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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Jul 7, 2017

Full Moon of the True Teacher- Guru Purnima

On May 7, my dad died. He was 92 and had a long "struggle with an angel" - like the man 
who wrestled with the angel in Rilke's poem  - to get to his last breath. He was an amazing person...humble, humorous, holy. I am so unbelievably lucky to have such a father.
My siblings and I have been working together to clear out his home which he shared with my mom, his wife of 53 years, until she died in 2012. They were children of the depression and they were hoarders, like many others who grew up during that era under the constant anxiety that their parents would lose the farm/ the homestead / everything. Mom and Dad's house was JAMMED full of everything: bags and boxes of memorabilia, gadgets, scrap paper .... you name it. There were boxes full of bags and bags full of bags. As my sisters and brother and I worked to clear it out, we felt respect and tenderness. Clearly their life had become overwhelming.
And yet.....
Even in the middle of the three-centered and overwhelming mess of his aged body, mind and home, Dad continued to be a life-long devotee of the Divine Mother. He LOVED her. She was his Satguru, his True Teacher.  (Satguru is a sanskrit word meaning an enlightened saint whose purpose is to guide one to Love). And She was his ishta devata (another sanskrit word meaning "cherished deva / divinity).
Dad’s devotion continued to expand and grow brighter – like a waxing moon - even within the  clutter of the dogma of the church which claims that one should only worship Jesus, must not worship the Divine by any other name or face and so must not worship Mary but only honor her as a pointer to Jesus. (But even in the church different priests have different degrees of dogma-itis. For example, I recently heard a Jesuit priest address an opening prayer at a Gonzaga graduation event to "Mother God").
Well, regardless of whether church dogma condoned it or not, Dad worshiped Mary. Really nothing could have changed that. Towards the end I would sit with him, we would pray the rosary and he would gaze at her image hanging on his wall with such open-hearted longing and love. It blew me away. After he had his brain hemorrhage and was only days away from death, his mind was “off-line" but his fingers continued to move the beads of his rosary. Wow. The level of his devotion to his ishta devata was embroidered into his tissues.
Tomorrow - July 8 - is the celebration called Guru Purnima - the full moon of the guru. It is a day of devotion and gratitude for the existence of teachers of all kinds, including Sat Gurus – such as the Blessed Mother Mary was /is to Dad. The grace of the guru principle is said to be a thousand times more active on the day of Guru Purnima than on any other day.
Dad would not have been interested in Guru Purnima - except in so much as it was interesting to me. He had his own Guru Purnima holidays: Holy days devoted to Mary.
But for me this is a wonderful day of remembering my teachers and my Guru and my dad. I will be thinking of the big full moon light that is my dad and his devotion to the Divine Feminine in the form of Mary, a devotion that continued to expand and wax brightly even as his house and body and mind became incapacitated and overwhelmed.  Jai Guru!



  1. Thank you for such loving, inspired writing. Especially dear was your description that "his devotion was embroidered into his tissues". I'm sad for your loss, but heartened by your love for your father.This is Victoria Dickinson even though it says Fish Folks - default setting

  2. That is absolutely beautiful Karen.I sure miss your imagery and voice. I could hear it so loud through this journal entry.