What makes a place sacred? Spiritual? A few posts ago I mentioned that Cambodia is not considered one of the more spiritual places in the world. On the surface with the corruption, lack of structure, haggling, etc, yes, it doesn’t scream of that which is spiritual and sacred. But I was forced to take a closer look and have found out I was wrong.
As my work with the daycare center was coming to close and as I began my transition out of Phnom Penh, knowing in a few days I will be leaving this country, I have noticed a certain spirit has invaded my heart, the Spirit of Cambodia. It seems to be a strong feeling that has come over me and left me wondering why, as on the surface there is nothing endearing at the first glance of my surroundings.
As I ride on the bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, I am met with the depths of the poverty in the countryside. Gazing out of my window, I find the words to describe this specific love and appreciation I have for this country. One that many people have told me about but didn’t fully comprehend until today.
Cambodia is absolutely raw and real. It is a country to be endured and one where you have to let go of all illusions about yourself and others. There has only been one consistency in my day, that it is me who is creating the reality of each encounter, each situation, each circumstance. Cambodians truly do not know much English and this leaves each conversation almost as a guessing game of “what just happened?” Thus, you leave each encounter hoping that your message was conveyed properly. Or in the instance of making sure you are not getting taken advantage of because you are a Westerner. You really have to play a mental game each day to figure out your truth and reality….you must fully let go as there are always questions arising and left unanswered in a country like Cambodia. You have to rest in who and what you are.
Yet in this lack of communication comes the real stuff, what The Alchemist calls the Universal Language. Oh how I love this form of communication. Gazing out of my window I partake in this exchange as I have since I arrived, with the smiles and waves from the Cambodian people. Some on their motos, a child waves hello on the street, and an older woman nods from her shanti home in the midst of flooding. In this raw environment of poverty there is a sense of realness in each exchange. There is no communicating of what comes before this encounter or what happens after, it is just 2 people sharing a smile or nod if only for that moment in time.
The beauty of not knowing their language is also being in a position to observe the Universal Language that is shared between the Cambodians. This lets me see the beauty that is present on the faces of these beautiful people. How in their living conditions, they appear to have a fullness, simplicity, and clarity that I strive for as I live my daily life. It comes to them effortlessly, yet through their hardships, they connect to what really matters; love and kindness towards their family and fellow villagers.
After tapping into this Universal Language, I feel the spirituality and sacredness of the land and people of Cambodia. I feel so blessed to not only know the specialness of silence but the significance that comes from that which is raw and real. And with this I continue to grow….