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Two Seemingly Opposing Truths to Help us in Times of Change

Last Sunday was the small, but sweet, first ever Golden Stone Nature Retreat. (Anyone who has been through the Golden Stone Wisdom School receives an invite to the retreat to deepen into what we learned in the wild.)

It was supposed to be an overnight camp on Mt. Hood, followed by a full day of meadow and mountain communion. However, when I packed up my car and headed out to the gorge, the smoke from the Canadian wildfires began pouring in. Thick smoke, at unhealthy levels, forced me to turn around (after driving around the entire mountain to scope it out).

I wanted to give up for a moment and cancel the whole thing, but after some internal debate, I decided to pivot and head towards the coast for cleaner skies, and trust that a place would reveal itself.

I found a last minute camp spot that evening, after looking a map and choosing a campground I’d never been to.

The other participants couldn’t join me for the night, but they came out the next morning to our vastly different-than-planned surroundings. Rather than a secluded mountain meadow, we met at a forested campground filled with people and country radio, next to a stream.

The clear skies from the night before turned moderately smoky, and there were constant gun shots in the distance that morning.

It wasn’t what I had envisioned: a pristine, secluded, peaceful setting, but that’s not what the spirits wanted of us for the day.

They invited us to face the discomfort of a changing world. The discomfort of sitting with less-than-ideal conditions yet practicing staying connected to ourselves and the land.

All that to say, it ended up being a really beautiful day, and was actually very peaceful.

I had scoped out the trail system from the campground, and found a little Red Cedar grove off the trail next to the river, with lots of Devil's Club growing. We circled up here, and weren't bothered once by other people.

We sat with some of the wisest nature beings I know: Western Red Cedar, Devil’s Club, and Water, and also listened to the land we sat upon.

Death was very present on that day, but so was the tenacity of Life. For me, I learned a lot about surrendering my grip, and allowing change to come. What I had planned didn’t pan out, but what I was presented with was rich in possibility, and the exact medicine that the moment called for.

Over the years it’s been apparent to me just how uncomfortable our culture is with death, including myself. Change is death. Surrendering a grip of a plan is a death.

AND it’s been more and more apparent to me lately just how impossible it is to tease life and death apart from one other. We are all continuously feeding off of life to live.

That’s to say, we literally kill other things in order to live. All day, every day. All of life does.

Death always feeds life.

We eat plants, animals, and fungi to give us energy to live.

When a tree falls in a forest, that space allows light in for other species to grow.

And when we die, we will be food for something else, whether bacteria, fungi or fire. We will be consumed and utilized for life.

We are never outside of this inherent truth.

There’s a moment when something is being transformed from the death of one energy into the life of another energy, a liminal space of change. Sometimes this process is seamless and quick. And other times this liminal space is stretched out over time.

This can be uncomfortable. But more and more, we’re being asked to be with this discomfort.

It was apparent last weekend that we need to hold two things simultaneously to be true:

#1 that we are helpless to a degree, and there’s no way we can plan and predict life. There’s also no way that we alone can shoulder the burden of what’s happening on Earth right now. We need to be comfortable with grief and loss and discomfort and feeling helpless in some situations. Grief is medicine, and SO important. Can we set down our control or expectation of trajectory and allow ourselves to just be with the moment, whatever that brings?

#2 we are the Universe, having an experience as a body, and we are very creative and powerful beings. Our prayers, our intentions, our voice, and our directed actions are potent, and they will create change. Can we give ourselves permission to step into the fullness of our sovereign power to be forces of change?

That day Red Cedar showed me that when water enters a substance it enlivens it, and when the water is removed, the life force leaves. She was showing me the way water holds memory, and is imprinted by all beings.

Water is having an experience as me right now, and once the water leaves my body, it is imprinted with my experience and all I’ve learned as myself, merging into the wider whole. Therefore, the way I hold myself and imprint the water in my body matters. It matters a whole lot.

What do you want to imprint into the collective memory of water? This is part of your agency. This is your power to make change.

Often I hear discourse naming #1 or #2, but rarely both. We have to be able to hold the multi-dimensionality of ourselves and Life in order for us to shift out of our current paradigm.

Let yourself grieve. Let yourself feel helpless, handing life over to the greater wisdom of all-that-is, here in this moment. And also, let yourself feel empowered and powerful. Let yourself live into your Creator self. The Self that literally creates this world every moment of the day.


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