As I drove the distances there and home, I listened to Mother Night: Myths, Stories and Teachings for Learning to See in the Dark by (one of my chosen teachers) Clarissa Pinkola Estés. These certainly are dark, turbulent times. Our need to see in the dark and create in the dark is now critically essential. To be ourselves. To hold our hearts open, no matter what. To be ourselves may result in being banished or ostracized by others but to give into a small or big lie, to comply with what others expect causes us to be banished within ourselves and to live divided.
Estés encourages us to make decisions to develop our gift, follow our callings, and to explore that idea that keeps surfacing during such difficult times. To notice what we notice and take action. She reminds us that we always have a choice, no matter our circumstances. A choice at the very least to listen to our soul. She spoke about how we are responsible to notice, listen and act. That we must not give in or up to the negativity that surrounds us. To let the wildness of our soul speak, write, create, and connect.
What and where are your choices? Write about that.
What's calling you? What do you notice? Write about that. Move toward that.
"The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door," she says.
Notice your doors. They are already open. Walk through them. Or, let what wants in, in. What wants in? Write about that.
Write about what you notice and contemplate what you love, the old story or the beauty you can hardly bear. Write about your doors.
When we let the destruction and brutality keep us from our creative, soulful practices and explorations we lose our chance to strengthen humanity, to build on and from the good in us and others. We lose our sight of our doors. What is that next step in your creative, soulful life? What is knocking on your doors? Keep doing what you do in the way that you do it. Write that poem. Finish that painting. Invite the stranger in. Hold that conversation. Plant that garden. Sing that song. Send that card. Rest. Smile at your neighbor. Visit that tree or friend. Walk yourself and your dog. Take care. Bless or be blessed by the other.
The retreat center, as it turned out, is built on the foundations of a self-claimed guru and avatar. He took a vow of noble silence, yet wrote books and created his own sign language. A sign language that was interpreted by his followers and disciples. He sequestered his closest female disciple for two years. This young beautiful woman was brought over by the guru from India where she was sequestered into a lovely house on the center's ground. Only he could visit or speak to her. And the woman who gave me the tour said that "he visited her everyday." The trees there held me in their sacred strength while I reacted to the foundation of patriarchy and dogma the center was built upon. (I am exploring this disciple's story now. And the other beautiful women he surrounded himself with.) This is one of my doors, my callings, to recognize and respond to these encounters of abuse of power and false claims by the patriarchy. I see false gurus and shamans.
Notice what stirs you, this is a door. Write about that.
"May you have a blessed day," he said as he took the money from my hands. Most days he is at the same busy intersection with his worn cardboard sign asking for handouts. Consistently he offers me a blessing in exchange for a few dollars. I consider myself sufficiently blessed for the day. No need for a guru, avatar or priest. This will do.
"Truth is, we are mostly too acquainted with the opposite, with the wreckage. It commands our attention, and for good reason. We have to survive it. But even if we need to understand the wreckage to survive it, it needn’t be the primary object of our study. The survival need be. The reaching and the holding need be. The here, have this need be. The come in, you can stay here need be. The let’s share it all need be. The love need be. The care need be. That which we are made by, held by, need be. Who’s taken us in need be. Who’s saved the seed need be. Who’s planted the milkweed need be. Who’s saved the water need be. Who’s saved the forest need be. The forest need be. The water. The breathable air. That which witnessed us forth need be. How we have been loved need be. How we are loved need be.
How we need be, too. Our radiant need. Our luminous and mycelial need. Our need immense and immeasurable. Our need absolute need be. And that study, that practice, that witness, is called gratitude. Our gratitude need be.
This is what I want to study. This is with whom." – Ross Gay from How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope
WRITE with me! If one of your doors is writing about what you notice, consider joining me and other writers on a 2-day intensive: Write-by-the-Light. Dates: July 1st and 2nd, with an hour welcome on Thursday night, June 30th. Leave with solid footing on your writer's path. Intentionally affordable. Also, if you can't afford this, just contact me, no one is turned away due to lack of funds. LIVE and VIRTUAL on ZOOM. More information or to register: HERE
Exiting a cult? Had traumatic encounters with a false guru? Wanting to develop your own inner guide to your truest spiritual path, not bound by dogma? Check out my Spiritual Mentoring Program: HERE.