Solitude, love, ashram, and the devotional life
“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” -Bell Hooks
I woke up today to the quiet joys of a solitary morning: thoughts softly whirling, tea steaming, palo santo wafting, the dew on the grass wet on my feet. I’m in the afterglow of seven days of co-created intimacy initiation with another person. As I check in with my heart, “Where do you most want to go, inwardly, this morning, Sarah? Where and what is your longing, today?” I find delight in the familiar comforts of my own inner world, a little more predictable and grounded than where I have journeyed over these past few days. What I find is that I am most learning for the simple, yet transcendent, peaceful feeling I experience when resting in the often repeated rituals of devotion, like lighting a candle, visually consuming the beauty of nature, chanting in prayer around a fire or mindfully breathing on my yoga mat.
The thing that unifies all of these experiences is the intention with which I frame them. They are all framed with this yearning I have for the most pure experience of the Divine. It’s a yearning to be with godDESS and to BE godDESS myself. I think I started trusting that urge more deeply than any other because of the guidance I received from my travels to India and my yogic journey, although really all my spiritual adventures over the years have nurtured this same aspect of my soul. My teachers and ascended masters have taught me that this yearning is to be honored, nurtured and followed above all else. This voice starts out small, quiet and still. It’s not the loudest or most persistent thought in the mind. For some, this idea of “devotion” to this inner longing seems like a far away concept. It can be buried under layers of repression or shame, or just feel too tender to be touched.
“The way to Peace lies in the remembrance of [the sacredness of all things] and of [the sacredness of all things] alone.” -Anandamayi Ma
(I have creatively changed this quote to fit what I am most wanting to express)
This morning, I remembered how this sacredness lives in me. I remembered how I can ground myself in it; it feels relatively easy when I am alone. How do I stay aligned with it when I am with others, either in community, and/or with a lover or a partner? This morning, I am grateful to be in the last week of preparation for our community creation of the Red River Gorge Summer Play Ashram, which starts on June 6th. For me, the ashram life has brought me to places I’ve never been before, to new levels of cellular relaxation and bliss, that happen when immersed in repeated daily ritual. It’s odd to say that I need a community to experience this particular kind of solitude. Yet when I know that I am with people who share the same deep intention, for this greater union with the Divine, it actually allows me to connect with my own intention, my own yearning, more deeply, and to rest in it, to allow it to carry me to new, sweeter places inside myself, maybe even inside the heart of the Divine itself.
Watching the soft sun coming through the trees, hearing the baby goats bleating in the neighbors yard, and feeling deep gratitude for your heart, reading this, and beating with my heart, on this fine, sacred morning.