It’s been so long since I have written a blog that I am not sure how to begin… Do I start with “Dear Readers” or “Hello Friends”? I don’t normally start my blogs with a salutation so why would I now?
Because it’s been six weeks since I’ve posted and several of you have reached out to me so I feel like I owe you an explanation…
Okay, so I don’t feel as if I “owe” an explanation but I am a writer. A writer that shares her life so it’s not a stretch to expect me to share what the last weeks have been like.
So I will share.
Just not today.
Today I want to talk about yesterday and my day of silence which I thought was appropriate as this blogger has been silent for the past six weeks (46 days to be exact).
I was baptized Catholic but wasn’t raised as such. The only religion in my house was violence and I did all I could to avoid becoming a lifetime member of that church. However, as an adult, I was grateful to my parents for giving me the tiniest of foundations in which to build on: Catholicism.
After I had my girls I found my way back to the Catholic Church. I became very involved: bible study, Sunday school teacher (6th graders!) and finally a Lector, a person who reads the Word to the congregation at Sunday Mass. I even sent the girls to Catholic school for a few years.
During that time I felt like I belonged to something. I felt spiritually connected and whole for the first time in my life. I loved my parish priest (who has since passed) and recall with great hilarity the time he said to my women’s group that it was Jesus‘s birthday and had we ever thought of baking him a cake?
Uh, no… But now I will. And I did.
The following week my girls and I made Jesus a homemade (no box cake for him!) birthday cake. I will never forget the look on Fr. Petosa’s face when we showed up with our short, heavy, lopsided two layered purple birthday cake with “Happy Birthday Jesus!” written in blue frosting on top. His expression was priceless. His kindness in eating a slice true to his character. I loved that man. He was the father I never really had.
After spending a several years at that parish I began to drift away. I had many reasons for doing so; Fr. Petosa passed away, the new priest was not one I felt close to and I became angry with God for allowing certain things to happen.
So, these past 12 years have been a challenge for me spiritually. I have sought out different avenues; even spoke to a priest from another parish all to no avail. It could be that whenever I think of the word “religion” I feel nauseated. I don’t know… just a thought.
Okay, I thought… Religion is out for me but spirituality is not. So, I started telling people that I was “Spiritual not Religious” and that is how I thought of myself, but what did that really mean? It meant that while I had no connection to anything remotely spiritual, I was not closed to the idea.
During this last year my lack of spiritual connection has been more evident than ever. I needed God or a higher power or something to come into my life in a way that was obvious! Okay, let me clarify… It was obvious to me that someone or something was working hard in my corner and that is why I am still alive today. I could see the work on my behalf but couldn’t “feel” the connection. However, I know that is on me.
Long story short–okay, not really–I have always been interested in Buddhism, meditation, karma, etc., I believe you get back what you put out. I have spent a lot of time in meditation… okay, trying to be in meditation but when it works… it works! The peace I feel is real and lasting. Unfortunately, like many things in my life that make me feel good, healthy and strong (hello yoga!), I would do it for a bit and then quit.
Having come through these last six weeks (46) days relatively healthy and whole has pushed me to acknowledge that I can no longer afford to exist without some kind of spiritual connection and practice in my life.
This awareness moved me to find a Buddhist temple near my home. I found it via www.meetup.com of all places. I saw that they (the temple not meetup) were having a one day retreat on mediation and Dharma on Saturday so I signed up for it.
And I went.
I got lost getting there but I didn’t give up. I actually called and got directions (he told me it was the building with two stone lions flanking it and lots of bamboo)! Yes, I was committed to going and seeing if Buddha was waiting for me so I drove around until I saw the bamboo.
What an amazing day. The first wonderful challenge was that it was to be a day of silence. Ahhh… just what my poor exhausted mind needed. A day of silence and focus. Focusing on letting go of thought. What a treat. I could feel the peace and serenity emanating from the Zen Master, heck I could feel it emanating from the bamboo!
It was one of those perfect Pacific Northwest Days of blue sky, sunshine and a light breeze. Our mediation practices lead us to walking in silence around the grounds. Sitting in silence in the forest on the softest carpet of moss I have ever experienced. We had a lovely lunch of “noble salad” and time to ourselves for reflection. There was an hour of yoga and then some discussion. We were allowed to speak during that time to ask/answer questions.
In the earlier part of the day I had two very physical experiences. As I was meditating I became teary. I felt lonely. As I acknowledged the feeling of loneliness the tears began to flow down my cheek and then the most wonderful thing happened. I could feel and “see” a man wearing a brown monk’s robe lean down and hold me, sending me the message that it is okay to feel lonely. It is okay to cry. So I did.
In case you didn’t realize it–there was no man there. Not physically anyway.
The second thing that happened during meditation was almost the opposite of the loneliness. I felt as if someone had come and put a ball of energy next to me. I could feel the shock of it and see the reddish brown color gyrating so fast that it looked as if it had spikes.
Both of these experiences were and are meaningful to me. I know that I am on the right path in terms of needing spirituality in my life. Did I find Buddha waiting for me at the temple?
No… According to the Master that’s not what you should be looking for. What you look for is the Buddha Nature within yourself.
I can dig it.