After I so reluctantly sent Kyle back to Napa from Sedona, the first order of business was to find gainful employment. I had been in touch with the Sedona-based association of Massage Therapists when I first knew that I would be moving to the area, and attended my first meeting with them the week after Kyle left. I was warmly welcomed by a great group of people and was asked to join another Massage Therapist in an on-site appointment that afternoon. Through talking with another one of the Therapists, Henry, I was offered an interview at a resort spa where just the day before I had been told there were no positions available. Due to Henry’s connections, I was able to go show them my skills, was hired, and began work the following week.
Jaichima was not very pleased with my working at the resort because of its treatment of the Apache People. It was located in the canyons outside of Sedona that are sacred to the Apache. The resort made it difficult for those who needed to cross the lands to get to their sacred grounds for their annual spring ceremony. I certainly understood her point, and I completely agreed with it. I did, however, need to work, and at the time it was the only opportunity I had. As I worked there, I also worked to build my private practice and develop professional relationships with other resorts.
Quiet evenings and days off afforded me plenty of time to read and study. I read David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous and was enchanted with his telling of how our connection with the natural world became finite through the development of languages. It’s been sixteen years since I read the book, and what I remember as the “take away” from it is that we stopped truly listening when we started naming things and writing them down for others to read. The writings became the experience instead of the experience itself. Somewhere we learned to allow others to tell us how to see the world around us and how we should feel about it. We sat under trees to read books. Better we should just sit under a tree and let it tell us the story of itself.
This is the lesson of spirit that I learned from my father. When I asked him if God could live in a tree, he replied that indeed, God does live in a tree and everywhere else. This is why he never attended church where he would be in a confined space listening to someone else’s words. He preferred a more direct approach. His ability to tune in to the sounds of Nature and hear the spaces of quiet is why I loved being out in the fields and woods with him. There are no words to describe the connection, the feeling of blessing, the tranquility that I still feel when I am able to be in solitude and allow myself to hear the songs of Nature and the quiet spaces in between. It is in that space that I hear my own song.
Perhaps I should write that there probably are words, but I don’t want to try to find them. As with the telling of dreams and spiritual experiences, the more we tell others about them, the more we give the energy of them, the empowerment of them, away to others. I have had many experiences where I have not been able to find the words to describe it to someone else. Oftentimes, I can’t really even describe it to myself; I can only remember the feeling of it, and to try to describe it makes it much smaller and less significant than it was in reality. The late John O’Donohue wrote of this same circumstance; he wrote of how we try to use the languages of others – church, school, family, society—to describe our inner selves and in doing so we do not give ourselves the fullness of description that we deserve. The language that is born in the senses and the connection to the Universal Energy that constantly and consistently moves in and around us is a tender and gentle language. It seems to me that if we use the words of others to describe and define our deepest experiences, we give away the presence that it takes to fully understand them.
When Kyle was little, I was careful to not project upon him any pre-conceived ideas of what art should look like or food could taste like. If he wanted his landscape to have blue earth and the tree trunks to be red, there was no reason for it to not be so. At one of his birthdays, I made his favorite cake and all his guests were eating it readily until one of the mothers asked me for my carrot cake recipe. Here was a perfect example of how naming something can change the experience of it. Once the young ones caught hold of the fact that this yummy thing they were eating was made from carrots, it instantly became suspect and without exception every child’s fork was put down. Sadly, Kyle put his down, too. The need to not be seen as different is a strong one.
Of course, in order to communicate, we need to make use of language and name things. How else could we navigate through the world? We need to find the balance between our own internal world and the belief systems, opinions, and thoughts swirling around us. The inner world is a place of solitude and the desire to belong to something outside ourselves, to conform and feel safe in that conformity is a strong pull on our spirits. It is easy to hear that which is closet to us or that which is making the loudest noise, accepting it as a suitable definition for our experience. Oftentimes it is at the expense of our own inner quiet. It is in that inner quiet that the rich soil of our personal landscape supports and nurtures the tree that is our deepest understanding. Somewhere in all of what we learn is what we truly know.