We used to have two dogs, brother and sister, who we had got from a rescue home. Jake the boy was handsome and fast and Maisey was slow, scruffy and bright. I loved to take them for walks. It is a very English thing and something I thought I would never do but time wore down my judgments and I gave myself to the task daily. Actually it was more a joy than a task, for Jake with his touch of hound in his ancestry was a joy to watch when he was in full flight. It was a joy because it was obvious he was in the same state. Maisey was quite happy to amble along just sniffing everything and everybody. Joy at physical exercise was not her bag, more an air of contentment.
As for myself it was variable, but my morning walk with the dogs was basically my form of meditation. When I mentioned that to friends I was often looked at with that knowing glance that basically said, “we feel the same about meditation” and any justification to avoid sitting for long periods was understandable. I don’t think I have many judgments on that form of meditation but I do remember many years ago an old friend visited us on the way back from a 10-day silent retreat. I was curious about her experience and what had happened; had she had some amazing revelations, insights, alien abductions, wormhole explorations or travelled the astral? When I asked her she thought for quite some time before answering and then said, “not sure about any of that but I do know exactly how I want to remodel my kitchen!“
Anyway I was on a morning walk in late spring in the water meadows just north of Romsey in Hampshire close to the river Test. I had been practicing not chasing thoughts too much and basically acting as mindless as possible, sort of, when I had what can only be described as an experience. It is so hard to describe because the act of description even in the most profound prose renders it almost meaningless. However, poor prose and bad sentence construction has never stopped me; so the experience, it was like I was transported, I was suddenly in another place, maybe another reality but there were no signposts. I recognised or “knew” that I was in the place Christian metaphor describes as the garden. This was actually my second visit so I knew this place but only slightly.
I was aware enough not to freak out and leap into the river so I relaxed into the experience which was easy to do once I no longer wanted to run away. It was then that I felt I was transported again and while I was still in the garden now I was myself as a small boy and I was holding the hand of the most amazing angel. What added to the intensity was the sense that I had her total and undivided attention, an attention so intense that I was completely seen, there was no hiding place or even a concept of a hiding place and while I was seen it was also that I was totally loved with the sweetest love, the love of an angelic mother.
We were both walking in the garden and we were surrounded by the most fantastic plants and flowers but the best part was the feeling that I could ask “why?” as many times as I liked and the love and attention would never ever waver. I could ask “why?” 100,000 times and still be totally loved.
Remembering that my parents and us four kids drove to the coast from the farm in Kenya every summer, which usually took a combination of 2 to 4 days, I wonder how many times we must have asked “are we there yet?“ or “how much longer?“ And it usually ended in some cross words. That gets me to wondering why kids love to ask “why?” endlessly; and I think it is because we are so curious yet we want to be known, we want to be seen and we want to be so loved. However as grown ups we often don’t respond well or have the ability to put so much attention on another for it seems true that we can only put as much attention on another as we think we deserve.
In that experience of the Garden I did not ask “why?” much for soon it was apparent that I was connected to everything and the lines that defined me and her and the plants and flowers were melting into one, not their form but their energy. I could feel my mind shutting down and my consciousness expanding and overall there was just this intensive feeling of love that prefaced everything. Time elongated and waned and with that came a deep sense of peace.
Then I was back on the riverbank and both dogs were sitting close by. It was this world but everything was clearer and brighter with more depth. I know I now have much more patience about this world and am able to feel an ebb and flow in the fabric that disguises the true nature of the world. Often friends will comment on how patient I am with people during seminars almost as if it is not my nature to be so and then I think to myself, “a gift from an angel.”
With love, Jeff