Yesterday evening I had an unusual and transformative experience. It was totally unexpected, as most peak experiences are, and I would like to relate it to you. It was triggered by a poem, and I hope, after reading this blog, you might be triggered too.
It happened when I attended Thomas and Carolyn’s wedding dance party, led and officiated by Michael Skelton. About sixty vibrant, empowered ecstatic dancers from the local dance community were present, a very high-energy group of people indeed. As I entered the space my heart sank. I am not very good socially, unless I have a task to ground me, for instance being DJ or acting as a ceremonialist. Among these awesome, colorful people my shadows arose and, as I danced, they started to overwhelm me. The feelings I was experiencing were no strangers; they had become familiar companions of mine over the last sixty years.
In these types of situations, my inner turmoil becomes increasingly intense until the only recourse I have to relieve the pressure is to run away. Usually, I feel helpless to stop this pattern of behavior: it is merely a question of how long I can hold back the needle of my inner pressure gauge before it hit danger levels, and triggers panic.
Last night, my needle was moving swiftly towards the red and I was readying myself to gather my belongings and leave, if possible without being seen or causing any disturbance. I had already started to move, when my attention was drawn to a table nearby. On top of a pretty tablecloth were three baskets holding beautifully made scrolls, secured with colorful string tied into bows. A notice announced: Please take two or three poems if you wish!
I was drawn to one of these scrolls. I tried focusing on another one, but my eyes were pulled back to the first one as if to say, “This one, silly!” So I picked it up, slid the string off and started to read. It was an excerpt from a book called The Book of Awakening, written by Mark Nepo. This is what I read:
To Marry One’s Soul
Being true to who we are means carrying our spirit like a candle in the center of our darkness. If we are are going to live without silencing or numbing essential parts of who we are, a vow must be invoked and upheld within oneself. The same commitments we pronounce when embarking on a marriage can be understood internally as a devotion to the care of one’s soul: to have and to hold… for better or for worse… in sickness and in health… to love and to cherish, till death do us part.
This means staying committed to your inner path. This means not separating from yourself when things get tough or confusing. This means accepting and embracing your faults and limitations. It means loving yourself no matter how others see you. It means cherishing the unchangeable radiance that lives within you, no matter the cuts and bruises along the way. It means binding your life with a solemn pledge to the truth of your soul.
I was gobsmacked. The poem I was reading was speaking directly to my soul, and had appeared in my consciousness precisely when it was appropriate, and sorely needed. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck start to rise, and I knew that this moment in time was a pivotal one in my relationship with both life, and myself. I recognized that my wish to run away was actually a desire to separate from my wounded self, in a desperate attempt to escape the unbearable pain I was feeling. This, in turn, created a far worse situation, because the action I was contemplating would result in a part of me separating away from the rest of me, a condition called soul loss. This, I realized, had been happening regularly throughout my entire life.
I knew I had to stop this debilitating habit of mine, and quickly. I decided to perform a marriage ceremony for the different parts of myself, as soon as I could, in order to make a new commitment to myself. In this way, I would make vows to honor my wholeness, and work out a new way to handle my pain in a more holistic way. I wondered when I would do it… and realized it had to be NOW.
The situation was perfect, my psychological wounds were exposed and on the surface of my awareness, and I was ready to make the vow that would change the flow of my imprinted, pathological patterning. Almost like a spectator, I witnessed the drama from both inside, and from a vantage point at a small distance from myself. I replaced the scroll into its basket, and moved out into the center of the dance floor. As I moved, I became not only the officiant, but also the conglomerate of sub-personalities and parts of myself that were to be married on that fateful evening. I felt blessed and guided, and recited the vow that accurately expressed my intent: to acknowledge the totality of myself, to accept and honor that self, and to become that self as impeccably as I can, always remaining whole regardless of the circumstances, despite any unpleasant feelings I may experience, until death do we part…
As I recited those words, everything changed. I literally felt the flows of energy through me change direction. Instead of a steady drain on my life force, powerful energy surged towards me, and I started to dance for my life. I noticed the other dancers, who originally had seemed untouchably perfect and powerful, distant, and too beautiful for words, regain their humanness around me on the dance floor. Many looked at me and smiled. One dancer approached to dance with me, when I saw another beautiful woman, the life and soul of the party and wearing leopard-skin dance pants, push in front of her and engage me in spontaneous movement. In my former state of mind, this would have unnerved me so much that my body would have been left jerking, uninhabited, an empty shell in the middle of the dance floor; my spirit, its usual occupant, would have slunk away until it felt safe enough to reappear again.
As it was, I took it all in my stride and met her, fully, in the center of the dance floor, celebrating the miracle of my life as it unfolded. And so the evening progressed. I accepted, loved and enjoyed every moment as it evolved; whatever happened, whether peaceful or manic, it was always abundant.
Don’t get me wrong: I am under no illusion that I have reached freedom and enlightenment. I am much the same as when I first stepped onto the dance floor, except for one important detail: I have stopped running away. Escape is no longer an option, because I have finally committed myself to my self. I wish somebody had told me a long time ago that this was a healthy way to live one’s life, but I know that I would not have been ready, or able, to hear. Still, it’s never too late: I trust that everything is unfolding perfectly.
When I had left the dance and was walking to my car, I happened to look up and caught my breath. I saw Mars close to Venus in the gloaming, sparkling and dancing together just above the crescent moon. I knew that these three divine presences were there for a reason, as there are no mere coincidences in life. As I blessed them, I felt their blessing in return.