Salute to the Sun - 2014
In Bali - on the 5th anniversary of my fathers death I woke early, Gerald slept on beside me. I quietly open the verandah door, and gazed to the ocean. Another technicolour Bali sunrise lit the sky and unusually, standing on the beach, was a large crowd of people gazing to the sea. I thought it may be dolphins, what a good sign that would be on this day. Wrapping a sarong around me, I picked up the photo of my parents from the bedside table, and hurried to the beach.
Walking through the flower beds, thier perfume pungent, I picked a small posy. Offerings of miniature baskets with flowers and smoking incense were placed artfully and appropriately, honouring the Gods. The sand was already criss crossed with the pattern of the hotel brooms, prepared spotlessness for the guests from overseas, and my feet made prints all the way to the water, where I left my sandals.
The crowd I had seen was actually a yoga group, practising Salute to The Sun, and a man’s voice was guiding them through their practise. Feeling a little self conscious and clutching my photo and my flowers, I walked away from them, calf deep through clear sea, the rising sun casting pink shadows.
I talked to my father – and a little to my mother – but mostly to my father. This has always been easy for me, when they were alive, and even after their death, it is something I do every day, telling them of events, sharing trivial and significant details of my day, asking for their guidance, recalling a funny story, and still, at times, weeping with grief. They died six months apart. On this morning, I conscioulsy recalled the many things my father taught me, the things we shared and the things we both loved – travel, music, adventure of every kind, poetry, reading, the theatre, telling stories, swimming and the ocean, the joy of exercise and a strong and healthy body. I felt a glow once more of his parental pride. Tears of gratitude and loss ran down my cheeks. I thought of how my father had taken me to my first yoga class when I was 17 years old in Northern Rhodesia, he said he had ‘heard of it’, an ancient Indian practise, filled with healthy benefits, and he assured me, I would like it. He was right, as he often was.
I turned and walked back towards the yoga group, who were now seated cross legged with eyes closed in a circle around their teacher. I understand this. He was leading them through a series of ohms, and their voices vibrated up and out in a glorious song of peace and praise. I stopped a few feet from them, held by an invisible barrier as their voices grew louder, and tried to join in, but I was crying too hard. The teacher picked up a large singing bowl, and began to circle it with the wand, the sound so sweet yet so powerful, reaching out. I stood respectfully, head bowed, hands in namaste, a little awkwardly as I still had my photo and my posy, and felt waves of healing energy wash over me. I felt my father, I felt his presence and I felt his love acutely, I did not want to open my eyes for fear of breaking the moment.
I do not know how long I stood there, but when I opened my eyes, they were all picking up their yoga mats and walking away. And alongside of me was the yoga teacher, his face young but wise. “Are you OK?" he asked gently, indicating my tears. “Oh yes”, and a jumble of sentences both sad and happy fell from my lips, "Today is the fifth anniversary of my Dad’s death, he introduced me to yoga 47 years ago, a practise I have followed all my life, and I am so grateful to be here on this beach, with your beautiful meditation! I feel as if my Dad has organised for me to be here to be blessed with this wondrous experience ….” He listened intently, his eyes large and compassionate and asked “What was his name?” Showing him my photo, I whispered “Tom”, and fresh tears fell. He smiled, as if he recognised the name, and said “He was a great man”, just as if he knew him. Then he wrapped his strong arms around me in a hug very reminiscent of my Dad, kissed my cheek and said “Your father loves you ….”
I watched him walk away and felt a loosening of something in my heart. Then I placed my posy of flowers in the sea. The tide had turned, the sea was beginning to come in, and I walked back to my husband.