Archive for August 11th, 2009

I spent last week at a Lucid Living retreat, “Secrets of Happiness” in beautiful Santa Barbara. We stayed at the Four Seasons Biltmore where the service and attention to detail is impeccable.

On the final morning of my stay, I ordered a room-service double latte. When the knock came, I expected to be handed a simple coffee cup on a saucer right there at the door. (These words conjured up all kinds of funny images when I spoke it to my circle later. My favorite was the image of a medieval prison guard shoving a gourd of gruel through a small opening in a large plank door and then slamming it shut in my face.  It is one of those scarcity scenarios I’m so gifted at imagining.)

Instead, the double latte was delivered on a silver platter adorned with a cloth napkin and accompanied by two biscotti, a shiny silver spoon, two lumps of sugar (white and brown), an assortment of other sweeteners and one stunningly beautiful yellow flower in a white vase.

From my scarcity perspective, I would call this overkill and I would make up how politically incorrect and extravagant the entire scene was, harkening back to my “starving kids in Africa” clean plate days as a child.

From my celebration-of-beauty-and-self, celebration-of-spirit-and-soul perspective, of course I would be served in this way. Not only would I be served, but I would create the same for others. Beauty is our innate being and this service and presentation are a reflection of that.

I carried the tray to my balcony dining table and settled into a feast for the senses; the aroma and taste of hot latte, the clinking of the spoon, the singing and chattering of birds, the verdant beauty of lush grounds and the freshness of the ocean breeze.

I found myself completely and utterly captivated by the gorgeous yellow flower. There it sat in the vase, vibrant and bursting like the sun. It became the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I drank it in, feasted upon it as if starving, as if I’d never get enough. For a moment, it became my entire world.

(c) Kathy J Loh

(c) Kathy J Loh

I saw the flower watching me as I watched it. I saw the flower generously giving of its beauty and in seeing that, I saw my own beauty and felt my desire to give in the same way. I felt the transience of its loveliness and, knowing I’d be checking out in an hour, I felt a great sadness for the brevity of the experience.

This put me directly in touch with my desire to hold on to any and everything that brings me joy and happiness. I was reminded of all the sunsets and the moon risings, the shooting stars and animal sightings that I want to somehow keep forever. This is why I carry my camera and perhaps even why I journal and write. I want to remember it all. I want to remember the love and the beauty.  I want to re-member it; to know oneness and forget my separation.

I thought of the people I love and this life I love. I don’t want them to pass, I don’t want to face growing older or the loss of this incredible gift of life.  I don’t want to know long stretches of time without the people I love in them. The sadness fills my heart and overflows in my tears. I become aware, that it is my willingness to be with this great sadness that brings me in touch with my great desire, passion and love for others, for this life, for the beauty of our planet and our humanity. By feeling this sadness and grief, I increase my capacity to also feel passion and joy. It doesn’t work for me to deny the grief. It only chokes off all my emotions.

While beauty never fades, the forms shift and pass. While love is ever-present, its form shifts and passes. I can’t hold on. I want to possess and I must let go. What I try to possess withers and fades. I trust that what I release comes back to me revealed as ever-present in its being and in my being.

One simple, radiant yellow flower, warming my heart like a new day’s sun, taught me this. What a gift, what service. May I be a willing flower generously revealing my inherent radiance.  May I know within me, such courage and such love.  May we all.

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