hungary, people were friendly and courteous. These countries are kept immaculate, many of the people speak several languages, and there is truly a sense of global community living in harmony. I realize we don’t get to see everything as tourists, but it was a rude awakening to come back home and turn on the TV. 12 days without it was pure bliss. I hope our country can move toward acceptance of others even when our political views are vastly different. I hope we can honor all races and all faiths and all people, everywhere. I believe that we are all connected, that we are ONE. I encourage you today to open your heart and to realize that everyone is a being of LOVE on a spiritual level. We act out in our various distressing disguises when we forget who we are. I’m all for the spiritual awakening of each one of us, both at home and abroad.
I’d like to share my spiritual awakening moment in Vienna. You know how sometimes you get hit by a cosmic 2 X 4 to help you wake up? Well, I had that experience. We had just completed a wonderful bus tour of Vienna, and we were given an hour and a half to “do our own thing”. Six of us from Denver went for our daily coffee/unimaginably wonderful mid-morning pastry, and after that we split up to do some shopping. I was determined to find just the right pair of slipper socks. I had gone off that morning forgetting to bring my money belt, which had my travel documents, my emergency contact for the boat, etc. So I borrowed 20 Euros from my roommate.
To make a long shopping story short, the line was very long for buying the slipper socks. And another person cut in line in front of me and I didn’t speak up. I was 5 minutes late getting back to our designated gathering spot to walk to our bus. No one was there; the group had already left. Our guide didn’t tell us where the bus would be. My 5 friends had not noticed I wasn’t back yet. I’m not blaming them; this was MY learning experience. I have always had issues around spending money and being late. It was not an accident that this occurred. After slipper socks and some coasters for souvenirs, I had 2.8 borrowed Euros left.
In tears, I went to a Money Exchange booth and told them I was a “lost tourist”. I didn’t know how to get back to the boat. The guy tried to help me, and 2 ladies behind me in line from Australia were on their cell phones trying to find my boat. Nothing was working. Finally the guy remembered that there was a tourist info location about a mile away. He told me it was near the Vienna Opera House.
I set off walking, still off and on in tears. But suddenly a sense of peace surrounded me and I felt guided. I no longer felt lost and alone, and I realized that this was meant to be. I had to ask for directions 3 more times to find the exact location of the Tourist Info Bureau, but I got there. All I knew was the name of my boat, the Avalon Expression. The very kind man asked me where it was parked, and I replied “On the Danube.” He replied, “The Danube is a very long river.” I remembered that we were docked near a church with red steeples. He knew right away it was St Francis of Assisi Church. (Wow, that was amazing. I have had a profound love of St Francis ever since I watched the movie, “Father Sun, Sister Moon” and visited Assisi in 2001.) Finally he found my boat on his computer (pinpointed the exact location.) He gave me a map for the subway, and said it would be just a short walk when I got off. I had never taken a subway by myself in a foreign country before, but he explained it so thoroughly and marked everything I needed on the map. The cost: 2.2 Euros. That was cutting it close.
I was still feeling empowered and good. The subway was modern and clean and people were courteous and friendly. When I got off, I was dazed by the scene of multiple freeways and bridges. What to do now? I said to myself, “Jesus, take my hand.” And from that point I truly believe He did. I stepped forward with a new sense of safety and KNEW I would find my way. I saw a sign that spelled Danube in Austrian. I walked that way. I saw another sign that said “pedestrians” and I walked that way. It took me up a long ramp between all the freeways and down another long ramp and there was my boat.
My friends were having lunch when I got back. They were SO relieved; they felt so bad. But I really wouldn’t have traded this experience. Once I relaxed, I made it an incredible journey. I took lots of pictures of the Vienna Opera House and St. Frances of Assisi Church, both of which I would have missed. I found my Spirit Guide. And I had 80 cents left. I learned that I MUST learn to live in the confines of time restraints while on this planet. I learned that I must not spend money I don’t have. AND I learned that I can ALWAYS depend on Spiritual Guidance.