Sometimes in meditation, Spirit shows me things.
I hesitate to say that the Greatest Teacher “talks to me” because that delves a little deeper into the murkier realms than I intend. It is more accurate to say “reveals to me”, In that regard. The revealing comes with a sense of wonder and majesty, and often tears of humble gratitude. It feels like a bestowal of wisdom, rather than the musings of an overactive imagination, with which I am also joyously familiar.
As I sat to my meditation and lit my candles and incense, I gazed upon my altar. A multimedia cabinet in a former life, but reincarnation occurs in furniture regularly and this piece is the perfect size for my current daily rituals. I was reminded of the altar that I have carried with me for my entire adult life. How it was never the actual piece of furniture but was instead a feeling of space, an interface if you will, between the human and her Divine origins. The altar has traveled from tiny shelves to tops of bookcases, from city to continent to apartment and to suburb. This altar has held many pieces of discovery and contains crystals, stones, light, smoke, herbs, salt, shapes, colors and many, many feathers of birds that I have loved. Peacocks and Parrots and Parakeets, Cockatiel, Hawk and Turkey, and even exotic feathers from birds in the jungles and in the South Pacific adorn my space. There is a pewter fairy, a rose quartz angel, stones with carved runes and Reiki symbols. There are Zuni fetishes and pendulums, seeds and spices, sand and sparkles. All are aligned in ways that make me happy.
I realized that this collection of my journey and my past is not about any one of these items. They are simply energetic placeholders of ideas that I hold dear. An altar is a living interface between the Spiritual realm and the land of 3D. This altar is a representation of ME.
With tears in my eyes and a sense of wonder in my heart, I saw that as human, I am the meeting place of the Heavens and the Earth. Made of the molecules of Gaia and infused with the Light of Source, we are walking temples of information, tableaux of Spirit in mobile forms, altars in our own right.
When we enter sacred space, we take off our shoes, lower our voices and feel the sense of reverence befitting this contact with the Divine. It is innate for thousands of years. The awe and power we sense, even if we do not agree with the structure of the faith. The feeling of its power remains strong.
I was raised in the Church and understand it uniquely. Christened Episcopalian, baptized in the Church of Christ, taught Sunday school for the Presbyterians and attended Roman Catholic church in high school, married a man of the Jewish faith…Needless to say, my wanderings in faith since they were removed from these trappings of church, but were rooted ever more firmly in the understanding and motivations of Faith, which is clearly not the same thing.
For many years, my students and community have shared with me what a spiritual teacher they felt that I was. And it was true. I could take this on because I felt it to be accurate. But this was an adjective of being. Now, I have come to realize with no small amount of challenge, that rather I am a Spiritual Teacher and a noun. This claim was harder for me to own.
When I think of Great Teachers, I think of several famous ones of course…..Gandhi, Siddhartha, Lao-Tzu, Socrates. Great yogis and sages like the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogananda, and his Holiness the Dalai Lama, not to mention Jesus, Kuan Yin, and Mother Mary. All of them, as teachers and historical figures, have given us much to ponder, reflect upon and be inspired by.
So calling myself a Spiritual Teacher inspired trepidation at the size of the shoes that this moniker requires. But in the next breath, Spirit showed me that the famous teachers were not the only great teachers, and I was reminded of the lineage of people with whom I have sat, and studied and apprenticed, and knew that they were great to me. Shaman of Mexico, Peru and the American Southwest, Lakota, Cherokee and Navajo masters, indigenous clans folk of tribal communities, Hawaiian, Celtic, and Mongolian teachers of Being that inspire me still, alongside yoga masters and Wiccan of this land. I realized that adhering to the standard of a Great Spiritual Teacher was less about the fanfare and more about the intent within. That to be great had little to do with acclaim, and everything to do with bearing. That for me to be a great Teacher of Spirit, I had to become more of myself, not less. That I had to open deeper my channel of Light and expand the reach of my heart wider. Rather than becoming afraid of implications, instead dive deeper into the eternal moment of the only Now that we will ever know. Now. That this simple and profound acceptance that we and anyone can be a great spiritual teacher by the simple state of choosing to BE it, we all grow as a species, a population and as a community. Regardless of the language or the custom, a great teacher is one who creates feelings of great things within the student. That a great teacher is not great because of who s/he is but is great because of who their students are. This is what was revealed to me as I lit my candles and sat to my prayers. This is what I felt as my heart bowed down in supplication to the feet of the Masters who are always. always present if we would just shut up long enough to listen.
In this moment of quiet reflection, with tears of joy and honor, I saw that to be the greatest teacher, one becomes a greater servant. And so on this day, I opened my heart just a little wider, owned love just a little deeper and spread wider my wings in the capacity for flight, and thanked God/dess for the patience to show me how.