Sunday, September 20, 2009

soulspace part two, looking out.....

This is a very rough attempt at capturing an inner experience into words. Part One is here.

The story wrote itself this morning and it came out of me very differently than I had anticipated! It's more detailed. I didn't get to the place in the story I expected to. I guess I am learning to digest and dwell more slowly..... finding patience in the spaces between the words, between the moments.

Obviously it has been churning away in my head, and I have verbally described it to my husband and to a few friends only to be overwhelmed by a rush of feelings. I have wrestled with sharing this beyond the people whom I normally share this stuff with, but there is a strong compulsion to give it a whirl.... why? I see it as an integral part of any book that will eventually rise out of me. I'm excited as I grapple how to integrate it with previous writings..... and how this one moment seems to be a golden thread that weaves in and out my learning.

This story may be uniquely decorated in a personal way, but the underlying spirituality of it is one many can relate to. It is also one that many would like to experience. So, I share it in its rough first draft, as it is, with some trepidation (because I am only guessing that others can relate., so it feels like a risk...) and with this quote shared by both my emerald friend Pip and my harbour friend Paul. It had always resonated with me because we all FEEL this way when we tentatively and fearfully step out of our selves... when we hold out our hand hoping a new friend will shake it with a genuine sense of fellowship. A sense of love and belonging, of unconditional positive affirmation is a universal yearning.

Why am I afraid to tell you who I am
because if I tell you who I am

and you don't like who I am,

that is all I have.


Part two of Soulspace.....

I can't tell you how difficult it has been to find the right the words. I want to describe how cosmically moving it was to arrive at the top of the stairs leading to the room called Soulspace to discover the two women who had originally told me about it earlier that day. I'm at a loss! The timing was impeccable! I'm totally convinced that our re-encounter was meant to be in a pre-destined way. What else could it have been??

I had been wandering around the Greenbelt Festival site for a few hours tired and aimless. I could easily have motioned myself to go there at any time. But, for some reason, it took getting to a place where I felt all alone in my exhaustion to finally point myself upwards ...... to the fifth floor of the Cheltenham Racecourse grandstand. WOW.
I had absolutely no idea I would ever see them again, let alone find them sitting outside of Soulspace contemplatively looking out the window together.

Between our two life intersections, I hadn't had another meaningful conversation with another human being. I had been silent. My voice was directed inside as I observed the activity all around me. I had walked the grounds taking in the flow all the while thinking of a quote by Rabbi Abraham Heschel who wrote about taking part in the march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama with Martin Luther King. He described the march as worship.... his legs were praying. No words, just walk.....ACTION.

It was such a powerful image when I had first read of his involvement in the Civil Rights movement the very idea that we have the capacity to pray.... to connect in this way broke open the narrow minded view I had of the hand clasped, eyes closed version. Every step we take can be living in prayer.

I had foot-pounded out pictures in my head of my family, and of some of my friends....wondering where they were, what they were doing, how things were going with their day, which was 5 hours much younger than the one I was experiencing. I had picked away at a few niggling concerns, but never made anyone else privy to them. Its not often you have time alone when you have no reason to hear your own voice out loud while absorbing the activity unfolding all around you. It wasn't a peaceful easy thing to do either. I found it difficult but also needed. It took energy not to run away and hide.

I wasn't clear as to the underlying purpose of making this personal pilgrimmage happen besides having the opportunity to meet up with a few special bloggie kindreds to connect live and in person and to see for myself, to experience this festival which . Something told me, however, that the difficult feelings of being alone, surrounded by people drifting by ..... with a sense of being in the margins despite the crowds was an integral part of why I made this trip happen.

The warm welcome I received from my two new friends was both grounding and uplifting. When they turned me around and gently pushed me to the door with instructions to take my time..... to fill my boots...... I was crammed full of an empathic light so strong I could feel it vibrating on my skin. It really was a moment meant to happen.

No one else in the WHOLE world knew where I was except these lovely ladies. This thought felt both liberating and a wee bit frightening at the same time, but I had them "watching my back," so to speak..... they were looking over me.

Beside the door was a pile of stones in all shapes and textures. The note accompanying it indicated that you were to choose one of the stones to place on a growing cairn inside the room. Normally, my eye gravitates to stones that have a shine to them, that feel soft to touch, that have a hint of colour to them. Instead, I honed in on one made of sandstone. Somewhat heart shaped with a tiny piece missing off the side, it seemed like the perfect one for me. I picked it up, opened the door, stepped in and was literally hit with a flooding of emotions. Don't ask me why.

Whomever said.....Life doesn't consist of the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away hit the nail on the head! There wasn't anything tangible or visible to my naked eyes that prompted me to feel so strongly. The only way I can describe it is that my own open energy responded to the warm comfort I found floating in the atmosphere. It took my breath away and left me gulping a shudder of awe. Or was it an ahhhhh?

I bolted to the washroom to pull myself together. I mean really! Get a grip!! I hadn't even stepped fully into the place and I was a basket case. Deep breaths, deep breaths....... and back out I went again to explore this venue, which on any other weekend was most likely the press area for Steeplechase races. However, on the weekend of the Greenbelt Festival, it was a space to fall into, body and soul. I was ready to fall..........

I slowly ambled around as quietly as I could so not to disturb the others who had sought their own solace in the still comfort. There were little alcoves set up for meditation, writing, and praying. Off to the side individuals were speaking quietly one on one with Ministers. When I reached the front of the room, I was left absolutely gobsmacked by the view that ran the length of the room. Windows, reaching up to the ceiling in large panels opened up the room onto a vista of dramatic cloudy skies which framed the green rolling hills and the Festival tents below.

If you build it, they will come ....... in droves. It was BEAUTIFUL! I could see it ALL from my bird's eye view, and knew that every single individual down below held many life stories, which held many reasons why they were THERE. People moved along the paths connecting the venues like a flow of buzzing hues. Camper tents in every shade dotted the outskirts. It reminded me of a coat of many colours, a quilted shawl created by the people who loved this place.... this happening. Their tent tapestry tucked around the perimeter of the festival seemed to give it a sense of security.

Were they all looking for answers? Maybe. Seeking a sense of belonging? Perhaps. Feeling lost? Wrestling with secrets? Sharing their stories? Filling their boots? Yes. Everyone was there to fill their own unique boots in their own unique way as they intersected, interacted, contemplated, meditated, sang out loud, prayed quietly, as they shared a meal, met new people, embraced old friends, filled their heads and hearts ..... as they immersed themselves in a community of their own creation.

Open-hearted joyous passion within the coat of many colours was unfolding that Saturday afternoon. It was all there to view...... My head was swimming as I looked out......

I stood there watching this life play unfolding for a long time (I think it was .... I had lost all track of time actually) until I felt this pull to sit down in one of the empty chairs facing the windows. 5 days of travel away from the security of my family and home, living on 3 hours of sleep a night, feeding on zippy nervous energy and excitement, I was bone tired vulnerable.

As soon as I sat down, my eyes closed. I took in a deep breath, exhaled and began to focus on my breathing. It was all I seemed to have the strength to do. Strangely, my body found a comfortable position automatically..... my back against the comfort of the back of the chair, my arms open resting on the arms of the chair, my legs slightly open with my sore feet flat on the ground. It just happened....... The only physical discomfort I felt was the rough heart shaped stone against the palm of my closed left hand which felt dry and grainy. My symbolic little stone scratched and kept me in the here and now, as Father Henri Nouwen described, "Living in the Spirit....."

"If we could just be, for a few minutes each day, fully where we are, we would indeed discover that we are not alone and that the One who is with us wants only one thing: to give us love."

I realized that my settling into my own soul space was happening as naturally as a crawling into my own safe bed. Depleted, I began to find a rhythm. Depleted, I opened up to a discovery that I was never alone. All day long, I was not alone.....

more to come............. :)


JP/deb said...

Love these words, "If we could just be, for a few minutes each day, fully where we are, we would indeed discover that we are not alone..."

I need to just be. Just. Be.

Peace & love,

JP/deb said...

Also, thanks for sharing both parts of the story ... intimate and riveting.


Anonymous said...

Beautifully written Dana. I felt as though I was right there with you as you struggled at first with so many emotions and then eventually found your peace in a place called Soulspace.

Something tells me this experience will stay with you always.

Awareness said...

Deb....Nouwen's words have more meaning for me now than they did when I first read them. Thank you for the feedback. When you experience something internally its very difficult to transfer it into words. This has been a great exercise for me as a writer.

Gypsy...Hopefully I will get to the life changing bit! My next installment will be to try to describe the meditative process I fell into. It was quite amazing. It had never happened to me before. I think I was trying too hard. Feeling so wiped out left me with nothing to hold onto.

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

stepping in eternal beauty
does indeed floor us............

Awareness said...

MMP.... as much as we can't control these moments.... I do believe we can put ourselves out there as much as we are capable of doing in order to at least give ourselves a chance to feel that amazing feeling.