A Walk with Presence

13 February 2016

Mid-afternoon

Lucia, California

This morning I awoke, reflecting on my origins. And I began to wonder how I arrived here, at a Christian monastery after having rejected God for the better part of my life.

Cross

I realized that I majored in Philosophy because I longed for answers. All I received were more questions. For most of my life, I saw the Beloved as a Chimera…more related to a unicorn or mermaid than Reality itself. I feel something akin to shame when I utter these words, embarrassed that I ever doubted the existence of the Beloved. It took me 40 years and an experience beyond comprehension to realize that the questions are the answers; that the questioner and the answerer are one. What an exquisite freedom…the end to seeking.

I set out on a walk. I depart from Sophia, my hermitage and home for the next six days. We are perched high above the Pacific Ocean, an hour and a quarter from any “services”. Bless this blissful place and all who make it exist.

As I walk down the road leading to Highway 1, I suddenly can hear the waves crashing on the rocks below. This is a sound I remember from my childhood, when our family would visit Big Sur and Carmel. I am struck by the realization that my life makes sense. I roll that thought around in my mind and on my tongue. My life makes sense. This is all I need to know. I needn’t belabor my childhood memories or my familial dynamics. I simply am now. That was then; this is Now. Being present doesn’t mean being present to my thoughts (duh), but rather being present to my experience in this moment.

A Walk with Presence

I am aware of the sweat on my palms and its being evaporated by the breeze (the Beloved takes care of everything). I hear the birds faintly tweeting and their songs. I hear the traffic on Highway 1 which I oddly sometimes confuse with the sound of the ocean…perhaps an artifact of my hearing loss. I feel my feet land on the road and the sensations reverberate up my legs and spine. I am amazed I can traverse land simply by…what? I am not even sure but the movement strikes me as miraculous. I can smell the salt air and feel the breeze ruffle the collar of my shirt. I plot my movement in my shadow that seems large and powerful although it is formlessness from form.

I am aware of the silence between the waves and the passing vehicles and I think of music and the space between the notes where everything is possible and all is unknown. In that barely perceived fraction of a second is where I long to live my life. This sliver of time holds all of eternity within it. The outcome is unknown, malleable and pregnant with infinite possibilities. This sliver of time is an ecstatic one, a precipice, a cusp; orgasmic. It feels as close as one can be to the Infinite and still be alive. Or not. Let me live and love to fill this space…to create, generate.

I am aware of my feet getting sore. Should I turn back? I don’t want to…this feels too good.

Hot sun, cool air; the beauty of Earth laid at my feet. I walk upon specks of rock and tar. The oak and bay leaves are above and below my feet. Pampas grass and pussy willows grow along the road; the gnarly native California Sycamores (Platanus racemosa) line the creek bed. They always look like they cannot decide whether to live or die (I’ve been there). They choose life. Everywhere…death and birth and death and birth. And then there is the miracle of the deciduous plant that seemingly “dies” each winter only to be resurrected in spring. We can be reborn, too.

As I pause on the road, the pussy willows float across my book and my body, kissing me with their downy softness. Their touch is fleeting but ever so sensual. At first I was shooing these away, thinking they were insects. But when I looked more carefully, I realized what they were. What a loss it would have been to have missed the pleasure of their touch!

I want to experience each plant I pass, know it somehow, but I feel timid. Would it be offended or has it waited its whole lifetime to be noticed? Don’t we feel like that sometimes? Prickly, soft, bold, subtle, downy, feathery, spherical, round. All the plants grow upright, reaching toward God. I long to be upright, faithful to what I know to be true. I am in no hurry. I take my time. Time is taken with me.

Have you ever marveled at the patience of the Universe? How loving it is. No matter how many times I do not understand, or make the same “mistake”, or miss the mark… it is infinitely patient in providing me a new lesson – no, more precisely, a teaching. Again and again, from a new perspective, facet, until it hits upon one that I “get”. This is done with absolute love and without judgment; it beckons me home. A daughter of the Universe am I.

A thought: One cannot love God if she does not love herself as we are one and the same. But I think my superego makes me feel that it is Narcissistic to love myself. Do you think it might do this to keep me separate from God and from discovering who I really am?

What would I look like through the eyes of Beloved? What would my Beloved see?

That sometimes I am lost or lose my way. That more than anything, I long to come Home. That I long to know the Truth, wherever it takes me. That I don’t know when this began and that sometimes I doubt still. That this force is propelling me into the Light, into the arms of Love and Unity.

Suddenly I am aware of hot I am. I shelter under a Redwood. The sun is peeking through on my right, another con trail appears on my left, a sliver of sky between. The sound of the ever-present ocean. Perspiration trickling and then the all-merciful breeze.

I need to turn back now. I am going to go as far as this Dr. Seuss-like tree,

Dr. Seuss plant

and then turn around…

But first, and again: How did I “end” up here? Why was I born in 1955 in California and not in a village in Syria or the former Yugoslavia? Why do I know such privilege? What are the right words to express the love and gratitude I feel? How do I bear this desire to bow in prayer and supplication? Might I be worthy of all this largesse? I long to be open to all that arises in each moment. I do not want to leave myself. I long to penetrate existence, live as a sigh. And let existence penetrate and permeate me. In the world, I would like to be more like a sieve and less like a sponge. I pray to glide through the remainder of my days with the grace born of God’s benediction.

We are tuning forks to the Divine.

This devotion to the Beloved will “kill” me.

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