The first dream started with a super-8 film of me as a child running, my face over-flowing with laughter. I watched it with my family of today, delighted to share in the happiness of childhood. Later in the dream I became that young self, chased by my mischievous big sister on a sunny day, hysterical joy overwhelming me as I tried to keep up with my feet.
That morning I lay awake savoring the dream, asking myself why that vision of early childhood joy, lost for so many years behind waves of turbid adolescent emotions, was given to me now. The immediate answer: my own spirit wanted me to receive it, to return to that joy now.
While we’re parenting our children we’re also re-parenting ourselves, creating new opportunities to heal. The day before the dream, my own son ran towards me, arms outstretched, the light reflecting off the slough made it seem like he ran on clouds. He had no reason to laugh other than the beauty of the day, the speed of his feet, and the sure knowledge that his Papa would sweep him up and hold him close as soon as he crashed into him at full speed.
As I open my heart to him I open my heart to other parts of my own spirit, welcoming them into my life. I’m reminded of a phrase given by the spiritual teachers who married Terry and I: deep politeness. It describes a way of relating to others with a profound respect for their feelings and an acknowledgment of their transcendant value as spirits.
Deep politeness describes perfectly so much of what transpires in shamanic work. Being in heartfelt witness to spirits, all spirits that you are working with, is required if any spiritually transformative work is to be effective. The quality of that presence is a hallmark of all real healers I’ve met, its instinctual – it can’t be put aside.
In working with the spirit of this place more deeply its impossible not to address the tragic loss of the native people of these lands. In working with issues of healthy food its impossible not to address our industrial food system and the many beings (both human and non-human) who’s lives are disrupted and destroyed by it. There are a million ghosts between me and an idillic relationship with the land, yet I marvel in the grace of everything that grows here and the abundance of our life.
Alchemy teaches that there is always a bigger truth beyond any duality, a way of holding the damage and the divine in all things. The gift of my dream allowed me to bridge parts of my life that had been disconnected. I feel more whole, I can hold the good and bad of it all with a bigger heart. Joy is truly a magically transformative power.
Is there a dream out there – one that guides us all in addressing a deeper relationship with the land, leading us to a way of life that is truly sacred and sustainable? What extraordinary gift of joy is needed to embrace the suffering of the past and present and lead us all to a better future? I don’t know if any single heart could hold such joy, but I’m working on it. I’m lucky, my son is an extraordinary teacher of joy. School is always in session.
Photo: Hand-to-hand combo by by David Goehring
From Flickr, used under
a Creative Commons license