Through dozens of neighborhood bench chats I was fortunate to get to know a complex yet generous, kind soul in our local village in Roanoke, James Tarpley. Known as the Angel of Grandin Village, he transitioned a few days ago. He was much loved and will be missed by many. He was well known for his simple acts of helpfulness in our neighborhood. His twinkly eyes were nestled within a wrinkled walnut-brown face that could be counted on to bloom into a wry smile, or erupt into a burst of his familiar resounding laughter that routinely transformed hundreds of us on a daily basis. For me he’s a perfect example that while “small,” we are not insignificant; since we are a communal species and also conscious, we have the opportunity to have some degree of affect upon each other and our world. Though seemingly minor, our exponentially rippling effect is incalculable. Certainly, as we have seen in positive and negative ways, this can be conspicuous when human energies are pooled, especially in our fragile, interwoven world.
This Peruvian setting, known as the Sacred Valley by the indigenous cultures, seems to encourage being reflective. I can’t help but feel the energies of “apo” the spirits of land and especially the mountains which dominate one’s horizon—in many places they literally surround one like protective paternal gods and goddess. It’s easy to grasp how the mythologies of the region evolved and took on the forms they did. I use the word mythology not as a sleight nor ‘falsehood” (Christian spiritual traditions are a mythology to me as well) but rather use the word myth to describe a way a people or culture understands, expresses, articulates, or make sense of their place in the universe.
There are many paths to deepening our wisdom and gaining insights about life. A yoga practice is one. Other spiritual traditions, or less overtly, assisting those in need, tending to animals or the earth, doing personal meditation, or taking a walk in the woods may all empower our purpose. Whether practiced today, or back hundreds of years in the Inca era, or in ancient times, creating a painting, building a stone wall, or spinning wool into yarn can all be centering activities. The forms are varied but to me the essence is the same: a wordless sense of fully being in the moment, and an awareness of how we are not independent entities but utterly interconnected energies sharing our brief moment of life. It makes sense to me to make these as joy-filled and beautiful as possible.