Saturday, November 13, 2010
The 1988 journey to Benares I mentioned yesterday was part of a trip I took around the world with my ex-husband. By the time we got to Benares we had already been to Japan, Thailand, and in India to Delhi, Jaipur, Jodpur and Udaipur. So when we arrived in Benares, I thought I was well acclimated to the exotic world of Asia. My my, when will I ever learn not to make such assumptions?
After Benares, we continued traveling west - first to Italy, then the U.K., New York, and finally home to San Francisco. What a trip! So many stories associated with that journey, wow. Nevertheless, I can say without a doubt it was Benares that had the biggest impact. Watching people worship and pray as a matter of course, watching them stop by the Shiva shrines on every street, in every part of the city, to leave an offering of marigolds or pour some Ganges river water, was a revelation. In Benares the manner of worship is completely integrated into their "regular" lives. The people worship the same way we drop our Netflix DVD's off at the mailbox. The life of the spirit is absolutely integrated. Wow. When I got home to San Francisco I realized I didn't ever have to wait for a proper occasion in order to talk to God. I could worship and pray whenever I wanted.
Right after that journey, I began listening to the wind, fog and crazy landscape of San Francisco. Imagine how surprised I was to realize that the land, weather, the sun and the moon had so many stories to tell. I had lived in San Francisco for years, but until I put my feet on the ground in Benares, I was oblivious to the liveliness of the world, completely unaware that I could be in relationship with the elements, weather, planets and stars. Benares opened my heart to my spiritual path.
In spite of how traumatic that experience was, I am deeply grateful. Maybe I am a little bit more like George Harrison than I think I am. He was more graceful about it, but he, too, was utterly changed after visiting India.
My dream lingers in my heart/mind. It was powerful!
Onward and upward to Saturday. Shalom.