Sometimes Grace sweeps in unexpectedly. Sends an invitation via express mail and there’s no time to even RSVP. You just have to ready for the event and head toward the occasion. That’s how it was this week.
A special remote location had been calling me for weeks. Or perhaps, I’d been calling to it. Longing for the essence of what I feel every time I am immersed in its folds. Body calm, mind clear, heart open. Steeped in its natural surroundings, I am home to myself when I am there. Humbled in the presence of the natural world, bowing to the energy that sources all things.
No phone, no computer, not even paper or pen to scratch down ideas and concepts. Just sun and stars, gathering wood, carrying water and the sound of birdsong in a stilled forest of guavas.
I got to share these sacred spaces with three very important men in my life (okay, Jeb’s still a boy, but a man-in-training, to be sure). There was my eight-year old son, Jeb, his father, Rex, (expert guide and the man I didn’t marry), and the Bohemian (specialist in traveling light and the man I soon will wed). We all orbited each other in a flowing dance of riverside wanderings and fireside chats, punctuating our days with sunrise and sunset.
Like any sacred journey or vision quest, there is an arc of experience in getting to this distant locale. There is the preparation, readying of myself to go. There is the first step in a long walk to get there. And there is the passage, itself, in which time anything I do not need to carry simply falls away with every bead of sweat, each exhale.
Once I arrive, I am there to live and breathe all that this place has to offer me. Each visit different, as I am different every time I’m there. Insights filter through sunlight on the ginger flowers. Lessons are learned through a mist passing over the bluff. There is a remembering in the warmth of a big, flat boulder in the river and I can lay my body down and soak in everything I already know.
That’s right, I’m home.
And then…it’s time to go.
When it’s time to part from this place, no shower is hot enough, no bed cozy enough to tempt me into leaving. I want to feel this way forever. How can I keep it with me?
I want to take everything I sense inside each cell within my body and put it in a bottle. Carry that bottle inside my heart. Uncork its contents to seep through every pore so I can breathe the fragrance of Love no matter where I am.
Store it for use when I’m standing in line at the grocery store, when suddenly the scent of wild lilikoi blossoms, yellow ginger flowers and the loam of wet, mossy stones would leak from my smile. The impatient shoppers in line, the electronic beep of the bar code scanner, would all take on the soft hue of perfection – I would still be home. And hopefully, my serenity would spread. A gorgeous contagion that would ignite the hearts of everyone in the frozen food aisle.
Or something like that.
But in this arc-of-a-journey, there is always an end. One last look back at my divine place, then the walking away. For the first mile of my departure, I am so happy, it feels as though every blade of grass that brushes me is blessing me in love. Two miles away and I begin to feel the changes. I am ever-closer to cars, street signs and the smell of laundry detergent on fellow hikers moving towards me.
I pick a lilikoi flower along the path and sniff it every time I sense my bliss fading like particles of dust behind me. Don’t forget, don’t forget.
But by the time I set foot off the trail and into the parking lot packed with rental cars and swarming with visitors in bright colors with cell phones, I know I am sliding down the slope of the that arc. I am on the other side.
What’s left are wisps of feeling. So deep, yet fleeting, and I opt for few words, as silence seems the only place where this sweetness will still linger. If I articulate, the essence scatters.
36 hours later and I am left with memories and a few photos. These words, here, that attempt to describe something I do not really understand. But I don’t want to understand magic. I just want to live it.
Remember that I’ve got (we’ve all got) a crystalline bottle of sacred light inside our hearts just ready to uncork. There is a longing that I have to seep the beauty of what I know is real and true into every action I take in this wild, messy world. How I want to smell the fragrance of Grace through all my days, no matter my locale. Beam it out. Share it. Remember that there’s an open invitation. Never have to part.
3 thoughts on “Retreat”
This is lovely and inspirational, Jessica. The “gorgeous contagion” is spreading. I feel the sacred light in the silence of my heart. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. “A few photos” appear to be another form of amazing! I feel blessed and closer to myself this morning. Ahh… sweet fragrance of “retreat”.
Thank you, Steven! Hope you are enjoying your journey, too! Aloha from Kauai.