Tag Archives: presence

In The Heart Of The Fire

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Just when I am ready to give up on this post, a journal entry not only brings it back to life, but totally changes it and adds a whole new level of excitement of writing and sharing. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post honouring Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes, ever since I arrived here at the Kulana Sanctuary and felt the first tremor shake my little cabin where I was sitting and writing.

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Living only a few miles from the volcano, these tremors are a regular occurrence, and you can’t help but feel her tremendous power. I so loved the welcoming rainbows, the loud calls of hawks and many other magical moments, that gave me a feeling of being blessed by her and a reminder of my own power, whenever I went to visit and hike in the park.

I remember seeing a mysterious orange glow on our drive home from a sweet day of adventures at the Punalu’u Black Sand beach. My friend and I had stayed till after sunset and soon after we turned onto the highway heading home, we saw the glow in the distance. It was mesmerizing and mysterious and we decided spontaneously to take the exit to the National Park entrance, not knowing if it was open or not. To our delight it was open and we were told to drive up to the museum to get a closer look at this glowing wonder. We witnessed with deep awe and respect the spectacular orange, red, and yellow fire and steam rising from the Halema’uma’u Crater. It was stunning to see and to feel the aliveness of this volcano. It felt to me like the heart of Pele, pulsing and fiery with all of her tremendous force just beneath the surface.

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Wanting to find a way to say “Thank you!” for her warm welcome and her teachings around passion and aliveness, this list felt like the perfect way to do just that, allowing myself to feel the excitement of what life is offering me and sharing it with others. There is such tremendous power when we locate and follow our highest excitement in life.

Our Lava Heart Rock – Photo by Ana Cristina

So here is my list of yesterday’s Highest Excitement as I wrote it down spontaneously in my journal last night bringing me so much joy:

  • My insight about my fears and sharing it with one of the women here and how these conditioned fears remind me of heavy luggage that I no longer wish to carry. Throwing it into Pele’s fire on the New Moon on Sunday seems like the perfect way of releasing it.
  • Listening to Mooji and reading Eckhart Tolle’s “Stillness Speaks”, bringing me back to just being
  • The lush green of the Irises that are spreading wildly on the path to the meditation spot and that I am replanting to give them more space
  • The amazing crescent moon shaped like a bowl surrounded by stars….the night sky here in Hawai’i is utterly breathtaking
  • A hot shower, my first in a month! Not luke, not cold, but hot….so heavenly!
  • Sitting on the deck of the new cabin I moved into, called lovingly “The Tree House” and writing in the sunshine…there is nothing sweeter than this.

I don’t know why but sharing this list makes me happy. What about you, what made you feel alive today?

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The Tree House

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The Ancient Ones Are Calling

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Grandmother Turtle was calling me in her mysterious way long before I even knew I was returning to the Big Island of Hawaii. Her vivid image kept appearing in my mind’s eye when least expected. She had been there to greet me when I arrived on my birthday last year and to my surprise and delight met her again in the exact same spot on the day I had to leave. She had a curious mark on her shell which helped me recognize her immediately and there was something special about sitting with her at a respectful distance on both my first and last day on the island. Her ancient presence held me spell bound. It felt like she was transmitting something on an energetic level that cannot be put into words.

As soon as I got back to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago, I returned to the same sacred spot where we had met. Somehow I already knew that she wouldn’t be there, it didn’t matter. I felt her presence as clearly as on the first and last time we met. I stood there watching two much younger turtles make their way home into the ocean surrounded by many visitors capturing their escape on camera.

Leaving the beautiful sunshine and heat of the Kona area behind, as well as the sweetly familiar landscape and landmarks, I made my way towards the Volcano National Park. Turning off the highway a few miles from the park entrance, where eventually an unpaved lane led me to my new temporary home at a rustic artist sanctuary at a much higher elevation with much cooler temperatures and huge amounts of rainfall.

Settling into the jungle and rustic cabin was easy, feeling welcomed by the other women as well as nature. The wild pigs had opened up the path to the rustic cabin I am staying in, which the rain turned into mud. Feeling the squishy mud beneath my feet as I carried my suitcase to my humble home, I had a sense of stepping deeper into an unfolding mystery and this might turn out to be quite different from the dream that brought me here.

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Within a few days of my arrival three of us drove to a beautiful beach near Hilo where the sun gifted us with some heat, which was most welcomed after sleeping with four blankets at night to stay warm in my unheated little abode. Exploring the beach and cliff, I was immediately captivated by the dramatic and stunning contrast of the green vegetation against blue sky and the turquoise water and white waves crashing against the black lava. The wild beauty was stunning, bringing me deeply into the present moment.

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Yet I felt strangely vulnerable standing out on that cliff covered in black uneven lava rock with huge waves rolling towards me. Both fear and exhilaration took their turns in me as wave after wave crashed against the rocks, some so unexpectedly big and powerful bringing the water way too close for my comfort level.

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Deciding that I wanted to find more peaceful surroundings, I made my way back to a channel I had waded through to get to the cliff. Soon I discovered a perfect spot right at the edge of this channel, where I could watch fish of different shapes, colours and sizes enjoy the calm water leading into a sheltered pool.

It took me a while to notice her. She was sleeping underwater, her shell blending completely into the rocks she was lying on. It was almost a shock when I realized that the giant rock in the channel beneath me was really a giant turtle. This one was even bigger than the one I met last year. A new friend of mine sat on the opposite side of the channel and we both sat silent in the presence of this giant ancient being. People came by, some noticed her and some not. One made a comment that she surely must be dead as she was lying completely motionless on the bottom of the water.

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When another giant turtle swam through the channel right over her, she lifted her head and soon made her way to the surface. Watching her take a her first breath after being under water for a very long time was like watching a baby take it’s first breath. As she looked at me and acknowledged my presence, I had the same feeling I had a year earlier when Grandmother Turtle greeted me. Then she turned her head slowly and looked at my friend on the other side before sinking back to the bottom resting on the matching rocks. My friend and I looked at each other, neither one of us had words to describe this experience. “Awe” doesn’t even come close.

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As I sit here writing this, “Flash Flood Warning” messages appear on my phone every couple of minutes as the heavy rain keeps coming down relentlessly, and I wonder what we could learn from these ancient ones, what messages they might have for us if we cared to listen.

As I slowly break through my resistance of the endless rain drenching me each and every day, keeping me awake most of the night with the intense drumming on the metal roof of my cabin four feet from my head, teaching me to surrender, rather than resist what life is bringing me, encouraging me to open to the gift that is waiting to be fully received in this moment.

I remember last year around this time I volunteered at an amazing fundraising event for Standing Rock on our little island, bringing so many of us together, recognizing the incredible importance of water. The event was a huge success beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. “Water is Life” our small community choir sang at the benefit. The powerful words are still ringing in my heart as is the power of people coming together and stand together for what is sacred.

Each day the lessons around water deepen and bring greater awareness. Yesterday we decorated our new “African Shower Bucket”, that has brought us immense amount of delight in decorating, as well as much appreciation for being able to wash our hair and bodies with warm water. After many cold shower this is truly heaven. And it is not lost on us, that there are many in the world who have little or no access to water. So I am letting go of my dream of sunshine and embrace both the incredible abundance, the lesson and the gift, as the frogs start singing their nightly song regardless of if it’s raining or not.

In The Softness

 

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This morning I pulled a card from my beautiful new Yantra Deck, the Art of Being Present, that I found in Nelson, BC, on my little road trip. The card was Simplicity’ and it inspired the following journal entry, which I would like to share with you on this Thanksgiving Day here in Canada:

“I love being in the here and now, immersing myself in the peacefulness that I find beneath the busyness of my mind. The soothing freshly brewed nettle tea brings warmth to the inside, while the crackling fire in wood stove wraps me in its warmth on the outside.

Life feels so simple in this moment and so full, as Raven glides by, clucking its unique sound in agreement perhaps. The ‘trying to figure it all out’ mind has receded into the background for now. I can tune into it if I wish, but I don’t, staying instead in the contentment felt in this moment, where breath, sounds, the beauty around me, all call gently for my attention, just as the hand holding this pen glides softly across the page, mirroring the softness I feel on the inside.

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I’ve been noticing it a lot lately: this softness, when I yield to what is in the moment, rather than resist or try to change or stop what is happening. Allowing all the emotions and the changes to occur in me, in my life and in the world has somehow brought me into this more open, vulnerable state of acceptance, allowing and embracing the not having any answers. As I soften to whatever arises, I discover the joy of  my heart opening to receive it all.  In this softness I can hear a whisper “All is well”. I hear my mind faintly protesting in the backseat while my eyes fill with grateful tears: Yes! All is well!”

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Happily giving thanks for this moment and all it contains, especially this softness and love permeating from the inside and coming to me in so many forms and disguises on the outside. Giving thanks for life, each breath, each moment, each opportunity to discover, receive and express love and life, meeting and welcoming it as it is, not as I want it to be.

Sweet hummingbird comes and looks at me through the window, bringing more tears of gratitude and joy to my eyes. And with that image of beauty in motion left behind by hummingbird like a soft imprint on my heart, I want to come to your window of awareness and say Thank you for your offering of your love and presence in this world.

Wishing everyone a “Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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May Offerings

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The month of May has always been my favourite time of the year. Perhaps having been born in the fifth month makes me a little partial to it. This year May has been much cooler and wetter than I can remember. Still it does not take away from it’s special beauty. The birds are singing wholeheartedly while Mother and Father Goose are cautiously showing off their three little offsprings for the first time, yet almost to the exact day every year.P1240842

After a restless night I could feel my body was more than ready to get out of bed this morning and release some of the aches and stiffness. As I slowly rose, the first thing I noticed was the water in the bay shimmering emerald green with the sun about to rise above the tree tops. I got quickly dressed in order to get in the kayak and be part of the magical moment when the sun bathes everything in its golden light. Well, I made it out in time, but the clouds had quickly covered up the sun, hiding it’s magical rays behind them.

It did not matter! It was so sweet to just be gliding through the clear water that had looked so green from a distance. I headed towards the channel between the little islands that protect Reflection Cove and create a sheltered lagoon. Noticing the pink hues on the little island closest to me, I had to stop and investigate. Soon finding myself totally enthralled by the abundance of wildflowers covering the islands. Everything was bursting in full bloom and many colours from a sea of pinks IMG_0507with sprinkles of whites and yellows to the mysterious checker lily that completely stopped me in my tracks with its unusual beauty.

Every step I took there was more to be discovered. Even the things that looked dead surprised me, like the skeleton of a small Arbutus tree with it’s haunting beauty. Yet on closer inspection it had one shoot coming from it’s root that was very much alive. Life and death seem to be intimately entwined on these little islands where the harsh winter storms show little mercy to the plant beings that are brave enough to live there.

Suddenly the powerful call of a loon rang through the silence. I rose from where I had been captivated by the pink flowers growing in the midst of a young juniper bush beside a much larger one that had not survived the winter. My eyes searched the sea for the lonely caller. There it was! The Loon was keeping a safe distance from the little island, but kept me company till it was time for me to leave the little paradise I had found.

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As I turned around towards home I looked upon my beloved bluff where I often sit and where Sea, Earth and Sky meet. From there I often admire the snowy white peaks of the mountains rising up into the heavenly blues and on a few rare occasions whales or dolphins can be seen. Now looking at the bluff from this different viewpoint made it appear so much bigger, more real, yet mystical at the same time. It made me wonder how often I look at something through the narrow lens of a certain perspective. What would it be like to see something from many different perspectives and viewpoints? I have a feeling a whole new world could open up for me as it did for me on those little islands today. Everywhere I turned another gift was waiting for me. It brought back many memories of exploring as a child, lying on my belly in some field to see something really close up or climbing on cliffs because something was calling to be discovered at the top or perhaps on the other side. I remembered that May for me has always been a month of delight and discoveries, where the natural world is bursting forth with so many colours and scents and without holding anything back, celebrating new life in the most magnificent ways.

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When I arrived back to where I started out from, I sat for a while looking out at the familiar view of the islands that I had just visited. Somehow they didn’t look the same anymore. After exploring them in much greater detail and having found so many treasures that delighted the senses to no end, I know I see them differently now. They have come to life for me in a whole new way, just like the wildflowers in their undisguised wild beauty. Two hours had passed there as if there was no time at all. As I began writing about my experiences, the faintest scent caught my attention. I looked up immediately, my whole being becoming alert. Instantly something in me recognized this scent, yet not in the way that I could say it came from a certain plant or the sea. Instead it triggered a memory of beingness that I experienced on my first visit to the Big Island of Hawaii, where I had the magical experience of feeling completely free to just be me, where for the first time I completely trusted and felt so loved and taken care of by the Universe. It is this freedom, innocence and trust that was awakened once again in me on my magical journey to the little islands so close to home at my favourite time of the year, when the lilacs bloom, Beltane is celebrated and people still weave ribbons in dances around the Maypole. It is the month where we celebrate and honour our Mothers, who have given us life, and for me it is the month that I came to be here. There is so much to be grateful for on this May day.

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The Eye Of The Storm

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Rain is on the way. The calm smooth water and early morning birdsong have been replaced by strong ripples on the water and trees swaying this way and that way. The wind is singing a different kind of tune, one that feels urgent and forceful. The low grey clouds are moving in fast, darkening the sky with their arrival, while raptors high in sky are circling on strong currents. They are so far up, it is not possible for me to tell anymore if they are eagles or vultures. As I watch their effortless flight I wonder what they can see…

Sitting inside with a freshly brewed cup of nettle, oat straw and lady’s mantle tea I listen to the fire crackle in the wood stove and the wind’s changing song. I feel the exhaustion in my body, telling me it’s need for rest and nurturing. I am so glad I took time to carefully choose the herbs for the tea. The response to the warm liquid is a big “Yes” and “Thank you” from my body.

Ah, here it is! The drops of rain are rapidly falling on the roof and skylights, adding their own rhythm to the day. Frodo, my dear old deaf dog, is lying quietly by my side not hearing any of it. I miss our long walks in all kinds of weather. DW-Elke&Frodo P1120504We had so many adventures together: climbing hills, discovering new paths in the forests and valleys, checking out stormy seas while walking on beaches with the wind almost knocking us over. There was always this sense of being connected, even though we were exploring our world in different ways. I often wondered what Frodo was discovering when he sniffed something that had called to him from some distance. He would give it all his attention for a long period of time while I was gazing at the beautiful vista before me or taking a closer look at something I found on the path. I often joked that he must be reading a whole book before he finally moved on to the next smell. Now we only venture out together so he can do his business before he turns immediately back to the safety of home. Food and comfort are now his greatest joy.

Thunder unexpectedly adds it’s bass voice as the wind increases noticeably, bringing the chimes to life. Their higher pitch is startling and really stands out as the storm’s hum increases and decreases in unpredictable patterns.

Life has been rather unpredictable lately. While writing this I recognize that life is ever changing like this storm, even though there have been many periods in my life P1080769that have felt more steady with a certain pattern. Perhaps I have forgotten the challenges each day presented then. Looking into the eye of the storm I see that my exhaustion stems from trying to control what is going on in my life and work, and having expectations of myself that I cannot possibly meet in this endless sea of change.

Gratitude for the wind arises in me as it is making me pay close attention. It’s loud voice cannot be ignored. Listening I once again remember the key is to “trust life”, whatever it brings and that I will never figure it all out or get it all done.

For now the idea of rest sounds lovely indeed. I will give myself this gift of comforting tea and warm fire as I watch the beauty of the storm unfold without me having to do anything. My books and journal like faithful friends lying by my side just like Frodo and the joy of writing filling my heart once again.

 

 

Mysterious Connections

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A Great Blue Heron is sitting perfectly still on the walkway to our little dock. It has been there for a few hours now. The possibility of capturing this rare sight made me rush outside in my nightdress early this morning, only to find that my camera has stopped working. As I stood there shivering in the breeze, I noticed my resistance to accepting the reality of my camera having died without warning. It had served me so well. Then I remembered my commitment to trust life. Making my way back to the warmth of Elkenwolf cottage I considered the joys and possibilities a new or slightly used camera could bring.

Watching the sun illuminate the tidal water, the vibrant spring greens and the Heron’s feathers in the most magical way, I gratefully witness this morning’s offering. As I find a picture on the computer that I took last summer (see above) the Heron starts walking up to the land, talking softly with each careful and graceful step. Spreading it’s wings for a moment, calling now loudly, he then turns around and goes back to the same spot in the middle of the walkway hovering over the glistening water. There he begins his preening ritual, calling every now and again. I can’t help but wonder if he is calling for a mate on this unpredictable Spring day. Silently watching and writing, I feel a deep sense of connection and being a part of what is here.

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Last week I began walking to my car which I park over two kilometres from our home near where the pavement ends, rather than driving our old pickup truck on the off-road section. On one of these walks I noticed myself being caught again in the torrent of thoughts about work and the busy-ness of my mind, almost missing what was actually there for me in that moment. So I looked a little closer at a ditch filled with rainwater and a leaf beneath the surface beckoned my attention, as did a robin on a storm-topped tree. We gazed at each other curiously in the stillness of the morning.

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However it was the bubbles in a little creek further along that were the most unexpected gift and reminded me of a favourite childhood delight and the mystery of blowing bubbles out into the world. As I entered fully the here and now, the discoveries were numerous and some astonishing like the face that stared out from the rushing little stream. If you look closely perhaps you will see it too. P1160149 A sense  of wonder spread through me and I became aware of another strong memory, one I’ve been getting glimpses of on these walks.

It is a fluent memory of a walk last May to the Panau-nui Pu’u Loa petroglyphs on Hawai’i. Pu’u Loa, means the “long hill” or “Hill-(of)-long-(life)”. It is a sacred place with over 23,000 petroglyphs carved into the hard lava stone. The hike to the petroglyphs had a very special quality to it. It was something I knew I needed to do on my own. As I hiked to the site I met a few tourists on the path, but soon found myself completely alone. It felt like each step took me further into timelessness and something so ancient and yet so vibrantly present. I remembered reading about the old custom of the Hawaiin people that were connected to this sacred land whose families brought the umbilical cords of their newborn babies to this ancient site, leaving each in a carved hole covered with a rock and special symbols praying for a long life for the child.P1100165 I couldn’t help but wonder how many had walked this path in reverence and had prayed here asking for their child or grandchild to be blessed with a long, well-lived life. I felt myself being called here and there, standing before each carving and just being completely present in the mystery and the story that each one contained. One of these carvings stood out in particular and spoke to me in a very deep way. I heard myself speaking words of prayer and gratitude with tears filling my eyes. It was hard to leave, but when I finally turned to go, I heard people arriving filling the stillness with their voices. To this day I have no idea why this particular carving spoke to me in such a way. But on these walks to and from my car, as I put one foot in front of the other, the memory of that particular hike on the black lava stone and the mysterious connection I felt there, comes alive in me, leaving me in the great wonder of how it is all connected.

The Heron is still here, gazing now quietly out over the bay while standing on one leg. It’s complete calmness and balance calls me into the centre of my own being. May the wonder of these mysterious connections stay alive in all of us, open and guide us on our individual and collective journeys.

And once again a poem wants to be shared. This one is called “Stone” written by David Whyte.

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 The face in the stone is a mirror looking into you.
 You have gazed into the moving waters,
 you have seen the slow light, in the sky
 above Lough Inagh, beneath you, streams have flowed,
 and rivers of earth have moved beneath your feet,
 but you have never looked into the immovability
 of stone like this, the way it holds you, gives you
 not a way forward but a doorway in, staunches
 your need to leave, becomes faithful by going nowhere,
 something that wants you to stay here and look back,
 be weathered by what comes to you, like the way you too
 have travelled from so far away to be here, once reluctant
 and now as solid and as here and as willing
 to be touched as everything you have found.
  
 ~David Whyte

 

 

Kinship

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Gratitude fills me on this quiet morning here at Elkenwolf as I look outside at the familiar yet ever-changing scenery. I feel deeply held by the community of trees surrounding our cottage, like sacred guardians standing silent and strong. A pair of eagles sitting high on their perch across our little cove are bearing witness to the delicate unfolding of this moment.

The sun is breaking through the dense greyness that seems to be holding everything, even this day, in suspense not knowing which way it’s going to go. The unexpected light illuminating for a moment both the outer and inner landscape I find myself in as I give my attention to what is showing itself to me.

Just last week I heard myself talking to a few different friends about my difficulty in returning to an unfinished blog. Yet as I heard myself speak these words, I wondered if this is actually true or if it is a belief that stops me from entering the essence of the unfinished piece. Perhaps some of them are not meant to be finished and were just fleeting ideas. Yet as I look at these unfinished beginnings I know some of them need to be written and this is one of them.

Last June I began with the idea of a blog about a woman I had heard about but never met. Her  name was Gilean Douglas. The title and pictures came easily, but I didn’t get very far with my writing. Now nine months later this post is ready to be born, urging it’s way through the birth canal.

Last night after listening to the wind and chimes creating beautiful music together, I went to bed wondering why writing sometimes is so easy and effortless and at other times almost painful like being in labour. I fell asleep with the question in my head what my highest excitement is in regards to writing.

This morning I turned on the computer with the intention to begin the day with writing. While closing tabs on my computer I stumbled across the announcement of a radio program about Gilean Douglas, I had exactly one minute before showtime. Immediately I was spell bound hearing about Gilean’s life from people that knew her. The same deep feeling of kinship arose in me that I had felt last May when I first heard about her…

A few days before leaving on a vacation a friend of mine had asked me out of the blue if I had heard of Gilean Douglas. I had not. My friend began telling me about this fascinating free spirited woman, nature writer, poet, feminist and journalist who had lived here on Cortes Island for forty years until her death at age ninety-three. We walked over to the bookstore where my friend showed me one of Gilean’s books “The Protected Place“. I opened up a page and immediately was drawn into the world of Gilean Douglas, which felt strangely familiar.

Two days later I found myself with four books in my suitcase on my way to Hawaii:  Silence is My Homeland (a book Gilean wrote about her life in the mountains of British Columbia), The Protected Place (a book written by Gilean about her life on Cortes Island), Seascape With Figures (a collection of Gilean’s poems) and Writing Nature Finding Home (a biography and collection of her works by Andrea Lebowitz and Gillian Milton). On the beaches in Hawaii I got to know more about Gilean and her life and I loved what we had in common besides the love for writing.

Gilean first found this sense of home in Nature while living in her mountain cabin in the interior of BC and then again on Cortes Island after losing her beloved cabin in the mountains to a fire. I also had experienced that immense feeling of being truly home for the first time while living in a cabin on a mountain top for nearly thirteen years in southern BC. In 2005 I left our mountain home with my two sons following a deep inner calling to live by the ocean and go to counselling school. It was one of the hardest thing I ever had to do. Just like Gilean I grieved the loss of my home on the mountain very intensely for many years. It was like losing a best friend. Finally ten years later Cortes Island called me.. . and here I am, finally home in Nature again!

Within a few days of my return from Hawaii I met by chance (if there is such a thing) one of the authors of the Writing Nature Finding Home. Once again I found myself being connected to Gilean, learning more about her from Jill Milton who had been a friend of hers for many years. Within a month of my return my friend who first introduced me to Gilean Douglas took me to the Protected Place, Channel Rock, where Gilean had lived till her death in 1993. We spend a beautiful afternoon there, picnicking on the rocks in front of Gilean’s oceanfront cabin, walking the immense grounds and her beloved garden. It was easy to imagine Gilean sitting on these rocks writing, immersed in the beauty and wildness of this place.

While I was listening to the radio show Gilean’s writing was described as “singing songs of praise” for Nature and as soon as I heard this, I knew that it was the answer to my question from the night before. This love I have for Nature, for Spirit, for Home so wants to be expressed and writing is one way for me to do this. I am grateful for the sense of kinship, not just with Gilean, but the women who introduced her to me and all who love nature. For it is this kinship with Nature that gives me my greatest sense of belonging. I want to end this post with a beautiful heart-opening blessing written by John O’Donohue from his book Anam Cara, that I send out to all of you:

A Friendship Blessing

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where
there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
may they bring you all the blessing, challenges, truth,
and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam ċara. 

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Drinking life’s nectar – taken in the garden at Channel Rock

 

 

 

Go Deep In This Fire

 

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My gaze is drawn to the compass lying on my desk. It’s needle pointing unwaveringly due north. It is lying in the midst of other objects thrown carelessly on the wooden surface.

It stops me in the tracks of my mind, just like a young eagle did the other day while driving home from work. I saw him sitting there on a rather unusual perch: a utility pole right on the side of the road. I kept driving, till I finally answered the inner call to turn around. I knew he would still be there.

I got out of the car after fumbling with my phone hoping for a picture only to find that the battery was dead. The young eagle watched me carefully.  His gaze was as unwavering as the needle in the compass. I held his gaze, wondering…

Then I suddenly remembered that for some strange reason I actually had put my camera in my backpack that morning, which I never usually do. The eagle watched me patiently return to the car and get my camera out. I snapped a few pictures, but something didn’t feel right.
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A bunch of cars drove by and I was sure the eagle would fly off with all this commotion. He turned his head looking this way and that way, but mostly his eyes were on me. I finally lowered the camera sensing the importance to be fully present. The camera had in some way shielded me from experiencing the power of the gaze of this eagle. As I allowed myself to be fully seen, I felt strangely naked standing there before him as if he could see every part of me, even the parts still hidden even from myself.

Suddenly he lifted off gliding gracefully over the quiet lake. I stood there long after he was gone, feeling a different kind of fullness and aliveness and wonder.

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I had several different encounters with young eagles since then and none of them surprised me, yet each of them made me pay attention, listen, be fully present, learning to let go of what I want, and instead opening to what life is offering me.

Then yesterday morning, as I was reading and writing in bed, something else stopped me in my tracks. This time it was a poem. I was looking at my 2017 We’Moon calendar curious about the next full moon, when I came across the poem called “Cracked” by Nell Aurelia. It spoke to me in such a deep way, putting into words what I experience night after night. Most nights I feel like I am in a cauldron over a hot fire, resisting, surrendering, resisting, surrendering…What I am slowly learning as the fire is burning away my resistance and what this poem made so beautifully clear to me that this journey is about me fully committing to life and this human experience, even in this very intense time both in my own little world and the greater world.

I knew immediately that I wanted to share this poem with you here on my blog and contacted Nell. She has graciously allowed me to share her poem with you.

Cracked 

by Nell Aurelia

I’m cracked. Completely.

I fell into the furnace long enough

To decide to find my own fire and light,

And when I went all to pieces

Some surrendered to the heat

And those that were left were me

But purer: there is something of a diamond

Rushing through my core,

A full madness of restructuring.

There is no ruin here.

Unless that is your fearful name for transformation,

Which I can understand,

But when you fall flying into your own,

You’ll understand:

Falling apart is full of its own reward,

However much it feels like dying, like failure

Full of the unbearable sensitivity

Of committing to this human experience.

Go deep in this fire.

There’s a point where all explodes and converges,

And you find you are yourself,

Only stronger, clearer, finer.

The messiest refinement of all: Choosing to live well.

Well? Fully.

Alive to pain, to suffering, to inequality,

To joy, to birth, to creation, to love – To all,

Because when you get right down in it

Acknowledging pain only opens you more to joy.

The brilliant imperfections of love, of loving,

Can only make the world shine brighter;

It’s fear that will give you half a life and convince you

You never wanted the other half anyway.

 

I highly recommend checking out Nell’s blog for more of her powerful poetic offerings:

https://thesingingdark.wordpress.com

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Image by Dancing Wolf

 

Take A Closer Look

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A few of our Hollyhocks are still blooming in November. Their beauty on these often grey and rainy days is a sight to behold. As I start out on my walk with my old companion Frodo, I see the soft pink greeting me from a distance.

Making my way through the meadow I can’t help but notice many different tribes of mushrooms dotted throughout the landscape. I feel their invitationp1130315 to stop for a moment.  I take a closer look and feel touched by their mystery and beauty. Most of them I do not recognize. Life seems ever changing as I take in the many different shapes and sizes that are here today and may be gone tomorrow.

Frodo and I continue our morning walk and soon we are stepping over all the little creeks in the meadow that are making their way to the ocean. I watch Frodo stop and sniff a cedar branch for a very long time. This brings tears to my eyes. His eyesight is slowly leaving, his hearing all but gone. Each moment is becoming more precious and these walks with him are not taken for granted anymore. Quietly I watch him take in the sweet smell of cedar and who knows what else…

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A couple of weeks ago I had an experience that is still with me today. I was looking at posts on Facebook when I came across one that stopped me in my tracks. I had seen it before. Last time I quickly clicked onto something else. The image was breaking my heart. When I saw it again this time however I knew I couldn’t just pass over it. I looked at the picture of a starving polar bear floating on a piece of ice and I became very still. Perhaps you know which one I am talking about. I didn’t read any words, the picture spoke volumes. The usual feeling of deep pain, helplessness and hopelessness arose and I sat with it as I would with a friend who is sharing with me a painful experience. Then I did something else that surprised me. I asked myself not from a place of defeat, but from a place of earnest inquiry: What can I do to make a difference? I don’t usually ask myself this question, because I think I already know the answer: There is nothing I can do! Or perhaps I am afraid of the answer.

I did not address the question to that little me who feels powerless and inadequate, I asked my very core, my centre of being and the answer was matter of fact, immediate, very short and very clear: Write!

As soon as I heard it, I felt an immense amount of joy followed immediately by fear. I remember my Shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman telling a group of us once, to only ask a question if we are really ready to hear the answer and accept it. Sometimes we don’t actually want to hear the answer and do what is asked of us. I have never forgotten her teaching and now only ask when I feel ready to honour the response.

I let the answer wash over and through me. As I watch the raindrops gather together becoming little creeks, gaining momentum and power p1130329as many become one, I wonder if that is what is needed to shift what is happening in our world today. Is this what is taking place at Standing Rock in North Dakota where tribes, nations and many people are coming together from all directions to stand up for what is sacred: our water, life, Mother Earth, our burial grounds…?

On my walks recently I have been looking for a stone that resembles Standing Rock for me and then I suddenly realized that what I was looking for was not to be found on the outside. I had to look for it on the inside. As soon as I turned my gaze inward I could see that Standing Rock is that centre of my being that stands solid and strong regardless of what is happening on the outside.

As Frodo is taking a sip from the little creek under the big old cedar tree, I am really glad I asked myself that question and for a moment I imagine a world where people come together and stand for the sacredness of life and create a new world together based on love and oneness not fear. I look out onto the garden where the soft pink Hollyhocks are beckoning: Come! Take a closer look! And I do…what I see fills my heart with joy: the seeds are sown, it is already in the making.

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Photos by Elke

Presence

 

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Grey Beauty – photo by Elke

Just as I am taking in the gentle scene before me of raindrops creating circles on the water and I place my fingers on the keyboard, the sound of a low flying jet disturbs the peaceful moment of joyful anticipation. And just as suddenly as it came, it is gone again. I notice how quickly something in me closes down, protecting myself from the noise that is too much, too loud. It’s vibration actually hurts. It takes a while to open again. The sound of the raindrops on the roof are so different from the sound of jet. I wonder if it is not just the sound that disturbs me, but the thoughts that go with it. Do they close me down as much as the sound itself?

Every morning I pull a little Angel card. It is one of the first things I do when I wake up. I bought them many years ago when I was studying to become a counsellor. An instructor had brought a little box of cards to school one day and everyone got to pull one and keep it. I still have the one I got after all these years: “Efficiency”. It took me years to appreciate the reminder on my desk and I am sure that’s exactly why I got it.

Today I pulled the Angel card with the word “Presence” on it. I have to admit I often forget about it till I start writing in my journal later on in the day when I am trying to recall which card I got. So this is what happened again this morning.

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Angel Card “Presence”- photo by Elke

I couldn’t remember. Yet it came back to me as I wrote the last word in my journal entry: “Presence”. The moment I saw it written on the page, I remembered… It brought a big smile to my face. I do love when I am truly present and I have noticed that walks and being in Nature really bring me into the moment: the beauty, the scents, the sounds, all the different shades of greens and browns, the unexpected meetings with birds or other animals all make it easy for me to be fully present. Nature pulls me into it’s presence and I can’t imagine a more lovely place to be. There is always something to be discovered, a gift just waiting for me to open my eyes to, like the amazing clouds the other evening with pinks and greens and strange lines going through them. It looked like a brushstrokes on a giant canvas.

Yet, as I write this I wonder if the little Angel of “Presence” is asking me to be present with all that is, not just what I love or prefer.

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Canvas of Clouds – photo by Elke