I recently returned to California to complete some personal business and to say my last goodbyes to the land I have called home for most of my life. It was a bittersweet experience. It was both lovely to visit old friends and familiar places that I have loved for so long, and difficult to know it will likely be a long time before I see them again.
There were some defining moments for me that I’d like to share.
A highlight for me is always picking up the two adorable puppies I loved and cared for who now have new owners. We love to go to the beach and walk for hours as the puppies romp and roam freely on the endless beach.
As the dogs and I walked, we came across a huge mass lying just on the shoreline. I couldn’t see what it was at first. It looked like a giant tree fallen there, but upon coming closer I saw that it was the dead body of a baby whale. At first I wanted to avoid the sad image, but then I looked closer and felt into the beautiful creature that had gotten washed up on the shore. It looked forlorn, broken and emaciated. I learned later that it is just one of over 70 grey whales that have washed up on California shores this year, either dying of starvation or being rammed by ships.
My heart breaks as I allow myself to feel that this is the beginning of the end of these majestic beings, that our grandchildren may never get to experience. It brings it home that with the thousands of species going extinct every day, we are losing treasures that enrich our lives and our Planet in untold ways. Extinction is forever.
As I walked on the beach, with the puppies running and playing I think how like the puppies we are – happy in our own little worlds, but completely unaware of what is happening in the wider world. And how like us, humans; to take care of our own lives and loved ones, but not realize what is happening to the families of so many animal species. This tragedy is with me daily as I tune into the rapidly changing world we live in and how our planet is burning and groaning under the effects of climate change which I don’t think any of us with eyes to see and hearts to feel can ignore.
Also while in California, I visited Beloved Harbin Hot Springs where I lived for five years until the fires of 2015 rampaged through there, ravaging the earth and wrecking the community. The Valley fire was the first of the four major fires in Northern California in the last five years, setting a precedent for the new normal times we are living in. Harbin’s lovers and friends have been awaiting its re-opening and this spring it happened.
It was so wonderful to be back in the fresh healing waters, the warm pools, the hot pool and the cold plunge pool, where sits Quan Yin, as equanimous as ever underneath the perennial fig tree that everyone thought had been burned up in the fire but which grows as profusely and abundant as ever. It made me cry with joy to see it coming back, so outrageously and fiercely, reminding me of Nature’s resilience and forgiveness. I wonder how long we can take her life-giving sustenance for granted.
As I get older and see the death of so much that I love, both in people and places, I am aware in my own life of the fragility and fleetingness of this precious life, both my own and the many life forms that also call this Planet home.
I long to make the kind of difference that can somehow turn back the clock to a happier time, to a world where all things have equal rights to existence, where loving kindness and compassion and wisdom are the way rather that the greed and ignorance and hatred that currently rule our world. Each day I wake up with an existential anxiety and fundamental helplessness. I ask myself what can I do to serve the Great Turning that I pray is coming, that will bring humanity back to its senses, and awaken us to an awareness of oneness with all life.
I am grateful for the blessing of spiritual practice that helps me to quiet the fearful mind, settle into the heart of compassion and open myself to being fully present and available to life. I think the greatest thing any of us can do is to become instruments of peace and servants of love, to do our inner work to live more graceful lives and offer ourselves in whatever way we are called in service to the world.
With all of this weighing on me, I have created a meditation course called Gifts of Grace, that I am inviting others to join me in this Summer. This course will address such monumentally important topics in this current time on our planet, such as: How to bring your spiritual practice to your most challenging experiences (grief, loss, heartbreak, and loneliness), the nature of true self-acceptance; surrounding our painful experience with love and tenderness and so much more.
In Service to the Awakening of Humanity and
the Healing of Our Planet…Rajyo
You can learn more about the upcoming course,
Gifts of Grace beginning July 13th.
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