Updated: Jan 20, 2021
She had travelled, until recently.
She had travelled to the red mountains in the far west and climbed dry rocky trails
She had ventured across the ocean to her forefather’s homeland and tasted many grape varietals, listened to cicadas hum in the pines.
She had travelled to her foremothers’ land to sing and do rituals amongst the standing stones and in the fairy glens, soak her selkie skin in seaweed.
She had led ceremonies with drum, voice and art in her own homeland hills in the midst of mid-winter and fall foliage.
She had made her own drum of wapiti skin and learned to breathe her heart’s rhythm along with other women.
She had travelled far beneath the earth into a rocky cavern, where she sang and let her voice ring out, and watched the Neolithic bison shimmer and cavort under the shadow of a hundred flashlights a kilometer deep in the Grotte de Niaux.
She had prayed in monasteries, harmonized in an ancient chapel with the women at Dufort, watched as thousands of soccer enthusiasts cheered a win on a large screen outdoors in Toulouse then took to the streets.
She had climbed the Spanish steps in Rome, soaked in the thermal springs of Sorano, Italy and watched the solstice light at summer creep into a gothic cathedral’s thin window, running along the walls and rock columns, brightening and stretching into Day.
She had sought peace in the Berkshires on yoga retreats, followed her teacher from the wild wallaby sanctuary in Amaroo, Australia to the center of London and Miami, or the hills of Malibu.
She had traveled to the far reaches of South Africa to wake at dawn and watch baby hippos, monkeys, rhinos, wild dogs, lion cubs and cheetahs roam in a wilderness sanctuary, marveled at their stilled presence and wide-open eyes so near by.
She had swum in several oceans, the Pacific, Atlantic, and Mediterranean, but preferred the quiet lakes of the Laurentians or the calm rivers of Ontario.
She had driven up the coast of BC to Nanaimo and Quadra Island, lived for a month on the edge of the Juan de Fuca Strait in Sooke, with orcas right out the picture window and whale-song echoing in the fog.
She had studied with many poets, teachers and mentors, become a poet herself and yet she still had so many things to learn and study, outside of words.
She had begun to come home to herself and what was left to learn now was mostly within the four corners of her heart, or her own brain, the conscious presence she admired so in her teachers, she was gathering and garnering for herself.
She had felt the crushing heat in a sweat lodge of her cohorts own making, sung songs, and learned the power of the four directions, the four seasons, and the four elements, and how to perform ceremony.
She had sat in a Zen lodge exploring koans on a cushion, meditated all day in an ashram in India, cooked for vegetarian holy men, (mahatmas), copied spiritual texts and studied the Upanishads and the Mahabharata stories, but what use was all of that learning if she got no closer to understanding her own heart?
Recently she began to travel closer to the root of wisdom, to acknowledging her own shadow in the root of her own story when she opened the boxes of letters and archival photos in her father’s file cabinets and her mother’s dresser drawers, the detritus of 65 years, the history and anecdotes of their lives in fragments, mostly silenced or untold, revealed in those letters. Admissions of mental illness and depression, of failure and redemption. She must reread those letters, those archives and memorialize them somehow in her own words, the shades, shadows and slides, the negatives kept in a vault by her parents, the sins of the fathers and mothers from long ago passed down along with the skills, talents, and propensities towards math or English, art or architecture, playfulness, love of music, theatre and books.
The dark urges too, the rigidity and religiosity, the unconscious thwarting of pleasure and love of life, the punishments meted out too harshly to children who choked on authoritarian dictates, the abuse of trust, unconscious invasiveness, the dark slumbering of spirit under the influence, the self-soothing that harmed instead.
The healing she needed was there
The cracks of light in the shadows
The sweet redemption of understanding
The stories she needs to hear, and tell