Let me explain . . .
Around the time I was 35 years old, after a devastating period in my life of prolonged sorrow, I had a profound experience of rebirth. I know it is cliché to say it is always darkest before the dawn, but for me it truly was.
It was a very black night, in the midst of a painful divorce and a life in complete upheaval and pain. I believed all choices in front of me led to even more pain for myself and everyone around me. I was at a point where choosing not to live felt like a very real solution to my problems. The thought of having no future became more comforting to me than any future I could foresee. I cried myself to sleep next to all the untouched pharmaceutical bottles I had gathered on the nightstand next to me.
I will never know if I would have gone through with ending my life that night, or if it was just a step I was taking in testing this option . . . moving closer to it to see if it still felt like the answer. I will never know because I have never felt that way again.
The moment I fell asleep, I saw myself sleeping on my bed from the viewpoint of the ceiling. I felt completely awake as I was hovering above myself. I was there for just a moment before being transported to a place where I was walking, trudging really, slowly up a hill carrying something heavy on my back. It was a rough, burlap type pack anchored by a strap across my forehead. I couldn’t look up, or sideways, just down at the gravel path due to the weight I was carrying. I suddenly saw two sandaled feet facing me.
As my gaze moved upward past flowing fabric, I glimpsed a radiant face gazing down at me. It was a woman who looked at me with the purest love I have ever felt. Her eyes held complete adoration for me, even as I realized she knew every hidden thing about me. She asked me “My darling, what is this heavy burden you carry?” I eagerly set down my pack and untied it, the contents spilling out on the road. I explained the importance of every ‘trouble’ I carried, each one represented by a heavy leaded glass object, each one catching the sunlight, looking deceptively beautiful. Many were broken, and I cried as I explained the guilt I felt for having broken these things that others had entrusted to me, so I carried the shards with me too, the weight and the sharp pain of them a reminder of my shame.
As she listened to my explanations and confessions her face never changed. There was no judgement, no questioning, just crystalline love flowing from her and through me. When I finished speaking, kneeling on the road, surrounded by my burdens, she finally spoke to me. She asked, “My beloved, is there anything here that is truly yours to carry anymore?”
What followed is hardest to convey because there is no earthly experience to liken it to. It was as if she was pouring a ‘knowing’ into me. A view of these burdens and this earthly life from a broad perspective of spirit, from my soul. And this view was not just coming from the perspective of this lifetime, but over many. I could see reality had more to do with how I perceived my life than what was physically happening! But the knowledge flowing into me held so much more than that, more than my meager words here can convey. I could see that I was a part of a love so much larger than myself, a love that contained everyone and everything, including me. That it always had, and it always will.
When the woman on the path saw that I could see this truth, she simply smiled and faded away. I stiffly stood up from kneeling to look for her. I felt my back straighten and stretch. I could see all around me now, a view that had not been available to me when I was wearing the pack. It was an exquisitely beautiful place, vibrant with color, blue skies and rolling green hills. Where I thought there had only been one path, the one I was on, there were actually hundreds, maybe thousands. And instead of being alone, as I thought I was, I could see there were others, all of them traveling with me. I had so many choices, so many destinations to choose. Suddenly, I could see. And then, I woke up.
I ‘woke up’ literally to a new way of seeing. Not one thing about my situation had changed that night, save for me, but life felt infinitely better!
It has been a long journey since that day, one in which I have instituted a daily practice. I exercise by flexing my ‘intention’ muscle every day. I live with the intention to see life through the same lens of expansive love as I did from that path in my vision. And in practicing this, I now have an inner knowing that no matter what is happening to me or around me, I am both the architect and artist of my life. I hold an unfailing ability to see love, joy, beauty and grace in the world. You do too. Once you have seen this truth, it cannot be unseen.
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning. ” Louis L’Amour
With my Mammaste business, my photographs and my writing it is my hope to show others this truth. That even in dark times, and there still are dark times, I know there is goodness in this world. It is always there waiting. And when we are ready, when we look with our full attention and intention, it reveals itself to us. The divinity in the everyday. Every day.