I was just speaking to someone the other day about a journey I recently took driving cross country from Alaska to Minnesota. I was not alone. Far from it! My fellow travelers were Merri’s daughter, Stephanie, and her granddaughter Hailey and their 5 Alaskan Huskies. The eight of us did very well on our trek, seeing multiple wild animals. They enthralled the three humans, and intrigued (and sometimes drove a bit crazy) our 5 furry companions. We met wonderful people and saw some unsurpassed beauty surrounded by mountains, lakes, streams and what seemed like infinite trees. We took it all in, Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta,Montana, North Dakota, and then home. We drove many miles, laughing wholeheartedly at the ridiculousness of certain aspects of the world and the insanity that has become
commonplace today. It was a journey to remember.
Few journeys worth taking are without a few struggles. Ours was no exception. Keeping Hailey safe, and of course the dogs as well, became Steph’s and my priority. Most of the struggles were minor; from feeling a bit chilly to sleeping in the vehicle instead of a tent, as a bear was in the area. (A Grizzly bear, not black.) We had one major struggle of the car breaking down. Fortunately we had not traveled too far yet, but still had to wait 4 extra days for the car to be fixed. It was uncomfortable to get behind schedule, and be stuck, but we made the best of it. This journey we took was just one of many that I have embarked upon. It was one of several Steph has taken as well and one of many more I am sure Hailey will venture in the future. Just like life, it isn’t just one destination or one stop we experience, nor one destination to becoming whole or enlightened. It isn’t birth through death and that’s it. It is a series of many stops and beginning again and again and again. And this truly is what life’s darkness and beauty is all about!
A wonderful symbol of this darkness and beauty is the lotus. Many of you probably know of the reasoning behind this but for those who don’t here’s a short explanation, then I will take it one step further. The lotus has long been known to be a symbol of peace, transformation and the journey to enlightenment. The lotus begins its journey in the depths of the mud and muck at the bottom of a pond. Sometimes having to travel 16-20 feet thru darkness to finally begin seeing some light, the lotus struggles, then breaking through the surface of the water it fully blossoms in the sunlight. As its petals die many might believe that the life for this lotus is over. Not so. It is just one wonderful moment to be in the sun and revel in life’s ease, just floating and resting, and awaiting the next journey in its life.
A new journey begins again as a seed falls from the flower, to the depths of the pond, to settle in its beginning place once more. Some say this seed isn’t the same flower? They say it is its offspring as there are many seeds? Are there not many aspects of who we are just waiting to be born but have had to wait for the completion of another path we needed to take first? Those are our seeds for the next growing time. Enlightenment is not a one-time destination. The very moment someone claims to have taken every class, knows every answer to what is asked, and believes they are fully enlightened, it’s time to run the other direction. Even the Dahlai Lama says he is but a child in his wisdom. And yet this is what makes him very wise, as he knows that he begins again and again throughout his life. We all have many beginnings.
So the seed of the lotus, which is symbolic of a new beginning, begins its journey once more. Just as we begin again and again throughout life. So when things are dark, and it seems there is no light to be seen, hang on and know that it is a new beginning. Get excited about the new journey! And just like the lotus, you WILL reach the surface, see the sun, and blossom once again!