Wednesday 20 March 2019

A memory revisited

Over the last week, people have been reacting in a multitude of ways to the events of the world. We have witnessed anger, grief, compassion, ignorance, speeches from the heart, speeches out of necessity and speeches that should never have been made. It has all been a little overwhelming for many of us. A numb feeling of helplessness has been my reality. 

A memory from almost eight years ago has come to mind a few times over the last few days. Mostly, I have been ignoring it, but this morning decided to pay attention, give it a little time and see why it has emerged again in this time. This "moment", as I will describe it, occurred on a trip to Bali with friends. We had taken a day away from the shopping and the pool to cycle through the rice paddies and the more mountainous areas of inland Bali. It was an organised tour, visiting some businesses that encouraged us to spend our money, but then ventured through small villages and along precarious paths between rice paddies. It was my favourite day of the trip. I love seeing the real life of a place. Encounters with women sorting chillies, numerous chickens and pigs, workers in the rice fields and small village temples were among the highlights.

There was a moment amongst all of this, however, which I can remember like it was yesterday. We had been riding through the rice fields for a while and the tour guide stopped us for a break and to allow the stragglers to catch up. It was a quiet place, away from the noises of the village. The air was very still. The view was breathtaking. Across the valley came a haunting noise, a man chanting. I recall feeling like someone had grabbed hold of my soul. I was captivated. I asked the tour guide what the chanting might be about. He wasn't sure, perhaps a funeral, a call to prayer or a special occasion in the village. There was no need to know. The group prepared to move on and I was in another world. Eventually, my friends had to call to me to continue our tour.

I filmed a little of this moment in an effort to hold on to it forever. It does the moment no justice at all, and only has the effect of igniting the vivid memory that is still alive within. And so, I am pondering why this moment has come back with such clarity this week. I think its about connection. In that moment, I felt a deep connection to the land, to the common humanity with the anonymous Hindu chanter across the valley, to my own sense of spirituality and to my own sense of the divine. It was a moment when all the barriers were removed and all seemed to dwell in perfect unity. 

Perhaps my soul is longing for a similar moment in this space and time. A moment when my soul is grabbed by the grief stricken chants across the waters and I can be present. A moment when the barriers fall down around me and all that is felt is peace and love. A moment where I can know deep connection and unity. A moment that stops me on the journey and holds me for a while in open hands. A moment to be still. Be quiet. And listen. This moment won't change the world, but I know it will change me.