by JoAnne Dodgson
excerpt from Walking the Spiral Path: Awakening Power and Passion
It was all a rather unexpected retreat. The circumstances of my life were radically rearranged and I stepped back from my work for awhile. In this new time and place, hourly appointments, calendars, and clocks no longer structured my days.
I had none of the familiar labels which had for so long defined me ~ teacher, counselor, therapist, psychologist, program director, project coordinator, social activist, college professor. I couldn’t rely on these respectable titles to figure out just where and how I fit into the world.
There wasn’t an office to go to. There wasn’t even a desk in the tiny bungalow the three of us shared. When people asked, “How are you?,” I could no longer say I was busy or attempt to prove the value of my existence by describing all the Very Important Things I was scheduled to do. There was hardly anyone around who even knew my name.
Amidst the joy and wondrous simplicity of my life, my mind wrestled with questions about who-I-am and what-I-do and the meaning and purpose of my life. Without my usual forty-plus hours of work every week, I wasn’t quite sure how to measure my accomplishments or where to look for reassurance that I was making some kind of meaningful contribution to the world.
But as it turned out, it was without alarm clocks and deadlines, without rushing onto the next thing while trying to change the world, that I became vividly aware of all the time and energy I’d spent leaving myself behind. And so there appeared a remarkable invitation. To remember. To embrace my own soul. To get reacquainted with me.
It was in a one-room house with my beloved partner and our spirited dog where I experienced rich abundance. There I discovered the spaciousness of love and the vastness of being, within me and all around.
It was in wearing the same tattered clothes everyday that I found out about freedom from the search for love and acceptance through the lure of external facades.
Without television and newspapers, it was our spiritual journeys, the colors of sunsets, the sightings of quail, the baking of marionberry pies, the first brush of paint on a canvas, the songs of tree frogs and crickets, our conversations with family and friends, the finding of feathers, the return of the June bugs, and nights spent out under the stars that became the headline news.
With walks in the woods rather than work-outs at the gym, with nourishing foods rather than diets, I contentedly settled back into my body in a balanced and nurturing way. It was in visiting with ravens and lizards and trees, with mountains and rivers and rocks, that I felt my connection and reclaimed my belonging in the extraordinary web of life. It was in easing the wars that waged within me that I contributed to peace on earth.
There inside the potent healing of compassion, I found what it is that I want to share. In the sacred space of my own remembering, I discovered I’d found my way home.
© JoAnne Dodgson
Stories by JoAnne Dodgson