The Prodigal Child

Our world is in the midst of a powerful upheaval. Life as we knew it has been turned on its head, impacting each of us in many and varied ways.

It’s natural to feel fear and uncertainty as we look upon the unknown, and wonder what lies ahead. Like being on a boat crossing from one island to another, we’ve let go of the sight of land in both directions, and need to trust our instincts as we traverse this passage, remaining alert and responsive to situations as they unfold around us.

There is one thing that remains completely within our control through this period of chaos, and that’s our state of “mindfulness”. How will we approach this day? How will we approach this relationship? How will we approach this stranger?

I’m reminded of what a “blessing” really is. If we were a visitor to a house in ancient Hebrew times, we would be anointed with essential oils as we arrive, as a symbol of great favour and grace. What a beautiful way to receive a guest.

But somewhere along the line, as the centuries rolled on, we lost our way.

We’ve forgotten how to bless others, and in this forgetting, we’ve also forgotten how to bless ourselves.

When someone arrives at our home, we’ll greet them with a handshake or a warm hug. But do we really take that extra step? Do we make them feel like a treasured guest in our home? Do we let them know that simply by Being, they bring light and joy into our heart? Do we show them how deeply we value their friendship and their presence in our life?

It’s so easy to be invisible in our present world – either because we wear a cloak over our inner light, or because those around us are too distracted to really “see” us. But we all crave to be truly seen, and to know we’ve made a difference to someone’s life.

In 2018, I was at the receiving end of a blessing, and it touched my heart in a way that I can’t forget.

In my last blog I talked about my “Red Pill or Blue Pill” moment, which led me to spend 3 amazing years in Indonesia running a spiritual and healing centre from my home. So here I was in Jakarta, glancing through the local paper, when I saw an advertisement for an Ashram that was offering meditation classes.

In those years I was immersing myself in everything spiritual, and meditation was definitely on my radar. I jumped at the chance to visit this Ashram with a female friend of mine, and that’s where we met Ananda Krishna for the first time. Knowing he had English speaking guests in the Ashram that evening, Krishna kindly ran the class in both Indonesian and English, switching effortlessly between the two languages.

As the class drew to an end, I went up to talk to him and thank him for a wonderful evening….and I walked away having organised for Krishna to come and teach yoga and meditation classes for the expat community from my home.

I still remember how much I loved those classes. Krishna taught us Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and meditation, and each night finished with a beautiful chant. Sometimes it was Om Namah Shivaya, other times it was Lokah Samastha, or Gayatri, or Asato Ma Sadgamaya.

Krishna’s rich male voice floated through the air, lifting us all to a place of joy and peace, and giving birth to my love of singing and mantras.

Yet life as an expat in Indonesia is transient. Contracts are short. People come and go. And 18 months later, my husband and I moved to Surabaya at the other end of Java so that he could complete his hotel project, and the following year we returned to Australia.

Some five years later, I heard some very concerning news. Krishna was in jail. He had always been vocal in speaking out against injustices, and sometimes that meant he spoke out against the Government. Clearly that hadn’t been well received, and he had been effectively silenced. One of my friends reached out to me. Could I do something to help him? But I felt so far away, and had no idea where to even begin. I no longer had connections in Indonesia, and it felt like the impossible task. So I did nothing.

Let’s fast forward to December 2018. For the first time in 2 decades, I felt the tug to return to Indonesia, and decided to take a 4 night trip to Bali. I booked the most beautiful room in Ubud, overlooking rainforest and river. I knew Krishna was out of jail and had thought about visiting him, but a trip to Jakarta just wasn’t on the cards for this visit. So Bali it was.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you can see Perfection working in your life, and you just know that Spirit is moving the chess pieces around on the board of life to create important synchronicities?

You can be happily trundling along in your life with your well-made plans, and suddenly you get shunted down a completely different path to the one you were expecting.

That happened to me on this trip to Bali. Within hours of landing, a friend from Indonesia (who now lives in Australia) reached out to me. “Are you going to visit Krishna?” she asked. I was partway through explaining all the reasons I couldn’t get to Jakarta when she said, “But did you know he now has another Ashram in Bali, where he spends some of his time?”

It turns out that Ashram is in Ubud, about 20 minutes from where I was staying. But what were the chances that he’d be there at the same time as me?

I mentioned that Spirit had intervened on this one, didn’t I? Well, of course Krishna just happened to be at his Ubud Ashram at that exact time that I was in Ubud, and we organised to meet.

Words really can’t do justice to moments like this. Suffice to say my heart was bursting open when I saw him, and we spent a wonderful hour catching up on the 24 years that had passed.

As I was leaving, he said, “Artemis, why don’t you come to our meditation tonight?”. What a wonderful idea!

I arrived at the Ashram as the sun was setting, and made my way to the open room. There were about 25 people there, and I sat towards the back, not wishing to be obtrusive. Yet as Krishna opened the evening, he shared about the very special guest who had travelled from Australia and was in our audience – me.

Where I had thought it would be lucky if he even remembered me 24 years later, the reality was vastly different. As he introduced me to the audience, he shared about how significant I had been in his own life and journey. Through me, the door had opened for him to begin teaching the expat community, and everything he had now created with his Ashrams was impacted by his meeting me.

Wow! Do you ever find it amazing to look through someone else’s eyes, and see a whole different story to the one you’d made up in your mind? That’s what happened to me that evening.

Just like the ancient Hebrews, Krishna treated me as his honoured guest. Many waves had passed under the bridge of our friendship. Yet in that moment, the years dissolved between us. I was the Prodigal Child returning home, to a welcome that touched my heart.

So the next time you receive someone into your heart or your home, remember to pause for a moment to let them know what they really mean to you. These gifts of kindness help to sow seeds for the type of future we all wish to live in. Let’s build it together.

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