Tidal Basin

Germination Detail Part III, by Leslie Shellow

contemplations about what stays in the net

Monday, August 20, 2012


I just returned from a delightful weekend of chanting and contemplation with Stefan Andre Waligur and a slew of amazing pilgrims of spirit and heart.


Wow. The coolest thing was, after years of studying tantric Hindu Kashmir Shaivism, I sat amidst an ecumenical group (I just learned that word) of mystical Christians and the stories of our traditions blended so seamlessly, I forgot about boundaries altogether and discovered myself in the company of the deepest part of myself again.

I've been in a desert of sorts for a handful of years. I've felt judged. I've judged myself. I've judged others. In my isolation, I lost track of how to enter a room and stay for a while. Stefan said one thing that really struck me. He invited us to listen without interpretation to what others said. It sounded simple. This meant we weren't even to paraphrase their ideas in order to understand them better. It was about making a space for someone's expression and allowing it to fill that space completely without being nudged aside or shaped in any way by the listener. I realized I've tried to connect with people by having a response or an answer. I think I want to help so I offer interpretations from my experience of the world. The thing is, I am scared. Scared to not say a word. Scared to be unable to help. Scared I won't be liked if I don't somehow relate to what someone is saying. Scared of silence.

 I've been longing to connect with like-minded souls, a tribe of sorts. I didn't realize how much I missed my grandmothers until two vibrant sisters, as in nuns, took to me as I took to them. It wasn't so hard to understand their devotion to God. For many years, my primary relationship has been with the Divine. But I haven't found the balance they've found for having chosen one path. I love God secretly -- like a forbidden lover -- in the moments of my meditation practice, in the secrecy of the woods, in the presence of animals that appear to me on my path, and in my dreams. The Divine is the biggest part of my life and the part I never talk about, but it shines through me nonetheless. This weekend, I said the name of the Divine. I said God. I said Universe. I said Love. Over and over. Until I had breathed in so much devotion from the room I got drunk on its ubiquity. It was in every corner, every smile, every tear, every note. It was in the space between notes. It was in my own contemplation of what it was like to open to grace, grace-- the word on the stone I chose as my guide. Grace in the way for the first time in many years, I did not judge myself.

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