Reflection #18: Valentine’s Day

As I look around, the new world existence, for many of us, it all has changed. We are now waking up, every day to a new way of living, connecting with others, grocery shopping, working! This is, indeed, a reminder of the very few things that remain constant in life. I look around at the natural direction of entropy our world takes. The answerless questions always shows up for me, where will this take me and life? I used to wonder, where, will I be, or if would be, when I turn 30, 40, 50? I never imagine this is where I would land today. However, I have always look for an answer, intuitively, in the realm of spirituality, even though I consider myself, somehow a person of science. As I look back, the backbone of my life has always been me turning to look and understand Love, especially of God.  

I have recently walked by the church where I grew up, Catholic Parish “Our Lady of Consolation” (Virgen del Consuelo) – so much to say there. Now, it is a different looking building. My visit brought memories of being the youngest person in the young adult group for Mary. We used to meet every week to pray the rosary. I went to retreats with all these young adults being the only pre-teen. The older, kind and gentle Spanish priest, who directed the group, was the first person to call me Rafa, with a strange accent! I loved it. He held the earliest mass, at 7am on Sundays. I used to run the 3 blocks from my parents’ house every Sunday, to volunteer, which I loved! He had asked one member of the rosary group to be there in every mass, so he could give the “hug of peace” (sorry for my lack of Catholic lingo in English) to one of us, in representation of the congregation. I got to sit in the front bench, usually alone. From there I had Christ, on the wall behind this modern looking altar, very minimalistic, not as ornate as the traditional churches in South America. Every time, I looked up to Him, tears ran my eyes, glad no was able to see me. He was beautiful, eyes opened, so loving, especially because he was not crucified, he portrayed as rising up. To me this meant, He was alive!  

I cried because deeply in my heart, because I did not know I was worthy. I had learned I was innately faulty. At that young age I already was carrying the burden of the deepest of my secrets, my “unacceptable” sexuality. The message was clear from my parents, my brothers, the “teachings” of God. This thought carries many times with me up to this point in my life.  

This burden was incredibly heavy and traumatizing, many times paralyzing. It had many deleterious effects in my daily being, one of them allowing myself to be truly myself. I had to always protect, be guarded, distrusting of relationships and their judgment. Internally, I was longing for love and acceptance, without knowing the words to ask for it. Around 18, I found yoga, by “chance”. My dearest friend (not quite the word – also a small “g” guru), Juan, introduced me to it. The fascinating world of yoga, its beautiful philosophy, and teachings, so new and contrary to what I knew spirituality to be. 

This stage of my life brought to me a relearning the philosophy of Love. It was leaving the toxic message of relatives, and discovering a new, freeing world of acceptance and spiritual love. For decades we practiced mediation, unfailingly, as a daily routine, twice, morning and evening. I attended many retreats in complete silence and fasting, for spurs of 7 days at a time. I have practiced yoga with curious and voracious intensity. I started teaching at 19. I have taught since. All these events finally led me to meet my guru, a short 10 years ago, or so. I felt my path was bringing me to Him…much before I “met” him.  

In our first visit with Him, in His ashram in Mangarh, in His room, as people usually greeted Him when we first arrived, he asked me and Jerry, if we were married. We were not then. Maharaji, as we call Him lovingly, responded, with a playful and amazingly loving smile, the way only He can smile in this world, pointing as His heart, “I am your husband.” I still tear up when I relive these incredibly profound, heart tearing words from Maharaji. 

I do return to this moment, often. When the world seems dark, unstable, hostile at times, when I feel I lost in the mundane, or in my material aspirations; when I see despair or feel “unfit”, or that I have come short; any time I want to remind me of what Love is, Jerry and I can jointly reflect back on the ever alive experience. 

The beauty of this Love is that is and has been always available to me and all of us, all the time, truly inside our hearts. And it is not the contractual love the world has taught us. This love withdraws at first sign of fault or error; this material love seeks before it gives. True Love gives before we know, guides and is with us life after life, no matter what I have done, because it is not who I am. This is the Love that I believe I think we all crave for, in every action, if we just stop to ask the purpose of our action.  

The drive to continue showing up for yoga, every day, meditating, having time for reflection, time for self-care, time to invest in maintaining this body, is to maximize this opportunity on this body. We all have a story, we just need to turn inwardly to find our spiritual Love. Yoga has given me that, the way to continue towards discovering real, pure spiritual Love.