I dream of a pilgrimage of horses. I stand at a crossroads of dirt trails where I can see them walking en masse. It is night, but I see them crossing through intermittent moonlight. Their movement is steady, quiet. I’m surprised to see some of them are saddled and bridled. There are no humans with them, only the horses walking, four or five or six deep on the two converging trails. I feel their sense of purpose, of clear intention, though I am not certain I understand it. I stand where I can watch them, among other people. I think I am in a foreign land or in “enemy” territory because I am aware I may be shot and killed. I am afraid, but I know this is important. I want to stand with my palms together, like namaste, like the Buddhist bow. Instead, I link my fingers. I hold them against my solar plexus, like in prayer, and bear witness, homage, to their quiet passage.
I wake up at 4:30 in the morning because Sofia is having trouble. I get up to give her more for her pain. On my way back to bed I see the almost full March moon hovering above our mountains on its way to the other side of the world. I stand by the sliding glass door and watch it, grateful to be awake to see it. After, I lie in bed awake, wrestling with my ongoing trouble with a colleague. These thoughts morph into worries about my job. What will happen if our nonprofit falters? Then I remember I don’t need to be afraid. I can trust the universe. Everything will be okay. I am curled up on my right side, Sable’s warm weight a comfort against my back. For a moment, I know I am held. Safe. Loved. It is like rolling onto my side on the yoga mat after Shavasana. I always lie there for a while, letting things sift through me, before I sit up and bow. “Namaste,” I whisper. The sky is beginning to lighten when I drift back to sleep.
“I always like to end our practice by embracing our gratitude,” Janet says. We are seated on our yoga mats, hands pressed together before our hearts, elbows out. We are in the park on a Saturday morning in April, ringed by a circle of desert acacia. Big tufts of yellow lie spent in the grass around us, and the San Jacintos tower in the west, close enough to touch.
Gratitude, I think. Agradecimiento. I am crouched in shallow water in the motel pool, just below a tiny bridge seeking shade. I am grateful I am not driving, my two miserable cats unwilling passengers, my heart in my throat every time we pass an oncoming semi, no shoulders on the mountain highway, a mere six inches of margin, no room for error. I breathe for the first time in three days. The July air in Loreto is muggy and hot, the water warm but wet, life-giving. I am crouched beside a Mexican woman in her early forties. I talk to her in my excruciating Spanish, and she is patient, kind. “Mi corazon es muy lleno,” I say. My heart is very full. I feel connected to her, fellow travelers escaping the sun in Baja California Sur, scrunched together in the same small patch of shade. Her son is playing nearby. “Tengo muchas gracias para todos,” I say. I have much thank you in order for everything. She smiles, nods, doesn’t laugh at me.
“Agradecimiento,” she says, teaching me the word for gratitude, from the verb agradecer, to thank or to be grateful for. She tells me more, examples of how to use various forms of the word in sentences, but this is what I walk away with. I try it out, happy to have been fed a word that holds so much meaning for me, happy to be having my first Mexican conversation that has depth, speaking in Spanish.
“Tengo mucho agradecimiento,” I say. I have much gratitude. I grin at her, a big, proud, childlike grin, and she grins back.
“Take a moment to be thankful for the people around you,” Janet says, “for sharing this practice today.” The sound of the woman’s son splashing in the warm water under that little bridge recedes. I hear a plane flying south, a car driving past on Miraleste. A raven caws from the north, and a mockingbird begins to sing from his perch in one of the acacias. My heart is full, lleno, quiet. We all bow forward, hands to our hearts. “Namaste.”
[Editor’s note: This second photo that shows the little bridge we were under is not mine. It is a promotional photo from the motel, La Pinta Desert Inn Hotel in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico.]