It’s the eve before a silent retreat. So no wonder I fall naturally back into this neglected habit of exploring thoughts and inner urgings with words.
This year, still so fresh, has been unfathomably kind to me.
My life has settled so seamlessly into a present that resembles decades of future dreaming. There seems little to reach far at this moment – abundance and blossoming dreams exudes from everywhere.
This silent meditation retreat feels like an unparalleled opportunity to iron out some of the finer details of life and break into some deep-seated patterns of my person that do not serve me.
When the relationship I had given my entire self to dissolved beyond my ability to repair it at the end of last year, there was no doubt about what I had to do or where I had to go. Go to Lake Atitlan,” said every ounce of my intuition.
But there was a lot of life to tie up in the Northlands before I could get away — lovely beautiful corners of my life – Thanksgiving with the family, the annual Thanksliving fundraiser at The Walrus Restaurant in Bismarck, the Crossing Heavy Borders fundraiser in NYC brain birthed from William Berger in New York, meeting my new nephew in Colorado, traveling and deepening relationships with my family, especially my brother Jacob whose joblessness took us on an employment seeking road trip.
I arrived at the lake at the worst possible time of the year. The annual Cosmic Convergence Festival had just ended and there were 2,000 more visitors than normal at the lake.
Every hotel and hostel that was full up – there was no room for little baby Jesus in Bethlehem that night! The last place I tried was a rustic hostel in the back of town run by locals.
“Sorry,” the man said, “we are full.”
The recent travel had been hard on my chronic neck condition. I was tired from planes, cars, boats, buses carrying a backpack, and was burdened with it being dark and having no place to stay. Yet I felt jubilant.
In every way, I felt free – free from the cycle of someone else’s anger, free from all societal constrains that insist we play out the establish expectations of self.
“You have to help me with somewhere to stay, I can’t sleep in the street.” I appealed to the man said his hostel was full.
For $5/night, I was given the keys to the toolshed, where I lived for the next two weeks.
From that toolshed, an intrepid community of other people staying at the hospital emerged – a non-drinking seeking sect that assembled every day to celebrate everything about life. Even a beautiful kiss-deep romance frosted the scene until the road took a never-to-be-forgotten smile away and onwards.
Every day, I set out to find the house I saw it in my heart.
But each day, I was told by everyone I talked to that there were no lakeside abodes without renters in the village. Impossible, my intuition said, if this was true why was I even here?
On my last day, before I was due in Antigua for the reopening of the Integral Heart Family Education Center, I still had yet to secure my intuited casa.
Yet I still held the naïve certainty that I would fall seamlessly into the intuited life I saw in the dreams of my heart.
On my last day, I threw a Hail Mary pass to a wild idea. Next to the hostel where I lived in the toolshed, there was a massage parlor that was rarely patronized. It wasn’t on the lake, but the place was nice space. I thought maybe I could convince them to close their business and rent to me?
No,” the lady said, “absolutely not.” But the lady who answered said she knew a local man who had a four bedroom house for rent right on the water.
I had to catch the morning boat to a noon bus the next day to Antigua. I arrived to see the house just as dusk dimmed the light.
As soon as the door opened, I knew this was where I’d be spending most of the year.
Of course, the right roommates manifested themselves and a misfit family was knitted into being from the space.
I found myself with enough space to turn my attention to my novel, “the release of Jerry the hamster.” And I found myself in the lovely pattern of being able to participate in the activities of the education center by taking a trip to Antigua every few weeks.
Each day, I am filled with the contemplative gratitude that from the wreck of an injured neck, and identity loss, broken heart, a life as beautiful as hope can imagine has emerged so seamlessly from areas of struggle.
In an email exchange with a writer friend Laura, she asked, “It seems like you’re diving into a pretty spiritual and transcendent lifestyle. How are you liking it? What is the cynical side of you thinking, or has that dissipated?”
I responded, “On the cynical side of me—the side of my that piloted my 20s—how to explain what I want to in words to answer your question? How to share pure experience? Permission to speak freely…
Some cynicism remains, and I smile on that rigorous part of me, it’s so important to have a sense of doubt, but there’s just a lot of insurmountable counterpoints to the viewpoint he’s tried to paint the world with.
Laura, in the last two years I was in different ways given everything I ever wanted in life and had all those things subsequently taken away in very traumatic ways…. Of late, there’s not a day in recent days I haven’t surrendered to the gratitude of that–the things I wanted, the things I was desiring, building, striving for, the way ego was sneakily woven into every endeavor – none of these things were really worth any of the value I attached to them, and it took the devistation of losing them all in their own way to discover this.
There’s magic in this world, I don’t know how else to say this–I haven’t a viewpoint to peddle, or a religion to convince anyone into—just an openness to what is—whatever that this is—and a personal understanding that the world we live and experience everyday is underpinned something beyond what meets the eyes of everyday experience.
I experience an inner laughing to write things like that, I would have likely been irritated to hear someone write that to me a few years ago—but I guess the final nail in the coffin of my cynicism was put in place two years ago and this year that nail is being hammered all the way in.
I am of course—just a student of all these things—a very beginner—a student of wonderment in a school of the astonished.”
And that’s what I feel like most days, a student of wonderment in the school of the astonished. So now as I go back into the silence that in many ways brought me here, I can give myself fully to this time, grateful for the extra blessed life I will emerge into when I return to the magical world of the speaking.