“You, who are the source of all power, whose rays illuminate the whole world, illuminate also my heart, so that it to can do your work.” Gayatri prayer
My good friend Netty remembers the late 80’s as a time of awakening. I remember it as the end of one life and the beginning of another. My father’s tragic death, pushed me into 1990 where a major shift occurred in both Netty and my lives. I remember that she traded in her power business suit and disappeared into the jungles of Costa Rica. That was after I had attended her Angela Farmer influenced yoga class. Netty had just returned from Greece where she had studied with Angela and Victor van Kooten for a few weeks. She returned with a whole new perspective on the practice and I was seriously envious of her journey. Then out of nowhere she up and leaves her husband, her business, her students and her life in Sarasota for a lean-to on a beach in Central America.
One warm day, two years after her disappearance, Netty showed up on my doorstep. I handed her the keys to my huge, gas guzzling Chevy Malibu and flew off to the Caribbean islands as she drove north to Ohio. The next time we were to meet would be nine years later in an old brothel in Madrid, Spain (now there’s a future blog). The fates, karma, gods, goddess, call it what you will, but one minute I was marveling at the contentment I was experiencing in my life, when in an eye blink I was plucked from my home, my marriage, and my business to be set down in the Caribbean islands cooking in strange kitchens, practicing asana ankle deep in mineral rich sands, while working with the most courageous people I had ever met, terminal cancer patients.
The human spirit has the most amazing ability to reach beyond its limitations and grasp for every remaining second of life. Too often I have witnessed how some people only come to life when threatened with death. They then rise up and begin to embrace this gift we have been given. In the face of death there is rebirth in all its painful, laborious, grand dramatics. The human spirit will step out into some kind of void and fling itself out into space trusting, finally trusting that they will be spared. Problem is they are often to late, but my, oh my, the journey they make is the masterpiece they never would have written were it not for their disease.
I have written this story, nay, I continue to edit and nurture my adventures with this rogues gallery of spirits. One day I will publish it and then you will meet them all, but for now let me say that without my yoga practice I could not have traveled that road. There was so much love and compassion that was needed and I did not think I was capable of such depths. At the age of 40 years old I had re-entered the darkness, only this time it was to help others find their way out and into the light.
Over those six years I lost everything I had thought was important to me. My life of contentment was dissolved into liquid ether and when I resurfaced deep in the forests of Northwestern New Jersey I was able to do so only because I had a yoga practice that anchored me firmly to the Divine. It was not Hatha yoga, but Karma yoga that I practiced during those years. I was asked to give unconditionally and what an almost impossible lesson it proved to be. Do not be fooled to think I was some special being who took to this practice as a duck to water.
Does one receive a grade of pass or fail for the path of karma yoga? I know not. I only know that it is a passage of deep fire meant to burn the karmic imprints of past actions. When I was once more able to raise my eyes to the sun it was with the Gayatri prayer from the Rune stone, Sowelu. Choosing this Rune speaks of the Spiritual Warrior’s quest towards wholeness, a striving to become what in actuality, by nature, I have always been. “Sowelu marks a time for regeneration right down to the cellular level.” In other words, I had been taken apart piece by piece, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Then one night I dreamt that I had grown wings, just in time, before the void enfolded me in her warm, dark arms of empty space. I think those wings told me I had passed through the fire, hardly unscathed, but free to fly now, up towards God and forward into the next phase of my life.