Monday, March 16, 2015

Return to Indiana

 In the morning Pete drove me and Freebird to the airport and stayed by our side until we went through security.

The plane raced down the runway and quickly rose up into the air. We looked through the windows as the La Sals, the desert, and the canyons slipped out of view.

 Canyonlands Airport and runway below.

Salt Lake City.

 In Salt Lake City both of us had a layover and had one last lunch together. From there we would part ways, Freebird heading to Hawaii and me to Indiana. Interestingly enough, our gates happened to be next to each other. My flight was the first to go, and as I was being called to board, Freebird and I hugged each other goodbye. I had no idea if I'd ever see him or my other friends out west again, which was difficult. Sometimes you just don't know where you'll be called to go next. It's a huge lesson in non-attachment and faith. But I had to trust in God's direction that I was doing the best thing for my continued growth by returning to Indiana.

Landing in Chicago.
 I arrived at O'Hare, and though it was a bit unnerving with how gigantic that place is, I easily made my way to the baggage claim. As I waited for the conveyor belt to carry out my pack, I felt a tap on my shoulder. My brother, Matt, had found me! We grabbed my pack and drove back to his place in Valparaiso, calling our parents along the way. That night I stayed with him, Carly, and their playful black kitten, Felix. The next day my dad would pick me up and return me to Fort Wayne to catch up with family and friends, most of whom I hadn't spoken with in months.

As I write this, I've been in Indiana for a little over 3 months now. It was a difficult transition at first. As a friend named CJ, who was part of the moneyless tribe in the summer of 2013, reminded me over dinner one night, Indiana is just another part of the journey. It took me 3 months to fully realize that. There's been so much joy and suffering since I've been back that I can't even begin to tell you about, but all I can say is that it's been quite a humbling experience. Friendships have drifted apart, others have come together, and some from before the trip out west still remain. I can't express enough gratitude for everything that has been happening here, in the Midwest. God clearly continues to work wonders in my life.

As life continues here, I look fondly on the time when the spiritual journey led me out west. I'm understanding more why I needed to go out there, but again, as with all things, I'm sure there's more that will become clearer as time goes on. A few of the most invaluable lessons that I learned along the way are how to more fully how to trust God's direction, how to let go and to not be attached to plans, and how wonderful each and every person is. That is only just scratching the surface. Thank you to all of those who helped me along that leg of the journey. Again, words can't express the immense gratitude I feel to receive such a priceless gift. I never thought anything like this was possible before, but with God all things are possible. 

This journey has extended much longer than the trip out west. Ideally, I would love to thank each one of you individually for helping me to get where I am today, but that would be impossible here. I couldn't write here about every single person I've met in my life! Just know that whether you were with me for a few minutes, months, or years, you ALL have a profound impact on me and have taught me in your own unique, special ways.

So with all of that aside, here's a few photos that tell a fraction of the story of my return to Indiana...

Annie and Snickers, who live with my dad. Snickers has been in the family almost 10 years, before she could even open her eyes. Annie is the newest addition; she moved in while I was away. She follows me everywhere like a shadow.

Catching up with friends (Jeff, Bruce, John, and a man who I just met) at the Indiana Buddhist Temple, a place that's been a part of my life since I began attending meditation nights almost 3 years ago. (Photo credit: Indiana Buddhist Temple)

New Year's lunch of yummy Sri Lankan food at the temple. (Photo credit: Indiana Buddhist Temple)

Making egg rolls with Michele and Bruce. (Photo credit: Michele)

Taking a nap with Bruce's four cats. (Photo credit: Michele)
Going for a wintry walk in the neighborhood and seeing Indiana's state bird for the first time in months.

Bruce, me, Michele, and Bhante Devananda with William, one of the temple cats. (Photo credit: Indiana Buddhist Temple)

Teaching Bhante Mahanama how to cross-country ski. (Photo credit: Indiana Buddhist Temple)

Bhante Devananda. (Photo credit: Indiana Buddhist Temple)

Making papier-mache elephant masks for the temple, who will participate in the Three Rivers Parade this June. (Photo credit: Michele)

Greyson attacking Daphne.
Michele modeling her unfinished mask.
Annie checked up on my progress frequently throughout the painting process.

Bhante Mahanama, Adlin, and Bhante Devananda arriving for Nancy's photography show at Unitarian Universalist Church. Her work highlights Buddhism around the world and its development in Fort Wayne. (Photo credit: Carl)

Me, Michele, Bhante Mahanama, Nancy, and Adlin at Nancy's photography show. (Photo credit: Bhante Mahanama)

Greyson being mischievous.
Patches aka Momma and Swartzy looking on as Bruce brews some tea.

Teatime with Daphne.

Going for a walk on Fort Wayne's River Greenway.
Michele peeking out Bruce's window.

Beck Chapel at Indiana University Bloomington's campus, on the day of Matt and Carly's wedding.

The newly-married Mr. and Mrs. Summerfield.
At the reception following the ceremony in downtown Bloomington - Dad, Matt, Lindsey, Mom, and me.

After 2 months since beginning this project, the elephant masks are finished. Bruce, Michele, and Elly will wear these to represent the Indiana Buddhist Temple in the Three Rivers Parade.

A night out with Kayla aka Pocahontas.
Laughing with Kayla as Bhante Mahanama multi-tasks during chanting (Photo credit: Bhante Mahanama).
One last dinner at Mahnin with Bruce, Michele, and Jamie. Thanks for the treat, Bruce! (Photo credit: Michele)
Demonstrating an example of "hiker trash" (Photo credit: Michele).
(Photo credit: Michele)
So much has happened in the three months since I returned to Indiana. With the help and advice of friends, it has been a continual process of growth. This drawing is for all of you, but dedicated in particular to Bruce for always gently admonishing me and telling me what I need to hear. I love everyone in Indiana dearly and am grateful for each and every one of you beyond words. I'm happy that some of you continue to be a part of my life. 

But I'm realizing that for now, I'm meant to be elsewhere as I continue to grow into a closer relationship with God. Spirit always has a better idea of where we need to be planted to continue to grow, and if we choose to follow this guidance, we may sometimes find ourselves moving to another place. This is what I learned this past year. It is a difficult path at times (when the ego wants to create its own plans), but never will I regret making the choice to listen to divine guidance in order to dwell in harmony. So as of posting this, my brother is about to drop me off at O'Hare. This year I will be returning to the west to settle down there for awhile, then only God knows what's to come.
This raven is flying back to Moab.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths."

--Proverbs 3:5-6


  1. I absolutely love your smile in the photo with Bhante on the skis!!

  2. Thanks for wonder ful words of wisdom. So happy to have met you. The spiritual path goes on.

    1. A.W.P.!! I'm so glad our paths crossed in those beautiful mountains and that we got to talk more again in town. Look us up if you pass through again this winter. Wishing you a wonderful journey ahead. You're never alone :) Happy trails!