I hesitated initially to write about this, but I believe that the moral of this story is worth writing. It may be a little controversial, and for that I apologize.

I was living in a horrible place a year ago. I got sick often, and I went hungry often. I saw someone else overdose on street drugs and die every week. I was being treated horribly in my day-to-day life because of my poverty. I walked around in a metre of snow every day for several hours, not even in proper winter boots (just a pair of slippers)… just trying to find work. By May, when I saw a cherry blossom tree in bloom, I just cried.

By June, after 6 months of this, I knew that even if I got hired somewhere, I was too sick by that point. I started researching how I could qualify for doctor assisted death.

Then, I saw the monks with their shaved heads wearing their orange robes. They spoke with me for a while. I realized that they were Hare Krishnas. They invited me to sing kirtan in the park with them.

When I went to the park, as soon as I sat down, a woman around my age wrapped her arms around me and kissed my cheek – before I even saw that she was there. She introduced herself as being the temple coordinator. She lives at the temple as a monastic.

I fell in love with her before I even realized it. Where I was living, everyone would lie, steal, and they would often get violent. The economy was based on street drugs. This woman at the temple was something different. Pure and unspoiled.

Where I was living, everything was so overwhelmingly grey. Cold and soulless. We always met in the park, surrounded by greenery. She would always wear a bright blue saree.

The way she sang kirtan, her voice could bring me down to earth and lift me up to the stars at once.

As soon as I learned how to sing the Hare Krishna mantra, I lost my voice. I wasn’t breathing or sleeping properly, not for several months. I fired 5 family doctors last year. No one listened to me. Even though I could not sing, I still visited the group in the park.

The only thing keeping me sane and calming me down was walking through some different parks near a large forest and river, on the east side of the city. There was a farm with many trees and a swamp that was walking distance from where I was living. I could relax and breathe somewhat well at the farm. The animals cheered me up, as well.

One night, I was afraid that I would suffocate in my sleep and not see the next day. I saw no point in calling an ambulance. The hospitals have never helped me before. I was ready to accept death or survival. I sent the monastic woman a text that night telling her that I am in love with her. I swore I would never let her or anyone else know, because it would be messy and complicated. I just did not want to die without telling her what she means to me, even though I could never expect anything from her.

I never heard from any of the Hare Krishnas again. This was the one home I had. I felt safe and accepted when I could visit them.

My health is improving now. I figured out all by myself what the problem was and the solution was very simple. I am starting a new job today, as well. What a difference a year makes!

I don’t plan on joining any other temple. I’ve thought about what other temple I could join. I have decided that my spirituality is not organized. I have my own moral standards.

God is not only in the temples — in the dharma, God is everywhere in nature. I never realized it when I lived in my smaller hometown, and my back yard was a forest. I took the air I breathed for granted until I moved downtown. I feel more drawn to the east side than to any other part of the city, and for the most part, it was because the parks keep the air more clean and healthy. I find the east side more charming, natural, and unpretentious.

I have decided to stop and appreciate beauty when I see it. I have decided that being outside  in nature is spiritual enough for me.