First appeared in Conscious Life, 11/98

Becoming A Gardener of the Spirit

I'd never been a gardener, never had my hands in the Earth. Years ago as I began my spiritual quest, I dreamed The Garden inside me: an underwater Eden that symbolized my voyage into inner space, to remember my true purpose on Earth and to discover how to live this knowing. A passage from May Sarton's poem, "Invocation to Kali", resonated like memory, and I taped the words to my wall long before my actual transition began:

Help us to be the always hopeful
Gardeners of the spirit
Who know that without darkness
Nothing comes to birth
As without light
Nothing flowers.

Most of us fight to remain in the familiar, even when we feel trapped, diminished, suffocated. Usually, it's not until the pain of staying where we are overwhelms our fear of the unknown, that we're catalyzed to change. Because our society doesn't recognize or honor life's inevitable transitions, we're left without a road map and must seek out our own guides.

One pathway into the Mystery is through illness. Others include getting married or divorced, changing jobs or professions, altering our patterns of eating or sleeping, having a baby, losing a loved one to death or distance–you get the idea. Some people trek to Nepal to sit at the feet of a sage.

My "time-out" pilgrimage initially took me across the country, from California to rural New York State. When I entered this passage, I was physically ill yet in a place of profound awakening, and went intending to apprentice with an herbalist at her farm. Instead, I plunged into an Alice In Wonderland descent that simultaneously terrified and strengthened me, as I confronted my deepest fears in total vulnerability, emotionally bereft except for my communion with the Ultimate Gardener.

I learned during this period of solitary spiritual journeying how to live minus the trappings that I'd thought defined my life: my home, my possessions, my business–even my friends and my health–and to pare down to the essentials. What I took with me fit into a suitcase: a few clothes, my journal, a couple of books, a special necklace, and an aventurine crystal heart.

At the first of many people's homes where I stayed while healing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I created an altar on an empty bookshelf, using my necklace, a candle someone gave me, a leaf, a stone, a sprig of berries, and a stunning seashell I'd found at a local flea market. This was part of my process of learning to live in the present. I discovered that you create your altar wherever you are, with whatever is available.

A friend who is in this seemingly fallow place-between-the-worlds now expressed the feeling well: "Emptiness creates fright, because it's the opposite of belonging." Yet the willingness to be in free-fall, to release one trapeze bar before the next has swung into view, is a pivotal step in re-storying our lives: looking again at the story we've created about how the world is, and seeing how this filter distorts our view of beauty–our own beauty.

After a year of dissolution and discovery, I moved to New Mexico, needing to feel the warm desert sanctuary cradling me in this next phase of gestation. During my two years in Santa Fe, I began to reweave my life into the fabric of community. I discovered a group that mirrored my growing inner radiance: The Celebration, a new thought Sunday service "embracing all life, honoring all paths, rejoicing in the sacred dance of All That Is." Everywhere I went around town, I'd see Celebration faces. I felt connected. Yet I knew I couldn't remain; that New Mexico was a crucial port of call on my journey Home, but not the final destination. In order to complete my rebirth, I would have to surrender the Land of Enchantment.

So I returned to northern California, to begin again after my healing hegira. Throughout the first year of my "return," my entire being felt tender and new, as though I'd truly been reborn. A New Mexico body worker sent me a card depicting a naked woman superimposed over rock, entitled, "Petrified/Opening Heart." The artist writes, "Opening the wounded heart requires courage, will and trust. Trust is born in seeing the beauty and perfection in all aspects of life and death."

This is the journey to wholeness, to wildness, to the infinite joy of being "alive and alove," as an old flame once said. As you live the experience from the inside out, you become intimate with its wisdom. The garden I dreamed has bloomed inside me and I am planted wherever I am, rooted in the Love that is who we are. This is the gift I brought back from the Otherworld to share in these transformative times. I'm reminded daily to continue to let go and trust, to delight in the perfection of the moment, to be grateful –most of all, to laugh. And my heart remains wide open to the wonder.

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As a "midwife for the soul" Amara Rose offers life purpose coaching, talks, CDs, e-courses, playshops, and an inspirational monthly newsletter, "What Shines." Please visit LiveYourLight.com to learn more. Contact Amara at amara@liveyourlight.com, or call: 1-800-862-0157 within the USA.

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