After my whirlwind trip to Peru, including bus trips, planes, trains, deserts, oceans and many-layered beds, I was anxious to return to my place of rest, my sanctuary called home.
When you travel, coming home is the best part, and the hardest.
When you leave home, you are excited by what you are going to see and do. For me, I was excited to visit Cusco, Peru and meet Carmen Munoz of Centro Nanay, a centre which helps young girls who have graduated from local orphanages to re-assimilate into life.
I was also anxious to visit the far-flung villages in the mountains, and bring good cheer and broken Spanish, with lots of hugs to the children, and pet lamas and alpacas by lakeside market stands.
Before I went, I longed for adventure, transformation, inner purification and love. We experienced much of that: the bright lights of the Cusco nightlife, foreign and familiar foods, too many visits to the cash machine under local guard, and just faint touches of churches and monasteries; warm beds in a cold winter room staying with a local family…
Divine lights in the moon temple during meditation and angelic sounds; remnants of a lost civilization with entrances and exits neatly marked for a burgeoning crowd. There was nowhere that I truly “belonged”, for I was in someone else’s territory. Nothing in my blood carried the signal of fellow free man or slave, those who carried the weight of the world in Inca days.
There was no time to truly immerse, as we were on a mission to see all the sites, while also finishing our Yoga Teacher training program.
After all, I was a Canadian white girl, let’s face it. I knew very little Spanish, and I had a good if not naive heart. I engaged, I planted seeds, I travelled and then I longed for return – for there truly is no place like home.
Coming home was about the heart beckoning back why I left in the first place. Did I get what I was looking for? Did I return with answers, with a true heart, a mission to continue what I started, and to remember what I just faintly became aware of?
And more. I remembered my self – my true self, not the one I hoped for. Not the one that climbs rocks and trees and tries to prove herself, and wants different for different’s sake. But the one who appreciates what she has, and who she is, and who loves just the same.
On a recent trip to Peru, to complete my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) along with Life Cosmic teacher Alexander Petrogiani and crew, I experienced the sacred in space and time. The environment of expansive will, of dependence on careful steps and mercy, revealed that life has a purpose even when we don’t know.
Climbing the mountain of Machu Picchu was less of a challenge for the body and more an invitation for the soul: the sacred envelopment of Mother Nature, married with the obvious causation of an eternal and infinite Creator, God the Father, made me less anxious than I thought I would be.
Noticing the softness of the flowers and bushes hugging the outer edges of a nearly 8000 foot drop, I felt nothing but the miraculous, the awe and wonder of the scenery, with only the sound of my rhythmic and reliable breath and the odd butterfly visiting me.
My feet were first shoed, then naked against the cooler stones that once supported the walk of ancient shamans (some buried near the top), and their disciples who still pilgrimage today. I come with a different perspective, but am not untouched by their history and what the sublime meant to them who were so tied to earth and its authority.
I climb with determination, that I will reach the top, and that I can trust in myself and God to keep me going. My ragged breath heaves in and out of my mouth like a woman in labour. It cannot stop my feet, which seem to spring up the giant steps, floating above cliff ledges that no one of faint or fearful constitution should approach.
I am proud of my friend, a nurse with a rare blood disorder, who is also terrified and out of breath, just steps behind me, with her guide tightly wrapped on her arm. The phrase came to me, a reminder not to get too cocky of my progress as I stop for her, as Jesus said,
“The first shall bee last, and the last shall be first.” (Mathew 20:16)
The view was more wonderful than can be described. We all made it. And then we had to climb back down. That was the tricky part. But, it isn’t about the climb, it’s about being there. Yeah, we know. But you really haven’t been there until you climb.