Cities of Gods, Angels, and Emeralds

Walking through artifacts from Angkor Watt with an old friend, I admired how brilliantly the museum displayed the excavation of that ancient city state, hidden for centuries in an overgrown jungle and then rediscovered. Now transported to Los Angeles, the remnants of that city told a story. Once a center of activity and ideas and commerce, at some point the city and its inhabitants lost their way, ran out of energy, ran out of juice.

Cities are like gardens, just on a bigger scale. They are designed and built and cultivated, they grow and prosper. People appear and settle in, establish homes, create their dharma. But then it can all wither and die. People come and go, live and die. So do gardens. So do cities. They flourish, then fade and their inhabitants drift away.

Angkor Watt lasted over 6 centuries, its builders aspired to make their metropolis a reflection of heaven, a beautiful garden, a City of the Gods. Flat, laid out in symmetrical squares, everything had its place. Temples were built as pyramids, as in Egypt or ancient Mexico. Stairways led to the stars and the sky, and canals, roads, fields and bridges, palaces, and public spaces helped people live abundantly. Hindus and Buddhists lived side by side, looked over by their Gods, Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva.

Creation, Being, Destruction. Rebirth, redemption, release. So many lives contained, so many stories told, the pattern that repeats itself, the life span of a people, a city, a civilization.

Fast forward to Los Angeles, the City of Angels, our city with millions of people and dwellings strewn over hills, valleys, canyons and mountains, clusters of large buildings randomly appearing, streets running this way and that and then curving away into the distance and disappearing never to be seen again. No real plan. Not exactly symmetrical. Spontaneous and always changing. People come and go.

In our metropolis different kinds of temples appear. Some are spiritual but more are temples of art, of learning, medicine, books, music, science, dance, sports, commerce, adornment, theater, comedy, self- promotion, food, hedonism, self –discovery, entertainment. Our angels foster creative endeavors and essential work, healing and revealing, sometimes perfect, never complete.

We enter another museum. This one celebrating movies. A different type of artifact. Stories of people and lives lived and dreams actualized. We watch others watching the fantasies the studios and filmmakers, and writers and directors and producers and all those workers ‘below-the line’ have made.

Looking ahead, the display for the movie of Wizard of Oz appears. The Emerald City of Oz is located somewhere near. There is Dorothy with her gingham dress. Red shoes on her feet. Not Kansas. Here, everything is green, alive, sustainable. We regress back to our childhood. We are right with Dorothy as she opens the door to her new life, her transplanted life. Not completely conscious of who she is and why she knows to go on her journey with her companions. But she has a wish. A wish to be whole. To be healed. To be free of worry, free of pain, found not lost.

She is in her adventure. Now chooses. She taps her feet together and gets her wish. Remembers who she is and why she is here. She is us and we are her. Searching for meaning, redemption, enlightenment, and finally release.

We have found that golden thread, that emerald heart beating all around us. The Emerald City. The Center of things. The place of our dreams. Where everything is possible. Perfect, whole, and complete. The story of everyone. Reality is pushed back and we love where we live and who we are and the constant being, becoming and moving forward. Free to be.