I was almost there, my heart already beating fast; eyes, weepy; adrenaline, coursing through my veins. I was almost home.
I realized I wanted to offer something upon my arrival. That in all the years of living I knew I’d leave and I knew I’d come back. Again and again, for the rest of my life. I knew I’d come back home.
North at Creston, meandering up the East Shore’s winding roads, seeing glimpses of the lake and then it spills into everything that is beside me as we race (but not fast enough) up and over and through. Up mountain passes, over spring-time creeks, through cloud-fed damp, going home.
I didn’t stop in Creston and at the tiny market in Crawford Bay I remember. Will they carry flowers? Well, flowers will die anyway. Will they have plants? Will they have anything? I ask my driving companion to stop and I enter the store. The one I know so well, where I’d run in for subversive snack grabs during trips driving guests to doctor’s appointments.
I’m the only one there. Somehow it’s empty and I get to take it all in. The familiarity and the memories. I look for a clerk to ask if they have anything and find no traces of anyone until I edge towards the deli and the clerk is inconspicuously watering the few remaining potted plants. Thank you Divine Mother.
I hum and haw. Which one to buy? They’re all kind of sad looking. She tells me they’ve recently bloomed and that she’d trimmed them so they will bloom again, ridding the tender shoots of dead leaves and small stems. Preparing them for another round of growth.
Okay, I get the symbolism. I pick one, change my mind, and grab another with small pink blossoms remaining. It is both currently blooming, and showing promising signs for the future.
We pull up to the Ashram. Laden with my bags, I go through the doors and see familiar faces, share weepy hugs, and take in my surroundings.
It’s surreal. It’s the same. It’s different. It’s indescribable.
It’s relatively late, so after signing in I walk towards my room to deposit my things before supper.
On the way I stop and have the moment I’ve been creating in my mind, slowly entering the doors of the Temple and setting down my luggage. I find a plate in the closet for my humble offering and walk the corridor to the heart of the dome-shaped structure.
Here I find peace, and a place for my little potted plant. I worry it’s not enough. That it’s small and hasn’t been watered regularly lately. That it isn’t beautiful enough for this altar that represents the deepest part of worship for me. I know these thoughts are simply that—thoughts—and let them exist within me.
I take a moment to bask in the stillness of the Temple of Divine Light and then manage to pull myself away, for now anyway.
After dropping my bags in my room I head to the dining room for supper. There, I see more faces, more hugs, more surprised people. I sit in the silence of the mantra and eat a dinner made from scratch, prepared all day by people I know.
I turn towards a hand on my shoulder and see my mentor, smiling down at me (or, across towards me, anyway, she’s pretty short) and feel warmed, embraced in softness, in the blue of her sweater.
After whispered greetings I return to my meal, taken in silence in this place, and let my eyes graze the lake and mountains before me through the windows.
The next day I’m gifted with the morning to “arrive,” to settle and spend time with what I need, not placed on the schedule until the afternoon.
I wander the grounds, heading towards the beach and run into one of my teachers. We have a short catch-up, “You look kind of sad” she says. And I think of my last month and a half, how I feel now, and how looking like anything else would be inauthentic.
Later, chanting in the prayer room, I realize that it’s the same word I used to describe the plants.
I am that sad little flower pot.
The Temple always has plants in it. Not only is it essentially a greenhouse with its 360 degree windows receiving sunshine all day, but it’s a centre of Light and devotion. Plants are receptive to that kind of thing. They grow and flourish when put there.
That’s what I’m doing now, putting myself in this environment where I can grow and blossom, receiving what I need.
A day later I’m back in the Temple during some free time, I just can’t seem to stay away. I bring in some water in case my tiny little plant needs it and notice that not only has someone watered it and loosened up the top layer of soil, but that they’ve placed small pebbles between the pot and the plate for excess water to drain more easily.
Four years ago part of my responsibilities were caring for the Temple plants. It was a duty I loved and would cheerfully accomplish even after mis-managing my time in the summer kitchen and having to do it in my short break before dinner.
So I know that someone comes in and waters my little plant, but to see those stones placed underneath filled me with gratitude.
They are the bedrock foundation I place myself upon. The support and encouragement towards my growth that I receive here is incomparable.
I’m here only for a short time, and am so grateful to be resting deeply on the rocks of foundation that my spiritual home provides.