Thursday, January 14, 2010

Unexpected Gifts

(For those new to Musings, read the Nov. 18 story for my initial encounter with the earthworm.)

Winter use to be my least favorite season with its cold temps and gray skies. And although I still prefer sunny winter days, an inner shift has allowed me to come to experience Winter as the perfect time for reflection and turning inward. Reflecting is what I've been doing as I scan journals from the 2000's as well as read the many notes taken in 2009. It's in this looking back, that I realize the gifts I cherish most from the past year.

Just last week I called a relative to confirm her zip code. I had forgotten that in her Christmas card I had tucked a couple of my "Musings." Her first words were, "I got your stories." I was suddenly so excited. My excitement was short lived when she added: "Now you have to write about our happy times together."

I was speechless at first, then I semi-lied. I told her I had written of the happy times which was true to a degree, they just weren't related to the holidays. Okay, I lied. After which she said, "You write really well but you made me sad" in reference to the story about holiday losses. I didn't know what to say. So instead of just honestly saying to my aunt, "I don't know what to say" I stiffly replied that good writing evokes many emotions. Why is it that saying the truth never crosses my mind in the moment when I need it to? Does that ever happen to you?

I lied to my relative and a split second after hanging up realized the amazing gift this woman on my family tree gave me. Suddenly I knew why I've always felt like a mutant, why I've felt so disconnected and different. I am a feeler. I feel deeply and know that when I shut off feeling sadness, anger or fear I also shut off feeling joy. I quit feeling alive because I'm emotionally turned off and thus tuned out. I am a feeler who grew up in a tribe of people whose language allowed happiness. My question is: Is it happiness or faux happiness when that's the main feeling allowed?

Suddenly I knew one of the reasons I felt so much sadness throughout childhood and why none of the adults ever knew of that sadness. On some level I knew even as a kid they wouldn't know my language if I shared it, that if I were found crying I would be told not to because they would sincerely not know what to do with me...not realizing when someone's sad you really don't have to do anything, it's just about being with them in their sadness.

I also realized a great portion of my sorrow was connected to the generational unexpressed sorrows in my extended family. I come from people of great heart, people who care deeply about others and one another. Yet they are people who do not use their voices to speak what was really true for them emotionally and to own their experience. Ah, there's that 'don't say what's true' thing again.

My aunt's comment birthed a cascade of thoughts related to my heart and emotional self in my family and this world.

The other gift that's been given me in 2009 showed up repeatedly through various people, events and animals. In November I chronicled my encounters with earthworms on morning walks. These encounters didn't cease. Even two weeks before the brutal cold, I continued to find a dead earthworm on the sidewalk during my morning walks. Each time I found one, I'd place it as close to Mother Earth as I could pushing aside the grass and leaves and bless it with a moment of silence. I found the last one just prior to Christmas. Still alive but looking as if it too was about to die, I debated whether to place it in the grass too. Immediately I knew I was to hold it. If it was going to die, I would ensure it didn't die alone.

Bearing witness to this tiny worm touched me so. Before burying it, I opened my palm to look at it one last time. It was in the exquisite shape of an ear. It was gifting me with a reminder to 'listen.' I was giving the earthworm the gift of presence in its passing and it in turn gifted me and reminded me of the gift I gave myself this past year, the gift of listening.

This "gift" first showed up a few years ago when I heard, "Learn French." I was somewhere random when this audible thought zipped through me that said: "Learn French." I thought this odd and forgot about it until I was walking out of a friend's office. As I opened the door to leave, she said, "Wait, I'm being told to tell you to learn French." My heart jumped and I suspect I looked quizzically because she said, "I don't know who's telling me to tell you this, but I'm hearing, 'Tell her to learn French.' The gift reappeared. This time I at least browsed bookstore shelves and bought a cd series for learning French - a series which yes, I never used.

Months passed and one day while walking past a neighbor's house she came out to visit. Midst conversation, she said, "I've been meaning to ask you. Have you ever thought of learning French?" The above tale came tumbling out and she asked if I'd consider taking a local five-day intensive course in French with her.

We signed up and in a few short months I was sitting in a classroom for the first time in years, the only participant I think to have not had any foreign language but Southern English. I was surprised at how easily another language came to me. I didn't want it to end.

This was the summer of 2008. It took me nearly two years to follow the Voice I had clearly heard but I finally learned some French then closed that chapter or so I thought. For later in the year, I received a brochure from an acquaintance inviting me to join her and other women on a trip to France to many of the sites of the Black Madonnas. Despite the fact that I didn't know who the Black Madonna actually was I knew I had to go on this trip because one of the brochure's cover photos was of a place I had seen in repeated dreams years ago. Upon further reading, it appeared I would actually be in the medieval village on the side of a mountain from my dreams for my 50th birthday.

I looked at Jerry and said, "I can't leave you for my 50th" to which he replied, "I think you have to." So this past year, I turned 50 in France. I awoke in LePuy, visited Conques for a few hours and ended up in Rocamadour all in one day, the day I came into this world.

In looking back on the year, it now occurs to me that I gave myself the gift of listening and finally following what I heard and knew, knew not in a rational way, but in a deep, visceral, soulful, body way. I've often said that my GPS is my body for when I'm truly on the path that's charted specifically for me I am at home in my body. Sometimes 'at home' is a deep inner knowing in my core at other times it means being covered in goosebumps and at other times it's crying with tears of deep joy or sorrow.

Listening and following revealed what it feels like to be at home inside myself. Listening and following took me to the Grand Canyon three weeks after returning from France. I thought I was off my rocker when I found myself telling a friend in New York that I'd hike with her ten miles into the Grand Canyon and sleep on the ground four nights. I had never slept on the ground more than two nights and that was in my twenties. I had certainly never hiked ten miles in 100 degree heat.

Listening didn't mean I didn't question. I thought myself a bit crazy as well as financially irresponsible and wondered what people would think of me suddenly traveling so much. A couple of weeks prior to leaving for France, I sat in my chair and told the Universe/God/Spirit that I needed a sign as to whether to make canyon trip. I forgot about asking and got on with my day only to be startled by how quickly my request was answered. I booked a flight West and after France met Karen with whom I hiked into Havasu Canyon and Supai, the village where the Havasupai still live.

It was after this trip that I heard yet again about the gift I was being offered. While hiking out of the canyon, a local man sitting trail side asked us to sign a postcard to the Environmental Secretary asking that uranium mining be discontinued on Native American grounds because the process contaminates the underground water. Supai as we learned he was called began walking with us. At some point before parting, he gave Karen a flier about an upcoming event. After Supai walked away, my friend looked at the flier and said, "This flier says, 'Contact Bucky Preston.' I wonder if Bucky Preston is his real name?" We walked on knowing we had a long, hot hike ahead of us.

Three days later in the Flgastaff museum at the Hopi Festival I felt compelled to go to the museum bookstore. I had only browsed momentarily when I heard a man behind me say to another, "I want you to meet Bucky Preston." I immediately turned thinking I'd see Supai when instead I saw another Native American man with a small frame standing nearby. After the two other men walked away I introduced myself to Mr. Preston and shared how I had heard of him while walking out of the canyon.

Mr. Preston shared a portion of his story, how he's known as a spiritual runner who grew up on one of the Hopi Mesa's and still lives there although he travels (often running hundreds of miles) to call attention to what's occurring to Native lands through coal and uranium mining.

My mind raced trying to figure out why I was meeting this man in such a synchronistic way. Being a connector, I wondered with whom I was suppose to help him connect. My mind went into overdrive and I never actually figured out why I met Bucky Preston until recently.

You see Mr. Preston offered me a gift that day personally that I finally got while holding the earthworm in my hand. In our brief interaction, he looked at me and said, "Most people don't know how to listen. We aren't quiet or patient. We must be patient and listen." (This is one of the things I found noted in my journal from July.)

Mr. Preston offered me such a gift. It is the gift I've been given all along.....messages through listening to my intuition and my body, through others, the animals and nature. But I've not done a very good job of listening. I take that back. I listen, but I don't follow through as quickly as I aspire to.

It appears I had grand adventures in 2009, but it was and still is the inner experience in my travels that was most important. It was and is the willingness to listen to my inner landscape that I value most. This landscape within us interfaces with the outer world constantly whether we're at home or work, the grocery or the gym. If I had been tuned in and listening while talking with my aunt I could have easily said to her: I don't know what to say.

In this moment, I know what to say. It's harder to practice than say, but I pass along to you the gift given me this summer by Bucky Preston: Listen. Learn how to listen. Learn how you listen. Learn how you keep yourself from listening. Learn how messages come to you.....and I don't mean via the news. Really take the time to hear what you're being offered through nature, others, your intuition and however you think of God, Goddess or Spirit.

- Dawn ! The Good News Muse 1/201

* Bucky Preston also coordinates the "Water is Life" run a 30 mile run in its 6th year on the traditional Hopi Trails bringing attention to the areas water that's threatened esp. by mining practices. Last year over 250 people participated. This years event is Sept. 11, 2010. For info go to:

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