62. Unchartered Pilgrimage of the Heart

BLOG 62: June, 2000—I arrived with my friends Carl and Molly at the colonial farmhouse that would be my summer home—my three months with God, the earth, and my broken body and spirit. The old, dark brown house stood only inches away from the cracked, New England road that epitomized what I loved about this part of the country. And on either side of the house were open fields, high wheat grasses on one end, and a large lawn and soon-to-be-tilled garden on the other.

Jean, the owner of this summer house, appeared by the driveway to greet us. Almost 80 years old with formal blazer, short grey hair, and cigarette in hand, she reminded me of the great novelist and friend of Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein. Only thing was that Jean, a poet herself and one of the first women to establish a publishing house for women poets, carried an unusual combination of Boston formality and an unusual earthy “I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks about me” look.

My eyes were drawn to her cigarette as she led my friends and I into the old farmhouse that seemed rather dark despite two floors of rooms with ample windows. Who was this woman I would live with and help out during my summer of healing? I asked myself.

jeanp
Jean Pedrick (A photo I took long ago. Beauty!) 

After all, we had never met—only spoke by phone before her son and I met in New York City to scope each other out and make sure his mother and I would be a good fit. I had never thought about there being cigarette smoke wafting up along dark walls filled with ghost-like photographs of times gone by until it reached the room I’d live in or the ancient bed made of actual horse hair I’d sleep on!

I remember looking out the window, toward the road it faced, where my friends drove away after helping me unpack the few items I had. It felt as if my parents had just dropped me off at camp (not that I had experienced this before in my life!) and I was alone in a dark house with a stranger who smoked and seemed rather aloof as Bostonians could be.

I feared I had made a mistake in trusting divine grace to bring me here, yet I eventually fell asleep to the sweet sound of cicadas surrounding the house and trees. mondaysatskimilk3-940x467.jpgThe weeks to follow were the beginning of magic, though, of discovering what’s possible when we show up with clear prayer and intention, and leave the rest up to God. Jean, who died several years later, would become one of numerous angels offering me retreat from the chains of pain I had carried for far too long.

Since those days with Jean and her family, I’ve learned that the grace of God shows her face when we finally surrender and hand over the reins of our limited longing—and when we’re truly ready to receive the gift that awaits us. The form it comes in can be deceiving—as Jean did with cigarette in hand and serious disposition—but it comes, ready to give of itself to the unchartered pilgrimage of our soul.

20170720_191044About a month ago from today, after arriving back to New Mexico from Buenos Aires and our family’s honoring of my recently-deceased father’s life, I met another angel of sorts in man’s clothing. I met an Argentinean man who appeared to me without cigarette in hand :), but with an embracing heart, passion, and laughter. Together we exchanged mystical love poems; shared—with my father’s spirit, it seemed—Argentinean songs he and I both loved; held communion on a moon-filled mesa that whispered of the infinite until early morning; and danced and laughed inside the light-filled rhythm of our newly-discovered bubble.

It’s not every day that life’s holy orchestra offers a song like this one. But it did. It came quickly, weaving these otherworldly energies with mundane realities that soon introduced their challenges to this budding relationship. It forced me to ask myself how to navigate this place where the divine and physical intersect…where tension and beauty lie and give us choice on how to proceed?

This past week, during which time I wrote less, and struggled with overwhelm and 20170720_190824poor health, I battled this reality of receiving divine grace within the limitations of this earth journey. And while I tried to contemplate, analyze, feel, reflect, and be with the tension that built knots inside my heart and that of this relationship (quite a different energy from the heart-opening magic of weeks prior), it seemed to only create more tension, more struggle.

But today, as a double rainbow spread across the sky, and stayed with me long enough to expand my heart’s awe, I felt what I needed to do. As with Jean and her cigarette, dark house, and initial formal and cold demeanor, there was more to this gift than I could see. Much more. What if, when we’ve given up trying to figure things out, and we’ve given up our limited, frightened expectations, we actually hand it over to God, to spirit—this place from which the gift originated? What if, in this case, as in the past, I give my heart much needed space and peace of mind to listen, feel, and be with what this beloved gift is here to offer—and what I am here to receive—on my unchartered pilgrimage of the soul?

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is also about an unchartered pilgrimage of the heart. It is available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

 

 

       

Advertisements

58. Checkmate with Ourselves

BLOG 58: January, 2000—I remember now where I was on the eve of this millennium. Do you? I was in Taos, New Mexico, in the mountains somewhere far away from civilization as the entire world braced itself for what we called “Y2K” (when all computers would possibly shut down, and the world as we knew it).

As we all prepared for a Y2K disaster, I was in the middle of nowhere, drumming in the new millennium with my friend Eric Perry and others. I barely remember that time, other than the fact that I had flown out to San Francisco, CA, from my parents house in New Jersey, to pick up my car (I had left it there a few years earlier because I wasn’t physically up to driving it back East after becoming injured). Eric came out to California to drive my car—with me lying down in the back—on a journey East, or at least halfway to New Mexico, where he lived.

When Eric and I arrived in New Mexico, I helped him decorate his room and we visited Acoma Pueblo, a native village on top of a cliff set up for tourists to visit. Due to my long term injury I wasn’t able to walk  much, but enough to see this village and befriend a stray dog who followed us to our car. After the dog looked at us with longing eyes and a guard told us to take him—he didn’t belong to anyone, he said—Eric, who could barely take care of plants, became a dog owner. We named the little one “Acoma.”

By the time New Year’s Eve approached,c31d532e140f6c8af13c69ef86fc2705 the three of us were drumming away in Taos. Despite being out in nature, I remember feeling disconnected—even in Albuquerque where the Sandia Mountains that had once called me were. My body was still struggling to walk, and my soul questioning why I had stopped in the middle of the desert on my way to California almost four years earlier only to break myself and still be struggling. Why had I followed a spiritual call only to be broken and to feel disconnected from all that had initially connected me?

That year, 17 years ago, my father had called me to tell me he would fly out to Albuquerque to drive me and my car back to New Jersey, to my parent’s home.  I accepted and soon my car and I were back with my parents.

It was a strange place to be—in the same place, or worse, than I had been four years earlier. It was only later, when studying with one of my spiritual teachers, Martín Prechtel, that I would understand that space I was in. We’ve grown up inside this “empire,” he’d say, and we’ve learned to live with the empire mind. Yet, he’d explain, there’s another part of us, “the barbarian,” the one who’s wild, free, connected to nature, our nature, that wants to come home.

In a world where we have continuously fled, especially West, there comes a time when we’re forced to stop, he’d say, where we face “check mate.” Neither the Empire mind nor the Barbarian can move as they are in stalemate, seeing the other for the first time and determining how to make peace w540ab52e39f2f19b2fea568f2462612aith one other since both are a part of ourselves (my apologies to my teacher for not sharing this as eloquently as he did!).

As I look back, I see now, that I was in a place of checkmate, unlearning the parts of my mind that had imprisoned me while getting to know this Barbarian part of me that had rarely had a voice. Relearning a way of being, and making peace with what has been, can be long journey—one that isn’t just about this lifetime, but many before, tied to our ancestors and this long earth walk we’ve all made, I later realized.

Today I feel at peace, and I’ve become a beautiful woman who honors her soul’s path. But, I realize that this place of checkmate, this slowing down, and even being stuck for a while, is always with us. We live in a world that demands we keep up while drawing our attention with endless technological inventions and constant marketing. So coming home to the Barbarian part of us, to our freer, more connected nature, requires daily mindfulness. It requires we know that following our soul’s voice is a commitment, and a muscle we must exercise so we don’t become lost inside the hustle and bustle of this empire we live in.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of checkmate, of coming home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

57. Eternal Life Carved into Love

BLOG 57: November, 1999—The tiny white bird that had appeared as an angel had definitely been an omen. Peace and healing had flown into my life on its blue-tipped wings after two-plus years of healing from physical pain at my parent’s house in New Jersey. It was time for me to learn about the medicine of spirit that would become my life’s path.

In November, 1999, I was in New York City, taking a workshop with a Peruvian medicine man, Oscar Miro-Quesada. Everything in this world was available for me to be in relationship with, he had said, and it is through relationship that I can access spirit and the teacher and healer I am to become. My ability to love would be directly connected to, and completed affected by, my ability to follow my path as a teacher in this world, he clarified.

Oscar insights were new for the 30-year-old I was then—the one who, during my time in the U.S., had been raised in a material culture. We could give to plants and that plant’s spirit could give back to us in return, he had said. All I needed was to recognize that my love and light affected everything I touched, and in turn it affected me. What we love always gives back, he added, because the act of loving in itself opens us to receive, and in receiving we can trust and allow spirit to move within us.

48ab1c5a9c96f84bf8229947db55b60bInside the hustle and bustle of New York City, Oscar Miro-Quesada shared a message that I have since learned well. Spirit moves through love, he had said, and love is light that reflects off everything it touches. Start with what draws you toward its beauty, he added, and then build gardens from there.

Oscar’s message of years ago was timeless. I especially felt the truth of his words yesterday, on Earth Day, as I awoke with a deep sense of love inside my friends’ home (I was cat-sitting for them). Every corner of their home is filled with furniture, artwork, and relics that they have brought here, to New Mexico, from practically every continent on this earth.

The intricate, indigenous crafting of life into form surrounded me with a sense of origin and love as I looked out toward the Sandia Mountains. It prompted me to think of my recently-deceased father, of his apartment in Argentina filled with antiques from Spain. I had cried so deeply when I had been with him there, feeling the depth of his love for the walls, the furniture, and life of his apartment that he would soon 1d1bc48863c13eb2ef0764a32fb4fd65leave behind. I sensed then that even the furniture and walls would miss him.

Memories of my father’s apartment soon
transported my mind back to my childhood in Spain, where the antiques of my father’s apartments had come from. It was in Spain that the land, her people, and her buildings had been intricately carved into eternity. It was there that I had felt an ancient love tied to origins. People back then, in the late-seventies, had yet to be the consumers that Americans had become; they had yet to see life as an end, as a place to get to. Life remained a relationship crafted with sacred reciprocity and love as Oscar had spoken about.

As I looked out toward the mountains from this place filled with ancient origins, I felt my love for Spain, my father, my ancestors, and their connection to the earth. My father’s apartment still carries his spirit and love so strongly that it’s as if he had never left. It breathes the breath of my ancestors and that place of origin that only comes alive when we love deeply the people, the land, and that in our homes that we have deemed inanimate in this world. This loving relationship to all that has taken form remains as an echo on this earth far beyond our death. It holds eternal life carved out by our love.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, takes place in Spain, a country and people with an ancient history still alive today. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

55. Honoring Body, Earth, and Air

Blog 55: July, 1999— “I lay out big like New Mexico tonight, the stars speckling the skies in every direction,” I wrote after relaxing outside my parents’ home under New Jersey skies. “It makes me aware of how amazing it is to be walking on this earth. What a gift it is to be inside this wonder—to know that every day we have this, yet we crowd our thoughts and lives with so much that clutters our view.”

Then, it seemed, life felt more alive, more resilient, inside the warmth of summer. I was reminded of what I had once had. I had danced in New York City before becoming injured, and I had lived in New Mexico where the earth and her big skies had invited me to slow down, even though I wasn’t ready.914e43fb9aef1d21aab3d064540aae1e

“When I think of dancing now, I think of an inspiration that followed me, almost stalking me. I still feel how beautiful it was to dance, to take that deep breathe that is dance,” I wrote. “I want to start again, slower this time, with care and love, listening and understanding that this body is my love, my gift. When I do, I will know how a body is, what a body means, how it is mine in more than dance to take care of.”

That day in New Jersey was like today in New Mexico. Storm clouds cleared to reveal snow-covered mountain peaks as the sun melted the cool breeze dancing inside springtime. I stretched, walked with a friend, and enjoyed being in this body that has been through so much—so much of my neglect and taking for granted the gift of what I had been given. I remember how, when I had lived in California (after leaving New Mexico, and before that, New York City), I had felt such immense despair at not being able to get out onto the land…with the idea of not having open skies, trees, fresh air, and water to bathe in when my soul felt weary.

Back then, I had taken for granted my body’s gift—the gift of housing my soul, my life’s force—and, in the pursuit of becoming someone, forgot the importance of my connection to the earth. Now I know how precious both are, and that, in our neglect, it can take a long time to repair the damage we’ve done.

Today, I think about how we, as Americans, have been blessed with living on this breath-taking land once called Turtle Island by Indigenous Americans. Yet, recently, our leader has threatened to roll back protections for land and air. It’s in the name of progress and jobs, President Donald Trump says. Yet there’s no progress when we can’t drink the water, breath the air, and celebrate this body of life we’ve been given.
a9c1a9d70239a665b025aaaa40f73ee4
There’s no progress when we no longer wake to visible sunrises or share in the diversity of people, plants, and animals that makes this earth so precious.

I reflect on my journey of unraveling the layers of my mind’s clutter so that I can care for my body, my home, and live from a place of greater gratitude for this earth life we have been given. For me, pain cleansed and cleared away layers that maybe, without it, would still be blinding me from the gift of my body and this earth.

Maybe, just maybe, we don’t need so much pain to learn the gift of what we have right here, in front of us, though. Maybe, as we journey together through the troubled maze of our time, we can all let go of the clutter we’ve carried and make room for a more sustainable and healthy earth walk.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story honoring the earth and the spirit of “duende” within. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

53. Hunger Sleeps Sweet Ashes in my Chest

BLOG 53: June, 1999—Imagine yourself stuck, with little capacity to move, with nowhere to go, nothing to accomplish. Just you. Alone. Would you be able to be still? Would you be still enough inside to feel your spiritual hunger?

Almost twenty years ago, while living in my parents’ home in New Jersey, that was my story. But being still enough to hear my own longing was anything but easy. I struggled to walk, but slowing down inside, being still, remained an immense challenge.

“I hear a voice on the radio in the other room, the sound of a busy world. It distracts me. It makes it hard to hear my hunger. It numbs my existence once more, and builds within me a hunger that so often reappears in extremes, in grand desires to escape the chaos and find a place of stillness to hear myself,” I wrote in my new journal I had just dedicated to hunger itself. “This is the modern world after all. This is the challenge we all face in hearing and addressing our hunger. What once was with us every day as a joyful hunger or longing has become a kind of ravaging ghost that you and I don’t know how to see, yet we feel it grab at us, tease us, make us restless.”

Back then, hunger was a kind of longing for what I couldn’t have in the moment no matter what I did. I wrote, “I can address my hunger by relocating, in my mind, the places where hunger was most awake, most present, and in ways, sweetly: the fields in Spain, the long b6cc3f020432ec5efd545b633828c5b9waiting for God to appear, for a voice to speak to me before a magnificent landscape; driving west out into desert, wide-open skies; or more magnificently, standing on the mountains, the Sandias, watching the bright white clouds, like cotton balls, spreading their wings throughout the entire stone and tree landscape; or driving, driving along the roads of New Mexico, chasing the clouds, with pinks, blues, oranges, purples, tormenting the skies with a surreal godliness that I longed to reach, to hold onto, in my most humble way, by driving, driving, and not slowing down.”

Then, when I found moments to be still enough to feel my hunger, to hear the words that wrote stories into my novel, I traveled inward to faraway lands. “Hunger, she sleeps sweet ashes in my chest, a silence longing for itself,” I wrote the lines of a brief poem. “I hear her stumbling sounds in my heart. I listen and I write.”

With nowhere to go, I wrote, and I allowed words to be my meditation. It’s no different today, as I sit here sharing my reflections of past and present. After a week of moving too quickly for my soul’s pace, and prior, with a month’s time with m1e98d8e0a905478eea6d6f086bf020b7y family and father before his passing, I cherish coming back to this page. Back to you: stillness and hunger.

When I was crippled by pain, my time of
forced meditation—of writing my novel and discovering the story inside “the remotest mansions of my blood”—was a blessing of sorts. I lived inside a cage that required the inside come out. But, now, as I share my novel, travel to be with family, and juggle teaching, writing, and bringing my art into the world, there seems so little time for slowing down. The hunger remains, but its more subtle, less drastic. The hunger is for the quiet, for the listening inside, for a place of presence that can’t be found in all the running around.

It’s found here, though, as I write, as I watch the moon rise, as I let the sound of all this technology, all this doing, be taken over by bird song crawling along the vines in front of my New Mexico home. The song has always been here. The moon, she has always been here lighting the night sky. Yet I am the one who has changed.  In making time, as once I was forced to do, to feel into this stillness that carries my hunger, I can find my way back to me, to all that I has always waited for us inside this presence.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of following this hunger home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

Celebrating Duende at Barnes and Noble!

Jan. 25, 2017: Listen to that song, that voice, a call out that comes from the deepest, most moving place of our mysterious soul. Can you really hear it…this llanto, this cry out that has never left us…not during wars, dictatorships, and horrific terror inside our brief, but intense human history?  Can you hear the depth of this LLANTO, this “song of the earth,” this most life-affirming voice of the soul that never quits, that is here today, in this moment, during this unique time of friction and immense change in our human history?

This Saturday, at Barnes and Noble, I will offer a taste of this Llanto, this cry out, this deep soul’s song and melody that is tied to the story and birthplace of my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit. With my novel, I bring to you Gypsies, nature spirits, Flamenco, and a return home to the earth and her wisdom, her Llanto, and cry out. I offer you a taste of that which inspired me to write this novel, which came from a journey of my heart, back to Spain, to the memories of my childhood in high-desert fields that raised me and an ancient culture that has forever left its imprint on my soul.

In traveling along the threads of this ancient culture that wrote the story of my novel, I begin with Spain’s Gypsies who have long carried an enduring spirit of music and dance, of Flamenco, of Deep Song, Cante Hondo. These nomadic, song-wielding, magic-making people, who arrived in Spain from India, brought with them the sounds of the orient, of the Ragas, of indigenous chanting, a kind of prayer that keeps that sweet dialogue between the unseen and seen world alive, honoring the holy and sacred part of being human.

This song of Gypsy wove its fabric into Spain’s Arabic, Jewish, and Catholic roots—even as Fernando and Isabel of Spain set out to explore the Americas and enacted the Inquisition, which kicked out, killed, and tortured Jews, Arab, Gypsies, and non-Christians in Spain. Many Gbarnes-and-noble-event-jan-2017ypsies fled to the mountains, and it was here that they kept their traditions alive. Maybe—as with the negro spirituals, the Blues, and Native American chants, and so many deeply soulful songs—it is this very persecution, these dark times, that help create this ancient sound of longing that rises more fiercely and fully from the depths of our being than ever before, and reminds of our most profound connections.

My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about this deep longing that cries out for another way…or more clearly…a way home inside this earth place. It is about discovering that, even when we’ve lost our way, and feel despair, there’s a way home, inside, inside of us, and inside the land that calls us on a sacred journey of aliveness.

If you are in New Mexico this Saturday, from 1-3p.m., please join Ronaldo Baca and I for a live weaving of storytelling and Flamenco song and guitar at Barnes and Noble, Coronado Mall, Albuquerque, that promises to stir this ancient Gypsy spirit that knows the way home. And, if you are too far away, check out my recent video, which tells the story of “duende”, the spirit of the earth, tied to my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit! https://youtu.be/yEJoQpKYK3I

Also, check out a limited-time promotion of my paperback novel and a VERY SPECIAL Kindle price of 99 cents on January 28th (the price goes up a dollar every day after) on Amazon: http://a.co/9scIar2

 

48. Set Afire the Old and Renew Life

BLOG 48: January 21, 1999—“Every human being at some time had tragedy enter his life; at that moment, God challenged one to confront Him and to answer His question: “Why dost thou cling to an existence so short and so filled with suffering? What is the meaning of this struggle?”

I wrote down this passage of Paulo Coelho’s The Fifth Mountain as I lived in my parents’ home in New Jersey, recuperating from fierce, chronic hip pain. I had just finished writing a dialogue with my body, in which my body told me it was time to feel and express love, and to let go of my need to control everything. “You need to start moving your energy out,” I wrote.

So, here I was reading Coelho’s words that spoke of a fire, a fire inside that has to be let out, to express its life force and burn away the old habits. He wrote, “The man who did not answer this question [the question posed in the first paragraph] would resign himself, while another, one who sought a meaning to existence, feeling that God has been unjust, would challenge his own destiny…It was at that moment that a fire of a different type descended from the heavens—not the fire that kills but the kind that tears down the ancient walls and imparts to each human being his true possibilities.”

“Cowards never allow their hearts to blaze with this kind of fire; all they desire is for the changed situation to quickly return to what it was before. The brave, however, set afire that which is old and, even at the cost of great internal suffering, abandon everything, including God, and continue forward—God desired that each person take into his hands the responsibility of his own life.”

I see now, as I sit here in New Mexico, years later, looking out at the mountains, music blasting in the background, that this old journey of pain and healing has been about this moment—this place in which a fire blazes inside me with deep knowing of my own light, my own gift that came from the inside out; from letting go of the false pretenses, fears, 6e785453b2dc9a619ab37e3c02b855d3.jpgand doubts; from no longer expecting an external, invisible God to save me; from no longer hiding this love and light inside, and letting it out, and embracing the God-given gift that I am.

Today, when I come across others that are in a place of immense pain as I was, I am able to be there for them with compassion and love

Most recently, I met a woman who had had a stroke 20 years ago, and who had come to a healing clinic where I offer energy healing, along with other practitioners. “I have been dead inside this body for a long time,” this woman said to me, expressing that she was a prisoner inside her body, paralyzed by pain and immobility. She wished she could leave her body and this earth, but said it wasn’t her time.

As I sat across from her, watching her struggle inside her body, observing her fear of being seen, I wondered what had brought her to us. Why come for a healing when she expressed no hope? Any suggestions I offered of hope, she knocked down with her immensely  rational and set mind. This was her life, and there was no changing it, she said.

But as I sat with her longer, I couldn’t help but see this immense light and gift in her presence. She had nowhere to run to, and so her life force, her fire, was beautifully visible to me. I too have been where you are, I told her. I too couldn’t walk, and I too wanted to die, since living without capacity to move, to express my life force, wasn’t living. “But, you carry a very bright light,” I said, “and that light is your gift here in this world. It matters.”

This woman thanked me, but also made it clear that it was merely my mind seeing her, and there was no truth to what I said.  I stayed still with her, feeling immense love for her, despite her resistance, until she finally said, “I would give anything to remove these old thought patterns that come from a horrific childhood.”

That was her fire, her light, willing to step forward, through paralysis, for just one moment, one breath. I was grateful for that moment to be with her. For, it is that fire that belongs to all of us—that says “yes” to life, and gives hope to renewal, to becoming that God-presence that we all are—that is our life force…that is our gift that she shared with me.

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of renewal. Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net