This time last year I set out on a month of adventure. I am about to venture out for another August, but this story is very different than the one I was telling a year ago.
After returning from last year’s excursions I found myself jobless, and quite without a sense of direction. The time seemed ripe to return to a place of great importance to me, the Satchidananda Ashram.
I had once sought the ashram as a refuge at the age of 20. That period of time was one of great turmoil in which I found myself suddenly living alone, instead of with my partner, and feeling crushed by the weight of my own responsibility for my life situation.
The brief time I spent at the ashram was one of the most meaningful experiences of my short life. But it was just that, brief. Instead of the planned month of service I was to do there, I rushed home as soon as the voice in my head told me it had had enough.
The work was too hard. I missed my family. I couldn’t stomach the health food. And God didn’t want or need me to worship Him this way. These were the patterns of thought that I let drive me back home.
However, I never regretted my short stay. I loved my time there. I loved my roommates and the lifestyle. I knew I would be back. I knew there was some purpose in this brief introduction.
Cut to last fall, six years after leaving the ashram. It was time to go back. But the tumor living incognito in my skull caused a seizure, and the long road to surgery and recovery began. I was okay with this, I was just happy to be alive. And I knew my time would come.
Then it was February of this year. I felt more myself again. Now that I’m more recovered I can see how ambitious I was being, but I decided February was my chance. I was finally healthy, and I had been looking forward to this since before my surgery. Then the phone rang, and a job opportunity thrust its way into my life. It was a blessing, but I felt let down.
Now all these months later, with many hitches along the way, I’m packing to leave in a week. I won’t be back until September 8th. I can’t really have any expectations about it now. Just getting to be there will be a tremendous gift. And that is one of the major lessons about life that I’m constantly losing sight of. Just getting to be here is tremendous.
Life can easily feel like one burdensome situation after another, but I know it doesn’t have to. If you’ve ever experienced a moment of inner peace, of the stillness of nature, of laughter with people you love, you too know life doesn’t have to feel like a burden. It is as if a bright light is shining down on all of us, and if we shift just one step to the right we will be completely immersed in its glow. My going to the ashram is taking that one step. What is yours?