Last weekend I took myself down to the golden foothills of California's North Bay for a silent yoga retreat with a dear kindred spirit. I've been unpacking the events of the weekend, slowly, carefully, trying to allow them space to breath and become. Trying to let them be just a sacred experience that I may never fully explain away. I'm not ready to bare my heart on this one yet, but the events of the day seared themselves so deeply upon my heart that I can think of nothing else to speak of. I filled pages and pages with writings and sketches. I acquired verbiage for images I've only known as guttural response. I know the depth is still descending, like a pebble in a bottomless well, but I desire to share this with you.
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We drove in the dark under shooting stars, headlights cutting a trail through coyote brush and chaparral scrub, winding upward, onward, deeper, older, wiser. The hills are soft with age and when you step lightly upon them, you feel a sense of stillness, of smallness as though the grandeur of what they once were held only a fraction of the power they now possess. The fauna was a live walk through the animals I chose for next year's calendar: deer in droves, jack rabbits, quail, owls, sparrows, goldfinch, moths, and one lone fox. I felt arrived, I felt communal, I felt the holy nature of that place, baptized by the scent of eucalyptus, the trinity of hooves, feathers and fur. I was alone with my thoughts, my hurts, my small victories. We marched over hill and knoll, cold sunlight on the small of my back, dropping down into ancient creek beds that whispered. I laid down, stretched out, on sturdy boughs that cradled my heart and soul.
I said "I'm hurt." I heard "I know."
I said "I'm afraid." I heard "I know that too."
No false promises, no rush for salvation, just a deep sorrow, a deeper understanding, smoothing of hair and an encompassing love.
And I wept because those tears were the only true offering I had to give. There was no pride, there was no agenda. They were pure. Holy. My heart unfurled a little more; great beating petals unfolding their true center. Love became a brilliant beam pouring forth, pouring in, and I learned something, was reminded something about the power of self-love.
I tell you this: a stitch was put in an age old wound. A balm was held to my forehead. I felt safer with myself, safer with my heart, safer with my fears, my hopes, my wild imagination in that place than I have in a long, long time. Perhaps since I was child who did not know better. And that was so, so long ago.
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