Sitting under the lavender sky toward the close of the longest day of the year, I savored just-picked squash carpaccio drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette and topped with feta. As I pondered the simple pleasures that dot my life - delicious organic and local food, the option to work outside in warm yet breezy shade, pots of jewel-toned flowers, special times with friends - I felt connected and blessed.
Spring had tested my mettle, bringing blood-pumping highs, unexpected lows and a long series of "whaddya got left?" challenges. These bumps and bangs had forced me to dig down a few layers to unearth what was no longer working - namely, my own doubts, excuses and fears. When I finally uprooted the most entrenched beliefs, I thanked them for their service and then blew them away effortlessly, like dandelion puffs in the wind. I no longer needed them.
Growing up, I loved digging in the dirt - making a bakery's worth of mud-pies, burying treasures, or planting random things that I thought might grow. The feel of the cool, moist soil in my hands, coupled with the aroma of surrounding Lily of the Valley or Rhododendron, grounded my heady nature. My young mind swirled with ideas and imaginations, but when I fully engaged my senses, I felt connected to the entirety of the world in whole different way.
One Sunday morning when I was about ten I asked my Mom why we weren't going to church. She said she was headed out to work in her vegetable and flower garden because that's where she felt closest to God. It was the first time I'd heard anyone speak about worshiping in a non-church setting. Her words soothed me because I finally understood: immersing myself in nature and the sensual world was sacred. And that's exactly how it still feels today.
Put me on a hiking trail and I automatically step into a meditative state with a clear and open intuitive chute pouring into me. The sensations - feet-on-earth, leaves brushing my skin, sounds of water rushing - transport me.
I feel intimately connected to the divine when cooking fresh market morsels, and the aromas of Egyptian musk incense, real vanilla and freshly-brewed coffee make my soul smile. I'm completely present and delighted by the mysteries of the universe when listening to bird songs at dawn or sharing a warm hug with a favorite corporeal being.
While creating Sacred Sensual Living these past few years, I sometimes wondered if what I was proposing was too easy: How can spirituality be so pleasurable? Don't you have to suffer a little to feel holy? Doesn't it take some work to catch those glimpses of the divine? There's never one right path to feeling fulfilled and at peace; it's different for everyone. I choose the sensory road. Dangling my feet into the cool stream to feel the slippery mud or biting into a ripe nectarine, my soul feels nourished.
A million things can grab our attention, but many of those merely numb us or distract us from our natural state of intuitive flow. Living through our senses helps us be present, aware and open to the pleasurable effects created by the simplest beauty, the subtlest sensation. From here it's easy to feel gratitude for all of the ways we're able to partake of the world's sensual delights.
As a few stars started to sparkle overhead, I finished off the squash melange and realized that something had been shifting over the past days, weeks, months: the dots that I consider simple pleasures had formed clusters, and the clusters were now snuggling up to each other to form a whole field. The Summer Solstice is a time when we think about fertilizing to promote growth, and I finally felt like my freshly-tilled life was ready to sprout and grow.