Thursday, June 14, 2012

Where Has June-Elena Been?

June is a home-body, Elena is a gypsy with wanderlust in her soul. Since January I have been in the grip of Elena, traveling widely and steadily, and have not had the time or inclination to write commentaries on my beautiful Banámichi. We have not been in Banámichi much, and I have only landed at home in Tucson for a few days at a time before taking off again for parts unknown.

This has been the year of the bucket list...time to go places and see things I have longed to see for many years or in some cases, nearly a lifetime. This has coincided with lots of travel for the seva (selfless service, or volunteer work) that I offer to the SYDA Foundation, a global non-profit that disseminates, protects and preserves the work of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, my meditation master.

On behalf of the bucket list, in February we went to Fairbanks, Alaska - an interesting time to go that far the dead of winter. I am not sure the temperature ever went much above 10 degrees Farenheit - a warm spell, we were told by the locals. This was a challenge for an old desert rat. Even taking a walk around Fairbanks was restricted by my face burning with cold. However, since I was old enough to have heard about the Aurora Borealis - I was a science buff as a child, so it was early on - I have longed to see it, and living in the Southwest desert has not afforded that opportunity. So Fairbanks in February it was.

Aurora, Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, Feb. 2012
We had one spectacular night of viewing on a hilltop near Chena Hot Springs just outside Fairbanks. There had been a massive solar flare the day before we arrived. (SomeOne was looking out for me!) The aurora stretched from horizon to horizon, shifting, swirling, curtaining,and then pulsing red and blue. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more - a magnificent example of God's handiwork splayed on the dome of the heavens. I lay on my back on the snow in the sub-zero night in awe and wonder, finally feeling complete with this desire.

Me and Dan chilling in the Grand Canyon
May saw another long time desire fulfilled as we spent 8 days rafting in the Grand Canyon. Wow! Everywhere I looked, I saw God: in the cliffs and reflections, in the shimmering heat of the afternoons, in the crushing force of the rapids and the ebony depth of the night sky. I was almost unbearably happy. We hiked up some of the side canyons, scaling cliffs and scrambling over slippery rocks, to stand at the end under the cooling force of remote waterfalls. My body told me that this was my last chance at this rugged activity in this lifetime. I think I need a new right hip now, but it was totally worth it.

In a deep pool of turquoise blue water I was swept around and around in an eddy caused by a waterfall, treading water and laughing with joy. The wildness of the place spoke to and evoked that which is wild and primitive in me. I was free, unfettered! Once again, there was that deep satisfaction and a sense of completion.

This bucket list year will continue in September with a small ship cruise in the Greek Islands. As a child I wanted to run away to sea, and later on, the lure of the Greek Islands called to me. I wish the Greek economy well for the sake of the people, and also for myself. I don't know yet what it is that is held so deeply and tightly within me about this place, but I am trusting that something wonderful will be released on that trip as well.

Sea World: Lily with Dolphin Trainer
Then there was a family trip - in March I went to San Diego to Sea World with my daughter Rebecca and my little grand daughter Lily. We dined with Shamu, petted dolphins and had lunch in La Jolla. It was a sweet bonding time with my little family, and I am looking forward to heading to San Diego again in July to avoid some of the southwestern heat this year.

My reflection with two friends in giant bean sculpture, Milennium Park, Chicago

The seva trips have been short and intense. There was Austin and Houston in January, Phoenix and Tucson in February, Denver and Boulder in April,  Albuquerque, Madison and Chicago in May. My role was to meet with the meditation centers in each city and help them find a point of sustainability into the future, created by their own members. There were so many challenges, so many opportunities for growth, and I met so many dear people - old friends and new - some of whom  I have known for several years only by their voices on the other end of a phone line. Each trip I came home exhausted, but in truth I have no complaints. Each visit was an ecstatic experience. With each trip I was reminded how much goodness and joy there is in this world, and of my immense gratitude to have it as part of  my life!

A Cultural Surprise: Mexican Ingenuity
(Photo courtesy of Tracy Williams)
In this same time frame we have been to Banámichi only 3 times, and not nearly for long enough. I have missed being here. My garden has suffered and I have not had the down time and creative time that I need to stay on an even keel. I miss the little cultural surprises that happen so frequently here. Life in Banámichi is  rich and wonderful, and it feeds my soul as much as all the travel and adventure. Still, life is short, and at my age (69,) it is getting shorter every day, and when the time does come for me to pass, I would prefer not to be held back by unfulfilled longings and desires. And....I may just make it! After this year, most of my bucket list will have been fulfilled. Sure, Elena still has the wanderlust, but it is not such a driving force any more. If I get to travel, great. If I get to stay home, great.

In either case, all is well.