About two years ago, I thought I was dying.
The strange thing about it was that it felt allright. I thought about leaving my family and my little dog–neither of which I would entertain in a healthy state, but it felt that I could do it.
I had a near-death experience without the light or the tunnel or even a silver cord–that is said to attach your soul to your body.
With whatever malady overtook me–my blood pressure, normally low, went up, I developed arthritis in the knee, Granuloma annulare on my legs and carcinoma on my left hand–my back yard took on new meaning. I could commune with the plants and later when I went to the plant nursery looking for a vine for a new trellis, a little male Kivi plant almost grabbed me from the aisle. “Take me home,” he said.
I read the Kivi’s tag and it said I needed both a male and a female Kivi plant to have fruit. So, the male and I chose a beautiful little girl Kivi and now they are happily growing, one on either side of the trellis. Although now it’s winter and they have no leaves.
Since my experience in the back yard, I have had such an affinity with plants that I apologize to them when I clip a branch. “It’s like a hair cut, I tell them. “You’ll feel better afterward.”
I’m sure that malady was my initiation into the ways of the Wayfinder–a term I learned from Martha Beck from her book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You want. And in the book, I learned that communication with plants is a part of it.
Beck writes, “It doesn’t matter where the call to adventure takes us; it only matters that we go.”
I learned, after the fact, that an adventure has the possibility to take you through hell. If it turns out to be splendid, its a vacation.
Our move to the Island was an adventure. And it has taken some reflection to figure out why we did it.
It was imperative that we take the challenge and move to a tropical isle. And so we emptied the house, and packed up whatever would fit into a to 12 x 24-foot shipping container. We placed two dogs and two cats in their respective carriers, and with three people slepting five suitcases we traveled across 3,000 miles of water to settle on ten acres off the grid. There the Coqui frogs sang, and the mongoose scurried, and the wild pigs made beds in the tall grass, And in the mornings the emerald green of the yard lighted as though the Great Goddess was turning up her rheostat.
Paradise some called it.
Emotionally I was a wreck
I’ve learned more since then.
One can do all the doingness that I have talked about in the previous chapters, and then there comes a time to go into Wordlessness, a space where the chattering mind calms, and where mending, both physical and mental can occur. I was in a wordless state when I was in the back yard, not thinking much, just being there, feeling at-one-with nature. The malady left me, but I still had to be treated for the physical affications. Sometime physical conditions come because the subtile emotional clues get ignored.
You can’t ignore cancer on your hand.
While on safari in Africa, Beck told of riding in a land rover with a group of people who were chattering, asking questions of the guide while a driver maneuvered their vehicle. Beside the drive sat a not-unfriendly, but silent native named Richard.
Suddenly Richard spoke to the driver.
“Hold on folks,” exclaimed the driver, whereas the vehicle verred off the road, over potholes, and through thorn bushes until it lstopped before two baby leopards hidden there by their mother. Questions, “How old are they? “ “Will they be all right?’ Cameras clicking. Yet, nobody asked Richard how he knew that three miles off the beaten path, babies were hidden in the bush.
His knowledge didn’t come from books or classrooms. It came from watching and listening, and observing, and learning from other wise people. Beck describes this style of learning as wordlessness.
Wordlessness is not an easy concept to describe to a Western mind. We westerners are used to book learnin’, and tests where we give the teacher what she wants, and where we focus on the grade instead of grasping the material.
Many Moons ago I read a book called Of Water and Spirit by Malidoma Patrice Some. Some’, a native African taken out of his home as a child and raised in a Jesuit school for 15 years, as an adult he told the elders he wanted to be initiated back into the tribe. They responded, “I don’t know if you can, you’re learned to read.”
At the time that struck me as not only odd, but disappointing. Not only do I love to read, but our society is based on it. How do we disseminate information? Old papyrus scrolls help us to understand where we’ve been as evolving people, and their “secrets” were important enough for those ancient people to bury them so well that not before hundreds of years had passed would they be found.
The point Some’s elder was making, however, was that reading had changed his brain. Wordlessness was not a part of him anymore.
He did his initiation anyway.
See—we can do it.
Many of us think we ought to meditate, yet we resist doing it. Meditation usually requires sitting still and going into a non-thinking mode. (It’s hard, that’s the reason we don’t do it.) But what if we didn’t have to sit still, what if Wordlessness is a mode we can carry with us?
Wordlessness exists in the “Zone” of creativity or athletic endeavors where one pushes themselves to higher standards. Either success comes or the knowledge that, “I have gone the distance.” (People aren’t usually thinking when they are hanging by their fingernails on a cliff, except for the next step. They aren’t into mind games either such as “Poor me, they did me wrong, or I’m not good enough.”)
Wordlessness is when we are at-one-with what we are doing, or communing with that single leaf that is spinning amongst all the others. It is communing with nature, with your spirit, and with the Great Spirit.
I don’t mean that we shouldn’t speak, and here I am using words to convey a concept by telling you it uses no words.
It’s a paradox.
Boggles the mind doesn’t it?
Many cultures use paradoxes to nudge their students out of their thinking mode. One is “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Jewish koans which seem like nonsensical sayings,” are an attempt to stop the monkey mind that likes to loop and recycle.
Wordlessness is an oasis for a mind caught in its own web of negative thoughts. What if in the Wordlessness place we find that we can mend both our spirit and our bodies? What if in Wordlessness, we find that as we heal ourselves, we heal the world.
These pages haven’t presented a complet course on mastering life–tjjhat’s a manuel not given to us. Here I hope I have nudged you into some different ways of thinking and grasping the mystery. It is a nudge, and since you have come this far you deserve the gift of the Mountain.
See that skim of snow, that tells you Sacred Mountain is ahead.
Go there, you earned it.