I recently sat in a tipi ceremony where the prayer was for a man desiring to become a healer. Its a good prayer. He now works with trees. The greatest nation of teachers there are. I sat and listened to advice and pathways, watched as he filtered it all back to the fire giving thanks to the Creator for allowing him this moment to continue with his transformation. I said little by way of advice, remembering all the words I have listened to over the years about certifications, classes and trainings and I realize, the true path of a healer comes when humility and confidence merge together into one.
If anyone were to ask me where to start, my answer is with faith. With putting your life in the hands of God and proving that you believe there is a force greater than yourself guiding you because it is the height of arrogance to ever think we actually know what is best for anyone. I have had the privilege to sit and witness the prayerful receptivity of people who have cancer, releasing of traumas and accidents in stories and I have also be a witness to people who are so deeply identified with their stories of pain, suffering and wounding that I have chosen to be merely an observer, allowing them their path, however long they wish it to be. For the work of faith is a personal one, it is internal, and I do know I can not take a person anywhere they are afraid to go.
I grew up believing in Jesus and the benign force of a Creator whose miracle worker representative responded to a blind man who approached him saying, "if you just want to make me well, I will be healed" by reaching out and placing his hands on the eyes of this man and saying, "I want to." I have the story of his compassion and kindness emblazoned upon my deep consciousness and also, the willingness of the people approaching him to believe.
I have a belief that is validated and confirmed for me by my experience. I have experienced spontaneous instantaneous miracles when as a 28 year old my pituitary tumor came out my nose from, of all things, a spiritual experience (Shamanic Burial) confirmed by MRI to have healed my gland of its imbalance and the chaos it was wrecking upon my vision and my endocrine system.
And I sink into that space of knowing that healing, true to the bones, cellular altering healing, happens both ways. It is both the responsibility of the giver and receiver to accept that change is possible, not at a mental level where we tell stories and dictate timelines, but in our bones. True willing to be broken-hearted willing to press forward and know beyond all expectation beyond all the things people have to say in fear, beyond all the seeds any doctor has planted that you are now in a new body experiences new things and to accept with a state of wonder that you are not the same soul, spirit, mind or body. to give the outcome over to God...even if it means disappointment...that to me is the greatest act of faith.
To live as though the miracle has happened, to live as though you have been given a new lease on life, to leave off the fear to follow your heart, to allow space for it to be true...that is the healing that is hope...and where there is hope, there is life. Now or in dreams to come.
I know people will read this and have many experiences to share of people who are faithful whose bodies did succumb to illness, I have my own. I have also seen where paradigms have moved people whose metastasized grapefruit sized tumors have become gelatinous and quarter sized to go through with mastectomy and to this I say, "Thank God for modern medicine, thank God for internal guidance systems, thank God for all things."
And perhaps I have been challenged with being too idealistic, or too much of a dreamer, but that is my personal magic. It is what leads me to have the faith to let go of one life and leave for another where uncountable miracles take place and blessings are experienced, but I am not naive enough to say all people should follow this path of not knowing of passing through the void of money, home, friends, health and future in a belief that things can change at any moment in time, not because of anything I say or do, but because I do know there is a force greater than all of us that has set the sun rising and setting so that everyday can be brand new, the stars at night to guide us back to the light no matter how lost we may feel, and dreams to keep us from giving up when all things seem lost.
During some of my travels through conspiracies and wandering for 12 hours a day not knowing where I would sleep, I came to realize the greatest medicine we can ever give to ourselves and to the next generation is to remember things the way we would like them to be, not the way we fear they are. There is a way to balance our worries about our bodies or the future of the planet, there is a way to bring those things of the dark into the light and then bless them for their teachings on balance, on simplicity, on organic, on natural, on Earth medicine, on rejecting GMO, on not ingesting poisons and chemicals, and there is a place of knowing were are miraculous adaptable organisms who have somehow managed to survive.
Will we survive as a human race? Can we return to mental health? Can we remember ourselves whole and complete? Can we remember love, forgiveness, and drop our boundaries that have become walls that block us from human contact and healing our relations? Can we come back to community? Can we leave off technology that gives us the impression we are connected and actually lift our heads to see who is here with us now and to be present in the moment they are? Can we learn that discernment is different than judgement? Can we come back to believing in things of the light like devotion, integrity, care-taking for the old and poor? Can we come back to balance and not forget that we will age, we will grow old, we will die and what will our legacy to the next generation be? Will we teach them to see the sickness and death or will be teach them how to focus on the fire, the light, the potentiality within each of us to instantaneously transform and allow our bodies and relations to be healthy?
Two of the first teachings I learned in the tipi ceremonies were:
You (as in the spirit essence, the unalterable God core in each cell...YOU) are as perfect today as the day you were born.
You can choose to walk out the door and leave all everything behind, walking into the world in a state of wonder...that everything, everything has changed.
And in that moment of hopelessness within me or others, when people ask how...I am naive enough to smile at the most horrendous of things. I am willing to stake my future and life on the belief that there is a force in control of this chaos and surrender my fear to look people in the eyes who don't understand, even when I also do not understand and say GOD.
How will it transform? How will it heal? I don't know, but I surrender everything all belief all thoughts all actions over to this one intelligence and imagine miracles are real, miracles are possible.
The retreat I am organizing right now is basesd on journals I have been writing since the age of 7. Journals that have moved from mere observations into how I have been taught to transform my fears and worries (and all words and thoughts are prayers) into prayers of healing, manifesting. That if we can not change anything else, if all seems lost, how can we turn our thoughts because in the end, it is the way we feel about our life, our experiences and others that will heal everything else...one love breath word at a time.
And I turn from shadow work to light work, that I can choose to break through now and behave as one who has all my prayers answered, meaning one who is happy, healthy and abundant. I ask, what does Zonia who is happy, healthy and abundant do? She grabs hold of people now, she openly loves, dances, and believes. She takes care of her grandmother and smiles about it. She does her yoga, tells God thank you when all her housing has fallen away and packs her car up for the road, not because of what has been lost, but because of what she is looking forward to enjoying. There have been enough experiences now that I know something beautiful is coming. That is I can bypass regrets I can right now, today, in this moment act as one who is blessed.
Because no matter what is happening, I do know I am blessed because I am here. Somehow despite my father stepping on a landmine in Vietnam, somehow despite my ancestors being surrounded by genocides, crossing oceans, somehow the greatest miracle of all has happened today...I am here. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. And I take the time today, to thank God for all the reasons I have to be grateful.
Thank you to each and everyone of you for sharing this life with me and for believing in and trusting the love between us no matter how much time or space may pass between us...I bless you. I bless our relation. I bless our lives and pray for all of us a bright and happy future filled with miracles that are working for you.
Over the past year there have been so many gifts of travel and experience for which I am grateful...even the one that felt like a walk through shadowlands has proven to be a gift of balance and remembrance. A remembrance for whom it is I am praying when I chant that "ALL BEINGS be freed of suffering and the causes of suffering." Lest that become a rote idea that is based on my imaginings, I drove into San Francisco riding the bliss train on Thursday night, nature wanderer naively thinking that the light protects us when we ignore our guidance system....the one that told me, i don't know much about the city...but this does not look like a place I should park my car with everything I own.
Doesn't matter why i did it, in some ways I would like to think it was my observer mind telling me that what I would experience in the Timberline District was a lesson in compassion, in living what I describe as the choice of happiness. Over and over I say this while I am sitting near oceans, jumping in rivers, and climbing mountains, and how does my little medicine heart fare when I have to stare into the fire of poverty, concrete, and technology as God.
My voice told me to take my little cosmetic bag that has travelled with me from coast to coast, across oceans, around the globe but still some grounded place inside held me still. I glaced carward several times and then set out on a walk my bright smile and open face attracting attention from the homeless, the downtrodden, I tried to take a cue from the stone faced numb walkers who pass me and the journey along the middle line between the affluent and the street people begins with $5 and a man who will forget my face in 5 hours and come back up to me with the same story line as my friend Mag bleeds and brushes glass from my seat cursing the system for perpetuating this animalistic need to smash the windows of good people...but that is a whole journey from now.
We turn the corner...I can not look away. Not from the people pretending not to notice nor from the people who beg...some for money, others for drugs and alchohol and still some for the look of humanity that tells them they are still alive...so says our night guide to the diner who walks shoulder to shoulder with me and philosophizes with me about CS Lewis and the Shadowlands.
I hear people snicker about the smel and turn to see the source...i remember my days of wandering homefree...by choice, nothing but my backpack and how the moment I hit the city I was stricken by the impossible task of finding somewhere to pee. There isn't one for the outcasts...what choice do they have when there is no tree to duck behind, no dirt to dig a hole...I realize that my past has shown me things only experience can teach.
I watch as shoppers exit stores many bags in hand and I think of India and Mexico...seeing our country has become no different as the separation between those who have and those who do not widens. I think...you really have to "own it" to live here and indulge in excess of need. I have been on shopping sprees as of late...and what have I given and how many earlobes do I have...in that moment, I imagine I am in sync with my vehicle, I think about how the disparity must boil up inside and for a moment, I drop into a still place that understands why some lash out...is this the moment my window is smashed..perhaps. but there are more streets to travel, GPS on the fritz, blisters oozing...my barefeet now bound in city boots.
I pass by those curled in balls sleeping on sidewalks and I remember my night in the Cierras of Mexico at a Huichotle village -3 I curl in a ball wrapped in my only shawl and breathe deep yogic breaths to raise my heat before being called to the fires outside and I remember the gratitude I feel as the first ray of sunshine hits my face...i look around...there is no fire here and when does the sun rise above the shadows of the buildings?
i tell Mag to put the GPS away and talk to people who point us in the right direction...two blocks. Is it a mistake that i will then make it out of the city at 3 am with no phone, no GPS just prayer and instinct two turns to the ramp?
We round the corners, meet my philosopher, eat at a diner and then via uber, a cyber phenomenon that drops cars at your doorstep, we arrive at my car...busted window, phone stolen, computer gone...i won't realize until i am driving that no...I did not put my jewelry bag in the back...it is gone. I feel my spine relax down, all my energy sinks into my pelvis...gone...it is the surrender of what is...to the temporary...emotions of all kinds circle us in that moment of frantic realization Mag's momma bear protective instinct is to rage at the city, society, mental disease. She is right. We have become passive and blind and what can we do to instigate real change? She challenges me to rise up inside, to react, to be upset...but i can't.
I surrender. It is the last of my things since I began my shamanic journey during saturn return 12 years ago. Since then I have lost husbands, homes, cars, friends, careers, parents have survived cancers, I have travelled the world and in that moment my attention drops to my medicine bowl I fill after walks in the woods or at oceanside. It is filled with eucalyptus buttons, mugwart balls, lilacs, cedar, big sur jade and a himalayan crystal.
Mag looks at me and challenges me to burst out of my shock telling me in two days it will hit me...which it does...the shattered window a metaphor for the cracking of my heart. But for now, I look at the bowl...untouched...carefully avoided...not at all overturned, I look up teary eyed at Mag and tell her...but Mag...we have so much.
She shakes her head knowing that everything I own fits in this car...that she too has lived this way...Mag i shake my head yes knowing what I have experienced can never be taken from me, the people who have gifted things to me are imprinted upon me and that is what strikes upon me later as I realize it is all gone in the physical. And yet I feel deeply into the truth that I have so much...that I am grateful for all they have left me.
All of my masage and medicine things are in the back of the car...my prayer cards scattered and only 4 things gone. it feels like a miracle and even I know that in the scheme of life everything we lose comes back around in some form or another...and in fact this very morning a love filled friend will quietly hand me a small container with a few beautiful things to refill the empty...just before class I will cry again. Tears of gratitude and I will feel so much love.
The same tears I cried as I crossed over the bridge and saw Donner Lake to my right. I give thanks that I have somewhere beautiful to retreat to, that I have love and friendships, that I have a choice, a clear healthy mind that has chosen prayer, joy and health and that I always no matter what, have a home to retreat to.
And as I drive off from the city, I hit the freeway and watch as the sun rises purple and blue over the marshes and water birds skim the cattails. i watch as the sun rises and I finally cry the sad tears. I cry for endings, I cry for suffering, I cry for rage and war and then I cry until i break through to laughing and my heart squeezes and I cry for the great loves of my life who were once animated at my side and are now memories and still images on computer screens. I cry for our temporary existence and the rapidity with which the first thrid of my life has passed and for the second time my spine relaxes and all evidence of ego, strength, and denial melt into the tender place of humility, feeling and acknowledgement.
That today as i rose from bed, the pines green in the light, I remember the many lives there are to live and dedicate my morning practice to those who know only one way and do not see the way out. I pray and imagine that somehow the soapstone from Mokulumne Hill, the amber, the indian silver, the Huichotle beads are connecting someone separated from the Mother to the energy of earth, to color, to the love that gave them to me.
And i remember the mala given to me by an Indian guru that was passed from his teacher and his teacher and his for generations and i remember that those who walk with me are in my blood and i come back to my medicine...I come back to my heart...and though in the middle of emotional turmoil I put down my cedar bag to let go into the bliss journey of self adventure and grand opportunity shining joy...i pick back up my bag and give my attention back to the cedar medicine that says, love is the key. Our heart cords most important. And I will read from my ex that authentic love is the walk through the shadows and i will come back home to myself and the ordinary magic of nothing but aspen leaves fluttering in the wind, birds awakening at dawn, slow walks by lake and in forests with friends walking dogs, and I will remember what I have known for years...what happens when we stop moving travelling and journey far from home...is more still...it is the unfolding cycles and days...it is the watching of children over years...the friends who knew us when...
And I come back to just me and the realizations, the strange appropriateness of lessons, and my shadows that when faced still have moonlight and stars, to feel me back to place in my heart that is home.