Monday, June 4, 2012

a funny thing happened on the way to the ashram

sunday morning we were bored and restless and in need of equilibrium.  my weekend had not yet offered up that stillpoint that is necessary for me to get up and start it all over again each monday morning. 

we talked about heading to charlottesville after yoga.  then i remembered i had been meaning to make another trip to yogaville, an ashram and community in buckingham county.

one of the things i love about virginia is that you can find hidden delights like yogaville smack dab in the middle of country.  forty-five minutes out of town, we turn off the main highway onto a one-lane road after crossing the james river.  we drive through dense primordial forests dotted with apocalyptic clear-cut fields.  we drive past ramshackle one-room churches with biblical wisdom spelled out in plastic by the road.  we drive past countless little farms and hand-painted signs for eggs.  we see children lined up at the ladder of an above-ground pool whose side is on the verge of collapse. strangers wave at us from rockers on their porches.

in our hurry to stop to photograph some donkeys in a field we get the front end of our car stuck in a ditch.  a country baptist minister fresh off the pulpit stops to assist and we all alternate between the driver's seat and pushing.  after some time without success, we decide to call in a tow.  then the minister must silently ask for divine assistance because the ditch just decides to release our car unscathed. 

this was a lot of words to tell you what i love about this part of virginia.  in five minutes you can go from being able to buy homemade pie on the side of the road and standing knee deep in grass (with snakes) here:

to stepping onto sacred ground that is not unlike a mini magical trip to india here:

the amazing site for yogaville was chosen by its founder sri swami satchidananda in the late 70s.  it is an ashram and a community of spiritual, vegetarian, peaceful yogis.  it really is a little slice of heaven.

after lunch in the communal dining room, we set off on foot through the woods to visit the lotus.  the silence here fills me up and begins to crowd out the chaos.

i forgot my keens by the front door of my house, so i was walking the trail in flipflops. 

my (mostly silent) whining was cut short when we caught of glimpse of the lotus through the forest.

the lotus is a shrine to all the religions of the world.  it holds alters and religious texts and icons from christianity, islam, taoism, judaism, buddhism, native american and many other faiths.  you walk in under a gate that reads, "one truth, many paths".

while its mission is to love and unite all religions and beliefs, the overall feel of the place is unmistakably indian.  i cannot tell you how much i love this.  on the silent walk in, an older indian woman clad in a sari the color of ripe raspberries looked deep into my eyes and greeted me with her hands in prayer and a soft "namaste".  in that moment, grace was mine.  my fears and worries were honored and released.  in their place, a deep sense of hope and confidence.  from the metaphorical ditch of apathy, i am released unscathed.

thank you yogaville.  thank you donkeys.  thank you lotus.  thank you virginia.  thank you beautiful woman in the raspberry sari.