Of course the behind did not actually freeze off (alas), but it got mighty cold. And dark, a little out-there, occasionally woo-woo, at times awesome, and in the end wonderful.
Heads up: This is not a typical post, but as the dawn of a New Year is a quiet time after the storm of holiday mayhem, it seems a good time for musing about life and one’s place in it. Read on, or just scroll and enjoy the pictures.
In my last post (like ten years ago), I told you I went AWOL smack in the middle of the Christmas season, which was insane, and yet not. It was a quest to let myself off the hook, clear my head, and be in nature. Sedona, Arizona, they say, is a good place for that. Fun to sketch there, too.
People come from all over to experience Sedona’s energy centers, or vortexes, that are, according to VisitSedona.com, “conducive to spiritual healing, meditation and self-exploration.” So I celebrated the winter solstice with an organized group of strangers of all stripes, lead by a local shaman named Joseph Greywolf and a spirit medium named Carissa Schumacher. (Her contact info at bottom of post) We hiked to remote and sacred Native American places…
…we sat, we stargazed, we froze, we steamed in a sweat lodge, we smoked a chanupa. We told our stories, the good with the bad. We listened to sacred teachings. We marveled at the beauty of the earth and sky. A rainbow one day and a shooting star the next appeared as if right on some kind of cosmic cue.
Some of us felt closer to the Divine, whatever that means to each of us.
Not that it was all kum-ba-yah, mind you, honey. Sacred journeys are not for sissies, or for cars without 4-wheel-drive.
Getting un-stuck is part of the process.
I also learned that “aho” is not a garden tool, but a sort of Native American version of “amen.” It has a lovely resonance, aho.
Funnily enough, the day I was returning home, December 21, a headline in The New York Times declared The New Allure of Sacred Pilgrimages. In it, author Bruce Feiler, who hosts the PBS series Sacred Journeys, states that one in three tourists worldwide today is on a spiritual journey. Astonishing (only slightly more so than the fact that I am possibly, for once, on trend).
With organized religion on the decline and religious identity more fluid than ever, Feiler writes, “The most popular thing you hear in faith circles these days is, ‘I’m not religious–I’m spiritual.'” As people are less inclined blindly to inherit their beliefs and more determined to choose for themselves, a pilgrimage can be part of this. “At its core,” he writes, “it’s a gesture of action.”
I had no idea what to expect. That the skies would open and angels descend in a Rockettes-style kick line? That I would have a profound epiphany wherein I finally understand the appeal of the Kardashians? What, exactly? Heaven forbid I didn’t have A Goal, but I didn’t.
What happened was space. The space in which to allow the what I will call the Divine Whatever to arise; to heal a wound; to soften a hard place; to hear our heart’s song; to be and to do what fulfills us; to shine our lights and inspire others to shine as well. The space in which to be present, as Greywolf says, is right here, right now.
I need to work on painting rocks.
Hell I need to work on a lot of things.
In the days I’ve been back, I discover I have not turned into Mother Theresa, nor grown feathers in my hair, nor remained calm in the presence of awful cab drivers. But I do feel more clear, more calm, more trusting of myself, of my instincts, and of the path I’m on. Perhaps most importantly I’m more conscious of subtle shifts in values and priorities that are simply part of where I am in life. More on that in the months to come. But suffice to say I feel lighter, though trust me I don’t weigh less (see paragraph 1).
My wish for you in this New Year is that you hear your heart’s song and sing it.
To contact Carissa, or to inquire about her next Sedona journey, email or phone her at Cariohlovely@yahoo.com or 310-499-8970.