Verde Valley, April, 1999
Sitting on my deck in the sun, my feet up on the railing and my head back against the chair; I hear the call of four birds distinct against the background chirping of various songbirds. I have seen the quail as they descend from the trees in my yard and make their way out in to the desert; their call is soft but constant. From not too far off comes the hollow song of the mourning dove. Every now and again a road runner cackles its funny little ditty as it hunts in the wash just to the south of the house. And the Red Tail’s piercing call echoes against the hillsides as it rides the thermals over the valley.
I wake every morning to see the sun rise over the distant hills. It gathers its energy in quiet hues of peach and orange, coming to its full potential in a great burst of vermillion that floods the house with color and light. I have been here nearly two weeks, and I am still not sure how I have come to be in this place. I wonder if this is what birthing feels like to a newborn; suddenly I have come out from a place that was comfortable despite its darkness; a protective womb of familiarity and sameness of rhythm that lulled me into believing I could not be anywhere else, anything more that what I was in that place, in that time. Suddenly, I have come into a place of light and openness that calls to me with animal sounds, color, light and wind. I have been here many times as a visitor and the word “someday” rang in my ears until the years went by and the somedays all came together to become now.
When people ask what brought me here, I want to say that I blew in on the fierce winds that blew with unrelenting force the first few days I was here. Perhaps I did come in on the wind. My first morning here was spent playing in the spring snow, unusual for this elevation. I felt the magic of the moment, got Kyle out of bed, and we walked through the huge, wet flakes falling in a thick curtain of white. The land was covered with snow for two days, and then the reds of the rocks began to slowly appear, complemented by the deep green of the pines. What brought me here was connection to the land and the inexplicable forces of the Universe that work in ways which cannot be described.
When I first came to Arizona eight years ago, I took part in a ritual in Beaver Creek. Waiting for my turn in the cold shallows of the sacred place, I considered what I was being cleansed of. As I made my way in the water through the rocks I felt that great pieces of what I did not need were being scraped from my spirit. As I came out in to the rush of the swirling pool, I was caught by Rutury who guided me to Jaichima. As she held me, she sang a song of her people; it was a song of loving the potential of who I would become. Honored for my design, my purpose, I was exalted for one brief moment in the knowledge that I had wonderful possibilities within my essence. It was the first step in my coming here.
I had things that needed to be attended to, and other things that needed to be finished, before I could move to the place where I can begin to accept the responsibility of my own knowing-ness. It was slow going at first; old patterns are hard to change. The enticement that staying the same would be more comfortable was ever-present, but even the rocks are worn by time and the dust settles in a new place when the winds die down. Where I was heavy in the beginning, time has had its way with me and I have become lighter and refined so that I was able to be moved by the winds of my own change.
There is the temptation to say that I have given up this thing, or lost that thing, in order to become my better self; but I have neither lost nor given anything up. The hand opens to let go of whatever is being held so that it can reach and extend outward in order to receive. My Sanskrit teacher used to say (in his newly learned English) “Hand empty coming; hand empty going.” None of it was mine to begin with. I was merely a custodian, a caretaker; like gardener who tends each plant within its time and season, the times of my life flowered and went fallow to allow for new growth.
When people ask me why I came here, the completely honest answer would be, “I don’t know.” I don’t know why I am here; I only know that I am supposed to be here. Who knows why we are drawn to certain places or to do certain things. I thought that when I got here, I would shudder with the anticipation of what’s to come; not just for me, but for Kyle, too, for he will find his way here soon. I am calm, though, and I am beginning to believe that I am learning to trust. When doubt wants to creep into my mind, I need only to look at the sunrise and see in its light the series of events, the overabundance of good fortune, and the energy that brought me here, and I am reminded that it is truly and completely right.