“In which at last I saw what a child must love, I saw what love might have done had we loved in time.” ~ Mary Oliver ‘The Visitor’
Isn’t that what I am searching for? What we all are searching for? To love in time? Isn’t that what we are all looking for? Under all the layers of hard rock and hurt and in between the rain and the spurts of sun across Southeast Asia or Southern California or Santa Fe? Just past the temples, past the shore, past the man washing his chicken in a dirty creek as he gets it ready for the fight. Isn’t this the great journey, this pilgrimage to love, to not running out of time, to dying with a heart empty of misgivings and misunderstandings rather than a heart full of I am sorries and I wish I did it better?
Here I am in Bali. My Manifestation Retreat in Ubud has ended. A sold-out retreat with all women (minus my husband who gave us the room to create the sisterhood we needed.) The retreat was very much a retreat toward love. One of the definitions of retreat according to the dictionary is: an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable. And that is just what we did. We withdrew from the comparisons and the judgements and the traffic and the old beliefs and the children and the cooking and the phone calls and the heartache and the sameness of daily life. We withdrew towards our center.
Our mantra: May I always be this happy, May I always be this free. At least for this moment. And then this one. And this one. All of it in moments.
Moments experienced with a presence that could be likened to an offering. Here: Here I am, offering you my undivided attention and acceptance. This is my offering. There is nothing in my way. There is no past, no sickness, no going back to work, no dreading the plane ride back, no discomfort. There is just this. This perfect morsel in time. And I am here. Fully. This past week we retreated towards our center and as the sun rose in the morning and we looked out towards the temple and the men in the fields and the ducks waddling all along in a row like a cliche, our hearts knew what they have known all along: That this is what love feels like. This is what it is all for.
To know a beauty so precise that it aches in the place where pain has lived and also heartache, loss. This ache is more of a returning, a piece of ourselves we thought we may have lost along the way is slid back into itself without any kind of hassle or confusion. An offering. The term achingly beautiful finally and rightfully understood. And yes, it is felt in the same place. The heart doesn’t know any different, it just knows to feel. If we let it.
This past week was a letting. Take this offering and feel it. Tie yourself in knots and the undoing is a retreat, a coming home.
We all want to love in time. To think we could possibly run out of time is what causes traffic and wars and broken hearts. The actual running out of time is less common but it does happen. We can die without fully loving the things right in front of us and inside of us. We can let that happen. When I asked what everyone was manifesting many of the women said vulnerablity. It came up a lot during the week in journaling and class themes and throughout our visits to the temple. My heart should be this vulnerable, this open, so I may feel this beauty inside of me as I feel my own breath breaking the air above me as I snorkel with the most colorful fish I have ever seen and may I know this beauty in the way I have known other facts about myself, like I am this or I am that. This beauty is the knowable part of me just as any other. But to feel this beauty, to really see it as it is means I must be vulnerable to the pain as well.
Here is the sunrise with the knowing that the sun will indeed set, the sky will open at some point today and the rain will come down without explanation, the flowers will die, but that to miss it while it is right there in front of us means we are not accepting the offering. We are not accepting what has been inside of us all along, no matter how dormant or inactive. In Bali, they give offerings to the gods three times a day. It is their daily ritual to give back what the gods have given them. They do not take this lightly, it is a duty and an honor at the same time. Why should we not have the same system? I will take the love offered to me. I will take this gorgeous spicy food and the flowers left on beds and towels and the lily pads and the terraced rice fields and the silent Thank You from the toothless woman washing her clothes in the stream and the not so silent Thank You from the thunder. I will take the I love you as fact and the I believe in you as a Go signal. I will then offer back my heart since it is mine to give away. I will offer my support and my mistakes and what I have seen here and what I know to be possible and the smiles the Balinese wear which you might think to be myth and which I can assure you is not. I will offer back my words and my imagination and describe to you in the best detail I can just what I saw and how in the healing waters at Tirta Empul I prayed for my nephew and my dead father, and how my friend, just before she ducked her head under a spigot said And this one is for me and how I held her back as her shoulders shook under her sarong, under her sobbing. I will offer them all to you without holding back at all so you believe me when I tell you that there is time.
You will believe me when I tell you that if you let yourself be the beauty and never stop seeing the beauty, no matter if you are in Bali or traffic or a yoga class, that you will never run out of time. That although your father will still have died and you cannot take back what you said, that although you will still have had your heart broken or gotten hurt, the offering is this: You. You are the offering.
We are the offering.
We must place the beauty in our hearts right there next to loss and pain and whatever else is we have in there and we must pass it on. We must love like the Balinese do. Shamelessly and fully without any but this might not last. With acceptance and duty and honor and grace. When Agung, our beloved driver and host brought us to his home for dinner and so his twin 11 year old daughters could do a traditional Balinese dance for us, he spoke of his son. With a huge smile he said his son was artistic. So proud he was. We then realized he was saying “autistic.” His son came out and said hello to us, and Agung hugged him close and with a pride I am not sure I have ever seen as he introduced his whole family. They all live together in the compound with his father-in-law (it was his wife’s home first, a rare thing in Balinese culture.) A lot of the girls on the retreat cried, as I did, not because it was a sad thing, but because the love that came from them, that little clan standing there in front a of a bird cage, was more perfect than anything I’d seen. With its lack of judgement and story and shame it was a divine moment in time and we all felt blessed to witness it and we all made a mental note to love more like they loved. To be happy in the way they were even though a few of them shared a bed and the son was autistic and they had never left the island of Bali. And so what? What did they know besides love? No, they aren’t perfect. But they were loving in time.
May we all love in time.
With love from Uluwatu, Bali xo jen ps, I am doing Tuscany next rather than Bali.
I think I need to move there for a year…
you would thrive. you would love it L
a reminder to live in the present…
as always, love your writing, love your vulnerability.
You captured such beauty of a world I never want to leave. The joy to see and feel this with so many beauty seekers makes my heart fully full. This is one of your best writings such power written.
Jen, every time I read your writing, I want to say that’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. But I don’t. I don’t because how many times can I say it and still have it seem as sincerely said as I mean it? I often don’t leave a comment at all because I don’t want to repeat myself. I should. I am. Thank you for this. I really needed to read it. You have beautiful thoughts, and a lovely heart.
Jen this is so beautiful. I would have loved to be there. Thank you for your ability to express beauty and love
I just re-read this piece, for the third time, sitting in my hotel room in Bangkok, crying at how ACHINGLY BEAUTIFUL it truly is. Seeing this experience through your eyes, and your heart, through your writing, enhances and deepens all of my memories. I wish I were a composer and could set your words to music, because I hear a song in my head when I read them.
“May I always be this happy. May I always be this free.” Love you.
I just love what Katie D said, your writing truly is so inspiring! I feel you all there through your wonderful retreat. Wishing, a BIG wish that one day I will join you on one of your retreats. Lots of love your way,X
[…] Had We Loved In Time. […]
“Here is the sunrise with the knowing that the sun will indeed set, the sky will open at some point today and the rain will come down without explanation, the flowers will die, but that to miss it while it is right there in front of us means we are not accepting the offering.”
Thank you, Jenny Jen (through the tears you’ve given me this morning)!!
“I will then offer back my heart since it is mine to give away.” That line took my breath away. Although I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting you, I count you as one of my teachers, Jen…because every morning that I sit down with my cup of coffee and read your work, see your smiling face in your pictures-it is a reminder that I am so much more than the “to do” list on my desk. And for that, I give you my heart.
this is beautifully written. poignant, moving, inspiration and full of feeling. I just read it out loud and was moved by the meaning and feeling behind the words and the message. thank you for a reminder to live daily life with all our heart.
BEAUTIFUL JEN. Made me feel like I was there. Thanks for putting your heart in your retreat and your writing.
You take my breath away with your words. So incredibly beautiful. Thank you for bringing us with you, and for sharing each beautiful moment. I am moved, and I am you, and I am love. So much love to you, sweet Jen. ♥
You have a gift, Jen. I cried as I read this. Vulnerability was truly a predominant theme throughout this trip.. I kept that and Mary Oliver’s words in mind as I headed off to my love adventure in HK. Thank you for sharing this… Beautiful. xo
How I love you, Mel.
[…] Had We Loved In Time. (manifestationyoga.com) […]
That means so much to me, dan. Honored to be an ambassador for your company @Yogaearth!!
I cried reading your achingly beautiful words, Jen and I cannot wait until your Kripalu Retreat in February!!! In the meantime, I will continue to love in time. Thank you Jen for being a gift to this world and inspiring people to always live to their highest potential.
Jen, after reading this all of the memories just started flooding my mind and heart which of course brought tears because my heart is more open than ever! I have you and all of the amazing women from the Bali tribe to thank for that. You are a master with words and your writing makes everything so damn present. Be fu**ing AMAZING!
I so love your amazing words and spirit …thanks for sharing
Lots of love
[…] home and stay in this space, listening to my heart instead of that crazy FOMO. Being present and “loving in time”. I want to find the magic of Bali, and the hidden beauty of Bangkok on Wilshire Blvd, or on the […]
Oh, I don’t even know what to say other than YES, yes, yes … this is so beautiful. Achingly beautiful is a feeling I know well, too well sometimes, but that’s just how I am in the world, I think. So grateful for your beautiful song. xoxo
I so hope we meet at Kriplau xoxo You rock.
I’m so blessed to have shared this amazing journey with you! Love you AND love your writing. It’s true, you are a best selling author!
sonia! from your lips to G-d’s ears….. xoxo
Absolutely, stunningly beautiful. Loved it, love you. Can’t wait to see you. XOXO
Stunning. So so stunning. I felt I was there with you…wish I was! Am SO glad Bali cast its spell on you and you made your own magic in its wake. XO
“Shamelessly and fully without any but this might not last.” ungh. yeah man. shamelessly & fully. opening up. recognizing what matters. true love. belonging. it’s all right there. & it’s all in you. thanks for shamelessly sharing fully. feels good.