So if you read my last post about my experience at Gather the Women, you will see that I had a very meaningful and fulfilling weekend.
But there is always a ‘flip side’, isn’t there.
The flip side for me was that it was so wonderful and I did make such strong connections with these women, that on the second afternoon, I started mourning having to leave.
Like many of us, I have some really intense personal challenges right now. And I don’t have these strong female relationships on a daily basis. Sure I have my circles every couple of weeks, and they are awesome.
But a lot of times, I don’t see the women in my circle in between the circles.
And it’s hard.
One of the women I met at the conference was Dawn. Dawn told us in one of the first circles that she has always been an ‘Edge Walker.’
I know there is a deeper meaning to this term of walking in between the two worlds, but I mean it in the sense that I have always felt that I am ‘looking in’. Except for one blissful three year period, in what feels like another lifetime, when I was lucky enough to live the street next to a very dear friend of mine, at every other period in my life, I always felt as if I was ‘missing something’, peering in the windows of a city department store without the means to buy anything.
I now realize many of us feel this way.
Anyhow the clan I was put into was the Eagle clan. And we spent time discussing the strengths of an eagle being able to fly above the storms in life and see the bigger picture: the eagle as a ‘bridge’ between divinity and everyday life.
I felt honored to be in the Eagle clan.
But it was ‘so intense’ for me a lot of the time this weekend, that I would need to escape on my own. I went to the front of the resort where we were staying because even though it was not the most beautiful natural view (the front of the resort included a garage and some maintenance buildings next to it), it was a quick place where I could ‘hide’ and where I knew other women would not be walking to and from their rooms or circles.
Plus okay, confession time, I have started smoking again. I did not for many years, but with the stress of my personal life, I have fallen in to my old ways. I’m quite ashamed of it as not only are there health concerns, but you just feel so guilty nowadays smoking.
So anyhow, I was sitting out there the second afternoon smoking a cigarette, looking up at the mountains, and I saw something: a statue … a statue of an eagle? ‘Oh isn’t that cool’, I thought to myself.
The next day when I was out there, the front desk woman walked by and I asked her what the statue was, and she said, ‘what statue? There is no statue there.’
So I walked closer and I saw that she was correct. What I had taken for a statue of an eagle … was the silhouette of two joining tree trunks.
Back to Dawn. I was a mess the last morning there. I started thinking about what I was leaving and going home to: many, many challenges without the support and closeness I felt over the weekend, and I started spiraling down.
I ran in to Dawn and her being a very wise person of few words, I filled up most of our conversation telling her about my pain in having to leave and confessing my shame of smoking. She stopped me and said,
‘Stop. First of all, Karen, I have realized that in my life that many of the times I felt of being alone were of my own choosing. I have also realized how valuable it is to have safe places like here where you can open up. And I have let myself do that. And lastly, I want you to do something for me.
I want you to make a medicine bag of your shame and give it to me. I want you to get rid of that shame, and when you go smoke a cigarette, do it intentionally and prayerfully without shame.
Now, I didn’t want to ‘break the moment’ and ask her the particulars on what a medicine bag is and how I do that, because honestly, I have no idea. But instead, what I did was: I got one of the divine feminine t-shirts and tears streaming down my face, I filled it: a twig, a broken button, a few flowers.
And then I crawled down the stones to the river that ran next to the hotel (sorry I missed the group picture), and I smoked a cigarette, intentionally, lovingly, thinking of everyone who came before me in my family, holding them with me, even though in everyday life, they are not with me, thinking of how, I still carry them.
As I thought, I watched a bird hopping on the stones, bobbing her head up and down in the water finding her nourishment. And I reminded myself, that I would find my nourishment where I need it as well: both in the every day stresses of bill paying and crying children and demanding bosses and in the deeper sense of the word.
And when the cigarette was almost down to its stub, I put it out, and I added some tobacco to my t-shirt medicine bundle. I put some tobacco down on the stone next to where I was sitting, and then I threw a bit to float off in the river.
And then I went and found Dawn. I looked her in the eyes and told her that I have no idea what a medicine bundle is, and she started to explain, and I interrupted her and said that I don’t care, this is my medicine bundle. And I want you to take it, and take the things in there, and let go of them … for me.
And she told me that yes, she would do that. And that every time, I started to feel shame or alone, for smoking a cigarette or for any other reason, that I should stop and come back to this moment and remind myself, ‘no, I gave that to Dawn.’
No, I gave that to the Dawn
And in thinking of seeing the eagle in the silhouette of the joining trees, it occurred to me, that this is how a lot of us have found the ‘divine feminine’, isn’t it?
Amidst what is often the ugliness of everyday life, we see beauty.
We see infinite possibility.
We see things that others do not.
We see things that maybe are not there right now, but could be.
“No longer believe the shame, it is a lie you whisper to yourself to keep yourself small and you are so far from small, you are a magnificent human being. We may need to endure the terror of exposing our own magnificence. It is true that to begin with it might feel deeply uncomfortable to be seen, but it is time, tender one, hiding in the shadows, to offer love to your own un-livedness, to become the safe place to land your heart in the world, with its vast medicine bundle of beauty. – Lucy Pierce, Belonging from Lucy Pearce’s Burning Woman
*Disclaimer: These posts are my opinion and not necessarily those of the Gather the Women organization. I do not claim to speak for them. But check them out, they are an incredible group of women. – from Karen Moon, Found-Her of the divine feminine app