The story of the last 14 days has many chapters, but I will share the words as they come naturally, and over time. I don’t even know how to convey all that has come to light but I will start at the beginning …
Upon leaving New Zealand, dear friends of my sister, gave us a parting gift – a beautiful Maori green stone necklace. They told us it was blessed by the Maori tradition and the more blessings we travel with the better. The stone is a symbol of courage and strength. In gifting us the stone, they gave us the power of love and protection from generations of ancestors.
We take turns wearing the necklace and at times hang it somewhere prominent wherever we are living. The kids often stop and gaze at it as they walk past or sit comfortably and rub the smooth, cool surface as a way to relax into a new space. Two weeks ago, the stone was safely hanging over the Hindu calendar in our temporary home in Bali. A friend from California sent me a message to contact her friend currently living in Ubud, Bali. After a few messages back and forth, I was inspired to call Rachel and hear her voice. The conversation had an energy of its own as she talked of the Island of the Gods we were still straining to see with clarity. She told me about Tirta Empul (the water temple) that has a purification ceremony anyone can take part in. As we were talking, the green stone was dripping with rays of liquid sunshine pouring through the early Indonesian morning.
I knew after hanging up the phone, that it was time to unplug all our devices. It was the only way to discover our path through Bali. Before unplugging, I sent an email to the driver on the only business card sitting on the table of our Balinese home. I asked him to pick us up on Wednesday and take us to the water purification temple. Then everything went quiet.
For two days, as a family, we navigated this new technology-free environment. We stumbled and tripped over the lack of an immediacy we had grown accustomed to, and had awkward moments of looking up and really seeing one another through thick and thin. No artificial escaping into rhythms not our own. Within 24 hours, we had the flow. We played games before breakfast, held spelling contests after dinner and played charades in the palm trees shadow. We had unheard of amounts of time and found ourselves waking earlier, laughing more, and going to sleep with the sun.
As we were waiting for the driver Wednesday morning, I had to resist the urge to log in and confirm he was coming. All I could do was rely on faith in our original agreement from three days prior. He arrived right on schedule. He was able to lead us through the water purification ceremony, as we grasped the green stone and waded through foreign rituals in a Hindu temple. He helped us wrap our sarongs and sashes properly, organize our offerings, and light our incense. He instructed me that women lead offering ceremonies and he would wait for us at the other side of the pool. He shared that in this holy place, while bathing in this holy water, let go of anything you don’t want in your future, while asking the Gods for permission to be here in Bali.
As we moved from fountain to fountain, my lead, then the three kids, and my husband last with the green stone flush against his chest, we gave thanks for this remarkable opportunity and surrendered to the Island of the Gods to show us the way.
Silent and drenched, we got back in the car and what happened next let us know that our offerings were received and our journey would never be the same. Our driver, Surya began talking with us about a spiritual lifestyle he learned when he was a child. He described a yoga and meditation practice that, for him, was bigger than any place of worship and steeped in 7,000 years of tradition. He asked us, very simply, if we would like to meet his teacher. This meeting would require traveling two to three hours north of Sanur to a more remote location in Northern Bali. He said he could drop us off and would come back for us a week later …
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