L is for Love Luminaries

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    I just finished reading the book Love For No Reason: 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love by Marci Shimoff. She interviewed 100 amazing people she referred to as Love Luminaries. These are people who are the “leading lights or love celebrities” who are living love in the world. So many of their stories in this book inspired me, so I thought that I would select this stellar group of people as a whole to highlight for L because they are living their lives and integrating their spirituality in all parts of it.

    So many religious traditions point to love as the highest path of life. Not just any kind of love, but unconditional love to all. We all know how incredible we feel when we choose the path of love in our lives whether at work, home or in the community at large. However, sometimes love isn’t always the easiest path to choose, especially when you are dealing with difficult situations – the demanding boss, the ungrateful spouse, the demanding child, the forgetful friend, the negative family member, etc… However it is when we choose love and put love to work is when we illuminate the way with our light.

    There were many memorable examples of these Love Luminaries in her book, which I highly recommend, I’ll just share with you my favorite, Johnny Barnes. Johnny is an elderly man in Bermuda who doesn’t have a website, business or book (unlike most of the ones she interviewed), but he does have a BIG heart, great humility and a strong purpose.

    For almost 30 years he spent “a quarter of his waking hours” spreading love on a busy street corner in Hamilton, Bermuda. I don’t know about you, but I’ve only experienced people on the streets either begging or performing for money. Not Johnny. His sole and soul purpose is to greet people through waves, greetings, shakes, hugs – spreading love to all who cross his way. He doesn’t get paid for this, but we all know that he’ll get paid for the love he spread in eternity.

    According to Johnny, “You see, I love people, and I love telling them that I love them. I consider it my personal mission in life to spread joy and love whenever, wherever and however I can.”

    He started doing this when we was working fulltime, showing up ½ hour before his job for 30 years. Then he started to do this “street corner of love” fulltime as his retirement five days a week. He says that God gives us all something to do, “That’s six hours of spreading love every morning. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.”

    I was so moved that this is how he is choosing to spend his 27 years in retirement so far – spreading love when many choose to not work at all. He didn’t retire to a warm place (already lives in one) so he could have more leisure time. He choose to retire not with a more selfish-type of leisure lifestyle that many people believe they deserve when they retire (and do) to living a life of selfless love and service.

    The city put a statue of him in his honor on the street corner so his love continues to spread to all when he’s not around. That’s a long-standing, golden type of love that I aspire to! I’ll close with the closing words of Johnny in his story.

    “The way I see it, this world was made for love. When the good Lord wakes me up mornings, puts a song in my heart, joy in my soul, and a smile on my face, I just have to give it away!”

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    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.

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    Janae Bower is an inspirational speaker, award-winning author and training consultant. She founded Finding IT, a company that specializes in personal and professional development getting to the heart of what matters most. She started Project GratOtude, a movement to increase gratitude in people’s lives.