What a difference a year makes

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It’s kind of a personal story…one that is better told through smiles, gestures…tears.  Sitting with a cup of tea and a comfy cushion, a nice blanket to wrap up in, a sheepskin to lie down on…perhaps a few candles burning.  I would tell you this story on a perfect night like this, the wind whooshing through the cottonwood leaves, a dark sky threatening rain, contrasting with the early summer green.  Birds singing their twilight song.

On a cold afternoon on one of the first days of 2012, I lay in my bed daydreaming on the New Moon…making prayers for the new year.  Thinking about what I wanted to call in, to invite, to embrace for the year ahead.  I asked to open my mind to new thought, to higher consciousness, expansion.  I wanted to open my heart to larger love; ways of living, loving, thinking and acting that have been out of reach, beyond my abilities.  I wrote in my journal:  “I know I have called in something bigger than me – I have asked to be opened up and filled.”

Later that year I loved a man in the most intimate way.  It’s hard to describe accurately or to do it justice.  My friend’s husband was dying of a brain tumor.  She asked me to come over and give him Reiki.  I went over to their house and loved him.   That’s what I did.  I loved him the way a mother loves her child – unconditionally and purely.  I let cosmic love pour through me and into him.  I got out of the way.  I was a channel.  I felt filled with love.  I think he did too.  I know he did.  We shared a few intimate hours together over his last few weeks.  On the day he died, I held his hand while he transitioned from consciousness to coma.  I held his feet and felt his spirit take flight – a hawk soaring fast and free.  I lay with him hours after he had passed and stroked his forehead.  Alison and I spent the cool hours of the dark early morning with him – this unseasonably hot June, the June that would bring fire upon fire to our mountains.  We dozed on the bed with him, burned sage, laughed and cried together.  I wrote in my journal how humbled and grateful I was to spend those days with him.  I also wrote that I thought I had found my dharma and how grateful I was to Nancy and Lance for letting me in to their lives so I could share what was longing to be expressed in me – my desire to be of service and for my life to have deeper meaning and purpose.

footsteps

A few days ago, I got a call from my hospice supervisor letting me know a woman was transitioning.  They were asking for volunteers to take turns sitting with her during the day while her family members were at work.  It had been a few months since there had been an opportunity to sit vigil and I jumped at the chance.  First shift.  I’m there.  I have sat with 4 people since Lance died last year.  First I had to go through general training, then a special training to sit vigil.  When my supervisor told me of this new person, she mentioned that this woman was conscious.  This was new.  Something to ponder.  It’s one thing to sit with a stranger that’s dying and they’re unconscious.  But to walk into the room of somebody I’ve never met before, while they’re going through one of the most intimate (if not the most intimate) acts of their life and sit with them…well, this got me nervous.  I prayed as I drove.  I prayed to be of service, to connect with my heart, to just BE.

It’s hard to explain, again, words can’t do this justice.  From the minute I walked into this woman’s room and she locked her blue-gray eyes on me, there was not one second that felt awkward or wrong.  I held her hand.  She didn’t speak but her eyes saw my every move.  I introduced myself and told her I was going to sit with her.  I honored the work she was doing – as she seemed to be laboring – and her body’s wisdom to know when it was time to let go.   I told her she wasn’t alone.   I never know what I will be moved to say or do with any particular person.  It’s different every time.  Sometimes I sit in silent meditation.  We must have “gazed” for over an hour.  It was intimacy on a soul-level.

When I returned the next day for the first shift, I was told that she had just passed.  I went in to see her body and touch her forehead.  As I sat and waited for her family to arrive, I cried.  At first, I was critical of myself…”Stop being so dramatic!  You didn’t even know this woman.  Why are you crying?”  After those thoughts passed, I decided to allow my heart to expand and just feel everything that was surfacing:  the ending of this woman’s life, the shell of her body in front of me, the softness of her gaze from yesterday, the imminent arrival of her loved ones.  The LOVE my own heart could feel for this woman, for the people that cared for her, for the patients in the facility, and for my family.

Today I looked back through my journal and discovered that the day I sat vigil with this woman,  was a year to the day that I first sat with Lance.  If grief is a sprial, then love is concentric circles…rippling out to infinity.  I am truly grateful for this life and for the meaning that I am privileged to have fill my days and the people I am honored to serve.

Escape to Reality

“Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.”
— Rumi

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Sometimes when a dream dies, it can feel like a death. A death of the self – an idea, a belief, or an identity…or all of the above.

Our family has had a series of big hits lately. To protect everyone’s privacy I won’t go into details, but I can share that there were a lot of surprises – the kind that make your mouth make a silent ‘o’ as you stop to catch your breath. The kind that make you wonder if you ever really knew a person like you thought you did. The kind that make you take a step back and wonder who you are. Heavy stuff.

Miraculously, Andy and I happened to have a trip to Mexico scheduled in April. One week in paradise at an all-inclusive. Nothing to do but lie in the sun, float in the bath water Caribbean, eat a ridiculous amount of food, make love, and share our broken and gentle hearts with each other.

When we arrived last Sunday, we brought only the hope that time would restore us. Neither of us are strangers to reinvention and we both know from experience that when one door closes, another opens. But this time, I will admit we were going on blind faith.

The lunar eclipse this week signified the end of an old way and new beginnings. On the day of the eclipse, Andy and I sat on the beach and took stock of our life – the cast of characters, our finances, our work goals for the year, our deepest desires.

I love this man for his ability to look at the big picture and stay in the field of possibilities with me. What emerged was a beautiful plan (I love a plan) that is based on reality – not fantasy – and it is quite amazing and enlivening. I won’t spoil it by detailing it, but let’s just say it involves a lot of travel and more beaches…feeding the soul while still actively parenting two teenagers and an 11 year old. Of course, more hospice work as well. Appreciating what IS vs. what we wish could be.

Thank you to the ocean for restoring me. Thank you to my sweet friends for loving me. Thank you to my children for grounding me. Thank you to my husband for your truth and vulnerability. Thank you life for all your gifts. I’m committed to staying present to all of it.

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Nature is my Temple

lotusDoor

Recently I sat with somebody who shared that she began her spiritual journey in her 40‘s.  When I heard her say that, I felt confused.  “Wha?” Something didn’t resonate…I couldn’t even put it into words until hours later.  There’s no age or moment I can pinpoint as the start of my spiritual journey – I’ve been on a spiritual path my whole life…as long as I can remember.

As a young girl, sitting in church, I was uncomfortable reciting things like: “we are not worthy to eat the crumbs off thy table.”  We were taught that God was love and that didn’t resonate for me.  It wasn’t adding up for me and I rebelled.  As only a Preacher’s Kid can.  (Actually, I rebelled because I was rebellious and an acting-out kid.)  My dad was pretty cool and new-agey as a Minister of Divine Science – I swear it’s not a cult, but it sure sounded like one.  My mom was, and is, a devout Episcopalian and I reluctantly spent most Sundays of my childhood in church.

I have always had deep respect for earth-based wisdom teachings and was drawn to Native American culture as a teen.  My father lived in New Mexico and  I would spend hours on my own in the museums of Albuquerque studying the history of the different tribes in the Southwest.  My father opened my eyes to the mystical realm, speaking to me of past lives, and third eyes, crown chakras…  He taught me the iChing and how to meditate.  I took it all in, feeling the truth in all of it, even as my mind struggled to make “sense” of it.  I know that my father recognized the seeker in me, just as I see it in my children now.

Later in life, I married my first husband and converted to Judaism.  I was attracted to Jewish culture;  the warmth (and fun!) of holidays celebrated with family, and the food.  Towards the end of our often turbulent marriage, I discovered kirtan – which is a type of call-and-response devotional chanting.  It was then that I discovered the power of mantra – even though I didn’t know or understand the words, through hours (and hours) of listening to kirtan music, the sanskrit words of devotion worked their medicine on me and I began taking my baby-step journey on the path to self-love.  I credit this time in my life as the beginning of consciously opening my heart.   (Always a seeker, but with a very protected heart…until the birth of my children and the discovery of mantra.)

Eventually, I got divorced and left Judaism behind and gravitated more towards Eastern philosophy; aspects of both Buddhism and Hinduism deeply resonated for me.  During my Kundalini Yoga teacher training, I was introduced to Sikhism which spoke to me as well.

Today, I call myself a Mystic.  And a Priestess when I’m not being shy.

All these terms say to me – “There is mystery and potency in the spirit realm and we don’t have to see it, touch it, understand it in order to feel it and know it’s powerful.”  Love is my religion.  Corny but true.  And…spirit belongs to everyone (not just special people who recite special prayers or pay special money to special priests, etc.)  Spirit is.  Spirit is in all of us…I am spirit (love,) you are spirit (love,) we are spirit (love.)  Make sense?

Eventually you will come to understand that love heals everything, and love is all there is.

– Gary Zukav

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