River Teachings and Reflections on Life

Life has a way of coming full circle and cycling through so many things...

On Friday, almost three years to the date - I visited the river with the friend who first brought me there. Both of us had not returned there together for one reason or another, and I wanted to mark our return visit as the remaining "bookend" experience to a phase of my life and its conclusion. Yes, three years ago, I both visited this river and and began this blog - never imagining the role that both would come to play in my life!

Three years ago, when my outer and inner worlds collided and unraveled, I came to visit the river daily, urgently and fervently engaging in Lovingkindness practices and other meditations as a form of healing and releasing animosity toward individuals and situations I felt had deeply wounded me. For nearly a year and half, in the throws of deep depression, I visited this river, and began kayaking, as a therapeutic way of taming my own inner turmoil and emotions as I paddled upstream, often weeping profusely as I did so.

Three years ago, this dear soul companion who first brought me to this river, knew that I needed to seek out professional help. She stepped out of my world for a while so that I would know the seriousness of my situation, and to encourage me to do the deep inner work that needed to be done...

Three years later, we could walk and talk around this river, grateful for the lessons learned and the incredible growth that ensued - and which was birthed in great pain. I couldn't help but marvel at how we had weathered storms and crossed thresholds - she was dealing with and bearing her own crosses and challenges in life - yet somehow, we both managed to come out stronger at the other end - personally, and in our relationship - doing the work we needed to do separately - but still holding each other up in prayer throughout all of it. I could never have imagined then, when I was in the thick of it all, the many gifts and blessings that would come into my life, and all the wonderful and like-minded souls I would come to know! I had to start over - both professionally and personally - building up my reputation by letting others see who I was and the gifts I had to offer...

Every life and relationship has a cycle to it. Everything, is an invitation to growth...

Yesterday, I attended the funeral for the father of one of my son's best friends. It was the most touching and beautiful service I have attended, and the homilist - a dear priest and friend I had not seen in years, delivered a beautiful sermon. He deftly wove the essence of the book Blink with the story of Job, and noted how in the blink of an eye the Divine would come to embrace us. My priest friend noted that this dearly loved and exceptional man, whose life we were both celebrating and commending to God, had been more than ready - for every act, word, and deed of his - had been an expression of uncompromising love, and had touched the lives and hearts of many. How many of us can leave this life knowing we have done the same thing?

In the late afternoon, I went to attend a yoga "playshop" with my dear friend, BJ Galvan, an Anusara Yoga certified teacher. She had just come here to Washington DC, from attending a training herself where all worldly possessions had been stolen. Earlier in the summer, she underwent the same experience - her purse and its contents - passport, phone and money - had been taken while teaching in Europe. Somehow, she still managed to shine her light and recognize the challenges and the lessons and opportunities hidden in her losses then, and I could see her doing it now as well...

The wonderful walk, sharing, and lunch with my friend at the river on Friday, sort of symbolically brought closure to the last three years of my life - a period that was both marked by turbulence and great upheaval, but also by accelerated growth. This dear soul has been that for me - a catalyst for the most amazing changes I have had to make. Her support and prayers throughout the years - even through that darkest period - helped me navigate the rough waters - both in and out of the river. During that time - I could only focus on what I had lost. Now, I only have eyes for the incredible gifts I have received as a result! There was a magnificent rising - that was birthed in the dying to self and all that did not serve. Now, we were free to be true soul companions - the only thing I have ever really wanted to experience in this life. And in these short years since, I am proud to say, other soul companions have come into my life as well...

The funeral I attended, allowed me to reconnect with so many I had not seen in years, and brought to mind the fragility of life, and the sense of connection that somehow brings people from such disparate places to come together again as one. I enjoyed seeing my son's friends from grade school, high school and college - the girl he took to his first dance - and the one he went to his prom with - all of them now - as young adults coming into their own. Parents were older and grayer, but enjoying their company once again made me feel like time had stood still and that our lives were not so different after all. (Mind you - I had been the Chair of the Theology Department then in a local Catholic institution - and not the renegade yoga teacher I am now!)

The yoga "playshop" gave me the opportunity to connect with a beautiful soul, struggling with her own losses and its messages - who somehow managed to be graceful, present, and attentive to the rest of us - putting our needs first and above her own. I know that she will be stronger as a result, and will continue to touch the hearts and souls of many...

I can only marvel at the incredible last few days I had. So many losses that resulted in gains - spiritually, and in other ways. Everything cycles through. Life gives - and then it takes. Life takes and then it gives again, and again, if we open our hearts as a chalice to receive the outpourings of love and grace that are always there for the asking and taking.

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