This month, Jennifer Louden,Susan Piver, Hiro Boga and I unleash a wave of emotions as we write on the subject of Home: longing for them, losing them, making them ourselves. Follow the links to read their offerings. Hat tip to these brilliant women: my delight in writing in community with them was one of the inspirations for the Summer of Lovingkindness Invitational. (There’s still plenty of time to join in the #SOLI magic!)
I step out every day, overflowing with gratitude for my life in Ithaca. I’m in walking distance to almost everything. There’s a wonderful disability ride service for things farther afield. I like the ease, progressiveness, cultural offerings and the extraordinary geology of the gorges that surround me. Plus there’s the Dalai Lama’s monastery brimming with boundless courses and retreats. (Not to mention the pure, inexplicable happiness I feel running into Tibetan monks in the food co-op.)
It’s perfectly functional for me. Except it’s not Home.
Before Ithaca, I lived in a small village in Vermont. For 10 years I lived with a river. No back yard, but the “west branch” of the Ompompanusac River, with meadow turning to woods on the other side. I would sit on my Little River Porch (bundled in blankets in winter) and watch deer, river otter, beaver, all manner of birds and the occasional kayaker pass by. I felt my roots go down deep there. I thought I’d never leave.
But I was dependent on others to get out and around. It was tiring to always have to ask and so I mostly stopped asking. Over time the isolation I needed (to get away from 7 years of hospitals and 3 years of at-home brain injury rehabilitation to heal and integrate in peace) became too much.
I’m on a quest for a Heart Home where I have the best of all possible worlds. But I’m questioning my perception of Home. Can I find it? Or, like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, has it been with me all along?
If I ask “Where are you from?” do you answer with the place you live now? Or the place you were born?
Ask an indigenous person that very same question and they may point to a great ocean, a mountain, or the center of the earth as their home.
Ask the Q’ero, direct descendants of the Incas, and they point to the stars.
I was only just discovering my shamanic ancestors when I met Q’ero shaman sometime in the 1990s. In a strange prescience we met in a Zen temple in Rhode Island. Peruvian shaman in ceremonial ponchos looking as if they’d just stepped out of National Geographic magazine sharing space with a giant golden Buddha.
Little did I imagine how these two worlds would combine to be my future.
I can see the face, the energy, the pure love beaming from Don Manuel Quispe, the Dalai Lama of the Andes as if he were standing before me now.
He and the other shaman shared extensive teachings and initiations his people had hidden for 500 years. Their prophecies indicated it was now time to share this knowledge. Time for the Condor of the South and the Eagle of the North to fly together.
One night they gave us an initiation, a Karpay, a transmission. They gave us the Star Rites of “Mosoq Karpay” (The Rites of the Time to Come) to the Star Beings.
To this day I could not tell you what happened to me under that sky. But something cracked open.
I returned home to Vermont, sat on my Little River Porch, looked up at the night sky and sobbed my heart out for eight solid weeks.
Just writing about this makes me start to quiver.
What does this mean that, longing for Home, I point to the stars?
It’s the same longing I have for the all-encompassing love I experienced the night of my brain injury. The night when, after 8 hours in the ER, my awareness of dying transformed into a near death vision.
It’s the same unobstructed state I experience in some of my Buddhist practices. I overflow with love until everything becomes spacious and empty.
These are my Home. And yet there’s no physicality. There’s no place to stay. I need a body and this physical world around me to accomplish anything at all that is good.
Wherever I live becomes my practice ground. The place where I turn events easy and hard into a cultivation of lovingkindness and compassion. The place where I fail and try again. The place where I sometimes succeed and bask in pure astonishment that it is possible to feel such love here, too.
Home becomes everywhere my heart has a chance to love.
Comment Kindness: This is one of those posts that might seem perfectly ordinary to you, but which feels very vulnerable for me to publish. Even though I ask What does it mean that I point to the stars…? it’s a question of inner exploration. I’m not really asking for an answer. What I would love is your thoughts about home: Have you found your heart place? And your thoughts about lovingkindness: how does your home evoke that in you?