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A Turbulent Love Affair: musings on my solo, silent year-end retreat.

It was a lot more intense than anticipated. I went deep immediately, with my hour long meditations taking me through undulations of caverns within. To sustain this contemplative, meditative mode, I repeat a version of The Pilgrim’s mantra, “Please God, have mercy on me. Thank you”. My mind is prone to fanciful pernicious imaginings, thus requires a centering prayer for focus. As I make a cup of tea, please God, have mercy on me. Thank you. In the shower, please God… this repetition sustains the tranquil rhythm to my retreat, disrobing me of all my defences.

In this unclad state, I allow victim ego-self to take me through a decade review of my life- an evidently punishing review. I defend my innocence by highlighting all the losses I’ve suffered, the numerous hospitalisations and subsequent surgeries which mercifully butchered my stomach to save my life, and the accompanying loss of work and income. I lost my prana.

I also declare my growth, and lessons I have hopefully learned successfully, including the initiation of my healer self by mama after her death. The decade has been harrowing, but I have grown through it.

However, victim ego-self is mean and contemptuous as she dismisses my case, growling impossible questions at me: How can you still be here? Why are you in so much debt and carry so much weight and are still single? What precisely is your work in the world and (most devastatingly) what is the meaning of your life? Does God even know you? The judgements are relentless and scathing, and I fall for every one of them.

Victim Ego-self is not satiated, and charges her assault onto God. Accusations of abandonment, betrayal and untrustworthiness are thrown about with abandon. Soon enough my soothing mantra is renounced, to be replaced by a deluge of self-pitying tears that refuse to cease.

I retire to bed with a Big headache, and am basically not talking to God. Just before I fall asleep, my sadness cracks me open, and I relent and ask our brother and ascendant master teacher Abuti Jesu to “please help me”. “Please help me find another way”, I beg.

I then fall into dead sleep. Just after two in the early hours of the morning of the last day of the year and decade, I am roused and beckoned to the balcony bordering my bedroom. As I push the curtain covering the glass door open, I catch the last bit of a brilliant trail of a shooting star in the dark sky. “Please, no tricks and signs”, I implore, rolling my eyes in my head. “Let’s just talk”. And I do. I ask for help, contrite for my meltdown. I ask many questions; about myself, about life in a human body. This continues for long, only to have my soliloquy be interrupted by a startlingly bright shooting star lighting the sky above my head.

“Okay…okay…” I say. And sit there in muted awe. There is nothing to be said. So I listen. Very shortly, calmness and peace are restored in me. I then bid the night good night -I need to return to bed. It’s late. As I get up from the couch, the sky waves me good night with a faint but certain shooting star, to the right. My eyes and heart pop wide open. Three shooting stars in a matter of not more than 40 minutes. That’s astounding, right?

My 31st of December turns into a content day. I meditate several times and do yoga asana, all the time remaining in the Stillpoint within. I also listen to many A Course In Miracles videos, and have every single one of the questions I had posed earlier on the balcony clearly responded to. There’s an unseen orchestration here, lining up what I need to watch, to help me realise my freedom.

When I go to bed on the night of the 31st, it is with a grateful and open heart. Just before the turn of the new year I get up at 23:50 to do my prayers in my room, lit up by a single candle. At midnight I return to the balcony and sit there for over an hour, until the New Year celebrations dissipate. I start expressing my gratitude in silent prayer. As I do so, a shooting star goes off in the left of my periphery. I smile in acknowledgment, and continue staring into the moonless sky. I am in a state of reverential wonderment.

In playful impatience, another shooting star lights a path above my head, astonishingly low in the sky. I can’t. I simply cannot. I mean, what can I say? I’m repeating a mantra “thank you. Thank you for seeing me”. “Thank you for coming for me”. After a while I report fatigue, and prepare to retire to bed on this 1st of January 2020. I ask “please be patient with me. I’m a silly, doubting, impatient woman, but please be patient with me”. As I get up to leave, another star shoots in the sky to my right. I laugh out loud in childish delight.

I get to bed with a smile in my heart. It’s been a very eventful retreat, and possibly like none other, safe for the time I experienced light and pattern visions during the night whilst at Vipassana retreat. But six shooting stars is unbelievable even to me, who saw them with my own eyes.

I think of the bible reading done at my mother’s funeral service, which went something like “you who have eyes but cannot see…”. Apologies but I don’t know the exact verse. At this point though I know I am being asked to stop being Doubting Thomas. My doubting only fulfils my anticipated disappointment. Therefore, as I step into this new year, may I see. May I see and know.

I break my retreat the following morning with a hike on Silvermine Reserve. It’s a strenuous hike, and my mind is free of thoughts as I walk in the morning heat. I notice beautiful bright orange and pink flowers dotted all over, and am happy. My mantra “thank you, thank you” accompanies my every step.

Ka Lerato. Thank you for reading.

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