A hug and a chat with the woman taking her message of love to the masses. By Sarah Price.
‘Love activist’ Christina Stevens
I meet the Love Activist in a misty cloud, 30 floors up in a Sydney hotel overlooking a whitewashed, milky harbour. She arrives with her publicist, and a palpable energy, that fizzy sort of American enthusiasm. Her smile is white, her tanned skin taut. Streaked in gold, her long hair is positioned in even cascades down her front, where the word “Love” is emblazoned in rainbow colours across her chest. She opens her arms, “Let’s start with a hug.” Over her shoulder, her smiling publicist nods in earnest.
Christina Stevens is an inspirational speaker, aerobatic pilot, filmmaker, author and global environmental strategist. She’s in town for the Festival of Dreams where she is launching her new campaign, The Love Revolution.
Seated at the meeting table, Stevens inches her chair closer. Her gaze is intensely focused and deeply penetrating. Experience, she says, has taught her to live in the moment. After growing up in Vaucluse and Bellevue Hill, she started working as John Singleton’s girl Friday, before moving to Los Angeles where she became creative director for one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. In Hollywood she had it all: money, aeroplanes, Steve McQueen’s former ranch, friends in high places (Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Steven Spielberg, Pierce Brosnan). Life looked great from the outside. “Yet there was part of me that was empty. I was selling people all sorts of stuff they didn’t need.” People scared her. Love scared her. Much of her time was spent behind high fences at the ranch, alone with her animals.
Then came the dream. Mother Teresa was calling her to Calcutta. “She said: ‘If you wish to film me, I will let you. But you must come soon.’ It was a call, an urgent call.” When you live alone, and when you live with animals, she tells me, you learn to listen to your instinct. “To feel that dream was palpable. Like I’d been touched by her.” Although Stevens knew little about Mother Teresa, had never been to India and didn’t want to see the poverty, “I had no choice but to go.”
In Calcutta, something happened, she says. Her judgement had gone, her preconceived notions of what life would look like on the other side of the world had gone. “I saw the people and realised they were beautiful. All I saw was their beauty. Something shifted immediately. Then it got bigger and stronger. The transformation was dramatic. I finally learned what love was.” Making the film and being in Mother Teresa’s presence was intense, Stevens explains. “She activated the air. You could only ever be in the now moment with her. She demanded that. That’s how she was able to do the miraculous things she did.”
Arriving home in Hollywood, Stevens’ attachment to “things” had loosened, and she felt free. Her short film, where Mother Teresa calls upon people to “begin the revolution of love” went on to air free on hundreds of stations around the world. Love, Stevens tells me, is the opposite of fear. “It is the core for everything. It is our answer.” Seated opposite, her publicist looks up, smiles and nods, then goes back to her phone.
Now, Stevens speaks frequently at the United Nations about expanding consciousness, youth empowerment, happiness and global sustainability. She has worked with Greenpeace and the American Council on Renewable Energy, and has made award-winning fundraising films. But being on the edge of global thought is a big responsibility and, at times, very troubling to her, she says. “If I watch the news, I cry. We need more positive news stories, but bad news sells.” When her close friend Ted Turner started CNN he wanted to start the “Good News Network”, but he couldn’t get any traction for it. Storytelling, she says, is inspiration for social change. “Stories are what resonate with us. If I’m trying to teach you something, you’re going to love the story more than you love the lesson.”
Stevens is using this time, around Mother Teresa’s canonisation, to send out to all the citizens of the world “a call to love”. Becoming a “Love Activist” requires one conscious act of love a day, she explains. “Whether it’s loving yourself, your family, a neighbour, a stranger or the Earth. If we could all do one conscious act of love every day, we will begin to shift the course of the planet.” Australians are embracing this new way of thinking, Stevens says, of recognising they are spiritual beings. “I knew I had to come to Sydney to launch this. We have the most ancient civilisation here who are connected to the Earth. I thought, ‘Why can’t we pull up that energy from Mother Earth and send it out?’ ”
Leaning forward, she touches my arm. Her gaze intensifies. “I vision a lot,” she tells me. “I see things – they act out before me. Other people can take my visions to the bank, and they have. When I meditate with other people in a room, I can have messages for everyone in that room.” Her memories go as far back as being in the womb, she says. “We are spiritual beings living a physical existence. When we walk out of a room we leave a lot of emotion and information behind. When the next people walk in they will bump into some of that energy. You can’t not leave it there,” she motions to the shiny table, “it is as solid as this table.”
The universe is only there to help us, Stevens says. “I see the connections. People and the environment are connected. If there’s an issue I need to talk about, I know it is linked back to everybody.” In the world now, she says, we need more women leaders, “they have the hearts of mothers”. The idea of Trump as her president is terrifying, “but it’s alright. We are going to be okay.” She won’t waste her energy on it, “because we are going to get Hillary”.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on November 5, 2016 as "Looking for love".
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