I was tired from the long day on the road though exhilarated by the magic that brought me here again to the sacred lands of Chaco Canyon. The wide open sky stretched horizon to horizon. The sun setting in the west and full moon rising in the east wove a colorful tapestry connecting everyone and everything.
My car was going to be my nest for the night. Stretching out on the sleeping pad, feeling the warm weight of the pile of blankets, I looked forward to a restful night’s sleep. But a stream of fears started trickling through my mind. Here I was, alone, a woman camping in the middle of nowhere, a potential target for harm. It wasn’t the wildlife I feared. It’s people I was afraid of. Isn’t that an oddity of our human existence? That we end up fearing each other because we so readily hurt each other, physically and emotionally.
I peered out the windows in all directions, the compelling landscape a moonlit dance of shifting shadows and forms. I reassured myself the fears didn’t really make sense because there were only trees, rocks, sagebrush and meadow as far as my eyes could see. I really wasn’t in the middle of nowhere – that’s the fears’ point of view. I was immersed in a beautiful somewhere.
Watching the moonlight dance across the mesas, I pondered the changes I’d like to see in the world – the ending of the violence and destruction, the awakening of love and peace.
And what I know about making changes in the world is that change begins on the inside. Of me.
Wrapped up in the cocoon of blankets, with smudging smoke from sage and sweetgrass drifting through the air, I purposefully aimed my attention. Rather than recycling through the sorrows, the frightening pictures and words, the memories and stories, the might-could-happen-horrifying-future-events, I brought my awareness to the actual here and now moment. Breathing deeply. Embodying my body. Gathering up information with all of my senses. Finding a centered, aware, interconnected place rather than a constricted, fight-or-flight, stress-filled place.
There was a spaciousness that opened. Choices came to light. Remembering my dreams for a world filled with harmony. What this would look like. How this would feel. How I would feel. In the now. And the next moment. And the next. And then the next.
When I woke up a couple hours later, I was freezing. The cold of the night had saturated the car, the blankets, and the many layers of clothes, mittens, and socks I was wearing. Even so, something had shifted in my inner world and the fears had subsided. I stood outside, admiring the spectacular night sky. Moving around and trying to warm up, I considered my options. Building a roaring fire sounded great yet was improbable, so I turned on the heat in the car. Then I wrapped another scarf around my head and crawled back inside my blanket cocoon.
A couple hours later, I woke up out of a dream in which I was laughing hysterically. The spirit of the belly laugh stayed with me as I opened my eyes. It was 2 am and the temperature was in the teens. I’m not sure what was so hilarious in the dream, but I could feel the humor of my situation. It was doubtful I was going to get much sleep, so I might as well get back on the road.
As I drove away, I met a guardian horse who was silently standing vigil not far from where I camped. There were many other magical happenings as I retraced my path along the backroads of New Mexico. The sunrise over the red rocks in Abiquiu was beautiful.
Later in the day, after soaking in hot springs in Colorado and unexpectedly crossing paths with an old friend, I circled back again by Jasmine’s burial grounds. She was buried under a tree on wild lands on the mesas, near land where I’d camped years ago and fell in love with New Mexico. The land, the spirit of this place, got under my skin and seeped into my bones, calling me back again and again until I finally settled here, finding home.
As I walked about the mesa looking for Jasmine’s tree, I felt concerned and curious about what I might find. What could have happened these past four years? Would coyotes have dug up the bones? That didn’t feel troubling because Jasmine had a bit of wild dog in her. We had extraordinary encounters with packs of coyotes out on these mesas. The hope I was holding onto was that no one (human, that is) had disturbed her sacred burial grounds.
What I discovered was beautiful. Pristine. Untouched yet aged. A sense of deepening into the elements and the earth. Jasmine had joined me in spirit these last couple days, yet there was no question these wild lands are her home.
I sat there awhile, tears flowing. There was grief and remembering, yet more, so much more than can be held by words. It’s something about the breathtaking beauty of life, of love, of land, of four-leggeds, of being human, of belonging, of following dreams, of the ancient knowings we carry, of remembering we’re leaving legacies and weaving the web of life, together.