“We’re all just walking each other home” Ram Das
The woods glowed yellow sunlight through the brightly dying leaves. Before my walk, Jon and I meditated together. It was there I saw an image of my torso filled with old broken furniture. It piled up messily inside of me filling me up.
Now as the dry leaves churned and crunched under my shoes, I saw another image of me vomiting up all that furniture. I imagined making a drawing of the stream of old furniture starting in my belly coming up through my throat and arching out of my mouth.
That’s when I smelled something unusual.
It was aromatic, familiar yet I couldn’t quite place it. It was gone just as quickly as it had come. I thought it must have come from something growing or dying in that particular place that I had just walked, so I turned around and went back.
And there it was again.
I breathed in the smell and I realized it was cinnamon. Then, with the smell of cinnamon, came a memory.
In my minds eye I saw the bowl of warm rice in warm milk, small chunks of peeled apples, sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top. It was something my mother would make when I was a kid. Something no one else in the family liked.
Something the two of us shared.
As the memory flooded through me, I sensed an invisible presence above me. I looked up into the tree tops and it was as if I was seeing the leaves and sky through shiny glass or very clear water. But also nothing as solid as glass or water.
Then I felt the presence of my mother.
Not as I knew her, but as something clear and pure. Like the essence of who she really was without all the stuff that life had put upon her. I had the sense that she was telling me it was all okay. That she saw me and loved me for who I was. That all the bad that had been between us didn’t really matter at all.
I began to cry, deep sobs that came up from the lowest part of me.
Last week in my Bellydancing class, my teacher Julz corrected my posture. “You’re standing like this,” she said and slouched her shoulders forward, her chest caving in.
I knew she was right. I’d been feeling so heavy that week. My chest felt like it was sinking down into my hips, and I didn’t have the strength to hold myself up. I wondered about it. I’d felt so free the first week after my mother died, and now I was caving in on myself.
For the rest of class I made an effort to let my shoulders and back muscles drop, to lift my chest, but I had to remind myself over and over again.
Now, standing in the woods, the tears flowing freely, I felt my body open up. My torso so full of old broken furniture just moments ago, became an empty cavern. My shoulders slid down my back and my chest floated up.
I went into the woods with a weight in my chest and came out feeling closer to my mother than I ever had when she was alive.
Whether my mother in her essence was really in the woods with me yesterday, I can’t say I know for sure. Perhaps a therapist would say it was something I conjured up because I wanted it so badly.
I remember when our friend Paul took his own life, Brian who found him hanging from a tree, later saw Paul walking by the river waving to him. I had no doubt Brian had seen Paul’s ghost. That he was letting Brian know he was okay now. But Doug, who was also there, and had served as a medic in Vietnam was just as certain that Brian was experiencing Post Traumatic Stress from having found his friend and mentor.
I can’t say I know exactly what happened in the woods. But I do know what I felt and still feel. And I choose to believe in that, because I know it’s good for me. And it gives me hope, not just in this life, but in what may happen after we die.
(Thanks to Suzanne for the Ram Das quote)