Brick By Brick

Brick By Brick

Even in the thick woods the fiery sunset illuminated the sky with intense color. I paused and listened to birds singing their last songs of the day and in those soft notes felt the hush of twilight surround me. My dog Buddy gazed into trees in search of squirrels and in that momentary stillness appreciation grew for the small strip of woods that have been so healing in the last few weeks.

Several weeks ago Buddy and I were walking and ended up at the trail entrance. I had never walked the trail…didn’t know it was there…after nearly 7 years of living here. I stopped, fearful to move forward. It surprised me, this fear of a woodland path. But I remembered that when I was in Asheville a couple months ago I drove to a familiar trail and began walking. That same fear gripped me and I was surprised then as well. What the heck?

I am a cave diver, a solo traveler. I spend most of my time alone so what’s with the fear? Over the following weeks I tugged on that question, gently though. I allowed it to play in my mind–a loose feather floating on currents of thought.

What has happened to me? I don’t recognize who I have become.

The answers kept pointing toward fear. I felt myself growing smaller and my world growing smaller as well due to fear. But it wasn’t new fear…these are the fears buried from long ago. Aware that major changes were coming in my life, all the old programming began to be activated. It was like, ‘Oh, she’s getting ready to make a big change…let’s show up NOW!’

Many months of deep inner excavation work have uprooted many fears which needed to be illuminated so I could move into the next phase of my life with more freedom.  Even knowing that was the issue, I still couldn’t walk down that wooded path. So every day Buddy and I would walk to the path and pause. I would stand there wondering….

On the island of Inis Mor, Ireland, last year a most amazing experience unfolded. It was sunset. I stood on massive, ragged limestone rocks at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and tearfully said my goodbyes after a solo day of cycling, hiking, singing and connecting deeply with Nature. As I turned to walk back to the ancient chapel ruin and then down the hill to the inn, I felt a massive presence behind me. I paused and then walked onward. The presence followed me.

All the way through the cow pasture, past the chapel, to the gate, down the street….I felt a massive presence behind me. Two days later, on a crowded trans-Atlantic flight, the seats next to me in my row were ’empty’ and I felt the presence enter beside me and settle into the space. I wasn’t sure what to make of it but knew that something significant had happened.

When I arrived home I connected, through meditation, with this presence and felt it was a guardian and felt strongly It was with me to help fulfill a great task I was to do. It felt like a protective energy, a partner, a strong, masculine presence and a great comfort. It was as if the lush grass, gray rocks and sea combined into a palpable energy that followed me. After arriving home I didn’t know what to ‘do’ with It so presented the landscape here and let it go.

Over 18 months passed. Then…BAM! Fear of a narrow strip of woods. Who have I become? Then….the presence tapped me on the shoulder. I remembered the confidence with which I strode down the hill in Ireland and walked with the strength of the ancestors behind me. What happened to THAT woman?

So I began to invoke the presence each morning as I did my daily dedication. It was as if I had buried it there in Ireland lifetimes ago as a treasure that would be waiting when I was ready to reclaim it. As I have worked with it a profound shift has occurred within me. I feel like this big, energetic presence is a part of me that I went to find and now it’s integrating into me, helping me feel more whole.

In doing the inner excavation work I have uncovered some deeply rooted operational errors. I read a book by Edith Eger and this passage could have been one I wrote, “I have become my own jailor, telling myself, ‘No matter what you do, you will never be good enough.’ The number one demon I wrestle with is this lie. Invoking the presence…what I now think of as my Higher Self…I have gathered the strength to deal with deep-rooted beliefs such as this.

The prison I built was built of fear…that I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t lovable if I was myself, that I would never succeed, couldn’t be who I was in my truest self. These fears began to overshadow me as I prepared to move forward, as I dug deep to heal on a deeper level.

The commitment to growth is the most challenging and scariest one we can make. I had been in relationships for over 30 years. Finally I took the time, after my divorce, to be by myself. Edith Eger explains the opportunity perfectly, “Divorce empties the room of other distractions, of the habitual targets of my blame and resentment, and forces me to sit alone with my feelings.” And there it is…the past six and a half years of living alone, not being involved in a relationship, have been about me finally facing the emotions…and fears…that shaped my life. It has given me the opportunity to discover not only the fears but also the way forward.

From my journal on the pilgrimage to Inis Mor…. It’s not about changing the world. It’s about opening more to the wisdom found in Nature that reminds me of cycles and seasons and persistence. I met blueberry bushes on the tops of cliffs that have grown horizontal rather than vertical, toward the sky, to avoid being stripped by wind of leaves and fruit. Their stems are deep within the multitudes of cracks in rocks and they barely lift their fruits above the ground. They take their cue from the elements and thus have found a way to thrive in conditions most plants would die from. I’ll take my cues from nature.

I see how persistence has led me to a solitary life these nearly 7 years so I could have the space to look inward and take full responsibility for my life. And so I could take the pilgrimage to the dark recesses and scary places within to discover what holds me captive, what keeps me from shining to full capacity.

Edith Egers also wrote that in the sacred present she can celebrate the choice to dismantle the prison in her mind, brick by brick and can choose to be free. A few days ago Buddy and I walked the wooded path as I envisioned removing brick after brick after brick. No longer resistant to what I’ll find within myself, I discover freedom.

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