The Rose Initiation

“That which God said to the rose, and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty, He said to my heart, and made it a hundred times more beautiful.”

- Rumi


When I was nine years old, we had a nanny who my parents hired from the Los Angeles free clinic. I don't know if she worked there or was a patient there, but they brought her into our home and she shared my room. She was heavily pregnant.

Isa was in my room at the time the Sylmar earthquake hit in 1971 (6.5 magnitude). We were sleeping in adjacent twin beds separated by a small nightstand. The moment the earthquake started – – that moment when you hear it before you even feel it – –  Isa was on top of me, her baby belly pressing into my back as she immediately and institutionally protected me, the child.

I appreciate what she did now. Now that I am an adult. But my experience in the moment was terror. Loud shaking rumbling and being suffocated by Isa’s heavy pregnant body. Darkness.

Isa used to take me into the closet. There was a small clothes closet in our room. It was full. Very very full. One risked suffocation just by standing at the door. (This seems to be a theme with Isa…)

The closet was dark. It was soft. And it was very quiet.

While we were in the closet, Isa instructed me to close my eyes. In a soft voice she said, "imagine there is a rosebud in the middle of your forehead. I'm going to count to nine, and with each number, you are going to imagine the rose slowly blooming." And then she counted to nine, and I did the visualization as she instructed. That was that.  

At the time I thought it was a little weird and creepy to be in a dark closet with the pregnant lady and all the clothes. But now I understand what she helped initiate for me.