I fell in love this weekend with a gentle giant I happened to walk by one afternoon while wandering out on wild land. This magnificent fallen log spoke to me and I even returned the next day to pay another visit and to spend more time walking, balancing, sitting, lying and playing on it’s smooth, sturdy surface. Weird? Perhaps.
One of the gifts of my healing journey has been attuning to the more subtle energies of the world and myself. This is a gift available I believe, to anyone on retreat—whether that’s an hour sitting by a creek, a weekend away to meditate, or a multi-year retreat away from the bustle of the world, as I’ve been on.
At first the quiet is eerie, empty, and it takes awhile for the hum and whirl of the world to leave the nervous system and for the mind-factory to settle. Once it does, we see that the stillness, is in fact anything but still—it is full of subtle impressions, the drifting of a fine grace—like a spider web that catches the light and drifts on the breeze—the light has to catch it in a certain way, and our eye and mind must stop long enough to perceive what’s always there just below the surface of our frenetic pace.
We often resist slowing or stopping—it’s frightening for most to even think of what might surface in the space. We fear the worst of our demons will finally catch up with us when we stop running—and they do. This is true. But once that standoff is out of the way, our soul can use the space to unwind and unfurl its most precious tendrils and magic.
For me, this process has returned me to the integrity of the one that I was as a child, to the ways of being and perceiving that are most innate, and most intimately me. It is beautiful to come home to myself in this way and to find that this precious one was not lost—only buried under pressures—many self imposed, and hidden away by ways of life that did not honor her tenderness.
When we live in a way that doesn’t take care of our soul, I believe, that which is most sacred in us takes cover to survive—it burrows deep, like a wild animal in soil—until it’s safe to come out again. For me, retreat has made it safe to be me again. It has opened the space and time for this innate one to come out of hiding again. I know this to be true when I fall in love with a giant fallen tree, an exquisite piece of driftwood that to me is so much more than that. This log spoke to my soul.
When I am out in the world being myself, I commune. Because I’ve been able to soften my edges, I perceive a more subtle essence in all things—it is this essence that speaks to me for I feel it as my own essence.
Another gift of retreat is finding ourselves out of time and in timelessness. This is where the magic lives, in the moment when I experience what is with all that I am. My mind says, ‘its just a log’ but my soul knows that it is a gentle giant of consciousness, it is imbued with ancient wisdom and wonder.
I walked back and forth and felt the soles of my bare feet on its silky skin. It was both soft and sturdy and I felt stronger and softer just by walking with reverence on its surface. I felt surrender there—no matter its size or strength, at some point, its time too had come and it had been knocked and surged downstream in raging flood waters. I felt gentleness there, a presence of water-meets-wood that I find in all the driftwood that I collect, cherish, and craft with. I felt spirit there in its fibers and I laid my body down and let myself be held by its exquisite weight on the earth. I felt my own spirit stir-alive there and I let the child in me imagine, climb, squat, balance, and twirl.
I felt stillness there, an unspeakable presence of the beyond in the here and now and I sat and gazed in the distance and gave thanks that I too was a little piece of infinity residing in the now for a temporary taste of what it is to be alive.
Yes, I fell in love with a gentle giant this weekend and I fell more deeply in love with me and with life, with the honor it simply is to be here. And I sat and breathed in-harmony with all of existence. I gave thanks for all that’s been revealed as a result of my journey in retreat, for this exquisite coming home to myself, and all that I can now bring to the world as a result of becoming more myself.
:: REFLECT ::
In your journal or on a sheet of paper answer any of the following questions that intrigue you, stream-of-consciousness style. Do not over think your answers and keep your pen moving until you feel complete. May these questions bring forth in you the unique magic of your own innate essence and may they help you to reconnect to the goodness of your own inner innocent one.
- What did it feel like to be you when you were a child? What came to you most naturally?
- How did you express the essence inside you? What activities did you enjoy most?
- What captured your imagination when you were little?
- Do you catch glimpses of that child in your life now?
- Are there activities that you currently engage in that allow childlike wonder, joy, or awe to surface?
- In your current life do you feel connected to your most essential self?
- If your inner child had a message for you today, words of wisdom for your life and for your adult-self, what might that message be?
Words + Images: Copyright © 2017 Marie-Ève Bonneau