From the turbulence of life’s journey to the calm of the inward passage within

 

…..”life is an adventure not a package tour”….
~~~~~~Echkart Tolle~~~~~~~~

On the spur of the moment, I asked for a 6 weeks no pay leave ….yes then I took off almost rashly without much planning on a self adventurous trip to Israel, the Holyland, Egypt and Jordan in the beginning of 1998.

I couldn’t take the stress of working in the emergency room any longer, I felt like a chicken running around with its head cut off.I could not concentrate with my mind running erratically out of control.I felt unsafe for myself and others working under immense stress within myself!

So why did I choose the Middle-east….a time of political unrest and dangers of bombings for tourists especially so in Egypt.I knew and had read about all the chaotic happenings in those countries and was even warned by collegues, friends and family of the upheavels in those regions….but did I care?

I wanted to or rather needed an adventure so I chose the Middle-east because I was always fascinated to know who this Jesus was and wanted to walk the path where he lived and taught and walked and hoping to be touched and be healed of these ‘malignant’inner afflictions tormenting me!

Besides, I always like visiting sacred sites of any sort,Lourdes in France,Fatima in Portugal and the various many places where Christian saints had visionary experiences or places where so called miracles happened.I could consider myself a sort of pilgrim looking for spiritual encounters…….

I suppose I was known to be stubborn, volatile and if I had wanted to do something…..I would do it anyway and somehow I would take responsibilities for my actions to the dismay of those who cared for me.I guess I had a reckless nature! Was this a good or bad thing? As I see it from where I am at this stage of my life……I call it the courage to live and experience life, most importantly the courage of trying to search for answers,for the unknown for anything that might open the door for ‘salvation’for my turbulent and ‘messed up’life.

Despite being strong-willed,and having a temperamental,fiery past disposition, I also had a tender side of kindness and generosity and goodness towards others and on a deeper level,I knew there was something more sacred that was waiting to be revealed.Whatever harsh negative traits I used to display outwardly, there was always an inner call that paid attention to find my way to sit in church, light a candle and pray for help for others as well as for myself……

However messy and tumultous my life was, I never failed to sit with ‘God’to ask for strength and guidance for a way out……..matter of fact the church was always the first place I would go to seek help in any crisis either for myself or for others.Nobody knew much of me in this simple way,I was known to almost everyone for being hot-tempered,self centred, wanting things my way.Although it was hurtful to know that people were not liking me, somehow I never disliked or resented anyone for thinking of me in this ‘distateful’ way, as I knew myself I was like that and hated it and didn’t like myself for being so,I wanted very much to change but I didn’t know how to then!

As I remember of my first day in Israel,from Tel Aviv airport, I took a bus to Jersusalem and stayed in a hostel very close to the church of The Holy Selpuchre(the holiest of sites in Jerusalem).That same evening, I walked to the place where Jesus was supposedly crucified and buried.On arriving at the church,I bent to kiss a slab of stone where it is said Jesus was was laid after being taken down from the cross…..I remember crying my eyes out and all I could say was “help me,help me”over and over with a sincere and distraught heart..As I walked and travelled like a pilgrim but feeling like a ‘sinner’ over most of Israel and to the many many holy sites seeking for something which I had no idea what, my heart and mind were only asking one thing…’help me’of which I dont know what of..I must say it was not a smooth easy travel but one of dangers, real-life harrowing adventures and uneasiness and fears as I self journeyed in the Middle-east witnessing warfare as I crossed the Gaza strip in a mini-van,stranded in a civil war zone in Bethlehem,stopped in the middle of a desert alone with the taxi driver on the way to Jordan ,floated in the dead sea,climbed,hiked up mount Masada in the Judean valley,crawled up inside the pyramid of Giza in Egypt etc,etc.It was as though I had to learn to toughten up and brace myself to learn courage and strength for the intense spiritual inward journey which was to begin at the end of the same year.

1998 was a very turbulent year, even after coming back from my so called ‘pilgrimage’ to the Holyland and Middle-east, I was still caught up in a frenzy and madness of emotional/mental/spiritual disturbances of all sorts, facing dillemas after dillemas,there were so much anguish churning within me, I felt so knotted up and imprisoned….so here I go again,only after 2 months back from the pilgrimage, I took off again on a month long journey to Greece…..island hopping, sight-seeings,travelled to mid Greece to visit the monasteries built right atop the mountains and so on.For a while it was good, a diversion, I was distracted I was enjoying looking at this new exciting venture….then time to go back home.As I got back to work….I went thru the same torments,the pains and inner aggravations drove me to run away again for the third time in the same year,this time to work in Saudi Arabia.So in September 1998, I was accepted to work on a one year contract as a registered nurse in the emergency department of a military hospital smacked in the middle of the desert of Saudi Arabia.I thought by completely going away from familiar homeground and work environment, I could escape my pains and inner disturbances.

Instead it was to prove me wrong as I landed at Jeddah airport of Saudi Arabia, I was so petrified and remember feeling breathless and choked,I wanted to catch the next flight back to Canada……fear was now building up within my being……..I didn’t know what was happening in me anymore,all ‘balled’up, I braced myself to work in the emergency department and I heard potential news that the head of department wanted me to take over as clinical nurse instructor for emergency……no,no, I told myself, I could not take this responsibility as mounting fear brewing coupled with anxieties, anger and unknown sense of hatred waiting to explode…………
With the scorching Saudi desert heat against me, I managed to struggle working unhappily at the hospital witnessing horrific and traumatic events and dramas I had never seen before!

I needed to get out of there but kept pushing on……..until after about 3 months on, I went thru a crisis whereby I could not sleep(didn’t have a wink at all)for a week and still had to work all the while….imagine my deepening anxiety and fear as I tried taking all kinds of sedatives and herbal teas with the support of my room-mate(Maggie) to help me sleep but to no avail…..it felt like I was going to lose my mind, my body was wrecked in burning pains,I couldn’t think or focus anymore.Maggie suggested I go see the emergency room doctor to get an injection….so I went,before I could see the doctor, the head of ER saw and invited me to her office for a chat, there I told her I wanted to resign,she was dissappointed and said if I wanted to go then give a 24hours notice which I happily did.

That very hour after tending in my resignation, I went back to the apartment dead tired from sleep deprivation and immediately fell into a deep deep sleep to be awoken by a deep manly voice calling out my name “celeste,celeste,celeste”……………that voice felt so near,almost like someone in the room trying to wake me up,in a frenzy I got up and walked all around the huge apartment looking for that ‘someone’ who had woken me up from that much needed sleep.No one was there,Maggie was working, in that very instant, I saw visions(premonitions) of all that had to be done when I got back to Vancouver Canada……..namely getting psychological help,meeting up with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd,changing my life,doing works of charity,etc,etc, etc,…it seemed amazing and baffling at the same time.I could not comprehend or understand, I had never experienced anything like this before!!

Short few days later, I was on the airplane on my way back to Canada……..crying all the way,feeling like a failure,regretful, angry and hating myself,feeling worthless and tremendously down!Yet on the other hand there was a yearning,a longing and a feeling of hope and light waiting for me to open up to,to surrender to……..which I did faithfully,devotedly and immmersed into with all my heart, strength and might to walk into this journey of self inquiry,meditation,purification,forgiveness and self realisations,experiences and insights of the who I was into the Who I Am……………..thus the true spiritual journey began for me in November 1998…………from turbulence to calm abiding……………

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The loving path

When we open our hearts to love truly, courageously and selflessly, we witness graces and blessings blooming on the path as we walk thru,yes even sufferings as we face them become joy……

Love is always there……..

Love is…….always,eternal…..love is what we speak of, or call or know as ‘God’……love is the ‘I Am'(Now)…….the stillness,the awared presence,the presence of goodness.

Love is presence of divine intelligence that guides and opens the path of fearlessness to face all phenomenon however challenging,tragic and joyful with no regrets or turning back.Love is the presence of beauty itself….there is no outward ‘ugliness’….there is nothing to judge or condemn/criticise….

Love is Truth…it speaks only to light the dark with no malicious/hurtful,egoic intent.Love is the act of forgiveness,purifying the path and planting the seeds of peace….

Love animates in kind actions,beneficial for all,with no segregation to anyone!

Love competes with no-one,with nothing……it stands open alone like a beacon for all to see…….
Love is not out there to search for or to be envious that someone else might have,it is not to be afraid that we cannot attain it…..for it is already Within us!

Give however little you have!

“Give,even if you have little”
~~~~ Buddha ~~~~

The widow’s offering…..according to the Christian gospels, while watching people in the temple put their monetary offerings into the treasury box,Jesus tells his disciples to look at the poor widow who put in 2 copper coins while the rich were putting in quite a bit of money …so he says to them, “in truth the widow has put in more than the others because the rich were putting in their surpluses while this poor woman gave all that she had!”

Are we afraid of giving,either giving of ourselves to those in need,to make sincere time or put an effort to bring cheer or to be kind to others(not only the ones we like or near and dear to us)to make someone ‘happy’just to see them happy and not to please our own needs.

Even when we do not receive anything from making others to feel uplifted, will we lose anything,……. perhaps we might gain joy and a sense of meaningful living from doing so,our hearts are learning to be wise and compassionate,it is learning to be open to love without conditions and limitations………..

Even when we cannot be present to give of our time and effort,we can practise the offering of our sincere kind thoughts and intentions by way of prayers, supplications, wishes and pleasant kindly surprises etc….
We might each be caught up with our own state of affairs and problems and so are the others…and it doesn’t mean that we take for granted that people who seem well to do, busy enjoying life and look seemingly happy are at peace and are not in need of kindly attentions!

If we can but give a few moments of our thoughtful time for others,we can practise opening the heart to generosity and kindness,instead of keeping it locked in…….thinking we are the only ones suffering or going thru rough and lonely,difficult desperate times.When we relate to others by way of thoughfulness and understanding and respect,we soften our hearts and therefore can be resilient and be adaptable to our own difficult circumstances ……..

When we truly give even if we have little……we acknowledge and witness to the wealth we already are within…….

I like to honor my father Harold in this aspect of generosity,giving the very little he had …..a man who did not have much by way of financial security but a man rich of heart………..I remember my father’s kindness especially so when he would sacrifice his share of food to give to 2 poor families whom he temporarily allowed to come live with us in our simple home,I remember they made makeshift beds and little shelters in our living room with carboard boxes.My father made sure they had food to eat….no matter, he was always willing to eat less so others may share in the meal.As I write this I can feel the generosity/kindness of his heart and most importantly he never made a fuss or complained or showed disrespect to these poor families ….both families were only mothers with children( a couple of mentally disabled children included)…………..I guess unconsciously then I learned a lot from my father’s kindness,from his very little offerings to us,his family,friends,relatives and to strangers and to all who came into our humble home………………………………………….

Let it be

This song is truly spiritually meaningful………….the words of wisdom here is “let it be”…………”there will be an answer”…….in life there will always be an answer…..whether it be good/bad,positive/negative,yes/no….whatever the outcome ….we simply allow things to be…..we learn to accept and adapt to the given situation…….yes sometimes we have to wait for a while before the answer we need to know comes,in the meantime we learn to be patient and gracious and remain humble and trusting and open, not clinging or manipulating,trying to control to what we think we need but simply flowing with life’s given opportunities for spiritual growth and there is always light shining Within!

 

Paul Mcartney(of the famous Beatles) wrote the song let it be thru an inspiration he had in a dream of his mother Mary saying to him at a time of darkness in his life ….he heard her telling him to …..”let it be!”

Whether we want to make it that the Virgin Mary is speaking words of wisdom… “let it be” or anybody else inspirational saying there will be an answer….we can allow ourselves to be imaginative and creative and listen attentively with our hears to the words and bring in comfort that all things are impermanent and will work accordingly and simply let it be,let things be, let life open whatever,however,with whomever we need to learn to enrich our lives with courage and presence.

 

This song brings back a memory of a time when I was newly walking on my spiritual journey some 18/19 years ago. I was invited by the spiritual leader Sr.Elise of the Good Shepherd Convent to go to Cuba to try and open a convent there in Havana.We met the archbishop or bishop,I wasn’t too sure which,but I remember he held my hand and didn’t want to let it go,all the time talking to me in English while talking to Sr. Elise in Spanish.It was a time of spiritual beauty, grace and little miracles I experienced internally……I felt like the universe had laid out beautiful shells and conches on the beach while I walked on the sand.We were also graciously invited to go visit a convent there for lunch.

 

After all the work done by Sr. Elise,it was time to leave Cuba,while waiting for the bus to go to the airport,Sr. Elise asked me…..what do you think,will a convent come to fruition here in Cuba…….I replied I don’t know,there will be an answer,just let t be………..and as soon as we boarded the bus……the very first song that played on the bus stereo as we settled to sit down….was Let it be by the Beatles! And of course I turned to Sr.Elise and said here is your answer!

 

We do what we need to do and let things be…………………

The humble beggar

The spiritual journey is like a humble hungry beggar who knocks on the door of the Master for food,quietly persistent,never complaining or showing anger despite being turned away umpteen times.The master finally sees the patience,sincerity and devotion of the beggar and at last invites the beggar in for a sumptous feast!