My mom loved Kuan Yin. She had three statues of the Goddess that, when mom died, were passed sown to me and my next oldest sisters. I cherish mine. She stands tall, hair piled high on top of her head, a slight serene smile, eyes closed. Her right hand is bent up at the wrist, the thumb and middle finger touching slightly forming the Shuni Mudra. In her left hand is a scroll. She wears a beaded necklace that hangs low on her chest and is almost swallowed by her flowing white robe, She stands upon a cloud, or maybe it’s waves. Her earlobes are long. The Goddess of mercy.
I can remember singing songs about Kuan Yin when I was a child and chanting Om Mani Padme Hum. I had not a clue what it meant but I know that it was for her and that when I thought of her, I was filled with a sense of peace and compassion. I even dressed as her for Halloween one year, or as we celebrated it, All Souls. But went to the Church Universal and Triumphant where we walked around and got candy (organic, fruit juice flavored candy and carob chips) and hung out with other little kids dressed as angels and archangels eating fruit leather and bobbing for apples. Vey wholesome stuff.
A few years ago, I lost almost all of my material possessions in a house fire. I’ll tell you more about that later but one of the things that survived was my beautiful porcelain white statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. She was blackened with smoke and damaged from the fire. I packed her in a box, sure that I would clean her up and restore her to her rightful place on my altar one day soon. She ended up at my dear maestra’s house when I left Arkansas for Minneapolis to live in the house that I grew up in with all of my siblings. I’ll tell you more about that later. I left Kuan Yin with my teacher because I knew that she wold be safe there and would have a place of reverence on her altar. I did my best to clean her up before I bid them both a tearful goodbye, promising to be back as soon as the fates would allow.
I returned about a year and a half later, married to the love of my life and eager to start a family with him and to show him a special part of my heart that can only be found in Arkansas. When we found out that we were pregnant, it was such an unimaginable joy! We could not believe it. When we found out two weeks later that we would never get to meet our baby, that the very existence of this developing life was threatening my own and that it was it or me, we were devastated beyond comprehension.
My teacher and dear friend had come to visit me the week before and we had shared out news with her. We are expecting! We had shrieked and hugged and it had all seemed so perfect and so surreal. I called her freaking out when I saw the brown blood. I knew that they say it is nothing to worry about until it turns red but I worried nonetheless. I wailed and shrieked and was inconsolable. I had to have an operation to remove my Fallopian tube. It had burst and I was bleeding inside. My teacher came to visit me. She brought me my Kuan Yin.
I had the thought, I need to make an altar for Kuan Yin. Instead, I set her near my plants, where I could have her near me but it was not the appropriate place of honor that she deserves. I kept thinking to myself, I need to make an altar for her with fresh flowers, and pinks and purples and crystals and I won’t let it get dusty with fresh water and a small offering of rice each day.
She has been trying to come through to me. In a conversation with my dad I told him that I was so sad that I don’t have dreams about my mom where she is well. I dream of her sick. I want that relationship with her, that unconditional love that I felt when I was a baby and then it changed into something else and I felt like I could never make her happy, like she was always judging my actions and that I would never be enough. I resented her and I was angry at her for dying. I was angry at her when I lost the baby. I have an unresolved relationship with her and I love her so much that it hurts. All I ever wanted was for her to be proud of me and to want to be near me and to be near her. I was so in love with her and worshipped the ground that she walked upon We all did. My dad told me that she adores me and that he has made his peace with her and that she loves me unconditionally. He mentioned Kuan Yin and told me that she is watching over me. I bawled my face off on my way to work and then went home and chose all of the most beautiful pictures of my mom to put around my room and on my altar. I get to remember her how I want to.
I started thinking about publishing a blog in 2013. I set up the WordPress site and got busy ignoring it. I would always have many, many excuses as to why I would never write in it or publish anything. It’s almost like I was torturing myself by not allowing myself to do the one thing that I needed to make sense of it all- to write. So this old thing has sat here for four years, collecting dust. I always say that I am a writer (to myself in my head) but when it comes down to it, I have been to afraid to write.
After experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and subsequent removal of my Fallopian tube, I realized the depth of my power for repression and also realized that if I continued down that path, I would die innumerable creative deaths. I have to give birth to the wisdom that is inside of me. I have a story that needs to find it’s way out of my and into this world. It’s a matter of life and death.
Somehow, i got the courage to publish my first blog post but before I did, I renamed the title of the blog to “The Jewel in the Lotus.” I did this because I have always been fascinated with this concept. To me, it has symbolized that we are the treasure that we seek. The seeker and the treasure are one in the same. That is the Jewel in the Lotus. I am embarrassed to admit that I did not make the connection between that name and the name of the sweet Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin until just a few days ago. A fellow blogger “thetarotman” mentioned me in a post and talked about Kuan Yin and the Sanscrit mantra On Mani Padme Hum. The very chant that I wold repeat as a child Kuan Yin IS the Jewel in the Lotus. In fact, her mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum is just that, mani=jewel and padme=lotus. I had been singing her sweet name since I was a child. She has been coming through to me so sweetly and patiently and gently and persistently and overtly but I have not put it all together until now. I can feel my mother’s energy in it. I can feel healing goddess energy wash over me.
Kuan Yin is the goddess of mercy, and compassion, and fertility, and children. Of COURSE she is:) Now that I have made the head to heart connection, I will make a special time tomorrow to decorate an altar to Kuan Yin and to bask in her healing energy and to chant her sacred name. She can give the unconditional love that we all crave for she is the compassionate mother. With that insight, i dedicate the following poem (written several years ago) to her and to my mother, Mary Jean. PS. I wrote this just before I met the woman who would become my teacher.
I can imagine a personal relationship with the Goddess
With the most beautiful woman that I have ever seen
her heart is made of rose petals and light emanates from her fingertips
She created us all and can heal each one with a kiss
She is my mother and she has called me back to my house.
“Daughter, return from the world and return to your Divine place of birth
I want you to dwell in this house with me once again.”
I hear her call through the fog of earthly dreams and the veil of earthly pleasures
“I will come, mother”, I tell her. Just let me finish
what it is that I am doing.
I tremble, I am filled with doubt.
Surely, my mother could not want me after all these years. Surely, I am no longer capable of attaining communion with divinity. My years on earth have hardened me and spoiled me against it.
Better that I should stay here, doing what I know.
But she continues to call me. More insistently.
“Daughter, return to me. Cast off your earthly suffering.”
I hear her call in my heart and try to ignore it.
I chase every rabbit down every hole, spend days wandering in their lairs, lost and confused, thirsty, tired
Earthly food does not sate my hunger and earthly drink cannot quench my thirst.
With dead eyes, I wander, the echo of my mother’s voice still calls to me from a far-off land
One day, in desperation, I pledge to make the journey. Totally alone this time for I know that this is how it must be
I start out and fall. I crumple to the earth.
This is where it all ends.
I am sure of it.
I will crawl back to earth and disappear slowly.
But my mother, honored by my effort, pathetic though it be, she comes to me.
She gathers me effortlessly into her arms
“Daughter, at last you have come back to me.”
And she holds my head up, facing out, upon her chest
her maternal breast that has nourished the world
since the beginning of time.
her jet black eyes sparkle, the skin around her eyes crinkles up as she
bursts into a radiant smile that sets the sunrise ablaze.
We hover there, midair, watching the sun come up.
The strands of our hair blow together in the wind
“I will never let you go”, she says.
Unable to surrender, I use my last bit of strength to argue
“but mother,” I say “I did not make the journey to you.
I failed. I fell after two steps.”
She smiles and hugs me tighter.
“Daughter, all I want is you. In your heart, you intended to make the journey,
but I have decided to carry you.
You are tired and weak and need to rest. Now, close your eyes.”
I fall asleep laughing and crying in her arms.
When I wake up, we are home.