Archive for the ‘stories’ Category

WMtE13 – The wild life!

Monday, May 28th, 2012

This was our last morning together. The sun was still present, with the promise of more summer to come. We spoke to the question: What do we now know about being wild and natural beings? Here a list of deep insights mentioned in our collective:

• gift the time of listening to yourself

• deep listening – a kind of attunement – a kind of anchoring in – is becoming one with the whole

• every cell, every nerve can listen for the subtle cues to bring us into balance, into wholeness

• show up open and ready – and not exhausted – for this kind of listening, for collective presencing

• in the listening to the middle there is something more possible, it is a totally natural way of accessing information and knowing. This capacity gets amplified in the collective and that has a lot of juice for me; and juice feels wild!

• unwinding from the stories of history in my body

• see and acknowledge also the pain, witness it, is necessary before the new can come in – harmony is not shutting pain and ugliness out

• witnessing is not hard to do!

• it is possible to act focused and aligned without a plan, on true course

• the wild and the natural is seeking us, wanting a mutual relationship; the dissonant will then fall aside

• ‘they’ – seen and unseen – were looking at us

• everyone is welcome to the circle, no matter how open or not.

• Thank you for showing up who you are.

• I see you – Eye see you.

• The gifts of the wild are: the field, the seeing, the being seen.

• Reclaiming the word ‘wild’, in a grounded sense – coming from a place of stillness and gratitude – it takes you on your path.

And there was more!

After the break we gathered again in our favored spot, the screened-in porch. More information wove itself together around the future and this piece of land that had hosted us so well and profoundly. The information was offered from messages received during the night, from books, from experiences a long, long time ago… and the tapestry woven was magic and very meaningful for the owner.

Maybe, after all, it was not all that mysterious? The land needs to be protected because it is pregnant with ‘something’… maybe the land needs time to hold the new intention we had set in the previous Women Moving the Edge gathering? the intention of the unwounded feminine and masculine creating together… maybe it needs not only holding by us, humans, but it needs to be held in the earth too? It seems weird now when I write it in this blogpost, some days after we had this experience, but there was something that felt right when I wrote it down in my notebook. The future will tell me if this holds any sense or not…

The last messages came through…

Something is excited that we are starting to get it.

There is a flow between us here and the trees there.

Seeing and being seen.

There is a shared flow and joy.

There is so much more. You don’t know how big this is!

Open and receive.

I have been in-formed.

It is not about self.

Being as mycelium.

The wild is emergent.

WMtE 13 – The bird knows we are in this together

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

On Saturday afternoon we had a most remarkable afternoon. Already the morning had been so rich that I was flabbergasted with the rich content that had been shared.

We talked about language and words….
… hearing the birds respond to each other… so many languages going on that we don’t understand…
… and words are limiting… yesterday’s way… just a handle… easy to let the sacred slip away…

We talked…
about the yearning, the longing not to be cut of from the natural rhythms,
about the courage to speak from source,
about being vulnerable and still trusting.

We dived deeper, trying to understand what is ‘being wild and natural’’ – as is part of our guiding question.
… untamed, but with a structure…
… listening, tuning in to one self…
… unmediated..
… intangible, but present…
… beyond articulation…
… so alive, but like a whisper…

And what is ‘a collective’?
… a safe holding in order to be wild…
… to imagine the unimaginable, the undefined…
… where the future is born…

Begin natural and wild in a collective, is giving space for each orbit.
(as the electrons, quarks etc. in a molecule)

But there was way more to unfold!

There had been a story shared about an encounter with a morning dove, with the realization ‘the bird knows we are in this together’;
another story of a deer leading the human to show its little ones;
and a meeting with a fern in an experience of total unity.

Then pain came up of being misguided into the belief of fragmentation,
the belief in a chasm,
the betrayal of higher and lower…

We relate to the words, the concepts…
chair…
dove…
tree…
instead of relating with the being itself, with respect.
L. shared this with her tears and said: “I have to remake myself; my mind sees it, but my cells don’t know…”

The cells would know soon enough…

Strange Saturday afternoon – construction and creation

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

I said in one of the previous blog posts that at the end of Saturday morning I had a sense that we were done with the work of that day. A real strange feeling it was to me with more than half of the day still to go. And right then came a lot of information through me that I needed to share into the circle, of which some was new to me too. I ended this sharing with pointing out the difference between construction and creation. From that point on, I saw this difference showing up in so many instances, in our sharing and our inquiries.

As humankind we have constructed so much! Especially since modern times where there is so much constructed in the field of engineering and technology; but you can also think of laws, rules and regulations – and not in the least money and banks! And so much more! To me, construction is where the capacity of the mind, the mental intelligence, is not in balance with all the other intelligences that we have. We often use the word created in this context, but I now understand there is a real difference to it.

If we think of an artist, who normally takes a lot of time to bring her creation about, we get a sense of what might be different between construction and creation. Creation has a vision, an intent, a felt sense or an inquiry at the beginning. Construction can also have a vision, or at least an idea, but I wonder if the element of inquiry or felt sense is as strong. In artistry the felt sense is then followed by a whole time of being pregnant with that possibility. Then comes a lot of trying out, see how elements fit together or not… checking if the artifact is actually in line with the original intention… many times starting all over again from scratch. What if we would look at our lives in that way? As a creation and not as a construction that needs fixing? Our lives as – again and again – the next iteration of a creative process?

So, back to the Saturday afternoon. We gathered back in the circle, already missing R. who went to bed for some rest. I felt weird in my body. I recognised the feeling of it, it is when energies are moving, something is resetting itself inside my inner energy system. I had to lay down while being in the circle, I had to close my eyes. It turned out that we all felt like being in Open Space, instead of being in a sharing circle. So that’s what we decided doing. Little conversations were going on in pairs, a few of us started knitting, I lay down in front of the fireplace and let the energies do its work inside of my body. R. came down, entered the energy present and went back to bed again.

Looking back at it now, I know that I was preparing on the subtle levels for the ritual that we were going to do on the next day. There was some pregnancy time needed for getting my inner being aligned to be able to do that. I hope I will remember next time, as I have now experienced it a lot of times. Still I always start of with the thought that it is something personal that is happening to me; but in the end it is something deeply collective, as I am in service of what needs to happen in the circle.

The amasing thing is that by sharing emails with a few women outside this circle at Hazelwood House, there were others – in Germany or in Brussels – who had similar kind of weird feelings! We had been surprised upfront the gathering that a few women had a strong connection with this gathering in the UK, but still felt that they were not supposed to come, but had to do something similar in their own places. Places were as far apart as the Dolomites, Lebanon and the south of Germany.

We have been seeing this lately how the field that is named Women Moving the Edge is spreading and manifesting in local women circles, where the work of presence and creation is continued. I suspect there will be more clarity on this later.

About ego, soul and paradise

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Lena brought a nice question to the circle on Saturday morning: What else can I let go of? What brings me real joy or real comfort? A whole conversation emerged around the theme of ‘being OK’, which is ‘beyond what is good or bad’. It is about ‘it is just as it is’. It is about ‘I am just as I am’. Also in relationship, we cannot ‘make’ the connection, we cannot force it to happen, but true relationship is about being there, fully present. Even if I feel angry, or lost, or something else I can still find it totally OK that that is what is there in me. The part in me that wants to make it wrong – not OK – is part of my ego, part of all the shoulds and woulds that we have grown up with. The part that can be OK with what is happening is closer to our witnessing capacity and our soul. We need this competence to get out of the stuck places in our lives.

It tied in with a conversation around comfort zones. There is a fine distinction to make between a comfort zone that means we are used to it, we do it out of habit. Indeed we can find comfort in it, because it is in our lives since a long, long time and we are used to it. But if we need to find the comfort that is real, the question to ask is: What brings me nurturing? What is of real support to me? Which might actually be something totally different than what we are used to – like eating chocolate and biscuits in my case!

Being OK with ‘what is’ can mean that I need to share what is present in me. This act of self-disclosure, vulnerable as it can feel, helps me to stay in my own flow and helps me to stay present. Denying it or repressing it does not make it go away! We better express what is present in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone, including myself, so that energy can flow again.

This conversation reminded of the advice a body-work teacher told me long time ago, about how to be in the love making with your partner. He would wrap it up in one, challenging sentence: Mind your own business! I was shocked the first time I heard that. Not taking care of my partner I love so much? No! Mind your own business. Stay in your own flow; move how you want to move, express your love in a gesture that fits that moment etc. It is a lesson that we can take on for our whole life, to follow your own spark, your own flow. That’s how we get to the place of soul, the world of creation. That’s where the ecstasy can be found! That’s where paradise lays!

The practice of being in circle where we are serious about inviting in the diversity means that it is essential – a precondition – that every participant brings in their own gifts. This can only happen when we follow our own flow and listen inside to what is emerging, what needs to be shared into the collective. On another occasion in our gathering this point became clear once again. One of us had a strange and difficult night. She was kind of trying to wave it away in the morning at the breakfast table but it was important that she shared it all. Only then, after having gone through the different emotions that were related with it – both deep sadness, but also deep release and joy – we saw the relaxation coming back in her face, and even the smile was visible again! And the message present in her sharing was important for understanding what we had gone through as a collective.

Too many times we still think that what we experience is only personal. We don’t realize that our circle, this collective being, is made up like a puzzle. If we don’t bring in our unique thing, then something is missing in the overall picture and we don’t see the whole of it. Sometimes the sharing helps us to become present, as a first level of what is needed and possible for the collective wisdom to arise.

But then the next level or layer can arise where our unique gift, from our soul’s purpose, is a precondition for the circle to come to a level of generativity; where the new can really emerge; that one unique thing that only this group of people can do right now, and right here. It is beyond collective intelligence or collective wisdom, it is what Helen expresses in: not being IN the cosmos, but being AS the cosmos. Being AS life itself; being AS paradise.

Coning

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

One of the things on the subtle dimensions was to open and close our gathering with a coning. Somebody said it beautiful in our circle: a coning is a structure of co-creation (with the subtle). I know this structure or this way of working from the work of Machaelle Small Wright of the Perelandra gardens. Basically it comes down to ask different energies of the subtle dimensions to join forces with us. Out of this work I understood that humans and subtle beings or energies each have their own role to play. Humans are the ones to decide. They have the free will and when they set an intention the other forces can join in and make sure it will become manifest in the world of three dimensions. What I liked in this body of work are the deva’s or the devic level. They can be seen as the architects; they make sure that a carrot looks like a carrot everywhere in the world. Next to the architect are the builders, that are called the nature spirits. It is good to know that every being, every project, every organization has a devic level that we can ask to create with us. I’m sure it makes things much easier. Basically we have to set the direction and trust that the other levels at work in the universe will do their utmost best to make it reality. Giving the directions is all that we humans need to do! (instead of us trying to make things work!)

Of course there is a time delay between setting our intention and the manifestation of it; at least up till now. I do think it can change over time!

I had to learn the lesson of time delay again when we were at Avebury on Sunday. We had lunch after we arrived there and then we agreed on having some free time to roam around and getting to know the place a bit. We would gather again after 30-40 min, without setting our clocks though. It turned out that it took much longer and there was a nervousness in me about what we were supposed to do. This emotional stress came out as a kind of frustration towards the others that were ‘not on time’. When I realized we had to wait for the circle to gather in its own time, soon enough the missing women showed up in the place were we were sitting!

In setting intentions we need to include the trust in the process. Like in a pregnancy, you know there is something growing, although you don’t know how it will look like or when it specifically will show up. You are pregnant, you give yourself good care, make preparations and basically wait for it to show up. That’s what we need to learn for our worldly projects too, and avoid to step into premature actions.

The importance of the nature beings involved is that they know all about balance (they don’t know about free will though). If we give these energies the time they need our actions will be balanced and aligned with ourselves, each other and the world around us.

Struggle is really over!

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

These are the words that came through me in the morning circle (on Saturday)… strangely after I had the feeling, half an hour before lunch, that we were done for the morning and could stop. No, there was a whole lot more to share! Makes me wonder what is it then what I had been sensing in this ‘done’ energy… not sure yet…

I was reminded of the image that came to me in a guided visualization we did in the previous WMtE gathering, where we were supposed to look ‘over the edge’, to see what was there to see. What I saw was women figures, sitting in a circle, and weaving a kind of tissue from their womb spaces. In the beginning the tissue was kind of loose, but later became more stretched and had some shiny texture, like satin or silk. It was my image of what I understand from what Larry Merculieff names as the ‘outer womb’ that women need to practice again. (listen to his video talk)

Holding this outer womb, as a collective, seems to me important for the ritual we are going to do in Avebury tomorrow. It is to be constantly aware of the connection and the collective holding. The ritual will be about making an imprint for a new groove: for conscious collective entities that know how to co-create with the other dimensions in service of life.

There is seriousness involved in this ritual as it asks of us to continuously be aware of our presence on different planes, but there is definitely a lot of joy to be experienced too! The seriousness is about being fine-tuned to our own, individual alignment and in the presence with each other. For the rest it is joy!

There is anticipation and longing in myself to do this with the masculine present, but first we need to set the groove, with women. It’s the women’s bodies that know how to bring spirit into matter. This new groove is about a new way in which spirit can come into matter. We will laying a pathway, give the new direction of how it can unfold.

I see children in the middle; like in the Tarot card of Love: children playing in paradise… the children remind me of the 7 generations that have been part of our conversations and that we will hold at the center of our creation for the future. It is also a lot about beauty!!!

The struggle is really over! The struggle of mankind to find itself; to really understand that he can survive. There is no point anymore in any kind of struggle. We exist! Up till now we have used our mental capacities a lot out of survival mode, out of the lower brain. Now we can evolve more to a whole-brain capacity, where the mental can be in service of creation, beauty and joy;  generating the new, the next.

It’s time to realize we are all masters, and we can do that in the physical reality of time, space and matter. This world of three dimensions is here to become conscious of beauty, of joy, of what is possible. I can’t express fully in words about why the physical world is so important… what is the relationship with the field of potential…

I come back to the joy and the lovemaking – the sheer joy of flow, of physicality, of ecstasy; all of this and more! – spirits can’t experience that in depth, because they don’t have the body available!!!

We have constructed so much instead of creating. What is construction and what is creation?

Lovemaking with the future

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

I try to bring some more of what transpired in our conversations in this, what feels to us as a special Women Moving the Edge gathering. It feels as if we have come full circle, and that we are preparing for another form to arise. We will only know later if this is really true or not. It feels to some of us as if we are stepping more into the energetic world; and we can just trust in that what we are called into and what is needed will show up along the way.

Many times the concept of ‘the gift is in the trauma’ has come up. I know how it is true for all of us, individuals. Because your whole life has more or less moved around this topic of your deepest trauma, you have seen it from all directions, from all perspectives and you have become an expert! At least, if you manage to get rid, step-by-step, of the emotions of hurt that go with it. Working through these and adding some consciousness to it, brings you to the gift that is hidden in there.

Now we wondered, how is that for the archetypal feminine? Is it to invite the masculine from this place what we have named the unwounded feminine? To be in a fluid co-creation? It reminded me of the ‘lovemaking with the future’, that I see as part of being in relationship with what has to come; a part of being in a truly generative space. Actually it is a very good metaphor as it brings up all the lovely feelings of lovemaking, now applied to thinking and sensing the future, of what is to come. This goes way further than what Otto Scharmer calls ‘learning from the future’; at least as how I understand that.

As in lovemaking, a lot of what is going on between the two partners is not only physical, but it includes a lot of subtle movements and exchange of a lot of energies. What we are understanding now more and more in our exchange here is that we are can create our reality in a lovemaking with the subtle dimensions. You could even use the concept of interpenetration, of embracing… at least we participate, from our three-dimensional space, into the other dimensions – and these more subtle dimensions have influence back on us and this dimension of space and time! It becomes impossible to know where one dimension ends and another begins; again like in good lovemaking where you can’t remember who started which move or who initiated what. Most likely there are no clear boundaries between dimensions, and not even between people – or even things! –  as we all are formed by our exchange and living together with others and all that surrounds us.

All this conversations about the masculine and the feminine also brought up the question, for us women: What is the masculine in me? We talked about the masculine shield that so many of us, Western educated women, have learned to wear in our lives as professional women. It has become a second nature to us to think and act in a more masculine way, so far even that the authentic feminine seems sometimes weird or outrageous to us. What about removing this shield in front of us, and meet the world in a feminine way, and let the masculine support us in the back? Can we really imagine that?

New journey of Women Moving the Edge

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Today, Friday afternoon, we started officially our 12th Women Moving the Edge gathering. We are seven women in the circle. The content and level of complexity of all the different conversation threads – already now after preparation and half a day! – makes it hard to write an easy to follow overview. And I am sure that if others would describe their experiences it could look quite different.

The four of us, on the hosting team, came together on Wednesday afternoon. As is our practice, we have been meeting regularly on the phone, and although one of us is new to the team – and even new to the whole Women Moving the Edge experience – it is through these calls and the intimate nature of them that the coming together was quite easy, natural and flowing.

We were gathering in R’s little living room by the fire and started our first sharing. We have come up with quite a long guiding question for our time together; so long that none of us can remember it fully! Here it is:

If land and stones hold the memory

and radiate it out for ages,

do we dare to open as portals,

to remember and co-create with Earth

and sound a new vibration?

Today we wrote it on 6 (!) pieces of paper to have it present in the room.

In another stream of preparation, and linked to two local circles that were organized last weekend, the theme of masculine and feminine came up; and it was very present today too! What to think of the synchronisity of we starting our gathering exact at the same moment while a little marriage ceremony is going on in the next room?

The topic of masculine and feminine slides the conversation easily to the topic of relationship between men and women. Quite easy to get emotions triggered in this field! But we are doing very well in this regard, all seasoned hosts and circle practitioners – and our exchanges haven’t been off the mark – at all! Quite amasing if you compare this with how we struggled in the first gathering, now some years ago!

A few quotes and questions in this regard:

It is time for the feminine to invite the masculine contribution, with life and the 7 generations in the middle.

How does the feminine contribute to the development of the masculine?

When the feminine resists the masculine, the feminine looses the flow.

 

On Thursday morning we had another circle next to the fire and by 11am started our journey to South Devon, to Hazelwood House. The nature surroundings here are just stunning, as the land is kept in a very natural state and I see spring flowers everywhere! One I only know from pictures, and now it is here for real!

In the evening we listened to a channeling directed at us and our gathering. One central image was ‘the slow moving sidewalk’, a metaphor for the inner stillness, the capacity of being present and to be able to be moved in service of the future, sometimes by lightening speed.

Friday morning we gathered again around a fire, which in the beginning wasn’t burning well; it was a little bit too damp. But the transformation of wood to coal, due to a lot of pressure over a long period of time, was another metaphor that made a lot of sense in our context here. The Primal Feminine had a lot of stress and pressure to endure, but over time, maybe eons, it can now be transformed to the Unwounded Feminine. The same process has been happening for the Masculine too: from Primal to Unwounded.

You might wonder, as I do, what this theme of masculine and feminine has to do with our guiding question. As far as I understand it now, before we ‘sound a new vibration’ – as is stated in our question – it is very important that the feminine and masculine energies in ourselves are free of pain and resentment and can be totally open to co-create together, as in the perfect lovemaking.

On Sunday we will drive over to Avebury, another leg of our pelgrimage. We don’t know yet what we are going to do there but some kind of ritual will unfold; as we will ‘remember and co-create with Earth, to sound a new vibration’. What I understand is that our energy work there will have influence on the field of potential, so that other ways of being and living will become possible in the near and far future.

Then, Friday afternoon, our circle completed with the three others, and as we didn’t want to disturb the little wedding ceremony we started outside by walking the land, sitting near the stream, marveling the many flowers, enjoying the old buildings on the land and so much more. We then came inside, sat down on the cushions around our centerpiece. I only made short reference to the principles of circle practice and we started. Almost immediately there was information coming in. I offer it here for others to read too.

 

Your participation is of the utmost importance to the healing of humanity.

You speak of the collective and I implore you to invite in the wounded males to be healed.

It is only with that healing, humanity can move forward to the opening and emergence of the feminine – do you understand?

The masculine leading the path has well served its purpose. Now we are asking you, the women moving the edge, to be clear in your thinking and speaking from your soul’s place.

Do not forget that perfection lies in the coming together of the masculine and feminine like two rivers flowing together in perfect harmony.

The symphonic joy of this integration will be more delightful that you ever imagined.

Please, my spirit women, have the courage to encourage each man you meet to fully embody their feminine side.

They, the men of the world, will be afraid of their vulnerability. They will feel naked in a sea of women in the world. Do you understand?

Such vulnerability is almost like being asked to move a great mountain whose roots are so secure, the task seems impossible –

Be kind in your holding, walk in tenderness.

(sorry no time yet to upload the beautiful pictures – they will come later)

Once upon a time, at the castle…

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

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Last weekend I facilitated a workshop with one of my best friends, Mary Alice Arthur. We were hosted at Kasteel Nieuwenhoven and had a very pleasant, fine, inspiring time together with the participants. I’m copying here her blogpost… (she writes way better than I do!)

As is a tale, so is life. Not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters. – Seneca

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I’ve always wanted to spend time in a castle. We have so many romantic notions of high ramparts, soaring towers, maybe a moat and drawbridge. I’ve visited many of those kind of castles and realised that our romantic ideas are not what it might have been like to live life there. This was something quite different.

Kasteel Nieuwenhoven, about an hour north of Brussels, began its life as a Benedictine Abbey more than 1,000 years ago. At some point it was acquired by a noble family who lived there until very recently, when, like many families, it found that the children had left home and nobody wanted to care for the place. It was then that a group wanting to become an intentional sustainable community bought it, and is slowly but surely transforming it into its next life stage.

It has always taken a large group of people to run a place of this size, so on one level, nothing has changed. But now the focus on the inner work of the spirit and the housing of family has combined into something that speaks to our time. A deep sense of stillness and spaciousness for inner work envelops you there, but also the sense of family and of life, enhanced by the way Spring is showing itself on the land in the form of newborn animals and millions of dandelion seeds, ready to take to the air and find a new home. It was the ideal place to talk about transforming our life stories and stepping with courage into the challenge of the crossroads.

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The dandelion became our collective symbol over the weekend, a physical reminder of the seeds we all carry that are ready to find fertile, new ground. I’ve continued to learn over my life that there is such a thing as divine timing. Ria Baeck and I first talked about combining our fields of storytelling and bodywork/constellation work more than two years ago and it has been an interesting journey sensing into right timing for a workshop. Every so often, we would talk about it again, but it wasn’t the time to bring it to life.

It finally felt like the time this past weekend and we decided to still use the name we’d come up with more than a year ago: Embodying (Y)our Calling. We felt drawn to working with calling and also working with shadow, knowing deeply from our own journeys that your greatest gift can come from the deep wounds you carry. We had worked separately and together within other workshops with the potency of sharing stories, the release and focus of bodywork, and the ability of group constellations to show us the collective wisdom of a situation or system. It was finally time to dance as practitioners and co-learners together. We also wanted to work in a new way, not to be the experts, but to play in a co-creative field with people who decided to be there and to see what would emerge, if we all took on the role of stepping into supporting each other into naming and engaging with our calling.

There were two main parts to our story work. On the afternoon of the first day, we talked about the “Legacy Suitcase” everyone carries. I remember distinctly when I discovered mine. I was 25 and I’d just moved to New Zealand. I was very far away from anyone who knew me and I had the sudden inspiration that I could completely transform my identity and become someone totally new. I was the modern day example of someone escaping over the border with a new identity! I would be able to do whatever I wanted, be whoever I wanted to be and act however I wanted to act. It was time to throw off my past habits and embrace the new!

The rush of excitement and possibility didn’t last very long. I discovered I had an invisible suitcase that felt like it was attached to my ankle with a legchain. The suitcase was filled with conditioning from my family life and my experiences that caused me to react in certain, predictable ways. There seemed to be no way to leave the suitcase standing by the side of the road. I was forced to start unpacking. Bugger!

The bottom of the suitcase was filled with scars — both visible and invisible — as well as strengths — both known and unknown. They were thrown in there together and had become a bulky mess. There was also a toiletry bag filled with wounds and what I used to cover them up. Little did I know that my gifts were hiding in the same bag in the form of the shadows that needed to be integrated. In addition there was a whole pile of stories I was carrying that came from my family life, my cultural upbringing and all my life experiences. They were well-folded, but there was a musty smell about them. They desperately needed laundering. I somehow seemed to have lost the torch that I felt instinctively I was carrying, so I often got lost at night. And the sunglasses I had packed were particularly good at reflecting the shadows. I couldn’t really see them; every so often I walked into walls and wondered how that had happened. It is a wonder I was never charged excess baggage!

I realised what I needed was a new set of instructions on the inside lid of my suitcase. I needed a new shaping of my story, a mirror that reflected the best of me, and a list of powerful questions that could be pulled out at any moment to focus me on possibilities instead of breakdown. As a longtime traveller I can tell you that it is a skill to know what to pack, when to unpack and to do that intentionally!

The group grappled with the suitcase idea. ”I’d rather have hand luggage!”, someone said, while someone else admitted that theirs was coffin shaped. It is a challenge to open the suitcase, have a look and not fall in. Having an idea of what the journey might look like, helps. That evening I shared the story The Queen’s Cloak, by Joan Chamberlain Engelsman, as a first mapping of the road ahead.

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The following morning people got to work creating a Life Journey Map. Then they shared it and their suitcase in trios, with two supporting the storyteller to look for the red thread or the river below the river, to rename what is in the suitcase and together to identify the crossroad the teller was standing at now. After lunch we did a constellation in pairs, with one of us representing the calling and the other person sensing how it felt to move around it, now coming nearer, now facing away, now embracing the calling. We shared what we both experienced. Simple, but powerful work!

On the morning of the third day, everyone wrote their own fairytale. Here are the story elements they worked with:

Writing the fairytale & the key question for the workshop – How do we listen, watch & engage each other into wholeness & mastery?

* Once upon a time there was…
* S/he was given the gifts of…
* And also…
* And then…
* Finally s/he came to the crossroads called…
* Standing at the crossroads was…
* Who tells her/him that _____ must be left behind and _____ picked up to move forward, and hands him/her a parchment which reads…

While small groups had been working together the day before the Muse came to visit me and I created a poem briefing of the exercise. It sounded like this:

Once upon a time – A fairytale in the making

Once upon a time, she said, is a very good place to start.
It takes you very far away, yet stays close to the heart
Of things that were and things that are, both difficult and true
And yet, if you can look this way, they seem outside of you.

Start right at the beginning, when someone gave you birth
And tell a bit about the frame of sadness or of mirth
Did you come into a castle, a village or a shack?
Did you have everything you need or did you live with lack?

What were those gifts, given there, that stayed with you since then?
What have you used, what have you left, what have you to befriend?
What was it in your character, your nature or your play
That pulled you to the centre or made you stay away?

Of course a child, must grow up soon and leave the family home
So did you find a place to be or take to the world and roam?
What were the challenges you met, what was the love you found?
Where was the world a swampy mess and where was solid ground?

What lessons still remain in you, what have you had to shed
That makes you who you are today, with all the life you’ve led?
What brought you to the crossroads, the place where you now stand
And by what name are they called, that place of sacred land?

Who stands there now to challenge you, what message have they brought,
About that which now could lie ahead, the calling that you’ve sought?
So take courage first, and take a breath and then pick up your pen
And craft a story for us now, the journey can begin…

At the end of our time together, we heard the crossroads part of everyone’s story. When they finished, we took a deep breath together and told them WE SEE YOU!, and then we gifted each person a round of words of power to accompany them on their journey. It was beautiful to see these words sink into the people and land. There was a quantum more strength and courage to go on, and the circle shimmered.

Deeply thoughtful stories like these are not heavy weights in the suitcase, but like the light but comforting sense of a warm angora shawl you can wrap around your shoulders against the cold of a long night and the loneliness of a challenging road. That ring of deep listening and glad sharing remains with me still, a castle I could live in.

Thanks Mary Alice for this beautiful harvest with words, and thanks Helen for the pictures!

God on lawn

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

A comic story that is travelling… makes clear why I am into permaculture!

God: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.

St. Francis: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

God: Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

St. Francis: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

God: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

God: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

St. Francis: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

God: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

St. Francis: No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

God: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

St. Francis: Yes Sir.

God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

St. Francis: You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

God: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

St. Francis: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

God: No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

St. Francis: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

God: And where do they get this mulch?

St. Francis: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

God: Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

St. Catherine: “Dumb and Dumber”, Lord. It’s a story about….

God: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.