Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Una nota de Tulum

La Aventura.

A part of me wants to stay in this, keep going and going and going with this otherwordly experience. The people, the places, and the gloriously stuffy, cramped bus. Ah yes, the last time I came on the winter Bus Tour I felt this way: I don´t want to go home.

Not yet.

I feel so blessed to chill with every single person on this Tour. All 23 of us. And at the same time, I feel as though we´re all like straws in the ocean, coming together for this incredible bonding experience... only to drift away once again.

Whatever the case, I have some incredible adventures that I´m sure you´re dying to hear.

But right now I´m at an internet cafe in Tulum and I gotta run.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Una nota de La Ciudad

Crazy breakdowns. Travel all day. Crazy getting-to-know-you games - I think I know TOO much now [laugh].

We're IN La Ciudad... but we're lost. It's 4:40am... in the deserted streets, we find a cop, who escorts us to the temple's street. It's 4:50am. The bus is still trying to park and Manu calls out, "Go, go!! The curtains are going to close - go see the Deities!" so we jump off the moving bus. Forget your shoes, just GO - so we dash barefoot through the courtyard. I hear a mrdanga and voices.

We billow in and offer obeisance to the Deities. And ahhh... it's like soothing water flowing around me as I bask in the Deities and the quiet of this moment in contrast of the craziness of getting here... of finally, finally getting here.

We're leaving now - five minutes. The adventure has begun.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


For the purpose of winter traveling, I shall be out of the country... and very much out of internet access. A sabbatical, shall we say.

Although I sense very few people read this blog, I would like to appreciate all those who do and encourage me to continue. I find that inspired writing is the most wonderful to read and the most wonderful to write.

So... thank you.

And that's all she wrote.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Radha Madan Mohan: December 9th

My shelter.

Tour of Alachua (5 of 5): Where Love Resides

"Whenever you give your time, you are making a sacrifice, and sacrifice is the essence of love." Unknown

I remember the very night that Sayana Arati flew into my heart like a swift bird and has lived there ever since.

I had just moved to Alachua two years ago, and the gurukulis were holding a meeting in the lobby of the templeroom, discussing our involvement in the upcoming celebration of Srila Prabhupad's Appearance Day. And then, a conch shell clarioned through the evening.

"What? What is that?" I asked, taken aback.

"Oh, it's the last arati of the day before the deities go to sleep," Raghu explained. We all flowed into the templeroom.

In that warm cocoon, the only lights on in the room were shining from the altar, illuminating quiet faces. Someone was singing a bhajan a bit off-key, with only kartals to accompany his song. Radha Shyamasundar were wearing gentle, flowing clothes, with no jewelry or garlands.

I remember the feeling. Something blossomed in my heart - a tenderness for deities of Radha and Krishna that I had never really felt before in all my life growing up around Them.

When the curtains closed, I wanted to return the next night. And the next. But being the new kid on the block in Alachua with zero form of transportation and few connections, several months passed. When I had settled into my own home and bought a car, one evening I wandered over to the temple to chant japa.

And Sayana Arati caught me by gentle surprise once again.

Like chanting my rounds, Sayana Arati has become a part of my life. I give this time to bidding goodnight to Krishna and I feel as though Krishna reciprocates with this sacrifice of time by giving me a foundation to love Him. Although I love the discipline of chanting my rounds every day, which is also a sacrifice of time, Sayana Arati is completely on my own whim.

When I miss too many nights, I feel as though something is missing in my spiritual life.

Ah, yes, the essence of love.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Tour of Alachua (4 of 5): The Templeroom of Radha Madan Mohan

Imagine the evening has settled in on Alachua and the stars twinkle on in the sky. Cars pull into Raghu's driveway, and gurukulis wrap scarves and sweaters tighter as they hurry into this warm templeroom.

It's 8:00pm. It's Kartik.

For the past four years, Raghu and Yamuna have hosted this tradition of singing the Damodar Prayers to his deities, Radha Madan Mohan, and we all offer a candle. (And can you believe someone different sings every single night?) I believe Radha Madan Mohan are the ishta-deva of Kartik in Alachua for the gurukulis. Well, that's certainly how I feel.

Now that Kartik has ended, Raghu's house has quieted once again. For the past year, I have come to dress Radha Madan Mohan every other Sunday morning. Even though I am not initiated and They are installed, somehow They smile, roll Their eyes, and allow me to dress Them anyway.

I feel this templeroom is an integral experience of Alachua for me. It is where I draw closer and closer to Radha and Krishna in Their deity form. On Sunday mornings I taste peace for two hours as I listen to soft bhajans or hum to myself, entranced.

Raghu makes much of his own jewelry for his Deities. These are handmade tikas, chokers, and bracelets for Srimati Radharani.

Even though this is my 19th time dressing (Raghu is militarily precise on these matters) it still took me three hours to dress my Lords.

Ah, whatever, time becomes irrelevant on these mornings anyway.

To write is to dare the soul. So write.