The Peace We Build

Originally published on

Helicopters were recently flying near the Ashram to replace the cones that hang off the power line in its wide stretch across Kootenay Lake. For four days their constant hover invaded the tranquil space of the grounds.

The sound of swiftly displacing air wound around buildings, entered through cracked-open windows and settled inside of me. The noise was a bother. Conversations centered on it. But for me it was more than that.

The sounds entered my cells and memories of my time in Israel and Palestine during the Gaza War in 2008-2009—a period of heightened conflict in the Middle East—came raging to the surface of my consciousness.

Read more…


Exploring Brokenness in Christchurch

Orange vests fill the city of Christchurch. Blaring radios, scaffolding, traffic cones and chain-link fences abound. “Don’t walk there,” they say, “Go this way. Watch out for this falling building.” I’ve never been to a city so devastated by a natural disaster.

On September 4, 2010 the city—at the time, the second most populated in the country—experienced an earthquake with an epicenter in the nearby Canterbury plains. The quake caused widespread damage and the government declared a state of emergency, called in the New Zealand army and instated a curfew to keep people out of the streets and out of harm from the damaged buildings.

Kiwis are a resilient bunch. Over the coming months they banded together to rebuild their crumbled city until February 22nd, 2011, just over five months later, an aftershock with a magnitude 6.3 of struck with an epicenter just 10 kilometres southeast of the city’s downtown core.

The devastation was immense. Downtown essentially became a pile of fallen rubble. 185 people lost their lives and Kiwis left the city in droves—what little of it there was left to leave.

Now, five years later, construction continues. The city has been offered a unique opportunity to rebuild from the ground up. The “Garden City” is still there, behind lines of fence and tape, willing itself forward.

I arrived in Christchurch with a soaking wet tent strapped under my bag and a dead cell phone battery. Since I’d been camping in the rain and hitched my way to the city, I hadn’t yet had an opportunity to figure out just what I was going to do there.

After numerous failed attempts at couchsurfing, I checked a map for the closest hostel and booked myself in for a night. The Dorset House turned out to be clean, bright and soothingly familiar. Wooden engraved signs told me where to find the kitchen, toilets and other rooms, while helpful posters around the place educated me on the water supply. There was something about the place that reminded me of Yasodhara.

I spent the next couple of days wandering around the disaster-etched town. I knew a friend I met travelling was stationed there, so we spent a day checking out the alternative bookshops and a café co-op. The botanic gardens beckoned me to explore, and the huge park, lined with enormous trees, offered respite from all the orange reflective material in the downtown core.

One of the most significant buildings damaged and subsequently condemned is the Anglican Cathedral in the city’s central square. Built between 1864 and 1904, it stood as an emblem for the city for over a century.

As I gazed upon it’s cordoned off rubble, I couldn’t help but relate to the loss of a sacred space. The June 2014 fire that resulted in the loss of Yasodhara’s Temple of Light is still acutely in my awareness. The feelings of relating were cemented when I walked through the maze of closed-off streets downtown to find the transitional Cathedral. That’s right, the Cathedral is housed in a structure using the same language as we call the Transitional Temple. Not only that, but—similarly to Yasodhara’s transitional space—it’s been constructed using atypical building materials. This Cathedral’s A-frame construction is made from PVC pipes, corrugated plastic and shipping containers. The latter being Christchurch’s building material of choice since the earthquakes.

I spent some time at the memorial across the street for the 185 people who lost their lives in the quakes and then made my way to the door of the Cathedral. Marigolds lined the flowerbeds, bursting with other New Zealand flowers I couldn’t identify.

I paused as I rounded the corner to the front. Awaiting me was a massive triangle of colourful stained glass. This may be a transitional Cathedral, but there is thought and quality put into it. Beauty is a generous form of grace offered when the human spirit endures disaster.

As with anything on New Zealand’s South Island, the place was crawling with tourists. Two elderly women stood behind the glass-topped counter of the gift shop, answering questions and joking with one another. Their lightness an inspiring response to tragedy.

After taking in the majesty of the place, I browsed the shop and picked out a postcard, pulling the ladies from their lively conversation.

With the high cost needed for reconstruction, there have been loose plans for the Cathedral’s rebuild, but so far nothing has been implemented.

I left the transitional Cathedral and made my way South. I instinctively knew it was south because I was facing away from the sun—just another miniscule way I’ve become used to life in the Southern Hemisphere.

The previous day I’d fallen into a heart-felt and spontaneous conversation with the owner of a newly opened organic shop. She told me about a café downtown I wanted to try and we talked about starting fresh, the vibrancy after disasters and brokenness.

Existing like a quiet hum under the city is a layer of brokenness. I’ve come to understand that it was one part of the place that I connected with, even though I don’t feel as though I’m in a particularly broken part of my life right now. Instead, I feel like I’m rebuilding.

The tenacious spirit of those who stayed in the city is inspiring. I feel a connection with the fragility and uncertain nature of the place. At any moment, everything could change—another earthquake could bring everything crashing down. That sort of knowledge creates an intense sort of appreciation for what already exists. I feel glimpses of how powerful it is to live my life that way.

Eventually, I made my way out of Christchurch. The friend I visited there has spoken to numerous people who see it as some type of vortex—it pulls people in who want to leave but just can’t. I could feel how people might experience the city that way, yet for me it reignited a sense of purpose.

I came up with all sorts of daydreams for yoga classes I could teach there to bring healing to a traumatized people, but ultimately, I left. For now.

I take the momentum of rebuilding with me with gratitude for the connection I formed to the city.

Om Namah Sivaya


Even transitions have transitions

In the slanted light of morning I sat outside this campground’s kitchen, slowly sipping my morning chai, just as I had done yesterday. Only today, the crisp bite of autumn didn’t hang in the air as long and the vibrant blue of this barren landscape’s sky was smeared with patches of warm-trapping cloud.

I’m in Wanaka.

Well, I’m very near to Wanaka and will likely hitch the ten kilometres there later this afternoon as I did yesterday. When I get there I’ll probably again be surprised at just how “flash” the town is. Tourist dollars pour into the village. Young trees have been planted at regular intervals, guided in their quest for the sky by the same monotonous metal casings. Each tree is lit from below by a light in the sidewalk shining upon the underside of their chlorophyll-depleted leaves. Beautiful. And flash.

Maybe today the most striking part of the town will be the newness of storefronts or the precision with which they have been constructed. Each waterfront café tries to outdo the next with elaborate rock walls and signage. There’s something about this place that makes me feel uncomfortable.

It could be the landscape and its eerily similar qualities to Southern Alberta. There are treeless mountains everywhere, like coulees on steroids. The bleakness is startling and I find respite on the quartz-rock shore of the lake—along with every other 20-something wondering what the hell they’re doing with their day life.

Yet there is a peace here for me. It’s in this massive sky; hanging up above me so close I can touch it. I’m held in this mountain-edged bowl. I know this part of the country was calling me to come here. So why do I feel so uncomfortable?

Mentally, I’m still transitioning out of work. My last day was over ten days ago, but going on that tramp filled my days with eight hours of walking and a glazy sort of monotony that replaced the continuity working five days a week provided. Now I’m not wandering in the bush. Now I don’t have a set schedule or structured routine. I have mental space and it’s making me squirm.

As the mighty van Lola galloped over the Canturbury plains into Otago, the region where Wanaka is, we listened to an audio book on Mantra. While the delivery of the subject didn’t appeal to me, there’s just something about the name of the Divine my cells simply respond to. I let my consciousness expand and tumble through the open fields, playing with Krishna. I’d bump into a mountainside, narrowly escaping a handful of butter He threw my way and then crash into one of the lakes, washing His chocolate off my face. Lola hurdled on.

I meant for this time to be my reward for a summer of hard work. I want to leisurely take in the Southern Alps and the space of this country. In typical Guenevere fashion, I worry about money and wonder if playing guitar and roasting a pumpkin qualify as worthy enough pursuits for one day.

I’m getting used to the lack of schedule. I’m getting used to the cold nights. I’m taking this as a wonderful opportunity to sit with any discomfort “being in transition” is bringing me and I’m waiting to see what Krishna will throw my way next.


Poetry in the Woods

Photo taken by Camden since I (purposely) didn’t bring my digital device

I went on a five-day tramp last week. To save weight I didn’t bring my journal, just my poetry book and confined myself to writing only poetry. It was a fun exercise—the writing restrictions as well as, obviously, the amazing tramp. Here are some of the fruits.

First night

Dormant in the dorm with
such freedom seeping in.
Freedom for the mountains and creek that
stand guard around me
surround me
confound me
roll out carpets for my feet.
I trod on.
Human, sweating, endless
I trod on
desperate for the thought I left behind,
For the rest that follows
deep rest,
for the mountains standing guard.


Pass the Haiku

Mountain top summit
Letting go of weight, I rest
Surrounded by You.

Sun lays in patches
Moving swiftly through valleys
Won’t you shine on me.

Peace. Silence. Breath.
I pause, listen with my heart.
Now I find my place.

Rock piled on rock
Patches of grass, of moss, shrubs
Everything in place.

The mountains still stand
They show signs of wear, and yet
They’ll outlast us all.


Hut Culture

silence filters through
muscles and sinew of those in the huts,
enabling relaxation.
silence after wind whistling through trees,
after water racing feet downhill
silence and space
as if there weren’t enough in the 
air that rests on its shelf above a lake
or the triangles
between the triangles
of strongly rising earth

all of that can be forgotten now
ups and downs
wedges of flat edged with root where feet can press
and pull up bodies

these images release
with each cord of tension
with each unknotted thought
the silence seeps through

dinner hour lets murmuring return
water boils. utensils scrape.
trampers share their inner worlds
thoughts as majestic as a sunset
as a sidewalk

food unites, sustains
while light dissolves to dark
soon candles burst forth
in that fading between time
details jumps under thin spotlights
wanting to be seen
cards emerge
silence no longer reigns. 


Looking forward and looking back: Ten years after my wedding

I unfurl my mat on a patch of grass of my backyard under pressing dusk. I’m making an effort to do more activities that nourish me and realize I’ve gotten out of the habit of a physical asana practice. My body asks for backbends and I am happy to oblige, turning my gaze up at the swiftly shifting sky as I breath and move stagnant muscles. Seagulls fall sideways, glazing effortlessly in currents above. Just before savasana, the first two stars poke through the blanket of light that is the sky, blazing courageously. I love watching the stars come out after sunset. I love seeing the sky transformed by Divine Mother’s jewels.

To celebrate what would have been my tenth wedding anniversary, I’m taking myself to a yoga retreat centre this weekend. The retreat I’ll be participating in is centered on kirtan and cooking—something I love and something I want to learn how to prioritize in my life. I’m going to spend time reflecting on that part of my history and the lessons I’ve learned.

Whenever I think of my marriage, I invariably think about its end. I remember the first few weeks of separation, borrowing my brother’s car and going on trips alone. It was the first time I did things like that by myself. Day hikes in Waterton’s Rocky Mountains, camping in the sacred Writing-on-Stone Park—I was learning about the person I was on my own and what it was like to spend time with her.

One evening on the sandy shore of the Milk River, I lay down on my back and looked up at the sky. Light blue faded to dark as the water churned swiftly beyond my feet. It started small; I saw one or two stars popping out and eventually began looking for more. Soon stars in the shapes of familiar constellations formed. I saw blinking flashes making up the Big Dipper, and by the time my eyes searched for Cassiopeia and came back, each star of the Bear was shining bright. I looked for more. They came. I couldn’t count them all.

It wasn’t even spring, it was cold and too early for camping. I slept in the car wrapped in blankets, doing my best to keep out the chill that invades a body still learning to sleep with only its own warmth.

I remember the space of those trips. I remember how the silence made a soft bed for my thoughts to rest in. I’d finally spoken what I’d needed so much to be spoken—I was alone, left with my confused mix of grief and relief, and could be quiet now.

Maybe those trips hinted a foreshadowing that I could not yet see, that one day I would know myself enough and fill with the courage to move across the country alone, and eventually another hemisphere. Maybe they were like stars revealing themselves after dusk.

I cut my savasana short amid an orchestra of buzzing mosquitos. Not everything that comes out after dusk is as awe-inspiring as the stars.

I’m excited to see what comes of the weekend, if only to sing kirtan, eat great food and spend time with amazing people.

Happy ten-years.

Cuba 350
Couldn’t find any wedding photos on this computer so here’s some from a couple previous anniversary trips. Cuba, year four.
The Trip 1007
Petra, Jordan. Year three
The Trip 1092
And this one because of its epicness. I’m the little speck trying to get in the door.
Picture 125
Hiding in the frozen foliage. Fairmont Hotsprings, year two.
Picture 115.jpg
There I am!
Picture 187
Apparently I used to take selfies. You can tell I was trying to be fancy because I straightened my hair. Driving to Calgary, year one.


One of an endless amount of footpaths winding up and down the hills of Nelson

Fresh sunlight reaches sideways over the tree-filled mountains into my eyes. The days are getting shorter. The light is lower than is used to be at the early hour I bike down the hill to work.

Later, I’ll pedal home and the sun will have made its swift track around the sky. Now my path is shaded over. I am freed of the burden of the sun’s intensity by friendly, leafy trees. The mountains around me are tall. Not too tall, but tall because some days I dip my toes in the sea and they lift out of that, starting at zero and rising, rising up to give me a view of the whole city from my front porch.

Since moving into my sleepout—a room in the garden of a woman’s house with shared kitchen and bath inside—what I’ve noticed most is the light. Rays ricochet off my bedframe from the overhead light and splay across the walls. I’m startled by the sparkling array of diamonds encrusted on the bathroom sink until my head covers them in mysterious shadow and they disappear.

When I first stepped inside this house I knew I’d live here. Coming over to look at the room for rent, I knocked and entered only to find a statue of Tara, the Tibetan Goddess of compassion stepping out of her meditation to greet me. My landlady Gael led me through to the back garden, which houses my room. As we passed through the main house, a large wooden Ganesh carving looked down at me from its focal point in the living room and Nataraj—Siva dancing the world into existence surrounded by a ring of fire—punctuated the half wall between the kitchen and living room. I knew I was home.

Down one hill and up another—a view close to my house
Tahunanui Beach

I work long hours and some days take leisurely swims in the river after work. On days off I might walk over a couple of hills and find the beach, a long stretch of spit that can be full of people yet make me feel so small because there’s space for all of us in the soft, pliable sand. I stand against the ocean, feeling connected to every shore and shark on earth.

I go to kirtans and yoga with workmates. I spend most of my money on upcoming yoga retreats. I plan for the future and spend some time each day with my awareness in my body and on my breath and not the running thoughts in my mind. It tingles then. My body—shimmering with consciousness—happy to be thought of by my mind.

When I’m tired, I prepare for bed. Often, I take a few side steps out from under the covered back porch where my bedroom door leads me. Up a few stairs toward the apricot tree, already loosed of its harvest, I can see the stars. I’ll look up at them for a time and then lay my body down and rest, ready for the next day’s light.

The wisdom of Karma Yoga

Giggling about life. There are a couple of scooters outside as decoration we take in at the end of the day.

 “Selfless service will make you Divine
          ~Swami Sivananda

When it gets really busy at work—and it’s almost always really busy—one of my bosses says everything twice. “Cutlery to table 60. Cutlery to table 60,” he says as he rushes past with two arms full of dishes he’s just cleared. “Cabinet service only, now. We’re doing cabinet service only.” “Someone follow me with the steak sandwich, please. Someone follow me with the steak sandwich.”

It’s helpful, actually, since I’m not yet fluent in Kiwi—a quick and mumbled language—and don’t often hear something the first time. Or the second time.

I repeat the phrases under my breath, slowing them down and attempting a translation. I’m working on it.

Speed isn’t just in his manner of speaking, Rhys and Leanne are a quick-moving power couple who’ve created a business to match. Lambretta’s is busy, and there are few better settings in which to learn about attachment to finishing a task than in a bustling café.

Whenever I get far enough along in a conversation with someone new to mention I spent three years living in an ashram doing karma yoga, I’m always quick to define exactly what that is. Karma yoga: doing the work that needs to be done without attachment to the various outcomes and watching the mind in the process.

In popular culture, karma, the Sanskrit word meaning action, means something akin to you reap what you sow, but that definition feels incomplete to me. It turns life into something linear rather than something cyclical, or better yet, the spiral it truly is.

Karma isn’t just about our actions being mirrored back to us; I see karma as the interaction of our mental/emotional, physical and spiritual selves. These interactions are not necessarily a conscious choice, nor are they limited by a linear understanding of time. They emanate outward, vibrating with the world around us as we create it. What will we encounter in the world? Well, depends what we’ve created in our own.

Turns out I’ve created working in the front of house in a café in Nelson, New Zealand for a few months. It’s there I keep catching myself hoping for a task to be completed. Okay, I think to myself, I’ll roll this last batch of cutlery into napkins and then be done. But it’s never done. There’s a line of 15 people at the counter who will use those forks and knives, requiring another dishload to be wrapped.

The same mindless tasks repeated throughout a shift clear my mind of wanting to receive praise or congratulations for having done them. For starters, that’s what I’m paid to do, but deeper than that is part of my mind that wants to finish something.

I pull a stack of empty plates from various tables, walking them to the dish-pit to be cleaned. Later, I’ll take those same dishes full of food to new people to eat off of and continue the cycle. The part of me that wants a task to end forgets there is no end.

It’s not what I do that is important in life, but how I do it. If I am doing a task with attachment to the end in mind, then I will carry that expectant energy into other areas of my life and into other lives. Instead, I want each moment to be created with its own fullness. I want to be free of karma—both good and bad.

I’m grateful for these lessons, glaring at me in the churn of a busy café. Grateful I know I have a choice in where my mental energy is directed, that I can let go and be free.

Wall art
Forget about work, this is where I spend most of my time 🙂



Christmas Quiche

I’ve been making pastries lately. It started in Wellington; crashing at a friend’s place for the weekend on my way to the South Island, I spied a glass pie plate in the kitchen’s humble offerings. With energy to spare and a sudden insatiable desire for pie, I looked up a few recipes and headed to the grocery store. I was going to bake.

Since I’d never before baked pie I did what most people would do, I phoned my mother. She gave me all the tips I needed on how to create a perfectly crusty pastry. She didn’t need to repeat one of her standby secrets when it comes to pie-making, one that I’d both witnessed and been a beneficiary of many times before—always bake two so you can eat as much as you want of one and still have a whole one to share. When you’re as good of a cook and baker as my mother Peggy is, you rely on those unique tips and tricks.

Yesterday, though, yesterday was quiche. With over half a dozen pies and pastries under my belt since the first apple creations in Wellington, I had wanted to try something new. A Christmas potluck my friends and I had organized with anyone staying at the hostel seemed like the perfect time to try it.

Enter quiche. I love dishes I can create partially with all of the veggies I happen to have in my fridge at the time. It was a kumara (type of Kiwi sweet-potato), in-season-asparagus (remember, it’s the burgeoning summer here) and capsicum (that’s pepper for you non-kiwis) quiche. It nestled snuggling amongst some other amazing dishes that were offered.

Since it’s still technically the Christmas season—a time to be Merry—and since I like to stay positive in general, I won’t get into some of the other details of what it’s like to stay in a hostel with a bunch of 18-year-old Germans over Christmas. We’ll just say I took a picture of them all lined up at the sinks doing the dishes afterwards when it was time for everyone to clean up. A beautiful sight. Some day I’ll laugh about the rest of it.

A dip in the ocean
On a bike ride after work along Nelson’s coast
Went to the new Star Wars…but not without a marathon of the originals. I almost thought I couldn’t watch another, but it was a great night out.

Peach, baked in a loaf pan

Just how did I end up in a hostel? Well, they certainly aren’t my favourite places to stay, but I answered an ad for working in exchange for accommodation in exactly the town I was planning on going to next.

Since arriving three weeks ago, I got a job at a café, found a room to rent and bought a bike. I feel like I’m coming into a stride in my travels and the world is organizing around me. Tomorrow is moving day where I’ll pack together all this stuff I seem to be accumulating and head to my own room up on the hill. I’m very excited.

Sharing space with my fellow hostel-cleaners has been a blast, we’ve even been making pie together, but I will be happy to have my own room again and share a kitchen and bathroom with only two other people.

In taking the “two pie” rule to heart, I made a large apple to share and a small peach for myself. Because here’s the thing—sometimes I don’t want to share. Sometimes I want to make my own pie and eat every last bite myself. I’m grateful I have excess energy to share pies with others and I’m also grateful I know where to draw the line.

At one of my favourite parks in Nelson
On the ferry leaving Wellington
Crazy windy crossing the Cook Straight. My glasses almost blew off my face when I stepped outside and the whole boat was rocking.

Lattice-topped Apple

Arguably the first pie I made was the prettiest. Out of choice and necessity (I was running out of pastry) I wove a lattice top for an apple pie. Despite being weeks ago I still remember how the whole pie-making made me feel—it gave me purpose and direction. I’d just shifted out of work in Napier and didn’t really know where I going next. I knew I wanted to head south but had no idea what would await me once I got there. The hostel job popped up on a website and I texted the owner a few times between pies.

“It’s hard work,” he said.

Changing sheets and cleaning bathrooms? I’m sure my work ethic would fit in, especially with my fresh experience running a guesthouse in Montreal last summer.

“Nothing I can’t handle.”

The team that I’ve been working with has given me much in the way of familiarity and friendship. I enjoy the easy laughter of my German “twin sister” Natalie, the straight thinking of Anne from Myanmar and the enthusiastic encouragement from Alek, the Latvian who endearingly only pronounces the first two syllables of my name.


Alek and Anne, the lovely couple enjoying Christmas treats that Santa brought.
With Natalie on Christmas

Perhaps pies have been an important symbol of connection for me. The truth is, I wouldn’t want to sit down and eat an entire larege pie all on my own. I am glad to have people to share my “Guen Pies” as my Wellington friend called them with the lovely souls I meet in my travels. Of course, only when I choose to share.

Attaining freedom from my possessions

“Serene I stand Amidst the flowers”

My time in New Zealand has been teaching me about things.

Isn’t that a succinct, direct opening line? No, let’s start over because I don’t mean that in some vague, every-moment-is-a-lesson kind of way, which is also true. I mean things. Objects and articles. All these items that I’ve decided are somehow worth being carried around on my back. Here we go:

My youth is characterized with a subtle fear of material objects.

Growing up in a household of lack, I would hold tightly onto objects as ends in themselves. A new pair of shoes, a variety pack of nail polish I saved up for for ages, heck even socks and underwear all became these conquests I managed to procure through either the benevolence of my parents or my scrounging of quarters and dimes. I didn’t appreciate the objects as tools I used for a particular purpose; I appreciated the objects themselves as glorified idols. In our capitalist society where objects are touted as the end all, be all, it isn’t hard to see how a small child growing up in poverty came to this conclusion.

Shoes were more than a thick layer protecting my feet from cold and callous, nail polish more than a colourful way to express myself and give my physical body care and attention. Objects became security, and with security placed in their existence, came insecurity and fear they be removed.

I held on so tightly and did not want to let go. Thinning threads on socks became a menace—I was losing something! I was losing an object I so desperately needed. I didn’t see the miles I’d walked wearing those socks and the experiences I’d gained. I didn’t see the warmth those fraying threads had provided. Instead, I focused solely (pun intended) on my perceived sockless future. I was living in a world of lack.

Logically, I know now that when I run out of socks I can simply go to the store and buy new ones, but can I expect a small child to understand that? Especially one who is raised in an environment of scarcity? I didn’t know how much money there was. I just knew I pretended my brothers’ action figures were dolls until I finally got my own, I knew I wanted those snap-on, rip-off Adidas pants but didn’t get them, I knew pancakes for dinner because there was nothing in the house but eggs, flour and powered milk. I knew “we couldn’t afford that.”

It’s been years since I lived in that level of economic scarcity—decades almost—yet I feel like it’s only now, in the spacious and nature-abundant country of New Zealand that I’m understanding the purpose of material things.

I lost my mala in Wellington.

In a world that worships objects, my amethyst beads used for counting mantra are one of the most important physical objects I own. I don’t need a yoga mat for asana; any random paper and pen provide materials for reflection; my breath and the light carry me wherever I go, but my mala? Now that’s important. It’s a physical object I’ve imbued with vibration and is meaningful on my path. It was made at the ashram and I’ve had it for almost five years. I hold it as I dream and I always know where it is. Then, suddenly, one day I didn’t.

I searched everywhere, adrenaline coursing through my veins. What does this mean? I couldn’t help but wonder, What is the symbolism behind this? I mentally retraced my steps that day as I pilfered through my bag for the fourth time. This is what parents must feel like when they lose their child, my internal dialogue raced with hyperbolic intensity.

The library—I’d been to the library that day, slouched in a chair with these gaping-open pockets. I phoned the front desk.

“No, we haven’t had a purple beaded necklace turned in, sorry.”

“When do you close?”

“In about an hour. Good luck in your search.”

I raced out the door with my feet barely touching the ground, covering the 15-minute walk in less than 10.

I went in this door. I walked through this corridor. My eyes darted back and forth, searching, seeking, hoping. I turned here. The chair I sat on must be right around that corner. I curved around the rack of books. The modern, black pleather chair was ominously empty, sitting on the dark berber carpet. My eyes didn’t see the chair though. My eyes saw dark purple beads, coiled like a snake under the crack between the cushion and frame. The image is burned in my mind.

I scooped them up, eyes burning with the beginnings of tears, and quickly left the library.

My feet instinctively took me through the town square to the wharf overlooking the sea. It was sunset. Through my moistened eyes I saw soft, pink light gently brushing the clouds high in the sky. The sea itself was doused in otherworldly grey-blues.

I sat as my pulse returned to normal, gratitude flowing on every breath.

I almost lost one of my most precious material objects—made so because it is a tool of worship. But the truth is, it’s only an object. It has meaning because I give it meaning, and the meaning is the important part.

I’ve lost other things since then: a water bottle, tank top and disinfectant balm to name a few. My pants got in a rip in the bum so I replaced them, and my shoes are showing signs of their daily use.

These objects are not meaningful to me—it’s their use that gives them meaning. I need a vessel to carry water in so I bought a new one. The sentimentality I had for its predecessor has dissolved. My shirts wear out; I know their time is limited. I am not attached to them. I trust there will be other shirts when I need more because I am capable of procuring the objects I need for myself.

I am no longer worshipping items. Instead, I let them pass through my life with gratitude for the use they provide. I am in a place of trust and abundance. I am free.