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A Truth… and nothing but a truth

Recently, a Facebook friend posted one of my favorite Kahlil Gibran quotes. It comes from the mystical book “The Prophet”, and is an excerpt from the poem entitled “Self Knowledge”.

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.” 

And, as often happens when I read anything from Gibran, my attention was taken, again, by this quote as I pondered it’s deep meaning. Recently, one of my Guides reminded me that all streams flow, directly or eventually, back to the ocean; and all paths lead, directly or eventually, back to Source.

“Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth.”

There are so many ways to experience truths. We live in an abundant Universe. I often think about of all the fascinating beliefs & teachings that I have experienced that are in direct conflict with my own beliefs & teachings. Finding a path that speaks deeply to the heart, and immersing the self in that path by learning the practices and doctrines of that path is a way back to Source.

“I am ignorant of absolute truth. But I am humble before my ignorance and therein lies my honor and my reward.”

But there is also danger in becoming too attached to my truths. Think, if you will, of the parable of the blind men who are asked to describe the nature of an elephant by each exploring just a small part of the elephant whole. Think also of all the chaos and conflict through humankind’s history caused by strong attachment to belief in The Truth. When I become certain that I know The Truth, I have closed myself to exploring any of the uncountable truths in the Universe; I have opened myself to certain conflict with others.

“You are blind and I am deaf and dumb, so let us touch hands and understand.”

If all paths truly lead back to Source (directly or eventually), then each of you is a fellow traveler, walking your own Journey to Mecca. Your experiences, beliefs, degrees, trainings, opinions and religions are a piece of the Universal whole.

“Some of us are like ink and some like paper. And if it were not for the blackness of some of us, some of us would be dumb; and if it were not for the whiteness of some of us, some of us would be blind.”

As we meet on our Journey, I pray that I have the wisdom to listen to and accept your truths. And I hope you do the same for me. And that we will be gentle with each other, accepting the gifts of the shared human experience. And together we will discover the truths of the Universe.

“It takes two of us to discover truth: one to utter it and one to understand it.”

 

All the delicious quotes & artwork are by Kahlil Gibran.

Of Mountains and Meditation

2011 was a heck of a year. By November, I was exhausted physically, mentally & spiritually. By mid December, I was wondering how I would get through each day. One of the most common things I ask people to do during herbal consultations is… “give yourself a break when you need it.” Time for a break.

HibernationWinter is a time for hibernation. It is the cycle of Earth, and we are of the Earth. Why, then, I wonder every year, do we gear up our activity beginning in November? This year’s energy seemed even more frenetic to me than most…

I often take the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day off. It is an appropriate time to rest, and less is going on in the business world than usual.

Aengus in his vestDespite tight finances- a sign of our times it seems- I decided to take a solo retreat to Natural Bridge, VA. My plan was to rest, hike, meditate and refresh. Well… not quite solo I suppose. My sweet terrier Aengus McKee came along with absolute unbridled delight. And a new highway-cone-orange vest. And his Christmas present- a purple squeaky cow. He is a most cheerful traveler and hiker, quite the athlete. Wonder how he came to be mine… Or I to be his…

I won’t bore you with a day-by-day dialogue of my 4 day trip. I’ll get straight to the good stuff. Or the top, as the case may be. Wednesday, December 28th dawned bright, clear and cold. Aengus and I were packed, fed and ready to go by 10am, after it had warmed up a bit. Our destination? Devil’s Marbleyard, a 8.3 mile loop in the Jefferson National Forest. Details and a map can be found where  I found them- HikingUpward.com,  a most excellent hiking site for the Mid Atlantic area.

We drove a few miles to the trail head, and got right to it. Despite the chilly temperature (weatherman said windchill would keep it feeling like 30 degrees all day), the sun was out and the air was dry. Soon I was working up a sweat.

The first 2 miles were a constant ascent. I panted my way up, past and over lovely creeks to the marbleyard. Quite impressive, with boulders as large as trucks in places. Look at the right edge, near the top of the photo. That’s a man in a blue jacket- that small dark spot.. Good frame of reference. To the right of this huge pile of boulders is a very steep, rocky trail, bordered on the right by a stream. Lovely. Exhausting. Aengus and I climbed sometimes straight up, hand over hand. Once with him tucked against my chest because he couldn’t quite make it over a wet, slippery rock.

Hound GuideAt the top of the marbleyard, the trail continued steeply upward. It is at this point that a handsome hound dog, decked out in a GPS & radio collar, joined us on the trail. This dog was very calm, with a quiet serenity in his brown eyes. He did little of the typical dog thing- no excited jumping about or greeting of Aengus. He simply approached me, gazed up at me with steady eyes, and waited as I reached out to pat his head. Once through that formaility, he turned and led the way up the trail, staying just within sight and stopping to look back and patiently wait for us, for about a mile. Finally, he slipped away into the woods and I met nobody else- two or four legged- for the rest of my hike.

Finally, I reached the top of the ridge where the AT and Gunthers Trail intersect. Tired & sweaty, I stopped to rest a moment at this open junction. A fire ring and some downed logs surrounding the ring showed that backpackers camp in this clearing. A handy sign pointed to the AT trail ———> to the right and Gunther’s Trail <————-  to the left.

Only… I couldn’t FIND my trail, Gunther’s trail. The AT trail, to the right, was clearly there. To the left, there appeared to be a trail, past the camp. But it disappeared into the undergrowth, never to reappear. Aengus and I crashed through the leaves and stumbled over rocks, hoping the trail would reappear. No trail. My printed map indicated that it was an unmarked trail (meaning no blazes on trees as a guide) and I became worried. What if I lost sight of the clearing? I could get lost. Should I give up on my journey and simply back track down? Was I just being silly and the trail was close by? Three times I returned to the trail sign at the clearing, three times I set off leftward, as the sign indicated, hoping to find the trail. Finally, frustrated and tired, I sat down on a log in the camp.

My mind was in an uproar. My body was tired and sweaty. My dog was annoyed. Aengus is an “onward” kinda guy, and my inability to decide ‘which way’ didn’t sit well with him. His motto might be “I’ll rest when I’m dead”. I got quiet. I went inward. I soothed the mad voices of my ego-brain into reluctant silence. I asked for Guidance.

It occurred to me that this was an exact illustration of my recent life. Climb, pant, sweat, crash onward, lose my Path. Crash some more. Become frustrated. Back track. Ego-mind screaming “What the heck am I doing wrong where is the @#%&* PATH! It should be RIGHT HERE!” And then finally, finally, surrendering the reins of my Ride to a Higher Power.

“Help me to see the path” I quietly asked as I turned inward, into the pool of connectedness and knowledge. I stood and surveyed the clearing with softly opened eyes. “Help me to see the path” I asked again. I felt drawn to look again at the topographic map stuffed in my coat pocket. I looked at it calmly. An awareness opened within me. The path does not appear to be going along the ridge, as the pointing arrow indicates. It appears to cross a gently downward sloping area first. I turned slowly in a circle. The only ground that looked to be gently sloping was BEHIND the sign. Not to the left. Not to the right. I walked behind the sign, then a little further, a little more. And there it was. I saw it come into focus, like magic. It was clear, no question, that this was the trail. I laughed and gave thanks to my Guidance. And started down my path (and Path) again.

I spent the rest of this magnificent hike in deep meditation and communication with my Guidance, and in pure awe of the beauty of our planet. As I surrendered to the quiet power of Gaia, my ego-mind became quiet and my heart was opened. In this place of surrender, I received answers to many of the questions that had been worrying me of late. If you like, for a moment, quiet your mind, take a slow deep breath, soften your heart, and join me for these last few miles… I’ll meet you in the Field, friend.

 

 

Chair-Entity of the Board

Recently, as many of you have undoubtedly noticed, I have been working to improve the visibility of that part of my life that helps me to pay the mortgage. I could simply have said here: “Building my business” or “Increasing my marketability”. And those things would have some truth. But today, as I pondered this part of my Journey, I realized that I have something to express that is not clearly, cleanly encompassed by those familiar phrases.

(One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice–)

I have spent a great deal of these last 15 years looking closely at my life and deciding what works and what does not. What has been success and what has been failure. Not always an easy, comfortable or pleasant Journey. One which has often had me feeling squirmings and crunchings in my belly.

(though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. “Mend my life!” each voice cried.)

It is no longer possible for me to differentiate my “job” from my “Journey”. For me, a Journey is a path of light, often visible only to the Journeyor. And truly, what else is there? My job on this planet, in this lifetime, is to become aware of my Spirit-lighted path and to walk it. Simply. Only. It is not my job to look for, worry about or judge any Path but my own. Or to seek from others acceptance of my Path.

(But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible.)

And yet… I live here, on a material planet, full of bills, responsibilties & social paradigms. And what a siren song this social media soup! What sweet & sugary snacks, these apps & shiny glossy high tech toys! What tangy teases, the apparent successes of others!  “Draw me a map!”, I say, “Show me how it is done!” I shout, “Give me your secrets, oh Wise Ones!” I implore, gleefully, as though those things were winning lottery tickets that I could have if only I got the RIGHT sequence… pattern… people… places… look… group… identity…

Good Goddess, tie me to the mast. Please.

(It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind,)

There is a balance. I am a child of Light & Earth combined. I live on a material plane, kept safe by the necessary, annoying and ever present voice of Ego. Striving for my entire life toward that Bright Light of the Creator, with my feet anchored firmly on sweet Mother Earth. I am duality. I am something not completely of Light or Earth, but a new thing that celebrates & makes manifest the Sacred Union of both.

(the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own,)

 It is very important to have the support, advise and affirmations of others. To surround myself with those whose lives I strive to entrain with. Important to look at the Journey of those who are on some part of the Spiral where I (think) I wish to be.

(that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do–)

But I cannot forget, lest I lose the Light that guides my Path, that the Chairman Chair-Entity of the Board lives within myself, whispering quietly, patiently, sweetly. And only I can hear it, and only for myself. And that finally… It’s the Journey inward that really counts.

(determined to save the only life you could save.)

 

Many thanks to Mary Oliver, unwitting and unknowing member of my board, for the poem within this blog- “The Journey”

It’s the Journey…

Here we are. A blog. My small business consultant said I need to blog. I wonder… does the world need another blog? Does anybody READ these things?

Well, after all, I am paying her for her expertise.

So welcome to my blog. I shall tell you about herbs and chickens… healing and honey bees. We will cook wild weeds and ponder wild thoughts. We will make tinctures and hold workshops. And hopefully you will actually READ this thing.

By the way- need your own small business consultant? www.swallowtailconsulting.com and tell her Kristen sent you. But read my blog first. She will be so pleased 😉