I recently came across a box filled with piles of old writings and copies of my handmade books. I found a large manilla envelope filled with the original drawings for a story called “Gifts of the Grandmother.” The colors of the pencil drawings were still so brilliant, even after being in storage for over eighteen years. The pictures and words evoked vivid memories.

From where I stand now, I see an initiation taking place in this story about my life way back when. Initiations require leaving behind what would inhibit genuine connection with what is waiting to be awakened and revealed. I was being called into the mystery, into the field that exists beyond the fears and the familiar, to explore new potentials and possibilities. Beckoned by the callings of my heart, I was pulled toward a fuller knowing of love.

That cycle in my life was not a carefully mapped-out transition. At the time, I felt like everything was falling apart. I had no income. No job title. A sparse and quickly dwindling bank account. My calendar was basically empty. I didn’t have an office to go to, day after day, week after week, month after month. I let my licensure as a psychologist expire, despite the many years of academia, clinical training, dissertation writing, and exams this had taken to acquire.

Something was calling me to discover more about life and what exists beyond the boxes and labels I’d been living inside. Who am I? What am I contributing? What is my purpose? Why am I here? Where am I going?

These questions haunted me. The answers didn’t readily come.

These questions also provided a guiding momentum for my searching, a quest that led me to root more deeply in ancient ceremonial ways to live in balance from the heart.

My pace slowed. My senses became intimately tuned to the colors, sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and movement of the non-human world and the ordinary moments of my everyday life. I settled into the rhythms of natural cycles within me and all around. My creativity and inner voice had more spaciousness for expression. My relationships with the earth and spirits were nourished and exquisitely nourishing, filled with learning, magic, healing, and adventure.

Despite what looked like scarcity and loss in material ways, I felt the lushness of being alive.

And along came a teacher, a companion and guide, who I encountered in the high desert canyons.

Here is a snippet about what Grandmother Vulture came to teach me:

I’d come to know Grandmother Vulture
as a harbinger of change
as she circles overhead in the sky

She’s an alchemist who knows
the transformative power of death
as she cleanses the earth

She lives aligned with the natural cycles
of birth and death and rebirth
trusting the process of change

She invited me to let go of what I fearfully held
to release what was no longer needed
like a snake shedding old skins
like a tree dropping leaves in the fall

Knowing death as a sacred transition
which opens doorways to renewal and growth
I was learning to honor the seasons and passages of my life
to celebrate what is
to trust the unfolding.

I’m preparing the drawings to hang in my healing arts studio (what I used to call an office) to keep alive my remembering of the tenderness of new growth, the sacred pace of emergence, and the enduring gifts of relationship, healing, and guidance I received. The medicines will fill the room, touching everyone who comes, and radiate far beyond.

Love rains down from the wide-open wings of Vulture, touching each and every one of us, leaving nobody out, the gifts of the grandmother so generously and forever being shared.