Miracle #6 The Treasure Box

I decided to move to California.  Quit my yoga teaching jobs, gave away half my stuff and my rental apartment, shipped the other half of the stuff and then prepared to cram what was left in the back seat of the little Honda I would be driving across country.  The day before my scheduled departure (and the new tenant was very, very anxious to move into the apartment) I took the Honda in for a pre-drive oil change and the kind service agent told me some sorry news.  All the engine struts in the car were broken.  I had $2000 cash for my transition and now that was gone.  I had a six month old kitten, Lakshmi, traveling with me, so camping and  days driving more than 8 hours or was not an option.  I debated staying (too late) .  I debated not going so far (too late). Finally I just thought, “Well I’ll have to tighten my belt and put the journey on my credit card,” and proceeded as planned.

The first night I was in Virginia heading towards Route 40 cross country, and I stopped for the night.  The hotel room was reasonable, and I offered up my credit card.  The clerk processed all the paperwork, only to note after I signed the room agreement that kittens were not allowed.  I hadn’t even thought of that.  She was, after all, less than 5 lbs.  I insisted the charges on my credit be reversed  and when the desk attendant handed me the paperwork that my stay had been cancelled. I observed, to my dismay, a hefty charge against my card.  Hefty, very, very hefty.  It had been reversed but the refund would take 7 – 10 business days. A major bite was taken out of my credit line.  I’m not going to say I didn’t throw a temper tantrum.  I did.  Now I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, late at night trying to figure out  how to get across the country.  Lakshmi, who refused to give in to “Calming Kitty” herbal relaxation tonic, was meowing loudly to be released from her, all-too-small-carrier.  I used the small amount of cash on hand to stay at a different hotel for the night, figuring I would figure it out in the morning.    

The yoga students who took my class in New Jersey had packed a gift for me before I left.  I planned to open it when I got to California, but I was feeling alone and helpless and in need of cheering up so I decided to open it early.  The box was shaped like a book and decorated in a delicate pink paisley.  I opened the lid to find scrolls, tied with beautiful ribbons.  What?  I thought.  I opened one, and there inside the scroll was a beautiful thank you note.  Wow.  I paused, not wanting to consume the entirety of this delicious experience all at once, but something inside me urged me to go on…open another.  In the next one another beautiful note and …a twenty-dollar bill.  I continued to open them one at a time, some had slipped in gifts of cash, some had not, and there was no correlation…sometimes I didn’t recognize the name on the note at all, but there would be cash with the note.  Sometimes it was someone close…and no cash inside.  There was some $500 in cash in that box.  Just enough to get to California if I scrimped.  It was the first of many miracles on that trip as Lakshmi (the kitten) and I were treated to discount hotel rooms by kitten loving hotel managers and delightful free ashram meals.  Miraculously, 7 days later or so as I found myself cruising across the Richmond Bridge to our destination, Marin County, I still had $50 left in my pocket.  While I wrote a general thank you note to the community in New Jersey, sharing the story of our adventure…not a single person ever stepped up and claimed they had tucked a little cash in that box.

#2 A Very Ordinary Miracle

 I have a friend who has studied a Course in Miracles for some 40 years.  Not too long ago she mentioned that she is always given evidence that the material world is an illusion when things disappear around the house.  There it was, then suddenly it’s gone.  A very kind way to approach misplacing your glasses! After she said that I stopped berating myself when things went missing, and experienced a lovely shift in my relationship to the objects I use around the house.  In addition, it reminded me of a miraculous event a friend and I experienced some time ago, when I lived in New Jersey and worked in New York City.

I drove in to work in New York City one day.  It’s not something that folks regularly do without a reason, but I had an evening event to attend and the train service from NY to New Jersey after hours is very, very limited.  I parked in a tiny paid lot that I knew.   It was after midnight when I returned to the lot.  The young man supervising the lot checked the location where they left the key (tucked away near the tire or the steering wheel) and the key was not there.  He searched and searched, and so did I.  It was gone.   I began the trek home.  Driving into Manhattan is not a cake walk – not something you ask someone to do a midnight. A cab would have been a hundred dollars. 

Over the river and through the woods…..it took some 2 and a half hours to journey the fifteen miles to home. I tried to sleep a little then  head back into the city when the lot opened in the morning.  No sign of the key.  It never appeared again.  I worked by the lot and saw the guys often and never a key.  The car serviced and cleaned..never did the key show up.

The years went by and I gave the car to a friend who ended up,  several years after receiving the car,  in Buffalo, New York where his family lived.  He knew about the key incident.  One day he and the car get stuck in a snowstorm and he loses his keys while attempting to dig out.  The keys were gone –buried somewhere in the very, very deep Buffalo snow – not to be found until the spring, if ever.  So he locks up the car and trudges home for the spare key.  His mother drives him back to the car through the snow-storm only to discover that they had forgotten the spare key at home.  It would have been insane to drive back home again.  In a state of surrendered futility they climbed over to the car.  They found the car door open and a single key, not on a key ring or anything, was sitting, very obviously right on the floor in clear sight.  I was skeptical, but he was very sure that it was the key that had “disappeared” so many years ago when I was in that parking lot, and that it re-appeared just so that he, and his mother and I would get to experience that little moment of glimpsing the illusory nature of the material universe.

The Buddha Joins Minds with an Elephant, Nalagiri

This synopsis of a historically documented miracle performed by Gautama Buddha is offered in celebration of the holiday of the butter lamps in Tibet….please feel free to share some miracles of your own in the comments below.

This is a story of how the Buddha joined minds with an elephant, and healed the elephant.

There was, at one time, a savage elephant named Nalagiri in the town of Rajagaha, an elephant known to have killed men.  One morning, the Blessed One (this is how Buddha is addressed in the ancient texts) went out into the street in Rajagaha to request alms.  A sworn enemy of the Buddha arranged for the savage elephant to be released in the Buddha’s presence at that moment with intent to harm, even kill him.  Some  villagers looked on in terror as Nalagiri raised his trunk, and with his tail erect began to charge at the Buddha.  The wise villagers looked on and said “now tusker will be contending with tusker”. 

Then, the Buddha encompassed the elephant with thoughts of loving kindness.  The Elephant lowered his trunk and humbly approached the Buddha, dipping his trunk down to the earth and scooped up some earth and sprinkled on the Buddha.  Nalagiri the elephant then returned quiet to the stable where he was kept, and was known as a peaceful and helpful elephant thereafter. 

Story recounted in “The Life of the Buddha” by Bhikku Nanamoli

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Jai Bella

blooming rose

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Miles of concrete, lined with parking lots.  Not a tree in sight for miles.  Burned out buildings housing pigeons, feral cats and a host of other mysterious wild beings (I saw possums, often).   This was the city of Newark where I lived, for many years.

Unlike New York, there were no shady trees lining sidewalks.  I realized this the first time it hit 104 degrees  There was no shade to be found.  I was living in a concrete sahara.

Gradually, over the years, I began to see dandelions pushing up through the cracks in the sidewalk.  They were so exciting, I had to celebrate them.  I gathered their seeds and planted more on the roof.  The next year, the bloom of the moment was Queen Anne’s Lace, the following year, Bachelor Buttons.  The year I left, Red Morning Glories  were climbing up chain linked fences.  On the day I drove away from Newark for the last time, all these so-called “weeds”, tough little flowers that they were,  had burst into a symphony of colors lining the parking lots.

As I was loading up the car,  a guy with a gasoline powered weed whacker was heading down the tiny lane between the parking lots, whacking the flowers up in the name of urban neatness.  I was glad that I wasn’t going to see the end of that story.  How on earth, could you weed whack a miracle?

If you don’t see it as a miracle, I guess.

I was reading today, the interview of a gentleman, now immersed in the business of Silicon Valley, who traveled to India in the 70’s.  He stated that the 70’s was the age of miracles, and that they no longer happened.

Really?  Or did we just get so focused on something else that we missed them?

I now live in a converted garage in Marin County, California.  In the surrounding yard there are flower bushes, not one, or two, but dozens. Oh the pleasure, to be surrounded by flowers. To walk out of my humble abode and see the spiky trees, dotting the horizon.  To see the beautiful Mt. Tam,  a Kailash I can get close to, rising above the landscape.

I make it a point every morning to smell the roses.  Literally.  I can’t afford a Maserati, but I can smell the roses.  Miraculously, everything keeps blooming here throughout the year, even though it never rains.  To my Northeast born and bred eyes, this is a miracle.

This morning, my landlady’s daughter was expressing her various woes.  Well, don’t we all have them?  And yes, many of them are considerable.  I expressed that I was sorry she was challenged, but then offered some appreciation for the flowers.  I’m so glad that there is a rose bush outside my door, and that I can smell the roses everyday when I walk by.

“Roses?”, she responded, looking a bit puzzled.  “Are there roses?  Which bush?”

It was the one right by her car.

“I didn’t see them.”

“I see,” I said.  Meaning, “I understand”.  I know what that is like, those moments when the hard things, the ugly things, the challenging things appear to be so oppressive that it is difficult to see beyond them.  I know what that is like.

I remember learning from one of my teachers to count ten blessings before I put my foot on the floor each morning.  ESPECIALLY when I didn’t feel grateful.  This was partly how I learned to cultivate the awareness of the many miracles that surround us each day.  Dandelions coming up through the sidewalk made the list often on days when I felt I had little to be grateful for.  Oh, how they grew, the more they were on the list, the more I observed them.  The more I observed them, the more it seemed they grew.  I kind of figure that’s how I landed here, with the roses and everything.

“Well, I just wanted to thank you.  I enjoy smelling them.” I said.  She looked at me a little mystified, like I was a little strange, but to me, I was enjoying a miracle