63. Bowing in Grace

BLOG 63: June, 2000—Jean sat in her favorite chair in the kitchen by the screen of an open window.  She blew her cigarette smoke out past the tiny metal mesh, which temporarily protected her New England farmhouse from a few select mosquitoes of early summer. My new near-80-year-old poet and housemate seemed to love looking out the window, reflecting on her next poem, or maybe her many years married, and raising children, or her husband’s recent death.

As I stepped into the dimly lit kitchen, Jean looked up. She greeted me as I prepared to leave for a weekend of translating for an Ecuadorian Shaman who was visiting up north, in the White Mountain area. I had just arrived at her farmhouse several days earlier, but was now traveling two hours north to translate for an organization called Dream Change.  

When I arrived at the home where I’d work, the Ecuadorian Shaman, Alberto Taxo, sat in a corner of the room, legs crossed. He was a good-looking man with long black hair and graying beard. I greeted him, presented myself as the person who would be translating his Spanish to English. He nodded, smiled.

Later, he would tell me stories about growing up under the tutelage of his shaman father, and a lineage of healers along the Andes and Latin America. He’d tell me about his initiation at age 13, when was sent to the mountains to stay three days in a hole dug into the ground. One of those days, Taxo awoke with a snake coiled on his belly, at which point he described being fearless (since snakes can smell fear and attack). Instead he told the snake how beautiful it was and it uncoiled and slithered away. His journey as a shaman continued until his father’s death, 8194dc6334121ca8cc6c17b407f37edewhich provoked grief and anger and two years of living in the streets and temporarily abandoning his healer’s path.

I loved listening to Taxo’s stories. After all, imagine missing out on your childhood, and, at an early age, being ask to carry forth a 500-year-old prophesy of your indigenous ancestors to prepare for an immense change for the earth and humanity, a “Pachacuti”, that would occur at this time in history. This was Taxo’s reality, combined with political work he did, demanding equal rights for Ecuador’s indigenous people.

Beyond his stories and teachings, what struck me most about Taxo was the manner in which he approached life. As I translated for him during various gatherings and healings, he displayed an immense amount of grace and presence. He seemed to bow to all of life—to the trees, to the animals, to the food he ate, to the people he passed—in a state of gratitude and listening. It was a practice I imagined he had learned early on in life—a practice that seemed a stark contrast to our modern-American “let’s move fast and get somewhere or something (and not listen much)” approach to life.

While Taxo was far from perfect (He seemed to have been seduced by modern Western culture in an unhealthy way), I returned to the farmhouse having learned a state of grace and gratitude that would help me heal my injury and heart.

From that weekend forth, I began to walk in the woods, a hundred feet at a time (or as far as I could go with my pain), and 61f49d5902a99d2693d6e1e6bb5b9546did so by bowing down to every tree, every flowering, breathing element in the forest. As I walked, I breathed the trees and their energy field into my heart, and, with every out breath, I bowed to the trees, greeting and honoring them. In doing this kind of mindfulness meditation, I soon discovered how blocked my heart was—how challenging it was for me to truly receive and feel the beauty around me. I also understood that if I continued this practice, I would feel the origins of my blocks and slowly get “out of my head” and open my heart, bit by bit, to feel.

Back then, Taxo’s example offered me my first important lesson of many that would help me walk again—from 50 feet to three miles by the end of the summer on Jean’s farm. It’s a lesson I’ve come back to, time and time again, in my life (even though I’ve gotten lost, plenty of times, in all the daily running around!).

This place of grace—this bowing down to and honoring life—still sits waiting for me, and all us, at all times. These days, I return to this place of grace in the dark of the night, when I sing an offering to the land, to my recently deceased father, and to those I love; when I bow in gratitude and love to my friend and lover; and when I sit still enough to feel this butterfly of transformative love for myself and all of life that sits fluttering in my heart. 

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about returning to this state of grace. It’s available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. It can be ordered at a local bookstore as well. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

 

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60. Time for Divine Love

BLOG 60—April 28, 2000: “There is no beginning, no end,” I wrote in my journal at my parents’ house in New Jersey 17 years ago. Why? Because I had moved there to heal my hip, and expected to stay for no more than a year before continuing on my life’s path.

“So much time has passed. It’s all become a drawn out affair,” I wrote. “I’ve almost forgotten what I started with…the passion that led me here and hopefully the passion that leads me out of here.”

I had gone out West to discover and invent my life, without limits, and yet I got the wind knocked out of me—got injured—and in my early thirties was living with my parents. “I feel little me wondering if I can do it—can I make it without throwing myself down hard again?” I asked myself.

The irony of life is that, shortly after writing this, a new door to my life opened. I had traveled with a local friend up to New Hampshire, where I had lived years earlier, and where my friend Carl had suggested I take a Shamanic Class studying the Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel. What happened there was nothing short of a miracle.

After class, I had let other students know that I was looking for a place to live in exchange for house-sitting or something similar. I couldn’t afford rent, but I needed a refuge, a place to be with God, so I could finally heal my hip after three years of excruciating pain.

A day after the class completed, and I was already in New Jersey, one of the students overhead a group of poets in a café saying that all they needed to do was find someone who could live with a woman named Jean. The student approached this group and mentioned my name, and soon Jean and I spoke by phone to see if she and her farm house in New Hampshire would be a good fit for me.

a07a67815507524254e67324f69e0d9bIt’s all timing, I say. I still felt incredibly fragile, scared to trust that I could truly walk again as I had years earlier. I was dubious that there was such a thing as divine support in my life. I had lost faith. And yet that’s when this miracle of perfect timing, perfect alignment of everything occurred.

Tonight, as I walked down my dirt road here in New Mexico, I felt sadness, or longing–that “something” I couldn’t quite pinpoint, yet felt throughout the day. It’s strange how that is…that feeling or sensation that chases us all day long…that often chases us out the door, running all over the place, until we finally get back to ourselves. But as I walked, I could feel it, feel its origin.

I returned to the house, and with a glass of wine, sat outside my home, listening to the silence interrupted by soft chimes signing their loving song in the breeze. I reflected on my father and my relationships with men in my life—on the challenges, on the long journey of coming into my own, of becoming the diamond of a woman that I am that was carved out of all the breaking and polishing of that which once was rough, hidden inside harsh stone.

So much of my focus for so long had been on polishing, healing, learning to love this diamond that I was slowly becoming. I h81b442e8291c28a4ad7b50d124503e5aad given so much of my love, my longing to be loved to my father. I had searched so hard for that love in other men that would fill that hollow space that had been inside me.

As I sat below the night sky, open fields in front of me, I sensed my beloved, my life’s partner, bowing down, big, in the field before me. There was an honor, a deep love, an immense respect for my worthiness standing before me, loving me for the diamond I had become. It was humbling to receive.

I cried tonight a cry of love because I could feel this space inside my heart that has held back from finding and being with my beloved. Since my last long-term relationship had ended with immense pain, I had focused on healing my heart and my relationship with my father. And since then, was with my father as he slowly left this world.

But tonight, I see that it’s time. I’m ready. It’s just me that needs to open my heart, to trust, once again, in divine support…to believe that what I have longed for my whole life—to be in a relationship with my beloved partner—is ready to dance her beauty, her divine love into my life.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, 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

 

 

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

54. I Want to Challenge You

 

Blog 54: June, 1999: I want to challenge you—yes, you, reader of this blog—to ask yourself: “What is my hunger?” Last week, I wrote about hunger, about my hunger of almost 20 years ago, and my current hunger. As I perused my journal last week, as I do every time I write this, I came across a piece of writing on hunger that struck a cord. So, I decided to create Part 2 of last week’s blog. Here it is, beginning with my journal entry from years ago:

“As I write this, I can hear the voices that have challenged my hunger all along,” I wrote in June, 1999. “The voice is that I am alone, that this hunger belongs only to me, and that everyone is quite normal in their view and understanding of the world. This is a strange and pathetic lie that I grew up with, that you many have grown up with: that we have no hunger; that we have no “self” that is incapable of rationalizing the answers to our existence; that we need no answers because we are the pathetic answer that walks this earth pretending to know—pretending to know that we live and die without much more to our existence; pretending that we are not vulnerable, that we do not break, that this world cannot break us and hurt us and teach us to love.”

These words from years ago may seem harsh, yet I grew up in a family where emotions were rarely expressed. My ancestors had fertilized the ground we walked on with potent seeds of stoic strength that they’d grown so they could survive horrid wars, immigration, and challenging life lessons. Yet, this stoicism masked a grief that needed, one day, to be unearthed.

“I intend to speak to those whf77ad40934475fcab37c7a5736a3b646o find my words resonating with them. Otherwise, why read? Art is, after all, this wonderful world in which we can share, express, and crawl out to the edge of a limb and cry out our existence so those who are afraid to climb can see that it is alright, that we were meant to climb, to sing, to explore this world that is only ours right now,” I wrote. “I can’t believe that this hunger is not in every breathing soul that exists—from the Buddha who found peace, to the musician who, with all her might, sings
to us a kind of longing that only a song can sometimes do so well. I have seen hunger in my father’s eyes—in the way he cannot keep still, driving wherever he can to find his hunger sated for brief moments. Or in my mother, in her later years, wanting so much to find warmth in companionship.”

Most recently, my father’s hunger was there until the very end of his life, days before he died, on February 23, 2017. He longed to walk, to try one last time, as his legs gave in below him. He longed to join us for a toast and dinner at the table, to be a part of the life. He longed for peace from pain, for some understanding, it seemed, of what awaited him after life. My family and I all longed to be there with my father, to feel the tenderness of his final weeks that had been absent many years earlier. I longed to be there to help my father transition, to breathe every last breath with him, knowing each one could mark the end.

As I sit now, alone, writing, feeling the reality of all that has passed, and of my father who is no longer here, I wonder about this thing we call life. No rational mind, no preset ideas, no justification for my father’s passing—at 79 years old, and no earlier or later—can change or ease this reality of life and death. Despite all I’ve learned about life, and spirit, and all that passes, I still ask myself, “Why?” “Why does all life leave its form to become something else?” “Why do we, as humans, have to feel loss?” There’s a hunger in that. There’s a grief. There’s a stark reality that life is so immensely precious, and that any denial of our hunger to live this life as fully as we know how, now, and no minute later, would be a lie toward life itself.

*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