I had the extreme privilege and pleasure to spend a day with four beautiful, dynamic, moving women this week at the Pathways Spiritual Sanctuary. This place is truly a sacred space. From the moment I open the wooden door I feel the peace that is contained within and automatically I am filled with reverence and the body and voice become hushed.
This is a day I have been savoring. Like a wild-eyed innocent child waiting for the dawning of Christmas I have been anticipating this day for I know that this is something that my soul has been hungering for. My soul has been starving and in need of being fed and what better place than this sacred space.
I have been praying and attempting to do my work, however, I know I also have been resisting and I have fallen into a slight state of depression. Life doesn’t seem as vibrant as it once was and I know it is because fear has seized me. I probably would have spent an entire weekend on my couch, in my flannel pajamas only moving to use the facilities and maybe to feed my blob of a being except that a very good friend of mine called to receive some Reiki and (something that had been previously arranged) now here I was faced with having to move my blob of a being off my couch and actually shower and look presentable for another human being.
The very thought of it seemed insurmountable and yet somehow I managed to drag the blob into the shower and to my chagrin I was not finished and presentable before my life saver of a friend showed up on my doorstep. I was extremely apologetic and feeling kind of foolish. Does anyone remember the scene from P.S. I Love you when the girl’s friends and family show up at her apartment only to find her unbathed and in a serious state of having checked out of this world? This I felt was pretty much me, only it was not a surprise attack so I could somewhat avail myself of the embarrassment that would surely ensue.
I have been resisting and filled with fear in numerous ways. I continue to be filled with guilt, thinking, believing that I have robbed my children of an intact family, that I really don’t have a family. In this realm of marriage and family I am too much of a traditionalist. I have not been willing to let this go. I have clung to this like a junkie clings to a drug filled needle. And yes, I have felt sorry for myself. I have felt sorry for my children thinking that they ended up with two screwed up parents who could not see beyond themselves.
I miss desperately the security of being married. The identity of being married. Somehow I feel like a lesser person because I am not married. And yes, there is that same reoccurring thought that I have failed. That I am a loser. That I messed up and I messed up royally. And I hate, absolutely hate when my children or child has to go be with their dad. I do not want to deprive them of this. I just hate it because it is another reminder of how screwed up everything is and how unfair it is to them and somehow I long for the simpleness of when we all lived under one roof and there was no one leaving to be with one parent or the other. And then it becomes another reminder of how we are not a family and how we will never be a family. The innocence of this has been lost.
These are my thoughts, these are my fears and yes I know that they are irrational, silly, untrue and whatever other manner of speaking there is, I still somehow gravitate to them. And you know the really laughable, thing is that I always forget that there was another party involved. I just take it all. I own everything. See how ridiculous the whole thing is and how gut wrenchingly ugly I can make the whole mess? And the even more laughable thing is that I still think all these things in the light of what I know now, all the hurt and the things that have been said by my ex and the way he has conducted himself and treated me and yet I still discard all of this and own everything. Do you see the sickness? I do.
And there’s that failure thing that I don’t allow myself to get away from. Like when my dad whose memory is failing cannot remember that I am no longer married. Except on this particular day he seems to remember and asks me if my husband is still around and I quietly say no, he is not. Then he says, “Oh, he left you.” And I quietly say “Yes” while I try to hold back the tears that have resurfaced once again. Failure is what rings in my head and how I must be a disappointment to my parents.
Now you understand why I say I needed this retreat, that I was anticipating this retreat with bated breath. I was slowly being pulled down into the quicksand of sick thinking, the sense of failure, the lost dreams, of what once was and in many ways wasn’t, of fear of what is to come next, or not to come, of being stagnant and stuck, of not being good enough, of feeling rejected, clinging to old beliefs and ideas, refusing to accept a different picture of what a family might look like. You name it I was probably allowing it to eat at me, to consume me.
On the morning of this retreat I woke up early having already packed my flute and journal the night before and I thought I had left plenty early to get there in time. However, I went a different route then I typically go and my gps took me to a dead-end road and this was 30 minutes prior to when I needed to be there. I said to myself no, no, no. I can’t miss this. I need this. I backtracked to the main road and managed to eventually find my way to where I needed to be through windy, gravel filled roads. Somehow, in the back of mind I knew it would be fine because all that morning I had received many 11 signs along the way.
We sat amongst the wild flowers and listened to some readings and we journaled. I journaled in this beautiful yellow leather-bound Celtic journal that I had gotten on my road trip this summer driving from the Midwest to Seattle and along the coast to San Francisco and back. The words flowed from the tip of my pen onto paper like cascading falls. I didn’t have to think about them. They were just there bursting to come to life. They had been waiting like a smoldering volcano to erupt given the right conditions.
We also walked the labyrinth which unbeknownst to me would be a powerful conduit for my emotions. I stepped into that labyrinth and the tears flowed from me much like the words had done from my pen. They just came unbidden and with them all the thoughts and feelings that had welled up inside me. At times my shoulders shook and I was overcome with grief and relief as the tears still flowed. I was a mess. Slowly, ever so slowly as I walked and relinquished all of these thoughts and feelings a change came over me and I could feel space opening up inside of me and the silence.
In the silence I heard these words as I walked. “You do not walk alone. Each step you take I take with you. Each breath you take, I breathe with you. Each tear you cry, I cry with you for I am in you and you in I. You are not an empty vessel for I am in you. Do not forget this. I forgive you. We will create something beautiful together. You still have a family. Do not fear.” And with these words came a calmness and trust that I hadn’t felt for a very long time. There it is, renewed hope and when I know that fear is seizing me I recall these words and somehow they give me the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to do the paperwork that needs to be done, to look for the job that I need, to keep believing that I will find the perfect house and sell the home that has been part of my life and all of my children’s lives. This is what a sacred space can bring to you when you are silent enough to hear God speaking to you.
We did a meditative walk after the labyrinth and I discovered something interesting as I walked the path. Three leaves on a vine together. Not just once. Many times and when I saw this I smiled. This was a reminder to me that I have a family. It is not the way it was, it is different. None the less it is my family at the moment. The three of us, my girls and I, the three musketeers, three leaves held on a stem together, or three rings on a chain.
I was blessed that day. I also know that the woman who were with me that day were also blessed. Each in their own unique and wonderful way. A moment in time in a sacred space. One that has brought me renewed hope and the reminder that I still have a long road of work ahead of me. One that I believe will be spent uncovering even more sacred spaces and learning to live in them. Learning to cultivate awareness of when I am creating my own barriers and being willing to tear them down. As I was gently reminded. I do not do this alone. I am never alone. Nor do I need to keep looking outside myself for God, He is in me and me in Him. This is sacred space.