My purse was stolen on Saturday night. Sitting with a dear friend at an outside café here in Athens (not Avocado), I realized almost immediately that my purse was gone and started running after the guy. And run I did all through downtown Athens, yelling loudly along the way to people I was passing, asking them if they had seen him running ahead of me. They directed me, but I actually lost track of him. And yet I kept running. Has any of you seen the German movie “Run Lola Run?”  I was impelled by a strange confidence that this is what I had to do. Out of breath I kept repeating a mantra, feeling certain that I was being heard. I felt that Divine Awareness was there within me, watching, guiding, protecting, listening, listening…

I stepped in the middle of a crowd gathered to watch the performance of a joggler creating circles of fire with multiple torches…  I yelled to see if anyone had seen my guy, and asked them to please guard their belongings. It could be that none wanted to hear a word I said, only few seemed interested or concerned, but I felt a tenderness towards everyone as if I really wanted to protect them. Walking back to base, I felt a tinge of disappointment.  And then, crossing the square of the main Metropolis Church, I saw a guy who looked very much like him sitting on a bench… Could that really be him? I approached him in the dark. No purse in sight. I assumed he had passed it on to another guy and asked him in Greek “Was it not you who came up to us for a lighter?”. He shook his head in misapprehension.  

We went through the same scenario in English; nope!!!  Arabic? No. Farsi? No… It turned out he understood French.

To my surprise, he admitted the fact that it was him indeed. I grabbed his arms and jacket and would not let go;  “Now you have to wait for the police,” I said. He pleaded with me to not call the police, and said “Your bag is in that garbage bin, I am sorry; Pardon…”,  but I would not budge, and started screaming really loud for passers-by to come to my aid: “Thief! Help! Police!” People were walking around, but none came forth. The boy was too tall for me to contain; he started running again, and run I did again after him, but in vain, he got away.  Back to the church plaza I went to check and found my purse in that garbage bin. There was nothing missing from it.  

My biggest remorse from the whole story is the knowledge that a more enlightened person, like Sally or my Zen teacher Reb, would have dealt with this young man in such a more eloquent and compassionate way. Now I had gotten my belongings back, but what did he manage to get out of it? I replayed the movie in my head with me sitting down on that bench with him, and talking about his life in Greece, his prospects, and the futility of his chosen path. I really regret not having that chance, because I was too excited and assured that he had given the booty to someone else, that I would never get my things back. And the biggest affirmation was the fact that through every second of my crazy chase, I felt the Presence very actively alive in me, and that it was not my imagination: some Divine Force was listening, and taking care of the impossible… 

Just a couple of hours before the incident I was telling my very close yoga students about the Heart of Recognition and the role that Sally Kempton’s teachings are now playing in my life. We finished with something like this: “If we want to reach this higher state of truth, and fulfill our natural highest potential, we need to go for it full-heartedly; we need to allow ourselves to hear the teaching and be inspired; to trust;  to have faith in the existence, omnipotence, and omnipresence of this power in us…”  I guess, Shakti wanted to test if I really had faith… This is how mysterious, surprising, and deeply gratifying this whole dance can be. What a journey! Can you believe the life we are all living, the miraculous opportunities we are sharing?