Friday morning, I woke to the misty, cool enchantment of dawn. After the battering heat and humidity of the day before, I was eager to take advantage of cooler temps. I grabbed my camera, slipped my feet into my clogs, and took off on an early morning walk of the land with the companionship of one very friendly, very adventuresome beagle that I found waiting outside the cabin door.
Butterflies were out in dancing, laughing clouds of color. Goldfinches dove and banked among the wild echinacea. Brilliant, milky moonflowers glowed in a scatter of magic around the meadow and fenceline. In one perfectly fragile blossom, a camoflaged snowy spider held court. Dew sparkled everywhere and the morning sky was a watercolor wash of pastel pinks and purples and blues. The pathways were sealed, in spots, with iridescent webbed barriers and I felt like the only human alive in a world of bountiful, busy little creatures. Everywhere I looked, the Earth was bright with life. Grasshoppers skipped ahead of my shoes and great black butterflies drifted down to investigate the bright surface of my hat or the amber pattern of the freckles on my bare shoulders. I found my way down to the rock-bottom creek and walked into its icy, shallow current. Oh, it was glorious standing mid-stream and watching small moonstone-scaled fish and chubby little tadpoles race past my shoes. The rocks glowed underfoot, reflecting all the colors of the sunrise, of the wildflowers, of my heart. Oh, to be alive and alert and awake and aware, to be fully present in the magic of a summer morning in nature!
( Photos from my morning hike under the cut )
By 9:30am, it was time for everyone to meet up at the main house and split up into our respective small support groups. There were four of us in my group and I welcomed the opportunity to get to know the others better. The facilitator of our group was a guy I'd met back when I first joined Mystery School but didn't fully recognize until the second day at the Grove. Life or magic or presence or something had utterly transformed the way he looked and carried himself. It was eerie and interesting--I tried not to stare. After our group broke up, it was time for a morning Breath and Song, Prayer and Trance work session. It was really an amazing demonstration of skill and spontaneity. It started with clapping, rhythm, breath and then a handful of facilitators beginning to hum and tone and wordlessly sing. Others joined in. I joined the building song, adding my own melody, my own complementary rhythm, soulful rise and fall, and soon the room was filled with a yearning, magical, entirely improvised, wordless song of prayer. Each individual was singing their soul and yet together, somehow, it worked and together, somehow, we all made a beautiful, coherent, rich and dynamic whole. It was one of the most incredible, empowering, all-out-abandon experiences of song in my life and it was essentially an unplanned morning tune up and gathering-of-the-tribe. Phenomenal. Every hair on my arm raises just remembering the song of that room, the light in everyone's eyes, the glow and power and rock-em-sock-em gorgeous group of people I was surrounded by, singing with, singing to.
We moved into breath work and I closed my eyes and found a comfortable, grounded place to sit on the floor as I was coached through the Breath of Wind, the Breath of Rising Embers, the Breath of Rolling Waves, the Breath of Growing Trees, and the Breath of the Divine and Mysteries. By the time the morning session was ready to begin, I'd experienced a breath/energy/body/spirit connection in a completely new, immediate, impossible to ignore way. It was terrifying and challenging and energizing and enervating. Just a glimpse into an entire world of ritual tools I'm unschooled at.
At our morning session, we went back to the story of Psyche and her choice to pursue the path of challenge. I don't remember if it was River or Cynthea or somebody else who led the discussion, but what struck me from that session was that the path of challenge leads us to our very self. It is tempting, so temptingly easy, to settle for the other option--easy success and the approval and admiration of others. The harder path is less glamorous! Why, on the easy path, everyone can look like a star because they are doing the things they are naturally gifted at. The path of challenge, however, is littered with opportunities to look foolish, experience complete failure and silly mistakes, and to be viewed as unlikable or different. Psyche could have remained, forever, a beloved princess to her people. They loved her for just who she was! She could fill the role with ease and looked graceful every step of the way. Imagine, then, when she chose the path of challenges, how absurd and clumsy and out-of-her element she must have appeared before she battled through and grew from her experiences! Hadn't I just admitted to myself, this month in Temple of the Twelve work, that one of my three greatest heart wounds was that I didn't try things for fear of looking ridiculous, embarrassing myself, and failing? Here, in morning session, I was hearing that was a pretty common reason why people stick with what comes easy to them--why so many women like me might choose life as a princess in comfort instead of a life of fighting to be acknowledged as an equal to a God. I'm scared to show my loving public that underneath the smooth, princess exterior lies a bumbling, make-it-up-as-I-go girl prone to failure, mishap, and absurd pratfalls!
So here's the part that hooked me right through the chest. Knowing all that, knowing that there is a choice between the easy path of doing what you're good at versus the challenging path of becoming fully who we were meant to be--the very purpose of life isn't to sail through gracefully, masquerading as someone put-together and worthy of a pedestal. The purpose of life is in our own, individual process of becoming. A forest is magnificent in its diversity, when the many varied seeds become their intended selves. We are all born seeds in that forest. Born seeds. Not blank-slate seeds but specific seeds. I don't know what I will grow into, I fret and worry and flail around because I don't know how to become the shape I'm supposed to be because I wasn't born with a seed packet description or a photo of my fully mature, realized state. I don't know what kind of seed I am! How can I grow into something without that information?! This has bothered me for years now, because Mystery School talks a lot about souls as seeds growing and I always draw the blank. I don't know what my vision for myself is. I don't know what I am meant to become. I don't know who I truly am, at core, and that is perhaps expected as that is a life's work and more to get to the bottom of. But what blew me away was the thought, finally, that seeds don't have to know what they are growing into. When they grow, they are also becoming, and no forethought or blueprint is necessary. I am a seed and what I have the potential to become is set. A Mystery to me, but not something I have to figure out. I don't have to wait to figure it out in order to grow--I need to allow myself to grow and see what I grow into becoming. I'm already a certain kind of seed. All I have to do is grow. There is no need to know anything beyond that. Once I figured that out, totally accepted the reality of that necessary blind faith, in the hospital a little voice said with great loving charity to me: You are a sugar maple. I don't have to know how that translates into a human life. I don't have to know where I'm headed. I just have to grow and trust that the essence of myself, that seed of me, will direct me into my best, intended shape.
(photo by realkuhl on Flikr)