Wearing Her Clothes

May 12, 2010

From time to time I officiate weddings and memorial services.  For years I have been on a search for the perfect ceremonial attire.  Though I make very little money – often none at all – for conducting these services, I have been willing to spend whatever it might take to end up with the right thing.  But the right thing never seemed to present itself.

Until last weekend.  Now a luminous Punjabi suit from India hangs in my closet, draped with an embroidered stole I bought last year from the designer Zandi in hopes that the robe over which to wear it would eventually materialize.  The kurta blouse is a kind of silvery-bronze with a black flower motif embossed in the silken material.  The pants are fitted tight around the calves, creating an elegant geometry for the long, flowing top.  It is an exquisite garment, understated and unbelievably fine.  And it only cost $25.00.

Why so little?  Because it had been donated by an Indian devotee to the Haidakhandi Ashram in Crestone where Jeff and I were roaming during my spectacular birthday journey in Colorado last Sunday.  After singing to the Divine Mother – Jenny’s favorite deity – in their temple, we wandered down to the gift shop to poke around.  There we met the legendary founder, a delightful woman named Ramloti.  When I told her I was looking for a ceremonial outfit, she sized me up (extra small!), marched over to the rack, and produced this gorgeous Punjabi.  It fit me perfectly.  My agreeable husband (who had accidentally forgotten to get me a birthday present – oops!) bought it for me on the spot.  The whole thing took about three and a half minutes.

“The person who donated this suit is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,” Ramloti told me.

“Oh good, I will be happy to wear the clothes of a beautiful woman.”

“I mean, both inside and out,” she said.  I felt the power of her words, as if the transmission of goodness and loveliness came through the fabric of my perfect new outfit.

After I changed back into my jeans, Ramloti said, “If you’ll come with me to the kitchen, I’d like to show you something.”

We followed her to the other side of the “earth-ship” building and she pointed to a picture of a gorgeous Indian teenager with a candle burning in front of it.  My heart collapsed like a flower in a storm.

“This is the daughter of the woman whose Punjabi you just bought.”

“She died.” I did not ask; I knew.

“Yes.  Eight months ago.  They have spent a lot of time here at the ashram over the years.”

“I lost my daughter, too!”  My heart unfolded again.  You’d think by my enthusiasm that I was commenting on the fact that we had both graduated from the same school or traveled to the same Caribbean island.  But the synchronicity of finding my ritual garb at last and discovering that not only did I share the same taste and the same size as the most beautiful woman in the world, but that we were also bonded by one of the most significant experiences two people can have, blasted me open and filled me with an inexplicable sense of homecoming.

Ramloti seemed to understand.  She handed me a piece of paper and encouraged me to write a note to the woman and her husband, and give them my contact information.  Knowing how important it was to me to connect with other members of the terrible new club I belonged to after Jenny died, I happily complied.  A few days later, I received a call from the girl’s father, who thanked me for reaching out and told me that his wife would be getting in touch when she returned from India later this month.  Ramloti had told him the story of our grace-filled connection, and he was as deeply moved as I was.

I am looking forward to the next ceremony I officiate.  It will be a June wedding, at the base of a ski area in the glorious Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  I will be blessing a pair of adorable young students of mine at the university, as they embark together on life’s great adventure.  I will carry the beauty and dignity of someone I have never met, but with whom I share a singular bond – a mother shattered by loss, in love with an inscrutable God – even as I wear her beautiful clothes.

Please note that I will be traveling from May 13 – June 1.  I am visiting my nephew in L.A. with my family, then off to New York to teach an evening workshop on the Sacred Feminine at the Open Center on May 21, followed by the Beautiful Wound retreat at Omega Institute May 23-28 (there’s still space, if you’d like to join us!).  I probably won’t post during my time away, but I will definitely be able to read your comments and respond, so please keep in touch.  And be well.  Love, Mirabai

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3 Responses to “Wearing Her Clothes”

  1. Carol-la Sonam Dorje said

    I was in awe of your “there are no accidents” experience; finding your perfect outfit just waiting for you to arrive and purchase. A rebirth on your birthday!
    It is a faith filled event that I appreciate you sharing with your readers.
    When I was in Boulder the other day, which was my departure state to China, then to Lhasa, I went into a store where I met the owner, a woman from Latvia. We exchanged first names and she immediately inquired as to my Tibetan version of Carol. She translated my Tibetan inscription on my wedding band and wrote my entire name in Tibetan. I was surprised!
    She shared she was in Tibet and Nepal teaching English and studied Tibetan language from 1982-1985.
    So Mirabai, we were both blessed with the connectedness of our her-story and other women.
    I am blessed that I was given Tibet for an hour, even though I wasn’t permitted physically to be there.
    This woman understood my loss of my Tibetan family and home (my second time) and love filled our hearts. The universe provided a different permission.
    May you be fulfilled in your month of encounters.

  2. Yes. A gift in so many ways. How blessed you were to receive it when you did. And how blessed are we to know this intertwined story you share.

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