Just before the arrival of 2012 I moved into a sweet little house in Sedona. It was the completion of a cycle that had begun more than a year before, when I had moved out of my first home in Sedona. It was an unbelievable journey that included a bout with breast cancer, camping out with friends in guest rooms and on sofas—even living in a camping trailer for a while.
This little adventure took me from the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, to the beaches of Kauai and included completing the training to become an ordained Shamanic Minister, certified Shamanic Breathwork Facilitator, earning an MA in Shamanic Intuitional Practices and a PhD in Shamanic Psychospiritual Studies. It also took me to depths and heights of myself I didn’t know existed.
Finally I ended up where I began—back in my beloved red rocks of Sedona. Where I began, but not—meaning I’m not the same. Life is a spiral, not a straight line. So, as I took that year-plus turn around this spiral of life, I arrived back at the same spot, but from a higher perspective, wiser yet humbler, stripped of much I thought was essential, freer, more open, lighter, and a lot more courageous.
I’m far from the only one experiencing bizarre life rearrangements. However, I will say, that as a good Scorpio and 4 on the Enneagram, I’m pretty much wired to take things to extremes and be a bit of a drama queen.
But seriously, at every turn I see and hear about lives in upheaval. Aspects of life we have so taken for granted are shifting, being lost, shaken up, disappearing. We are being challenged to our very cores to step into these upheavals, to let go of so much that is familiar, and recognize and trust that in the letting go, we are being ushered into places of greater freedom and limitlessness. All those parts of our lives we thought we couldn’t live without—when we dare to let go, we find we can expand into something more—more free, more flexible, more courageous.
It’s a lot like the story of Moses and the children of Israel when they were being prompted (nudged by the hand of God) by decidedly uncomfortable circumstances in Egypt to launch out into the unknown of a “promised land.” We so often hold on to situations, circumstances and relationships that are less than ideal, but are comfortable because of their familiarity, when our souls have something more for us.
I’m learning a lot about the brain these days, and there is a definite physiological component to staying with the familiar, even when it is uncomfortable. We become addicted to the familiar, to the particular cocktail of neurotransmitters that releases in our brains around patterns of behavior, circumstances and relationships, even when those patterns no longer serve our highest good, our growth and evolution.
So all of that—both the spiritual and the scientific- is what I fall back on when my own circumstances are shaken, when life takes a turn that is decidedly not on my wish list. I’m grateful for the teachers who have shown me the tools that allow me to see the good, to breathe, to surrender and to trust. And I can now say I am grateful for the circumstances that have allowed me to move from an intellectual understanding to a gut level, life on the line, experiential knowing.
One such teacher phoned me recently, inquiring about my journey of healing breast cancer. The dreaded C-word had struck in her close family, and she needed to know what I did, how I handled it, the healers I’d worked with and, how I was now—was it all still working for me. She is someone whose wisdom, training and teaching have inspired and informed me personally, and in my own writing and teaching. In fact, it was much of her teaching that enabled me to handle the cancer the way I did. So no matter who we are, how much we know, we are all taking our turn in going deeper into release, trust, surrender and growth. I was grateful that my experience could serve.
There is another Old Testament story I remember and refer to a lot: during one of the battles, Moses was instructed by the Lord that the Israelites would prevail so long as he held his staff up over his head. Of course, Moses’ arms grew weary, and each time he wavered and his arms started to droop, the battle would swing toward the enemy. The story is that his sister Miriam and brother Aaron stood on either side of him, and helped him hold up his arms.
They could not take over his job for him; he had to do his work. But they could stand with him and support him as he did what he was called to do.
So it is with us. As our family members and friends step into their own unique life experiences of learning, surrender, growth and transformation, we stand with them, lending strength and compassion as they in turn do their divine work.
One more OT reference comes to mind. When I began my own spiritual journey, I took with me a verse from Jeremiah: I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans for good and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope. I’ve held on to that. So far, so good. As I sit typing this in my lovely office, surrounded once again by beloved belongings, in the cozy tranquility of my new home, healthy, happy, freer and oh so grateful, all I can say is Thank You—to the Divine, and to all who stood with me as I did the work of this last year and made one more turn around the spiral of life.