I am lucky to live near a park that has a wooded area big enough to enjoy what it means to be in a forest. It is relatively quiet with not a lot of human traffic at certain times of the day. In this grove I have a couple of 'special' places where I go, private and for me sacred places where I feel a relationship with the trees and shrubs and earth, with the cawing of the crows and the scamper of the squirrels. As the trees abide around and hover above me, silent in their ageless watching, they seem to gather near and listen, inviting me to remember. They evoke within me reminders of parts of myself that I lose contact with in my everyday life, and they stimulate an emergence of recollections that I don't ever remember knowing.
I was sitting there just a few minutes ago, sinking into the warm and welcoming arms of Mother Earth. The birds sang, the branches swayed, the ground so richly colourful with the fallen bestowal of cedar and spruce. I was fairly tucked away in my little sacred space.
With time, a young, athletic looking woman cycled up within sight. Unknowing of my presence, I was harboured by a variety of vegetation, she was singing softly to herself, a folksy sort of song, obviously enjoying herself in her own sacred spot. But for me, her singing, though really quite pleasant, felt a bit like an intrusion. I became, not in a big way, but big enough I suppose, annoyed and territorial. It was idyllic before. Something had changed and it was this woman's singing.
To flash back a few days. There is a website offered by a meditation master, Gurumayi, where beautiful photos of nature are posted in the form of slideshows. This can also be a special, sacred place for me to visit. Seeing the pictures conjures up the wooded areas nearby and also provides the same kind of remembering. As I viewed the various photos, there were a number of them, a picture came along of Nityananda, a powerful individual who is part of the Gurumayi's lineage. I feel a particular closeness with Nityananda, one in which I am quite confident of his love for me. And so often I feel a great love for him. But at the sight of his picture, I hurried along to the next photo, another picture of nature. I noticed this abrupt rush ahead and returned to look at his face. I looked deeply at him, and the awareness arose of how I can be so afraid to love.
So, hearing and being annoyed by this woman singing in an atmosphere of remembering, I thought about this experience with Nityananda and I wondered, “Is this another instance of my fear to love?” And what followed were moments of self-chastisement for feeling intruded upon by this woman, of being annoyed and territorial, of not being able to love enough. I thought, “I love hearing the birds sing. Why can't I love hearing this woman sing? She sings pretty darn well?” I sat with this for a minute. Then I thought, “If I can find love for the birds chirping along, and I can find love for this woman's pleasant voice, what would it be like if I felt love for the chirping of my own mind?” What would it be like if I felt love for the chirping in my own mind?
In closing, I would like to mention on last thought. The Sufi poet-saint, Jalal ad-Din Rumi, wrote a poem that I think is related to this experience. Rumi writes,
your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.