Gratitude For a Garden of Soul Companions

More than a lover, I came into this world wanting a true soul companion. And while I waited a long time for this rare gift, what I received, in the long run, was a whole harvest of them!

I have been truly blessed to have known many wonderful friends throughout my life, but I was always drawn to the notion of spiritual friendship. I wondered what it would be like to have a true friend of the soul - to be a St. Jeanne de Chantal to St. Francis de Sales, or St. Claire of Assisi to St. Francis of Assisi, or to be St. Louise de Marillac to St. Vincent de Paul. Or, St. Teresa of Avila - to St. John of the Cross. I could go on, and on, and on. One of my favorite spiritual works has been Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rievaulx.

In my graduate school years, I often read the letters or correspondence between such titans in the world of Catholic spirituality. I envisioned writing a dissertation on spiritual friendship - but Dr. Wendy M. Wright, outlined many of these beautiful relationships in her own research.

All of my life, I simply wanted to be understood. I wanted to share the contents of my soul, freely, and to be understood, unconditionally. Though, in the words of St. Francis of Assisi - I strove instead to pray not to be understood - but to understand...

In the many decades since my student years, and those spent teaching theology, I was still enamored by other traditions and what they had to offer - always at home in all of them - and at home in every one of God's houses and among all His people. Even as a child, I could not believe that only Catholics merited heaven. How could a loving God exclude my friends? In my young adulthood I comfortably danced through Judaism, and Buddhism, and lastly Hinduism and the yogic tradition, studying all them quite thoroughly.

Years ago, a cousin described me to a friend as someone who was starting her own religion. But that was not true. I just wholeheartedly embraced so many traditions, and rituals, and sacred texts from every corner of the earth.

I had so much I wanted to share and discuss - but very few who understood. So I kept it inside, pondering it in my heart, as the scriptures say that Mary did.

Years later, while working on my doctorate, I shared my desire for spiritual friendship and communion to a group of Lutheran ministers with whom I was studying with. One of them said to me at that time, that perhaps what I most sought was not meant to be. Maybe I was destined to embrace and embody the theological theory of "kenosis," and like Jesus, in Philippians 2:7, I was meant to empty and divest myself of everything, and live my life as a self-offering. And so, for many years, that's what I believed, and that's how I lived...

In the second half of my life - as I was approaching my 50th year, I came to know and dearly love a sweet soul whose own spiritual journey bore many similarities to mine, and for the first time, I was able to fully disclose matters of the heart and soul, that I rarely tried to share before because they were simply misunderstood or dismissed. This precious friend, helped me awaken in ways I could not have imagined or foreseen, and after decades of not writing, I began to write and have not stopped since. So you see, the poetry that I have since given birth to, and this blog, would not have come to be...

While a few years after that, it seemed like I was sucked into a vortex of turbulence and depression and great despair - as I ferociously and painfully died to one life - in the process of giving birth to another in great agony and resistance - I was never abandoned by those who truly matter. Now, as I stand on the other side of the river, having arrived on another, more desirable shore, God miraculously gifted me with many more such like-minded souls, that I have primarily come to know within the Anusara Yoga community - both locally, here at Willow Street Yoga, and globally as well...

If any of you readers of this blog are ever in the Washington DC area, treat yourself to a drop in class at Willow Street - it will be both a treat and wonderful gift to yourself!

As my acupuncturist wisely pointed out this week, we cannot label a time in our lives as a transition - until we are out of it - and recognize it for what it was, and as I shared with several this week, the time of great transitioning is behind me, even though others, are certainly waiting in the wings...

Earlier in the week, I wrote of sharing an early birthday by walking the labyrinth with the very soul who helped me awaken. And now, I stand on the threshold of my 55th birthday - which I will spend in the company of many of these like-minded soul friends that have come to populate the garden of my heart, as we gather for our last Anusara workshop of the year with John Friend in Pennsylvania next weekend! I did Paris on my 50th, and now I will spend it in a beloved community, for my 55th.

When I began this blog, three years ago, and was pulled into what then seemed like a long period of darkness, I didn't know and couldn't see what was coming and all the great blessings and gifts that would continue to unfold in my life. The theologian in me can't help but recall, this passage from Luke 24:32, describing the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, with the resurrected Christ, whom they did not recognize at first:

"They asked one another,
'Were not our hearts burning within us
while he talked with us on the road
and and opened the scriptures to us?'

I did not see then and did not recognize the hand of God embracing me in every moment, supporting me in every way - bringing into my life - not a "brace of kinsmen" as in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - but a garden of infinite and Divine soul mates!


Erin said…
Beautiful writing today, Olga! Thank you for sharing. Your words reminded me of a quote that I have always loved: "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." --Marcel Proust
Erin said…
Beautiful writing today, Olga! Thank you for sharing. Your writing reminded me of a quote that I have always loved: "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." --Marcel Proust
Olga Rasmussen said…
Wow Erin! I was just sending the very dear soul I speak of in this entry a card with that same quote! Love you dearly!
Erin said…
Were you really? Ah, I love our soul connection! And I love you, too!

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