It has been too long since my last journal entry, my apologies. It is a perpetual balance, that I intend to refine more specifically, to journal this external walk with my internal one here on these pages for like minded souls to explore. I hope it inspires and lifts you on the walk that is uniquely yours.
August 30th, 2011
Bed bound for the moment
I have been stationed in the hills of northern California on a remote piece of land with a breath taking view of the rolling hills, daily mist and expanse of stars around us. Rent in exchange for animal and land care. Cash was slow to come but now is flowing as I build my way back to being on the road with improved facilities and a renewed sense of abundance as well as a return to art slowly evolving.
After a few weeks of work some of which was powerfully physical, I find myself brought to a stand still with a minor back injury that requires I sit still. I was brought to tears early this morning while addressing spasms that threatened to take over my back. Pain salve applied, warm blankets obtained and now, hours later in a seated position.. the spasms have left me. In the interim, facing the beliefs I hold about the limits of the body coupled with the desire to transform those beliefs, I was compelled into a powerful point of inspiration that began with two sentences and fleshed out into the bit of writing below.
I have found that If I overlook the subtle indicators of my emotional experience, my body and nature will manifest the faint whispers of the herald of my inner heart as it intermingles with the ether of life around me. Just as a "call to arms" alerts those preparing to go to battle, so too do these external manifestations offer me a call to the mind and heart.
The instance I place my focus on the external indicators that are revealed in the details of my physical experience and identify them as the unifying thread that bridges between the physical and metaphysical, I find the ease of my deep, long breath return. In the wave of relief that flows into my body with that first breath, I draw into me in the confirmation that I am intimately connected with all of life. I am an integral element within it. I am a contributing member within a system that is supported by a network of life, wisdom and experience that has no beginning and no end. I am at once an individual and a unified fragment or collection of fragments within a whole.
There was a time I felt insignificant in comparison to the astonishing world I was born into. The idea of self limit was the illusion that formulated my walk inadvertently. At that time, it seemed nature was something separate, something outside myself that functioned in a perpetual state of perfection at a time when I somehow resided on its flawless perimeter. I had long since, locked away the memory of a childhood experience that would have me believe otherwise.
I was 12 years old. My parents divorced and I was refining my practice of floating when life would spin too fast around me. My mother and stepfather were arguing and I was slipping deeper and deeper into my drawing when something deep within the recesses of my awareness fractured and burst open an aspect of me that endured life long confinement.
I sprang to my feet and confronted my mother and Max, defending my right to peace, knowing, deep within the marrow of my bones that I was entitled to that luscious abstract idea that called to me when life around me seemed to implode. Until that moment, anyone I perceived as having authority over me would have all right and power to alter my path to the quiet within me because I knew no better. I would hide within my mind.. not only blocking out the battle that ensued around me, but also blocking myself in from the ease of life that flowed beyond the confines of my family life.
The blow of my sudden outburst became apparent in the wide open, bewildered eyes of the 'gods" before me, brought me back into my 12 year old form and filled my body with an instinctual impulse to run. Overwhelmed by my physical experience that rippled through my body, and in that found myself propelled through the door and to the pavement as I made my way at full throttle, the woods. "The woods" as I understood them at that point were in all actuality isolated, diminutive patches of trees that felt expansive in my youthful perception and none the less, offered me solace.
Hunkered down in the wave of emotions that vibrated within me. I clenched my knees to my chest and buried my face in great waves of sadness that rose from the depths of my awareness and billowed up and over in great heaving pulses, pouring through me unrestricted, soaking my face, my arms, my idea of myself.
I recall feeling like a spec, insignificant, incapable and inextricably bound to a pattern of experience that appeared to hold me at an inexhaustible distance from joy, peace and the sense of fulfillment that I was ravenous for.
It was in that wave of illusion that seemed so real, that felt to be my concrete reality as if I had no control over any aspect of it. After all, how could an insignificant spec make any changes to the powerful personalities that made up my daily existence? How could a child of 12 wield any power of the world around her?
It was then I heard the faintest hint of something "other". Initially it crept into my awareness like the faint sound of laughter. It seemed far away and floated to me in diminutive fragments popping around me in impish, fairy fashion. Initially it was barely audible and appeared to be a great distance away, even perhaps as if it were a memory. As I placed my mind's attention on it, it grew in volume and proximity to my body. Moving past the agitation that life itself would laugh at me .. I opened my eyes to see if I could identify the unsympathetic source that now giggled all around me.
As I gazed at my surroundings I realized that when I jumped into the woods, I happened to leap a small brook in the process and was hunkered down, knees to chest with the small brook literally at my feet. I immediately found myself mesmerized by the little sprite like bursts of light that danced on the surface of this happy little brook as it hopped, danced and giggled its way past me. I found myself smiling as this merry little bit of life and water seeped into my consciousness with its contagious, expanding joy.
I dried my eyes as I surveyed the environment that enveloped me. Curious about the source of light that caused the sunlight to fall and jump with a mind of its own on the magical land that now seemed to cradle me in comfort. Gazing upward I was blown away by the golden canopy that hovered above me. It was early fall. I had landed under a golden beach tree in full luster. Its yellow/ gold leaves layered high above me shimmered and danced in the warm, periodic breeze of this perfect October afternoon. The layering of leaves provided a richness of golds that were punctuated by the contrast of crisp blue sky.
As I breathed in the fullness of that vision, my lungs, my heart, the very essence of my being filled and broke open with a burst of light and in visceral sense I felt my chest cavity OPEN to this perfect vision. In that moment, I heard within me .. "this is a LIVING cathedral". I breathed this in as it flowed to me.. it filled every dark corner of my conscious reality and filled me with a lightness and sense of expansiveness that I had never experienced before.
In that miniscule fragment of time I felt broke open and felt that I had poured myself out into that ether.. that something within me was released from the confines I put it within and it immediately was allowed to return to its source where it/ I was embraced by something that defies description. I felt a sense of love, joy, belonging that was unknown to me and yet not at all foreign. I felt there was no division between myself and it that I was so close to it, so one with the experience of it that I could discern no division between us and yet I remained fully myself. I was at once, the 12 year old girl, some larger part of me specifically and yet so much larger than humans seemed to me to be. I felt a part of something so large, there was no measurement for it. I was squatting not on soil but on fragments of that same space that enveloped me.
As this experience unfolded I heard within me a voce that was not my own, but not exactly a voice that soothed the child within as it explained, "this is always available to you, no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing. All you ever have to do is remember this and you can return to it whenever you want. It will always exist, it never did not exist and you are a part of it."
I flushed as I returned to sensitivity to the small, flesh and bones body that housed my greater self and this astounding experience. I have no recollection of considering the oddness of it. The inarguable truth of it echoed in me with such vibrant reality I just sat.. basking in this new found sensation. "I am a part of ALL this" I whispered to myself.. I will remember this.
In time the muddled life of the physical plane made it hard to hold this memory in the front of my mind and in time.. the sensation of it receded as my "normal" childhood as the more common sense of separateness took over me. The two experiences seem unable to reside within the body at one time as if they are two impassioned halves of a whole.
It took decades of experiences to acquire the knowledge that came to me in that miniscule fragment of time in my tender youth. And yet, all along, when things appeared their darkest, I always had this, at times nearly undetectable, undercurrent thought that "I am loved", "I am a part of something so much larger, better, more wonderful than this". I suppose it is that thread shimmering and floating between the dark spaces and the light that keeps me returning again and again to that same point of departure.
The memory of this experienced surfaced in my thirties and again in my early forties when living in large, industrial space where I met many animals that spoke with me. This was my life long link to that voice. I had imagined myself as a deer soon after we first moved from the suburbs of West Chester to the rural farmland, with wooded outcrops left between giant sectors of worked land. In the woods surrounding our neighborhood, I first imagined myself a doe. I felt my long, delicate, ample legs lift high with elegance and grace as I leapt over brush and fallen debris and bounded silently through the woods. I felt my nostrils flare as I drew in great heaving waves of the details of my environment travel down and expand my long, arched neck and fill my lungs to capacity as they danced in my mind fleshing out the land I was moving within. I was the deer.
In that patch of woods in Indian Run Village, I was one with nature from a 6yr old's perspective. I knew the animals understood me. I inspected, adored and protected the living things in that little woodland that was my solace, my sanctuary. Much of that child within me remained hidden for years but she was a constant source of strength for me and the companion I returned to again and again when trouble seemed to strike.
It was she that spoke with the animals. It was that larger self that was brave in the face of fear. It was that organic, connected, knowing self that again surfaced after I left my former husband when I found that amazing studio space knowing as I committed to that living space I would return to the artist within me and regain the footing necessary to thrive once again.
It was at that pinnacle moment of moving away, again, from darkness that I was able to perceive the light and life that abounded all around me. It was then that I instinctively raced back to speaking with animals, listening to the divine in nature and slowly I reawakened to the best of me.
On the heels of my Vision Quest (that took place over a two week period in New Mexico, Arizona and a high desert mountain in California), I was impacted by an intimate exchange with a sparrow regarding the nature of my existence on this plane. I had been taught in 2003, by my Navajo teacher to trust the discourse that I have with nature. Jake reminded me that this instinctive pull to speak with and listen to the beings that I met on the journey was my deeper counsel and was worthy of my trust. Jake helped me to understand with my thinking mind that I have the infinite at my disposal through dialog with all of nature. This was my long heald childhood belief confirmed. Nature was the signpost, the guide, the teacher intrinsically connected to the source that unifies all of us.
One of the most poignant teachers that have come to me since that life altering moment under that golden beach tree was the only sparrow that spoke to me in my life to this point. She came to me unexpectedly. I was digging my way out of years of deception and steadily returning closer to the gifts that are my unique expression on this plane at this time. I was working in Gerry's garden. I found her body in the fountain, thinking she was dead. On closer inspection, I realized she was still alive, though barely. She was unable to hold her head up and was saturated to the bone, cold and barely breathing.
I disregarding Gerry's well intended suggestion to put her out of her misery as I dried her off and placed her in a safe box with grasses and branches.. hoping the smells might diffuse for her the smell of that alien space I placed her in. I drove home thinking about her and speaking to her in my mind. I wished for her total wellness and asked her if there was anything she wanted of me. If she knew what it was she needed and let her know I would do anything I could to help her to return to the vigor and vitality that was her nature.
When we got home I attempted to feed her, (I kept a supply of powdered supplements for injured or young birds). She rejected it. I attempted to offer her water.. she rejected that as well. With a little embarrassment, I apologized.. of course she didn't want water she'd had enough. I considered the possibility she may want to pass on undisturbed. She was still very weak and by then it was nearly night fall. I closed the box, making certain she had ample air and spoke to her again.. asking for guidance about her needs.. that I was happy to create a safe place of love for her to rest and that I would seek counsel about her well being and how I might assist her process.
That night she returned to my thinking frequently and each time she did I asked for any clue about what I might best offer her. Nothing seemed to come to me but that she was good in the box and I needed to allow her time, privacy, silence, safety. In the morning her well being was the first thought in my mind and I again asked for guidance. In my mind I saw myself on the roof of our large industrial building and imagined her flying after I tossed her over the edge of our 4 story building.
This seemed like a bit of a harsh risk, this vision that came to me and I brushed it off as something that was of no consequence, nothing more than a quizzical blip that occurred. As I went to her I touched the box, sending my love to her.. thinking about her vitality and my desire to assist her. As I lifted the box I was incredulous when I thought I felt a burst of movement in the box. As I lifted the lid.. she looked up at me, with a sparkling, vibrant pulse of energy emitting from her gaze she sat on the branch and chirped what seemed to be a greeting.
She made no effort to fly away, but when I attempted to feed her again, she rejected it and the vision of dropping her from the edge of our high industrial building flooded me once again and this time with a force that propelled me forward toward that goal. I placed the lid gently on top of the box enclosing this tender, powerful life and made my way to the roof. She was bursting with energy inside the box. I had no sense that she was frantic so much as excited. She chirped and fluttered, then fell silent as I placed the box on the long high wall that encompassed the border of our building.
I chose the greenest corner of our building where a wall of vegetation transformed the hard, red brick surface of the tall northeastern corner of our building into a living wall of soft green that seemed alive with the light pulse of breezes that intermittently tickled the foliage just enough to create a shiver of movement that rippled across the span of green.
I gazed down the high, lush corner that hovered over a fine trimmed green lawn and pondered again that odd vision of tossing the vulnerable, feathered being off this precipice to an uncertain fate. I took a breath and slowly opened the box. As I did I spoke again with the little creature explaining the situation to her. She stood calmly as I eased my hands into the box. I held them open at either side of her tiny frame hoping she'd hop on.. she complied with no delay and, if anything, with what seemed to be an uncanny eagerness and ease.
I spoke with my heart.. the caution of her height.. on the low wall that teetered over the green expanse. She hopped off my hand and surveyed her options. As she did I spoke with her again using my voice... about the wall, the height, my peculiar vision that compelled me.. thinking perhaps she could use it to gain speed enough to open her wings and sour like a kite with the drop fueling her lift. The risk of course was great.. if she was not strong enough to return to flight she would suffer injury or worse.. be propelled briskly into bliss.
"If I must I will toss you over, but I'd prefer not to, if you have the ability of flight within you", I explained. As I did.. she hopped one step toward me, eyeing me.. cocking her head as she seemed to try to put me into focus.. then hop again, as I explained.. to look over the edge, pondering the idea with me. She hopped in my direction one final time to take a long, slow look into my eyes. Then with a valiant chirp and quick twist and hop, she jumped off the side of the building just as I imagined in my vision of dropping her.
At first she seemed lost in free fall as she plummeted down toward the green space far below us. Then within a few feet of the hard, solid ground of reality she popped her wings open and rocketed upward back toward the high, northeastern corner from which she just came. As she arced in a graceful pirouette, she turned and followed the long, northern rim allowing me full view of her return to flight. Her flight seemed the physical expression of celebration, of joy and of the absolute vibrancy of life. Following her form, drinking in her abundant nature I was flooded with this phrase, which she seemed to share with me as she traveled the length of our building.. the words echoed over and over.. "I am you, I am you, I am you" she said. My eyes filled with tears of appreciation as I watched her tiny form slip off into the the mass of green south of our building and her message rippled within me.. "I am you".
This momentary point of discourse has returned to me countless times since that day and stands as a pinnacle example of how nature comes to us as an aspect of the divine in physical form. Or perhaps it stands as an demonstration of the link we share with our devotional brothers and sisters who are, with us indelibly bound through a unifying sea of energy, spirit and knowing.
All of this leaves me with the intoxicating idea that I am an essential component of that great mystery that I so admire within the blue sky, the towering ancient tree, the wolf within the forest and the soft quiet wind that teases my hair.
This elemental truth dissolves the cloudy film that diminished my otherwise perfect vision. The moment that barrier liquifies I return to the internal anchor within this physical body and with clarified vision, the minute gaps in my emotional walk are more apparent and infinitely easier to rectify. Once this opens within me, I am then able to return to the ease and flow that is my birthright and my intended experience regardless of all else that occurs on this plane.