This week, I discovered a gem in Smithsonian Magazine. The article discussed the definition of “home.” This luscious topic has intrigued me for some time, and during the past year, the idea of home and what it is, and where mine is, and who I am in relation to that “home” … has been occupying my psyche.
Yes, the facts were clear to me: That last year, I had finished a 14-year tenure running a publication and moved away from the community I had known and which I had contributed. Home would be on my mind. And yes, I let go of the “home” I had there. And yes … there was the book I was writing, “Grace Revealed.” But really—I’m sure writing a memoir about my one-time homeless family, who were Polish refugees in the aftermath of Stalin’s mass deportations in the early 1940s did nothing to spark my interest in the topic. (I joke, of course.)
Home. Think about that word: Home.
Say it and it most likely will conjure up many feelings. What is “home” to you? Is it where the heart is, as the old adage professes? Is the brick and mortal in which we all tend to reside?
Smithsonian Magazine wrote this: “When did ‘home’ become embedded in human consciousness? Is our sense of home instinctive? Are we denning animals or nest builders, or are we, at root, nomadic? For much of the earliest history of our species, home may have been nothing more than a small fire and the light it cast on a few familiar faces, surrounded perhaps by the ancient city-mounds of termites. But whatever else home is—and however it entered our consciousness—it’s a way of organizing space in our minds. Home is home, and everything else is not-home. That’s the way the world is constructed.”
In fact, yes. That is the way the world is constructed.
So, what happens when you you have no real home; when you are in between “careers” or a life path; when you are nomadic? Where is home then?
Within? Without? Where?
Deep down, somewhere in here I am sure I know the answers to all these deep burning questions, and goodness knows The Universe may have so many more things to do than to continue appeasing me with “signs” from above, and indications on where to head next. In the midst of a book tour for “Grace Revealed,” in fact, one of those signs came to me in an email and now I am overlooking an young olive grove in Kula, Maui—something that I never thought I would ever be doing.
I wanted bright lights. Hollywood. Attention.
(Trust me: even I know how cloying that sounds.)
This week, in my endeavors on Maui—in my quest to sense and feel what “home” is, and in between meditations and such, and olive tree watching (quite Zen, actually)—I came across a wonderfully historic town here. It’s called Makawao. There’s a bakery there that is more than 100 years old and a sweet Asian woman named Betty works there—she may have been behind the counter for a century! I purchased a homemade apple pie and ventured forth … to The Sacred Garden.
Overseen by Eve Eschner Hogan, who penned a great many wonderful and bestselling inspirational books, the place is, well, for lack of a better word, magical. Actually let’s use a better word: Harmonic and Transformational come to mind, although Soul-evoking stands out for me.
So there I was, in The Sacred Garden in a jungle in the middle of Maui, a one-time journalist on the fast track (you’re right—I still am a journalist.) I had only learned about the place two days prior—on the plane heading to Maui. The woman seated behind me mentioned a full-moon labyrinth walk and, well, my head spun around so fast I nearly tweaked it. “Where?” I gushed with child-like enthusiasm.
Wednesday night’s full moon walk in the Labyrinth was indeed memorable for me. For starters, The Sacred Garden has a mascot—Bodhi. ( I love that he has his own web page!) Bodhi is a rustic-toned Saint Bernard/Rottweiller mix who just loves to have his tummy scratched.
Bodhi also loves to walk the labyrinth on this own.
A harpist and violinist performed in front of magnificent Buddha statue prior to the group full moon walk. Afterward, Eve—stunning with a wildly angelic mane of blond hair—welcomed the guests—more than 50 in attendance I counted—and spoke about the life metaphors that can be illuminated when walking the labyrinth. Some of you may be familiar with this practice. For instance, Bay Area residents may know that San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral boasts two labyrinths. Oak Park, Illinois’ Grace Lutheran Church has one outside of the building. Labyrinths can be traced back about 4,000 years ago.
The idea behind walking it, is to begin with an intention in mind—clarity on something; guidance, you get the picture.From there, you move along the path and, well, be open to notice what happens; what you think, what you feel. You notice the experience you are having.
Observe. Experience yourself walking the path.
The first few times I walked the labyrinth back at Grace Cathedral, I was just wishing and hoping to get to the middle; to get to the inside of the labyrinth; the “get there.” To … uh … “get” nirvana! Already. Please! NOW!
It seems quite clear to me lately that that way may not be the way for me to walk my path. I’ve been tossed onto Maui for goodness sake. Something is going on here. If only I can stay in the moment … here. Now. And, value what is—now.
Not there. Not then. Here.
This may not be spiritual rocket science. We know the drill. It’s implementing being in the Here and Now while you’re in the Here and Now that gets tricky.
So there I was walking the path with about 50 or so other lovely strangers from all over the planet, underneath a vibrant full moon, whose moon beams glimmered through the jungle palms and banyan trees when, all of a sudden, my palms began to vibrate. I stopped moving for a moment, wondering if I would cause I bumper car-like collision behind me, and lifted my hands. I wasn’t crazy. I felt the vibe. I felt the pulsation.
Was it me? Was the energy I could have been picking up on within the labyrinth?
Or both, perhaps?
A smile lifted my face and I ventured forth. At some time, along the outer perimeter, I stopped at each tiki torch and held my palms on either side: “I honor my power,” I found myself saying, not quite sure why. (Well, I guess I knew why … I still felt a bit “out of it” on some level after birthing “Grace Revealed” and all that post-partum “YOU’LL FEEL EMPTY AFTER YOU WRITE A BIG BOOK stereotypical stuff was lingering and I did not quite feel fully, ah … “at home” … within myself.)
Where was I? The walk. The labyrinth. Remarkable.
The following day, I returned to the garden. I meditated and pulled some Angel Cards in the Meditation Room—The Love card. I walked the labyrinth again, with an intention of clarity and guidance for home and life path. This was during the day on Thursday. Two other people, a twentysomething girl and a guy, were on the path, too.
I noticed that the young woman was picking up every yellow leaf she encountered along the path. I inhaled made a note of it and then I thought: Yes, abundance everywhere along “the path. You, too, can gather as much as you wish, dear Greg.” (I may not have sounded that eloquent to myself on the inside.) Whatever. Onward I went …
A few turns along the path later, I noticed that the woman had discarded her leaves. And then I realized how clear the path in front of me actually had become. In fact, I became truly aware that perhaps the young woman was not gathering the leaves to collect them like valuable coins. She was simply making the path clear(er).
For me? For the path? For both?
Not sure. The metaphor stood out: A path had been cleared at that moment in time. Could I benefit from realizing this? Could I see it, integrate it, be thankful for it and see the blessing?
And then … somewhere near the center of the labyrinth, I was struck with inspiration … that, perhaps, all of the roads we travel on in this life are simply the roads on which we travel; that “The Path” simply leads to “The Path.”
If we can just walk it, be in the moment … and observe.
More soon …