We need time out of our everyday, outer-directed lives, and not just at major life transitions, when it is most advisable, but regularly. I think metaphorically of how necessary it is that we have "diastolic" time. For it is during diastole that the heart relaxes and fills. During systole, the heart contracts and sends a powerful stream of lifeblood out. For the heart to work and provide sustenance to the whole body, it must relax and fill. And so must we.
Jean Shinoda Bolen, Crossing to Avalon
I've been off the grid. Not only disconnected from phone, laptop, email and all virtual connections but physically removed from the clutter and distractions of modern living.
I went on retreat. The road there included crossing this creek
symbolizing the sense of both separation (moving over to a new shore) and containment (merging with others, reconnecting with source.)
I left thinking this would be a time to empty, time to slough off what is long past healthy and vibrant and move closer in to my essential being. Get back to basics and recover what all too often gets buried under piles of busy work.
I went to paint and learn new ways to dialogue with creative spirit.
I embarked upon a journey that started on a cold, windy, dark Nebraska morning at 4 AM. Sleepy miles in an airplane delivered me to warm and sunny Arizona. Miles traveling through desert landscapes with sisters new and yet familiar, welcoming and welcomed into my heart with the ease of a salamander slipping into a stream. (Okay, first piece of magic here: the image of salamander popping into my head as I reflect upon the merging of this sisterhood ... quick look into salamander medicine: "The salamander comes to those who are in need of change in their lives. The salamander evolutionary feat to observe, and as such, it asks us to evolve in our own lives." and "[T]he salamander hold symbolism of psyche, spirituality, emotion, and ease of motion. These attributes are intensified by the salamander's nocturnal nature because night time is symbolic of shadows, secrets, dreams, intuition and psychic abilities too.")
I had little in the way of expectations when I left home. I was open to receive even though receiving is not my strong suit. But this place was insistence that each of us receiving her medicine. And equally strong was the pull - the imperative - for each of us to give of ourselves healing medicine for all, including the land, the spirits, the ancestors.
I am still in the process of integration ... not sure that understanding will ever arrive nor whether it is necessary on an intellectual level. What knows is my heart, my soul and that language is deeper than words.
What I can share are the snapshots of my encounters: the song of the water and wind through the cottonwood trees urging me to abide in cooling, soothing water and to offer my gifts into that flow;
The marks of mama mountain lion reminding me I share this place with beings powerful, respectful, in harmony with life and asking me to do the same;
I practiced shamanic seeing and beheld the whole of earth, the whole of life reflected back to me in a single eye of a beautiful sister. I know each of us carries within the seed of such immensity and potential to feed, sustain, support and create. I looked but more importantly, I was seen and witnessed by moon, stars, sunlight and the Mother herself who spoke to me and make it very clear it is time stand up, quit hiding, and do the work that has been entrusted to me.
Under that gaze I felt the immensity and the intimacy of being a creature privileged to call this earth home ...
Beholding the responsibility of that gift and the urgent need for loving, healing action and care to shift the course of things, to bring about change that is needed now more than ever if we hope to pass this world onto our children and their children.
What started as a retreat became a sacred pilgrimage for me ... a journey to reconnect with Nature, with Spirit and with my Self. The bonus prize was the chance to learn, laugh, play and spend time in the company of so many gifted women, wise and wild, irreverently joy-filled and soul-fully deeply committed to the work of healing and empowering themselves and those around them.
Where this all will lead, I don't know nor do I need to know. I am simply trusting and following the strongest muscle of my body, the source of all truth and life
Offerings were made, much left behind in the emptying ...
Much gathered in the filling ...
Surrendering into flow and excited to see where the waters will carry me. I just have to follow the signs ...
To quote one of our fearless leaders: Giddy up! Git 'er done!
So I will. So I must.
We speak. We sing. We swallow water and breathe smoke. By the end of the ceremony, it is as if skin contains land and birds. The places within us have become filled. As inside the enclosure of the lodge, the animals and ancestors move into the human body, into skin and blood. The land merges with us .... We who easily grow apart from the world are returned to the great store of life all around us, and there is the deepest sense of being at home here in this intimate kinship. There is no real aloneness. There is solitude and the nurturing silence that is relationship with ourselves, but even then we are part of something larger.
- Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World
Buckets of love and gratitude to these two lovelies who held the space and called in the guides, spirits, scorpions, spiders and other critters. Big love to and from both of them. I'm proud to share the bunkhouse with these Cowgirls.
|Jen Gray and Pixie Campbell from Visual Quest, Arizona|