awe, humility, hope and a few other things I might notice

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Another side of immigration

We laughed, we sang, we meditated. Probably an apt phrase for a few spiritual camps out there of all persuasions, but this is actually the subheading for my application to become a permanent resident of another country, TBA (just in-case they’re listening).

Goldilocks zone we have not found, nay, but we have made a decision after several portents, (ok one portent in the name of the she-devil of immigration…can I say she-devil and still be considered a feminist?…), and several signs of the more positive sort came our way.

So, back to the original idea. I am writing the story for our application to immigration and sprinkled throughout the visit dates, mentions of flight itineraries attached, and the dropping of names of our friends as we met them along our little journey to couplehood and matrimony, I have included a few words about the kinds of things we do together. We laugh, no matter that we are serious types and more often have discussions about how to experience God amidst the emotional commotion of our era. We sing, usually softly and to ourselves, and we meditate, together even, although not recently.

I can only imagine what it is like to be an immigration officer reading over couple’s stories, getting to know them, or trying to see through them to their ulterior motives I don’t know which, or both most likely. Are financial documents like joint bank accounts equal to spending 2 weeks together while truck camping? Will they bother reading everything, word for word, or do they just scan the stories and check off the documents received? Should we note the things we have in common, tell them in writing that he cooks sometimes but I do all the laundry? Do we explain all our major decisions, why he proposed and so soon after we met? Do we need to annotate why we didn’t take pictures of our every day life? I don’t have a single picture of us just sitting in our apartment together. Does anybody?

To distract our minds we watch science fiction shows (and yes I am considering writing that in the application) and I recently watched “Atonement” from season 4 of Babylon 5. The scene about 15 mins. in with Delenn and her Minbari clan leaders sounds a lot like immigration. In re-watching it, the similarity is overwhelming and poignant. Delenn is made to answer why she has gone against the tradition of her clan in proposing a non-Minbari for a mate. The clan leader states that the leaders of her clan must determine and judge if the true reasons for her choice are appropriate or not. Basically, Delenn has to prove her choice is made completely freely through a dreaming ceremony. Love or even her own subconscious desire for atonement would be reason for the clan’s disapproval of the union.

Just one of the many precious exchanges;

Delenn: “If I say I love him is that not enough?”

Clan leader: “No. You must convince us on other grounds.”

Delenn: “What other grounds could there be? You set the rules, so you’ve already decided that this is wrong. What hope do I have of convincing you?

Clan leader: “That is what you must discover.”

Now, governments don’t yet delve into the dreams of people applying for immigration, but I sometimes wonder if that would be easier.

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Longing to belong

Baba Prem Singh Ji, Anandpur Sahib, founder Dera Moyian di Mandi (dead men’s market, referring to our Maya world)
I used to think that choosing a monastic life was a way that people like me might escape not only from the world, but also from the pain of love, its loss or its absence. I thought that a commitment could be made, a discipline adopted, or a code agreed to that could fulfill the needs of our heart and provide ample solace because it would organize humanity’s chaos. Since I am a person who wants very little from the world and often as not want to recoil from what many call freedoms but I consider to be confinements I have felt the paradoxical need for some extremes in my life. I wanted to separate from Maya (illusion) and find truth and simplicity. I wanted to surrender to something larger than myself because it seemed only reasonable to observe that this world was crazy. I dreamed about living like the early New England colonists, but my parent’s and aunts quickly disregarded me for being overly romantic about dirt floors and naïve about living without penicillin. My personality could not accept any of the more common extremes like anorexia, drugs, suicide or even living in a cave, because, if for no other reason, they were ends rather than journeys. Also, I was never able to commit to those outermost extremes. I can’t even maintain a fast for more than a few hours. However, I did draw up plans for fasts in my mind and that’s exactly where they stayed, as psychological malnourishment. Then a path chose me by showing me, through the experience of yoga, that renunciation was a tool but without awareness it was an avoidance.

I began to understand my hunger. Through meditation and prayer my hunger grew and it expanded into emptiness and reached towards nothingness. The emptiness obliterated my collected emotional scars and made ridiculous and futile my attempts at deprivation. In the emptiness I realized that all I had was profound longing. That longing was a divine gift and for that gift I felt tremendous gratitude. I began to thrive on the source of that longing; it was love.

It has since become clear to me that not only as an ascetic, a nun, or priest of any persuasion, but as a simple adherent you cannot truly adopt a religious life, a spiritual life, unless you embrace love as a way of life. Disciplines, articles of faith and codes of conduct are guides. A very wise friend told me they are only signposts, don’t confuse the signs with your destination or you may never arrive. In Sikhism and I believe at the core of any faith, when we surrender to God we surrender to our profound longing; we surrender to love in all its wild abundance, its simplicity and its chaos.

With dedication to Baba Diaal Singh Ji, Anandpur Sahib, Dera Moyian di Mandi, who left his body 2/2013.

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Sometimes the tea is forgiving

Sometimes the tea is forgiving
I left it on the stove too long for some casual affair,
examining the weather from the large window or
putting away a blanket from my morning nap,
a minor loss of consciousness.

Sometimes the tea is forgiving and
does not burn my tongue
does not turn bitter from its patient but too long waiting,
still can taste sweet or rich at least
for enduring time.