From my third story apartment, I see the Angeles National Forest in the distance; the roller coaster peaks draw me to them. I have been in San Fernando Valley for three months, since the birth of my first grandchild, a miracle baby, Esteban Rio. The desert-like terrain and blistering hot summer were new for me, a San Francisco born and Marin County resident. I left the solitude of my home on Mt. Tamalpais for the roar of cars on every Valley street, but there are birds and butterflies, too. I have discovered a new life. My first hike up the steep, dusty grade of Fryman Canyon left me breathless in the vertical climb, not knowing where I was going physically or spiritually. Journeys are like that – an unfolding of the planned with magnificent gifts of mystery.
I have traveled this life growing into the person I am at this moment: my parents’ teachings; the prayers and kindness of my paternal King family whose Pentecostal Church taught me about speaking in tongues and having faith to move mountains; the ten years of studying meditation with a guru and learning to be silent for hours at a time to hear my inner voice; owning my vegetarian restaurant and serving customers with dedication to optimal health; marrying at 22 and birthing three souls who continue to teach me how to mother and love unconditionally; the cultural, spiritual and human experiences that have educated my mind about the truth of humanity’s oneness.
Lao Tzu wrote: “To realize the constancy and steadiness in your life is to realize the deep nature of the universe. This realization is not dependent on any transitory internal or external condition, rather it is an expression of one’s own immutable spiritual nature. The only way to attain the Universal Way is to maintain the integral virtues of the constancy, steadiness and simplicity in one’s daily life.”
I have much more to learn about simplicity, freedom, God’s mercy and grace.
My prayer is that we will all be manifestations of the Invisible Presence within.
“We thank the Earth Mother and the waters, the fish and the plants, the animals and the trees. We thank the four winds and the thunders, the sun and Grandmother Moon, the stars and the enlightened Teachers. We thank the people. We thank the Creator.
Ehh tho Niiohtonha’k ne onkwa nikon:ra. And now our minds are one.”
— Stephanie Elizondo Griest – All the Agents and Saints: Dispatches from the U.S. Borderlands
I have long believed in the power of stories: cultural lore, family memories, recounting brave movements to overcome injustice, and the long journey of lessons learned while having a life. Listening to others' stories is an art, the gift of witnessing.