Resolute’s Apprentice Journey – 1st in a Series by Resolute Michaels
A number of the Blog Reader Survey comments mentioned wanting to read more Animá student, associate and ally experiences here, and so we’ve decided to begin running them from time to time. We will welcome submissions from students whose existence is becoming more powerful or meaningful thanks to their studies, from event participants who were moved deeply enough by their time here to make changes in their lives when they got back home, and from those who have benefitted from health consultations or counsel. Remember that is important to share the struggles as well as the revelations, leaps and accomplishments.
My Apprentice Journey:
Part 1: Spiritual Homecoming
by Resolute Michaels
Our first entry comes from our Apprentice Resolute, one in a continuing series from her detailing what we’ve witnessed to be huge growth, deepened self knowledge, the overcoming of ill serving habits, the building of new skills and putting them to use for a heartful purpose. This introduction describes her spiritual homecoming to Animá and the Canyon, and will be followed later by her continually evolving story.Whenever we meet folks in the Canyon, the natural question is posed – how did you find the Canyon? So, I decided for my first guest post, I’d tell my story.
In retrospect, it seems obvious that I would find my tribe here in the Gila region of SW New Mexico. And I feel perfectly at peace.
I know that I’ve always felt an affinity with the Anima, that vital force enlivening, animating and connecting all things, even during the times when I was furthest from knowing myself and honoring myself and the Earth. I remember a photo of me as a toddler, in someone’s yard, investigating a daisy. I remember the yard of our house in Annapolis, which was a child’s dream come true for magical, creative play. Those were jeweled days in the endless summers, in a yard that appeared to go on forever and that seemed to have every plant in the world. I suppose it did contain every plant in my young world! We moved from there when I was eight, and I was devastated. I became a loner, and cocooned myself into schoolwork, books and music.
Through my teen years, I became distracted with the task of growing up, without much guidance from parents, teachers or others. Even during forays into the out of doors where I felt a kinship, I felt strangely lost. I would be in the woods, and not know the names of trees, animals. I had no one to show me and in the age before the Internet, no resources save for our outdated encyclopedia, and still not knowing what I was looking for.
As a young adult, I started a series of partnerings that I knew I would outgrow, even as they served me at the time. My son, Michael was born, and I struggled to provide for him emotionally while providing financially as well. This brought me to what has become my career, in insurance claims, always, though, with the focus of helping, touching those who were victimized by accidents and emotionally hurting. Being an empath, with no one to help me learn about this gift, I took on everyone’s emotions and struggles. When this became too much to carry, I simply shut down my feelings and left home, as it were. While this allowed me to function, it narrowed my life down to my own basic survival and that of my son. And then, it narrowed further, to myself, all alone.
After struggling against a partner who was verbally and emotionally abusive, I took myself out of the situation and into these last ten years of reclaiming myself, a time of reawakening to life and living, joy and pain, ecstasy and despair, in turn. I began to take on the explorations that most folks complete during their teen years and early adulthood. And I felt very young, and inexperienced. I began moving through a number of exploits, escapades and adventures. With each one, I learned a bit more about myself. Yes, I loved leaves. Yes, the woods still called to me. No, I didn’t want to be distracted by TV or movies. Yes, I’d take a chance on a friend. No, I would keep my independence even as I again partnered. And always searching, although I wouldn’t have called it that at the time.
One of my most recent forays was into pottery. I took classes, set up a studio on the back porch. With my hands in the delicious, pliable earth, spinning as on an axis, so much started to come clear. The earth began once again to speak to me. I dreamed incredible dreams that turned my heart and mind to the Southwest. I knew with a knowing beyond that I was to return there. I started my search in earnest. Yet, all the earthen beauty seemed to be covered over, scheduled, and packed with thrill seekers and those wanting to gain insight from outside sources. Disappointed, yet determined, I continued searching Then, as I read Loba’s and Kiva’s columns in Sage Woman, I went to the website, and devoured every page, every word, every picture. And so I sent off my application for my first workshop with fear and trepidation – what if they didn’t want me? And if they did accept my application, what would I find? I was so excited when I got Kiva’s welcoming response!
My first trip into the Canyon is now legend. Just days before we arrived, we learned that we would need to carry in whatever we needed for the event. My traveling partner and I packed and repacked in order to be able to bring in everything ourselves, to make a showing of the independent women we are. I only had a rolling suitcase and was willing to sacrifice to the water and mud if necessary. So off we went. With the help of my friend, we rolled that suitcase all the way through the Canyon, wheel tracks leaving a memory of our progress the entire two miles. I was determined to carry it through every river crossing myself, and was so proud that I didn’t fall into the river! We arrived as early as we could, but it was late enough to arrive at the seventh crossing at dusk. Kiva was ready with smiles and hugs. Rhiannon showed us where to wash the mud from our feet. Loba had steaming bowls of dinner ready for us. And then, when I met Wolf, I drank in his eyes deep and long, looking for the answer to my heart’s question – Is this real? Is this truth? And the Canyon itself echoed the answer – YES! And in the mirror of the Canyon, I saw myself clearly, I saw myself as love, I saw my heart as home, within my own body.
Living in the Northwest, I have had many opportunities to watch the salmon returns, silver muscle struggling up the rivers, some with water so low, blocked by dams, clogged by toxins and the silt of erosion. Still they come. Still they struggle with all their strength, under the freeway, through the culverts. And many die in the attempt. All in an effort to reach home. Home. I look back on my determination, using all my strength to make it through the Canyon, being drawn by a feeling as intense as it was mysterious. I would get there. Or die in the attempt. I now know, along with the salmon, what it is to struggle toward a place that calls, that is only a memory. Home. And as the salmon spawns and dies, I too forfeit all I thought I was, new life springing up, my heart young and innocent in all its wisdom of the ages. Home.
(photo of Apprentice & Supporter Resolute and my lovely daughter Rhiannon (c) 2008 by Jesse Wolf Hardin)
Categories: Student Stories