Sacred Journeys – May 2010

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I’ve just returned home from a lovely impromptu Earth Day celebration at our local community centre, and I am buoyed by how much this small town has grown comfortable with the change and differences between people.

When I first moved to the country 14 years ago, and had just started writing this column, we were still early into the revolution. At that time in Toronto, when you looked around your yoga class, you could probably guess that half the participants were vegetarian and at least half owned some trendy yoga gear. There were clearer lines drawn in the city than here in the country.

In our community centre, in the rural heart of the Ottawa Valley, there are now four styles of yoga offered, and attendees – some wearing polyester home-made stretch slacks – are dairy farmers and their wives, military and delivery personnel. Despite our apparent differences, everyone begins by setting an intention, tones OM to begin and end the class, and puts their hands in prayer position to feel their energy moving, stimulated by the fresh oxygen brought on by the poses. It’s remarkable.

That same group has come to see each other as family, thanks to bi-annual dinners where we meet at someone’s home for exotic, non-Canadian fare. The meals are fantastic, and the wine with dinner helps find commonality for those still feeling shy.

Even amongst my friends, with whom I regularly celebrate the seasons, I find our gatherings have changed over the last decade or more. When we create a ceremony, everything unfolds easily, openly, and without apology. There are not one or two people who always call in the directions, rather there are more voices, and an ease with each other’s varied experience and expectations.

So, as I was on my way to the studio, a friend left me a message saying “bring something to the yoga studio, it’s Earth Day.” Well that could have meant anything, but being the seasoned gal that I am, I knew it meant to bring, at the very least, drums and candles and sage. When I arrived, there was a large bowl of water sitting on the centre of the floor, wreathed by cedar fronds. There were unlit candles floating in the water, as well as shells, and someone was pulling some petals off a carnation so they could float in the water. A small moose antler was close by with sage in a small cowry shell smudge bowl. Quan Yin, the goddess of compassion, was sitting by a small battery operated waterfall from Giant Tiger (GT boutique as it’s called out here), along with more candles and a plant, and she looked radiant.

It began with us in a circle, sitting quietly being in our hearts, and then pulling that energy out, like an egg, around us. I love this image, as it allows me to hold my energy close and strong, so that all my movements, thoughts, and spoken words are expressed within the energy of my heart’s intelligence. Each of us floated in this feeling for a good four minutes without anyone opening his or her eyes, or breaking the spell. It is so strong, so deep, so easy now. I don’t think it’s my own personal development, although that would likely be part of it, but also a feeling that when we come together we can sense the evolution of heart-based thought that is taking place in the world. We found ourselves quietly finding drums or rattles and beginning to make gentle harmonic sounds.

No one had spoken for 10 minutes or so. We eventually played native songs that some of us had been taught by a local native woman, and other songs from Dances of Universal Peace. As we danced, one person felt compelled to light the smudge, another to light a candle and make a wish, another to call in one of the elements, such as water, to which we each added more images of water and our respect and love for it. Each element and being in creation was called and thanked, and we kept moving. There were no protocols except to respect each other and the altar we had created, and to know the spirits we called in were there, and to release them in love when we were finished. We moved easily into a wonderful yoga class. It felt light and easy and true, and very normal.

Now, that is quite different from just 14 years ago, and more importantly, this is not about like-minded people being together. This is about very differently raised people finding themselves sharing in this way. There are more and more of us coming to the circle, and those who have always come to the circle are going deeper and learning more, so that whenever we bring our light together, all of us have an opportunity to benefit, and live more authentically within our communities.

The impromptu celebration on Earth Day was a wonderful example of how community is deepening as our interactions are informed by our feelings, rather than worn out social dogma.

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