I no longer come to the computer when I first get up. I move silently into the morning. The three little pugs climb on top of me or crowd near and I open my eyes to three curious faces, so full of love, I can feel tiny curled tails circling round fast and faster. I adore these three little boys. I hug and kiss and squeeze and love them. We play. I begin my day encircled in love.
Out the door and into the garden I go with my boys to the Dragonfly Cottage world, wild birds at numerous feeders, the tinkling of the windchimes, squirrels dashing across the yard, and as the boys snuffle their way around the yard I meander around the garden. This is my favorite time of day. The slate is clean, the whole day lies before me full of potent possibility abundant. The flowers are brilliant in the early morning sunshine, colors gleaming, sparkling with dew. Nothing exists but God, Nature, the animals, and the sounds of the natural world.
Inside I do my morning rounds, medications for the dogs who need them, breakfast, and on to the five parrots who need food and fresh water, early morning kisses and cuddles. For a time I stand still and say prayers of gratitude and feel the grace that is everywhere here. I am so full with all of this, I have, at 59, found my peace, my cup is brimming over with love, my job, now, is to find a way to channel it into the world. My work must be sustainable on all levels, the work itself and my ability to do it. I have been deep in meditation and prayer for months now seeking the answer. When I jump up fast to the computer and the shiny objects that litter the information highway I lose my focus and come up with ideas that seem thrilling, exciting, and fun, and they are not the answer. They quickly crash and burn and I run and hide filled with terror. No, the answer must needs come from silence, and stillness, meditation and prayer. This is the reason I no longer sit in a church on Sunday to worship God. I don’t need a building, a pew, or a minister, priest, rabbi or monk to plug me into the source. I seek, and find, here, in my cloistered world, Direct Communion. My days, every day, are full of God, are fueled by the Divine. I get more in a moment here than I ever did years in church. No, God is here, everywhere here, and when I open my heart and listen, in meditation, in prayer, the answers that I seek will come. The answer has been coming over and over again for a long time but it didn’t seem new enough, bright enough, one of the shiny objects everyone talks about today that glisten like gold, that people flock to. The answer floating up through the silence, from the bottom of the pool of my meditation and prayers has been, again and again, “You are a teacher, teach.”
This morning, it was the same. I prayed, “Dear God, please show me the way,” and my answer was a lotus flower, and tears ran down my cheeks. For over 30 years I taught a very special kind of journal class. Not for those who were seeking to be taught a means to write professionally, or to journal creatively, although some of that seemed to be part of the outcome for many, no, my classes were deeply spiritual, were meant to be healing. Therapists and ministers of every stripe sent their patients, clients, and those they counseled to me. People seeking a spiritual practice that they could use in their daily lives to be centered and find peace came to me. People came for many reasons but as a teacher my goal was to help them break through the shell that we build to protect our tender hearts so that we can live in the world as it is, and the shell gets harder and harder and our gentle hearts recede deeper and deeper until, in the worst case, they can barely be felt at all. The writing I teach is a kind of soul retrieval, it is the search for the original heart before it began to harden, even a little, to sustain itself against the slings and arrows of the world. It is as the great Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said, “We must continue to open in the fact of tremendous opposition. No one is encouraging us to be open and still we must peel away the layers of the heart.” That is what I taught, that is what I believe, that is what I live, it is how I write, and it is what I must teach, I can hide from it no longer.
When the vision of the lotus flower came I cried. I cried because my teaching was the lotus way, “The Lotus School of Writing.” The beautiful lotus flower rises each morning from the muck and the mud, raising it’s beautiful bud above the leaves and opening in all it’s glory, soft and radiant, there for all to see, but each night it closes up again and will not open for another day. So, too, for us, there is no easy answer. Daily we must work to rise up above all that holds us down, we must break through the wall that we have built between our tender heart and the world outside of us. Perhaps not in the normal course of 24 hours but it is the cycle of opening and closing and working, as we can, to keep opening again and again and again. We are imperfect human beings, we will recede back into the darker corners where our fears and woundedness lie, but with practice, daily practice, using writing as a form of meditation, of prayer, as a tool to find and reconnect with our tender heart, we will spend more and more time flowering in the light of the sun. No one is encouraging us to open, but still we must peel the layers of the heart. It seems that I am meant to do this.
People have been asking me for a very long time why I didn’t start teaching again. After teaching for 30 years, and then 5 online, and so many people teaching so many kinds of writing classes now, I felt that what I was doing was just one more person out there teaching writing, what could I offer? But more and more I see that this is the wrong way of looking at it. Yes, there are many people our there teaching many types of journal classes but mine are different, not better or worse, just different. With decades of study and practice, 50 years of journaling and studying the journal method from both a psychological and spiritual perspective, having studied with Dr. Ira Progroff who Intensive Journal Method forever changed the way I taught and thought about the practice, (I loved it when Dr. Progoff said, “I knew Carl Jung before he was a Jungian.” Ha!), and having studied and lived many spiritual paths, taking the Boddhisattva vow, being ordained a Christian minister, studying Native American spirituality, and studying, deeply, the monastic traditions, I have now stepped away from the outside world to a cloistered one where meditation and prayer, nature, the animals and the garden, are my world, and from this silence and solitude I will offer what spirit has led me back to. I am a teacher. I will teach. It is time to open the doors to The Lotus School of Writing once more.
I am going to take my time. I am going to spend the summer writing and praying, meditating and beginning all new class material. I will set the material up in ecourse format for ease for those who would like it, and I will take smaller groups and a very few private students. That is all I know for now. I am not yet advertising or making any grand proclamations. I have done enough of that only to see things fall away. it is interesting to me that when I have finally reached that which I truly believe is what I am meant to do, am guided to do by spirit, I want to be very quiet about it. I will share bits that seem important along the way and the first ecourse will be up in September, but beyond that I won’t say much until I am certain and have concrete pieces in place.
And so these mornings before I head to the internet I will have my quiet mornings. I will be with my animals and in the garden. I will meditate and pray. I will seek the guidance that I need and I will listen for the answers, and I will, daily as much as possible, write a blog entry here. I will share what I am led to share. I will hope to be of service. I will even include a donation button for any who would like to donate for these writings and teachings that I share freely from my heart. This blog is free and these writings always shall be. I have always been afraid or shy to do that. I am not anymore. It is a simple love offering for those who feel moved to do so, no more, no less.
I am a teacher, I will teach, it is time. No one is encouraging me to open, but still I must peel the layers of the heart. I must live the lotus way, and this is what I will teach.