For the last year since losing Ian my heart was too shattered to feel gratitude. I missed it like the feelings of joy or appreciation of beauty that used to easily transform my day. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I constantly reminded myself of all the many gifts that remained in tact, but I just couldn’t feel it. Everything felt stained in loss and my heart was contracted, dry. I was a stranger to myself. The enthusiasm and inspiration I took for granted for so long was replaced with an inability to accept life as it was. I couldn’t find a way to move forward in time.
The little respite I found came through movement and eventually meditation and chanting. I studied to become a yoga teacher and relished homework assignments that required me to move daily. Coming back to chanting gave my mind some rest. Still through all this practice, I often would think of being grateful, but I couldn’t feel it in my heart.
When the opportunity to travel to India on a spiritual journey with a dear friend came up, I jumped at it and convinced my son to come along. It became a destination in the future that both provided something to look towards and fulfilled a lifelong dream to experience India. India had been a longing in my earliest childhood dreams, a place that I am sure I spent many lifetimes. And so I was not surprised to find that she is the most spiritually attuned land I have ever visited. At the retreat center we stayed in, every part of the day – every meal preparation and serving, every healing, the plants and sacred cows – were all blessed in prayer every day.
As a long-time goddess worshiper, I came to see how the rituals, stories and chants that I had learned were the fabric of how life is held together in India. And I came to India with a heavy heart of seemingly unresolvable grief. As part of the retreat surroundings, a Swami performed twice daily fire rituals at sunrise and sunset. It became clear quickly, that was the healing I came for and as this holy many befriended me, miracles began to occur.
The first was being guided to an ancient temple, so old no one knows its beginning. The swami guided us through an ancient ritual on the bank of a river, which has been performed with millions of believers for tens of thousands of years. Releasing my grief to this ritual was the greatest gift of this lifetime. Sitting by the Swami’s side, learning and performing goddess rituals gave me back to myself. Time and space of lifetimes melted away. Gratitude for this life flowed through me like that river that washed my grief away.
I was back in life and more grateful than I can ever remember feeling for every tiny bit of it. And then another miracle, my daughter shared the miraculous news of the next generation in our family, baby Allegra arrived on my birthday in India.
I bow down to life and am already planning my next spiritual journey through India.
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