My time away was…
Too long. Not long enough. Exactly what I needed. Nothing like I wanted. Joyful. Annoying. Perfect.
The Sunday morning service at the sanctuary was sweet. There were maybe 30 people, the musicians were a little off half the time, and the service and meditation were longer than I was prepared for. The people were kind and welcoming. The only baby was a little six month old boy named Benjamin. The women at my table graciously held space for my tears when I heard his mama call him by name. She was lovely and we had a great conversation afterward. Only one person made me want to run away with her well-meaning and exactly-wrong words. So I ran…into their little shop to browse. It’s open all day, every day, the building never locked, shopping on the honor system. I wandered back to my cabin and the loneliness hit.
It’s been a long time since a day stretched into night without someone at my side. I sat and noticed…clouds rolling in, rain drumming on the roof, hummingbird wings as loud as distant car engines, deer and wild turkeys wandering the fields, my desire to eat, my cravings for distraction. Unexpectedly my phone had no service so I couldn’t text, check in, check email.
That’s what I came for. It was harder than I expected. I’d brought a million things with me but I didn’t feel like doing anything. I meditated again, heated my food, read Mary Oliver and Pema Chodron as I ate, and at 7 o’clock, night having fallen quickly over the ranch, I put on my pajamas and crawled into bed. I read for a while then turned out the light. 8 o’clock in my darkened cabin, heavy drops of rain beating an unsteady pattern above my head. I slept, off and on, for 12 hours.
The sun shone through my curtains when I woke. I opened them to watch the light play on the mountains, then closed my eyes to meditate again. After breakfast I decided to browse the books on my bedside table, written by the sanctuary’s founder, a student of Paramahansa Yogananda. I found myself getting annoyed by his “specialness” and how much he had written, found my comparison mind kicking in, wondered at some of his choices – enough to be different while not straying too far from proven spiritual paths. Then the reminder came from somewhere in the recesses of my brain that there is room for everyone in this reality we call life. Which means there is room for me. I don’t have to follow his path, I don’t have to follow anyone’s at all. I can find my own way home, grateful for all those willing to shed light as I pass.
I bought a few simple things from their store – a mala, a mandala, a button for Ada, and chatted with the woman who runs the office. She made me a green drink (kale, chard and tomato, grown in her organic garden) to send me on my way. I stopped in the driveway to watch the wild turkeys forage, then drove on towards my life, loving it more than I did when I arrived.
I appreciated the rest, the ability to meditate when I wanted for as long as I wanted, that my choices for 24 hours affected only me. I stepped out of my life for a day and was reminded that the practice is to step back in. That it’s one thing to go off into the desert and have visions and quite another to find clarity in the chaos of parenting, relationship, clutter, and an inbox with thousands of unread emails. The practice – the opportunity for growth and greater love – comes from accepting and embracing what I have while allowing it to transform into what it wants to be. I love my life. Yes, there are things I want to change but I have to love them first. With my whole heart. Only then will I be able to let them shift. And when I complain about time, I promise to remember that there are only a few things that are really important – my family, my writing, my health, my closest friends.
Am I rested? No. Rejuvenated? Not really. There were no huge epiphanies, no fast tracking of grief. But I am changed. I took care of myself in a new way. I kept walking when fear wanted to pull me back. I allowed myself space and honored whatever came. I am happy to be home, where my frustrations, joys and family were delighted to greet me.
Now – again – the practice begins.