Today, instead of going with the group to visit a Hanuman temple a couple of valleys away (which entailed at least two hours each way of hairpin turns and going through a construction zone so dusty tying a t-shirt or scarf around my head would be necessary and having almost no opportunity to take care of biological needs), I chose to stay back. I honored the spirit of Hanuman with seva in the form of a morning helping tend the grounds.
In the afternoon I will walk into the village with two others who are in residence here. One a Canadian Indian who is a Kabir scholar, the other a Dutch woman who has been spending a month or two every year for the past decade.
There is a Siva festival going on. It is loud even up here on the hill. I will have my earplugs.
I am appreciating getting to connect to the space and the people who live and serve here in a way that I could not when surrounded by the rest of the group. It was very grounding for me, too, to spend a few hours gardening.
I had a long work day, followed by a Board meeting. One of the best aspects of my daily routine, given I am walking distance to work and volunteer commitments, is that I have the opportunity to enjoy things and appreciate the seasons just getting from one place to the next, no matter how full my day is otherwise .
Some of the yoga traditions that include a guru lineage believe that a guru can transmit grace (whatever that might mean) through their presence or touch. Back in the days when I was doing my first yoga teacher training, a fellow student asked me whether I had ever received shaktipat? My answer was yes–when I’d had the opportunity to shake hands with William Brennan. He’s not a guru, my fellow student objected. But he is a being of extraordinary grace, power, and intelligence who has devoted himself to the service of our collective well-being and my being in his presence inspires me to show my best light; isn’t that what’s supposed to happen with shaktipat? I don’t think she was ever fully persuaded by my unorthodox reading, but I had no need to persuade.
I found myself thinking about that discussion today, having gotten to shake John Lewis’s hand when he walked through the crowd to speak at day 2 of the people’s filibuster for health care. In the presence of his inspiration, I am compelled to figure out what more can I be doing.
I was busy enough with work today, that I was able to just concentrate. Later, when I had a chance to read the latest political news and to take a walk in the May-like day with flowers blooming as if it were weeks later in the year and the ground dry from lack of rain while others are being flooded, I found myself anxious and a welter of other emotions besides. I reminded myself to enjoy the beautiful day for what it was and asked myself what more now ought I to do?
On my way home from work, I heard the sounds of a crowd at the Capitol. I joined in to listen (Elizabeth Warren spoke shortly after I arrived) and chanted with my fellow citizens–the chant not “om mani pedme hung” nor “om mane padme hum,” but on this particular night, with this particular crowd, addressing this particular issue, “one more vote.”
Being out here over and over again regardless of hope of the immediate outcome being effectively influenced is a variation on tapas, on sadhana, on seva, on faith put into practice.
It seems that this monk and I are being drawn to the same places this week, though I am guessing our days are pretty different.
I was volunteering today at William Penn House, which was providing a comfort station for marchers during the day, as well as being full to capacity with guests.
I was doing some work in the office when a woman who looked about my age came who was in town with a group of women from Long Island for the March.
She came in to William Penn House for a bathroom, not because of any connection to Quakers or the house. But while she was waiting in line for the bathroom she ended up in conversation with the executive director, who said that the board member volunteering downstairs was also from Long Island–perhaps she knew me. It turns out that we went to the same elementary school and lived near enough to each other that we rode the same school bus.
It is just one of the reminders I’ve had this weekend of how connected we are.