In the pitch dark of the lodge, Miguel pours cold Water on the glowing-red Stone People. They don’t look like people; they look like chunks of black lava, this new batch rounded, the usually sharp edges softened. A dozen or so women and men encircle them. We have a small group tonight. In the outside world, millions of people are watching the Oscars. I see only darkness. I hear Water meet the Stones and feel steam rise with our prayers.
“Breathe deep,” Miguel says. “This is life.”
Then, in chorus, “Mitakuye oyasin!” (“All my relations”). The tarp door is thrown open and cold air rushes in. Dripping with sweat and condensation, I bow my head, close my eyes and give thanks.
I am told the lodge is the safest place on the planet. I trust that is so. Before we leave, Miguel tells us to remember this night. When the world gets crazy, when chaos hits, when someone cuts us off on the road, we can remember this moment. I breathe deeply, then crawl out into the cold.
It’s hard for me to hold these gifts for a month at a time. I often feel like a small child in a maelstrom of conflict and confusion. More than once I’ve joked with Miguel: “Same time next week, right?”
Miguel holds a full-time job and has a family. Still, he’s managed to lead thousands of lodges. I am fortunate I can attend this one. I must learn to hold the gift and walk as if it were more powerful than the appearances. Because it is. And I believe my attending to that vision makes a difference.
I invest a lot in the idea of a friendly universe and feel great pain when I see evidence to the contrary, but I can’t let go of the idea. If I give up on Love, Beauty, and inherent Goodness, I’ll lose my marbles. More than once in the last couple of years I almost did. I imagine I’m not the only one.
To maintain sanity, I need a truckload of loving reassurance and connection. How people manage to live without them baffles me. I do receive gentle reminders: tiny leaves in my salad, stones on the trail and even gum stains on the sidewalk—all shaped like hearts. Sweet winks from Whomever, but fleeting.
I need regular doses of reality that support the safety I feel with the Stone People. The ones I’ve found hold inviolate spaces on my calendar.
Top priority is the lodge, perhaps because Stone People are so old, and I find solace in spending time with Ancestors. Perhaps it is the beauty of the ceremony, the inclusion of all elements or the songs we sing (me in full voice, even though I don’t understand the words). Perhaps it is a way to spend time with my father and honor our Native American bloodline. I only know the lodge provides profound connection and is the place where I feel most at home.
I also attend three other local gatherings. At two of them, we bring to circle what cannot be borne alone. In the third we explore the evolution of consciousness and see today’s events as a tiny part of a much larger story, a story of the cosmos. This reframing gives me perspective, inspires peace and adds space around deeply troubling events, space in which solutions are possible.
All of these gatherings include moments of meditation and music, with simple instruments and voice. They also include sharing food, which feeds the soul as well as the belly, a visceral reminder that we are all together in this.
At each event, I am of service: At the lodge, I help break down the altar and make a Spirit plate, which includes a little bit of each potluck dish to be offered at the base of a tree along with a prayer; at the other events, I arrange the pillows in the meeting rooms and help with resetting an altar.
Service is a privilege. Working together in small ways meets basic human needs: participation, teamwork, purpose, trust and harmony, all qualities I’d like more of in my world. Acts of service communicate to both the person doing them and the group that we are all necessary to the wellbeing of the whole, a simple way to “be the change.”
For more support, I attend several women’s circles: two monthly, one bi-monthly, and one weekly. All of the circles include structured, intentional sharing and listening. Again, places where each individual is held in a safe container, where participation is welcome and each member valued.
I also belong to a community of conscious dancers, who seek connection with Source, self and others through movement awareness. To quote this week’s e-mail invite, “Our bodies know everything.” My body certainly knows things my mind tries to ignore. When I listen, the medicine from the lodge lasts longer.
For more self-connection, I go to the spa one day a week. Alone. My laptop comes along for the ride, but it usually stays in a locker while I alternate between the 107°F mugworts bath and the 70°F cold pool. Doing nothing provides a vacuum for clarity, where the disconnection can dissolve into what is real.
Finally, I walk in Nature—daily. If I don’t hear birds, feel air, smell the sage, and hug a tree, I degenerate into someone I don’t want to be around.
With so much virtual reality, face-to-face, skin-to-skin, eye-to-eye contact is critical. The above-mentioned practices are essential touch stones of connection for me. Would you like to share yours? Let us know or send them directly to my site.
Sage Knight is a local ghostwriter and Literary Midwife. She and her Golden Retriever, Shiloh, live at Top O’ Topanga and welcome your visits to www.SageKnight.com.