Praying and Playing: the tale of the perfect Sunday
Yesterday I took a break from blogging. I took a break from everything I have been doing and had one of the most relaxing, beautiful days I've had since I moved to California. There was no working or performing or worrying to trying to find my way around - just praying and playing.
So a couple weeks back, I heard about a very special place nearby called the Self Realization Fellowship Temple in Pacific Palisades, CA. My roomie told me it was a beautiful temple for meditation and prayer with a gorgeous lake in the back and many places for quiet reflection, etc. I was intrigued. My search for a church has been going less than amazing - not bad - but not awesome. So yesterday was the day to try the SRFT in PP. One of my newer musician friends goes there often, and we decided to go together.
It was absolutely amazingly beautiful and peaceful. I was reminded of the first time I sat at Unity Church in Brookline, MA. I heard Rev. Evrol leading the meditation and the opening prayer "Be still, just be still." I was moved to tears that day and knew that I had found my spiritual home. Yesterday was very similar. There seemed to be an aura of peace around the whole temple, and each person I met or locked eyes with smiled - not in a phoney, hollywood way - in an inner stillness, inner joy way.
We walked into the completely silent and still Temple and at first I was met with something I had not seen before - at the head of the Temple were pictures of the Prophets that this community held dear ( I can't name all of them) but Ghandi was up there, Jesus, Krishna, and the founder of the Church, Paramahansa Yogananda. This was new for me. I just took a breath and decided to not judge. We sat in silent reflection and prayer for awhile. The service was beautiful. A monk in bright orange robes led our silent meditation and gave the best sermon I have heard in a really long time. It was all about self-less service to others. He said our priorities are most often Me, Others, God and they should be God, Others, Me. I NEEDED this message. My heart has been desiring this message. He was funny and kind and so smart - and told stories about Jesus and stories about monks he knew and Yogananda and people who lived in such harmony with God's love that it emanated from them to all other people. I was so inspired and moved. Then we chanted - a new music form in church for me - but it was in English - the words were simple and contemplative - it was prayer in song. I think that is the way it should be. I was moved AGAIN. (This is were I start worrying that my mascara is all over my face.) Then we prayed. The monk said that our prayers circle the earth 3 times - and if the world stopped praying,the world would most definitely become a disaster area - he said to imagine the person we were praying for and send love and light directly into their forehead - what a powerful image! I did some powerful prayer for you loved ones yesterday, so look out! Of course the monk lovingly and hilariously encouraged the community to serve - to visit hospitals, to volunteer as an usher, to offer up our talents to the community. It was one of the most beautiful messages I've ever heard and there is no way for me to capture it here - but let's just say my world has officially been rocked! God has a lot to do with it.
So after the service, my friend and I walked around the lake in the back. I felt blissful. It was breathtaking and almost heavenly. Roses, lavender, goldfish, swans, turtles, duckies, blue sky, green trees, happy loving people strolling the gardens, holy quotes - etc. We sat on a bench for awhile and just felt happy. I have needed a new bench. I have a bench in Fresh Pond park in Cambridge - under the tall trees - a pink marble bench with a Virginia Woolf quote on it. It is my secret prayer place. I've been hoping for another. The lake at the Self Realization Center will definitely be one of those places for me. Thank God!
So anyway, I've found my home. At least for now. I need to get to know the Yogananda's teachings a little better - but in general it seems like a place where I can pray and get some uplifting, amazing messages about God. That's all I really need. And the Goldfish are pretty freaking cool too!
So, we decided to continue on in our little exploration of the area and went to Santa Monica for a little window shop and coffee. I found some amazing and not too expensive tye-died jeans to replace my old favorites that died. Sara Rager and Tanya Corkill, my two dear friends, hate this fashion statement that I have been making for many years. But ladies, check your Vogue - for once, this shit is back IN and I will be wearing them constantly - as usual. Moving on.
Then off for some delicious Mexican food!!!!!!! Crab enchilada in some sort of verde sauce = heaven.
Then we went to sit on the beach for awhile and just continue our already blissed out relaxed vibe from the morning. We sat on the rocks and looked out on the biggest most beautiful most blue ocean in the world. The Pacific makes your heart stop. Birds were soaring and the sun was setting. I just sat there and said, "I think we are the luckiest people on the planet." Then my friend spotted some dolphins in the distance! Like 8 of them. Just chilling and being graceful in the water - an animal I have loved since I was a small child. I felt insanely happy.
To be living in California...is not a bad thing. It actually seems like the most right thing in the world. So there you have it. I am and have always been a hippie at heart - and here is the land of the hippies. We like spirituality and sitting and thinking and not thinking and listening to music and being in nature and loving and loving and loving.
So here is your song and quote for the day.
The Pearl - Emmylou Harris