A story, a night hike, and grace.
A few days ago while leaving the library, I noticed a poster on the bulletin board announcing a special presentation by a renowned American storyteller, one Laura Sims. Though, I nearly cringe to say, she was unknown to me, my guidance urged me to attend.
Laura's stories were solid, strong and chewy and her delivery engaging. They had those fable-like characteristics of magic and universality, and her reputation was clearly deserved. Sharing memories from her own childhood, she told us about her favorite grandmother, who had an amazing pair of beautiful diamond earrings, which she wore both day and night. Oh, how they sparkled, and oh, how Laura loved looking at them, especially at Shabbat dinner, when they glistened and sparkled from across the table. She wanted her grandmother's earrings, but knew she was forbidden to ask for them.
During her engaging storytelling, I was aware of having been activated. When I was introduced to her, a distinct chord of energetic resonance vibrated within me. I literally felt lit up, as if a huge piece of me had just come alive in her presence. A profound sense of inspiration lingered.
When I arrived home up the canyon, the canopy of stars above and the brisk autumn air were calling. A divine appointment beckoned. Without thinking twice, I found myself seduced by the invitation. I could think of only one thing-taking a walk. An opposing signal reminding me to be reasonable and turn in dissipated with little contest. My eagerness for the impromptu date spiralled. Not even wanting to go in and search for my hat, I wrapped my head with the talisman of a golden silk scarf that until then had been casually standing in as an accessory shoulder drape. I then put my keys and my hands in my pockets, and set off uphill, on foot.
The crisp night air was remarkably alive. The spacious canyon neighborhood was stiller than still, and yet I did not feel I walked alone. Indeed, the very quiet road and wide open spaces felt curiously crowded. There was a palpable sense of company, of being surrounded by great companions.
A feeling of expansiveness, vibrant with vitality, filled every cell of my being. My awareness felt particularly clean and pure. The filters that usually cloud my perception had evidently also spontaneously decided to take a hike, and thus, all my senses were deliciously heightened. For who knows how long, the veils of my habitual nature voluntarily surrendered. It was as if a gateway had opened, and I had passed through.Within this inner realm, each particle of the crisp night air was infinitely charged with precious life force. Delivered on ethereal waves of stillness, sound envelopes carrying the faint tinkling of chimes exploded in my ears. Surely the only person around, I marveled at what felt like an entire cosmic concert being played just for me.
Or were they really chimes? Somehow the dancing, ringing tones felt like they were inseparable from the tiniest units of creation, simultaneously emanating from nothing in particular and from the Source of creation itself. All That Is.
At times I would slow my walking, stopping still in the envigorating cold of the night, to feel even more the overflowing fullness of my being. It felt as if each of my cells contained the capacity of universes of sensation. And then the realizations got subtler. Oh, I thought, amused at the obviousness of it all. From somewhere I knew, these sounds are always here. This is the nature of life, scintillating, like the stars.
The stars themselves were talking to me. To us. Always. Whether or not we listen, they talk. Whether or not we hear, they call. Call us home. Call us into remembrance of who we are. Soham. Soham.
The mystics of ancient traditions taught secrets. They taught things that most of the populace, it was believed, weren't really able to hear. One secret was that the deities reside in waves of sound. It's where they live and how they come to life-sacred sound. That's why when music we consider powerful and sacred is played, deep feelings of love and gratitude arise within us.
When we place our attention on something, that thing becomes our reality. Focusing our attention on sounds of a certain frequency brings the divine into manifestation. As a bonus, we can find ourselves in situations like this not only by intention but by grace. Unanticipated opportunities to experience a clever musician, storyteller, singer or poet, birdsong or even the wind, are gifts of grace. Cultivating practices where we use our voice or sound with intention, we can be transported into our own inner realms, vast territories where communication is of a different spectrum, and where true communion occurs. Ultimately after the bliss, what remains is silence, the peace of returning home.
Every tradition I can think of asks us to make offerings to God. Either in gratitude, or more commonly in the case of ordinary men, to solicit favors. In fact, the gods are always there and, there for us. The grace is that they don't actually want anything from us, let alone require sacrifice or offerings. We are not here to please them-or, rather, pleasing them is what we do already, by virtue of their very nature and ours, which is pure love. The deities nonetheless are touched by our sincere efforts. At times they are paradoxically willing to receive, if that which we choose to share happens to be the most precious gift of all, our totally refined consciousness. To a certain mystical branch of Hinduism, the Siddhis, this purest and most refined consciousness of ours gets metaphorically translated as diamonds. And thus, the one offering that Saraswati is inclined to accept is a bowl full of diamonds.
I look into the bowl of stars overhead.
Tarananda, aka Katie Mercier, is the former owner of Eiffel Tower Catering. Since discovering her voice, she lives an (en)chanted life toning her way to higher consciousness, and leading heart-opening retreats on Hawaii's Big Island.