Plumbing the depths of my feelings
and experiences about what and who is the shelter in my life amidst the sorrow,
grief, guilt, anger, fear, judgment, loneliness, confusion that can be a part
of all of our lives – is a healing at this time for me individually and for all
us collectively as we continue to envision a new way of living a sacred life in
harmony and respectful connection.
I remember when I made the request of my teacher, Will Rockingbear, for the Vision Quest Ceremony – to spend 4 days and 4 nights on a mountain with no food or water in order to cry for a vision, to receive clarity of purpose, to deepen my connection with the divine and to open myself further to who I truly am – a being of light beyond time and space who wears a physical body and is subject to physical laws, interacting with and learning from every other being of light who has also agreed to be here in the physical at this time and place. To prepare for this ceremony, my teacher told me to “lighten my canoe,” to purify and cleanse myself of the limiting thoughts, feelings, beliefs, prejudices, etc. that I was taught, that are not innate within me as a soul. The lighter my canoe the easier it would be for me to navigate the waters of spirit so I could skim along the surface with ease as I paddled to the furthermost reaches of the Universe – to my natural home for a long visit of 4 days and 4 nights. I was told that when I went up on the mountain, besides my prayer ties which I had been making each day, I could take whatever I needed to keep warm and dry but that I had to be able to carry my load by myself. When I was shown my quest site ahead of time so that I could introduce myself to the spirits of the land, I realized that my site was not that far off from an old logging road. I joked with Rockingbear that I thought a small Winnebago would do just fine to keep me warm and dry! Of course, I ended up taking a sleeping bag and a tarp for my shelter. It did rain and I was very warm, dry and cozy under my tarp which made it easier on me physically but I soon realized that my true shelter was the protective circle formed by my prayer ties. I felt the sphere of energy encircling me above, below and all around creating a sacred space energetically for me to shelter within. This is the true shelter I brought with me into my life – that I am a co-creator of my life with Divine Source, that I take responsibility (the ability to respond) for my life, that through teachings and remembered wisdom I can generate a sphere of energy around me all the time for my protection – not from the elements or other physical dangers or to insulate me from the “real” world, but rather as protection and shelter from my fears, anxieties and confusion and of those that I may pick up from others and take on as my own.
Vision Quest prayer ties are made from the finest, gossamer etheric material available to us – Gratitude. The gratitude that comes from our hearts, our soul, our innermost being. Gratitude for all the blessings in our lives, but also gratitude for all that is becoming - all the intentions, desires, wants and needs of all of us that are manifesting and being magnetically pulled into physical reality. Each day as I made my prayers, the gratitude I expressed for that day was captured and placed into those prayer ties, not gratitude for what was coming when I would be sitting on the mountain, but currently in the present I was living each day in preparation for the Vision Quest. In other words, I was already in the ceremony ( remember ceremony begins when it is requested). Surrounded by all that presence and gratitude from my prayer ties during those 4 days and 4 nights, a force field was created of incredible beauty, strength and joy, a timelessness, a shimmering connection beyond physical reality awareness. It was the same experience as if my physical body had died and I returned to my natural spiritual state of being – but still with my body alive. Since the community in the support camp was eating and drinking water for me, my physical body was sustained through their efforts, freeing me to completely and wholly go inward to experience myself as my true self once again. This is the purpose of the Vision Quest, to become totally open to receive, to accept the shelter created by my own gratitude, the support community and all those invisible beings helping me, so I could do my work with Spirit. When I physically came down off the mountain I chose to stay in ceremony and continue to receive, to live in both worlds at the same time. I experienced the way to co-create my life anew every day, every heartbeat.
Now, each morning as I return to physical consciousness, I speak my many gratitudes to Divine Source and acknowledge that I am a newborn coming into a new lifetime this day. I am not who I was the day before. Everything has changed because I am in a new lifetime. I’m still called the same name and live at the same address but I am different because I am consciously evolving, growing and learning, lightening my load, or becoming more “enlightened.” Because I am a newborn, I can create my life differently today from the one I was living yesterday, or last month or last year. I am a co-creator of the changes in my life, even when it looks like it’s coming from outside of myself. I am co-creating with Original Source every moment, every time my heart beats, and so I can move up or down, sideways, forward or backwards at any time as I become more skillful in being my true self. I am never stuck (unless I choose to live that illusion). As a co-creator I am willfully, soulfully engaged in the changes, the manifestations, the magnetic synchronicities that keep me learning and growing, propelling me forward on my journey. Because I am involved as consciously as I know how in each step along the way in the evolution of my soul, the changes that I generate both internally and externally are known as I go along. I haven’t been sleeping and suddenly awake to find that the house has been torn down around me. Change always looks sudden when viewed through ignorance or unconsciousness. When the tsunami hit several years ago, those who carried the knowledge of the sea, the animals and the birds knew that it was coming in time to take the appropriate actions, to ride out the change in safety. Those who had lost this knowledge were caught unaware and had only the opportunity to react as best they could to the change. My priority as a sacred human being is to re-member and to learn anew the knowledge, the teachings, the wisdom of how to anticipate the natural and human created changes so that I can take the necessary actions without losing my inner balance. This way I can continue to be a healer, a teacher, someone who the people can lean on in times of great change. That is the agreement I have made with Spirit.
For me, this bigger picture is my shelter – like a huge golf umbrella it keeps the panic, fear, anxiety and confusion generated from my small self from directly hitting me, soaking me through, leaving me cold and shivering and vulnerable. Those emotions and thoughts are still around me but the impact is a manageable level. I feel the wobble but still retain my balance. I have experienced the close death, loss, confusion, and depression as we all have and the constant shelter I have felt at those times is still Gratitude for my life, for the joy and abundance in my life, for the peace, harmony and healing I experience every day, for the beauty, sweetness and connection of my relationships, for the simplicity, love and right action in my life. Gratitude is my shelter.
Now I want to talk about “who” is my shelter. In my life, I have had several designated spiritual teachers and countless other teachers in my family, friends, and colleagues. We are in relationship with one another to heal each other, to help each other over the rough terrain in our lives. We don’t have to traverse the steep hills and treacherous trails by ourselves. We don’t get brownie points because we are able to “go it alone.” Our mastery involves other people and other beings like the creature beings, stone people, tall standing ones (trees), all the plant people, the star nation, etc. We are meant to be a shelter for one another. Healers are usually the stingiest when it comes to asking for help. Healers often have to be reminded to make healing requests for themselves because they are so used to being the sheltering place for others. But everyone needs shelter at one time or another and it’s okay to ask someone to share their warmth, love and wisdom with us. We can’t take it without permission – that’s asking for some karmic universal instant feedback! – but we can request it without guilt, explanation or indebtedness. My teacher is and has been a sheltering force for me in times of self-doubt, forgetting who I am, or falling into unconscious limiting patterns. I trust him with my life, he watches my back and is wiling to be impeccable and honest with me, to teach me what I don’t know that I don’t know. I am a teacher also, and do these same things for my apprentices and students. In the Wednesday Healing Circle, we do this for each other. In the Monday Teaching Circle, we do this for each other. This is why it’s so important to be with like-minded people or with a designated teacher that we trust with our lives. This is also my agreement with my partner and my son. With these agreements, we offer shelter to each other without fear of being taken advantage of, without infringing on each other’s freedom to co-create our lives, without judgment of how or why we need shelter again. We don’t offer this shelter so we can control, manipulate, disempower or blame ourselves or each other, but simply because we love each other and we can be the shelter in that moment. This is one of the purest gifts we have to give.
In the native traditions, we talk about “growing corn in our lives.” This means living our life during all the small moments as well as the public big ones in a way that feeds the people, that heals those we come in contact with, that creates more peace and harmony in our lives, in our families, in the interactions we have with people in our community and on this planet. When each of us does this daily to the best of our ability we naturally feed ourselves and each other. I am reminded of the story about the emaciated and starving people at a sumptuous banquet feast because their arms are all too long to feed themselves and in their isolation, fear and anger they are stuck their in that illusion of lack; and then seeing them grow full of joy, sweetness and light when they remember how to feed each other with their long arms, their generosity and bravery of heart setting themselves free to live in abundance once more. The choice is ours - it’s always ours, even when it looks like it isn’t.
These are my words.