Thursday, March 10, 2011

Albatrosses to be shed

I had a last-minute invitation to an International Women's Day (IWD) lunch hosted by a Russian friend of mine Tuesday that was more of a treat than I could have imagined. I had never even heard of IWD until I met Svetlana a few years ago when the heater on the gym pool conked out in December and we were the two lone and hearty souls to take a dip.

The luncheon brought together an interesting array of women spanning five decades of ages, a myriad of life experiences and the common desire to unite. It was lively, serious, fun, nurturing and the breath of fresh air I desperately needed. Emanuela, originally from Umbria, Italy, and Svetlana, from St. Petersburg, had both grown up celebrating IWD, so they seemed to be the driving forces of the commemoration, which happened to be the 100th anniversary. It's a national, no-work, holiday in almost 30 countries. Apparently, in the former Soviet Union, there's a men's day, but everyone still works. The irony was not lost on me.

Initially,  IWD was political in nature, originating in socialist Eastern Europe and Russia advocating better rights and working conditions for women, but has taken on the larger role of celebrating and uniting women around the world. It seems the collective voice has grown loud and strong in a century.

And I had NEVER heard of it before my Russian friend. How strange and ridiculous is that ... in this land of plenty and justice? Fortunately, my seventh-grader came home also talking about it as it had been discussed on her daily school news program.

After a marvelous Soviet-style feast, mingling and getting acquainted, learning about IWD and feeling a part of this group, we meditated together. Right there in Svetlana's living room mid day. And it was glorious. She played an Indian sax CD, we opened our kundalini energy and faced her altar dedicated to Sahaja Yoga founder/guru Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, who died last month.

All of these women had that in common. They asked if I'd be comfortable meditating with them; I smiled and said I was Quaker and used to silent worship, which is, essentially, the same thing. They seem pleased.

OMG I had not realized how very long it had been since I had meditated outside of Sunday worship. Sure, I make my semi-weekly swims meditative and the five-minutes of relaxation twice a week in yoga, but this was SO different, SO healing, SO cathartic because I entered with NOTHING.

It has been a very long time since I entered my Sunday worship that way and I had not even realized it. Compared to the heaviness and restrictiveness I have felt in Quakerism [can you tell I haven't been fed in awhile?], the Sahaja yoga was light, deep and refreshing all at the same time. With no agenda.

I also happened to have a strange dream this week. [Well, aren't most dreams strange?] Someone in the Quaker Meetinghouse was pointing out rubber body parts – a heart, hand and unidentifiable organ – on the office floor to me. I recognized them as representing me and, upon reflection, something has been tearing me apart ... literally. My wise spiritual friend has given me some ideas for working further with this dream, but it is obvious wholeness is not a part of my life right now and I am beginning to understand the source – that, perhaps, it's time to explore another spiritual avenue. I am uncertain whether that means leaving my home of the past 12 years or just branching out. Hard to tell, but Tuesday's meditation makes the idea more appealing,

• How has a refreshing experience shaped or changed my view or attitude?
• When my spirituality has become stale, am I brave enough to look elsewhere or make a change?
• How can I extract myself from that kind of rut?
• What are potential drawbacks?
• Potential rewards?

unquestioningly entrenched
because, for so long, it fit

wearing it, bearing it because
it had been such a vital connection

relying more on memory than
the present for comfort

until something: a new experience or dream
awakens us to new possibilities and albatrosses to be shed

what courage will I be called to muster?

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