The fruits of serious spiritual devotion have an unmistakable flavour, sometimes even more retrospectively. It had been a challenging few years. I was twenty-six and had been progressing through an existential crisis, an involuntary falling apart of life’s meaning. I felt a profound human aloneness, and with all my praying, I failed to feel God’s love in any way that could help my state of being. Besides the care and protection of my two little children and my spiritual studies, I had no interest in anything. Everything seemed trite to me, meaningless and often painfully intolerable. I had lost faith in everything human to give solace to my soul. It was not intentional. It is simply what happened over the space of a few years. I was at the bottom of the valley—all things lost, but nothing gained.
What else could I do but pray? Only God could rescue me. I did not doubt that God would do so, but first, it seemed that all would be taken away so that new ground would be available for working with. One morning, during the earlier years of this struggle, I walked along a path at a quiet beach near our home. I had my toddler in a stroller and my baby in a tie-on carrier. It was a beautiful suburb in seaside Sydney and all the more beautiful for the glorious day. However, try as I did, none of this had any ability to lift my spirits.
The preceding few days had been particularly difficult. Even the tiny bit of hope I was given after prayer seemed to have disappeared. Tears of grief and despair were my increasingly constant companion, though I knew not what I grieved. Much later, I realised it was the necessary grieving that accompanies the loosening of the ego’s hold over our consciousness. It is the inevitable struggle of being born human, yet the soul seeks release from the bondage of thought that constantly revolves around the precious one—ourselves. We grow up trying to develop enough of an ego to be able to survive and thrive in the world. That, in itself, is a mighty effort. Even before we have it mastered, the deeper Self starts speaking to us, whispering in our ear that this life is not enough. Then we, almost without noticing, begin the quest to pull apart the ego we so courageously tried to build.
Having no other option but to go forward, I walked along the beach boardwalk with my little ones hoping that the natural beauty would, even marginally, rescue me. After a while, I must have forgotten about myself. I was looking out to sea, and the grandness of it all caught my attention. I forgot, for a moment, to feel so bad. That was the chance. And given a chance, It came rushing in. It was so brief that it was over before I even noticed it. But there it was, nevertheless, unmistakable. It came like an invisible breeze brushing past me, coming from the sea, returning beyond, into the Infinite. It wasn’t a breeze. It was the breath of God.
As soon as it went, I called internally, No, stop! Come back. I have been trying to find you. Stay with me. I need you.
I knew it was the Divine by the lightness it brought. It was a sweet presence, softening the mind. It was a very welcome breath of fresh air. It could not stay at that time, but it would later return and become a progressively more comfortable acquaintance. The veil was beginning to part.