Remembering

The Forgotten Path

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Why do I get so much joy and satisfaction watching my children play in nature? It is something I have wondered about myself.  One of my favorite activities.  I like to play with them in nature, but honestly, I like sitting back and watching them even more.  I struggle here, to put it into words.

I use the term ‘my children’ loosely as I have taken on 18 other children each week out in the woods.   Watching children in deep play outdoors is something I love.  Why?

Freedom?  I know that when they are unencumbered, outside and unstructured they are free.  Maybe it is the sitting back that is so rewarding.   I move out of their way.  I step back from the telling and the teaching, and create a sacred space for their freedom to step forward.  I love watching where they take it.  There is a deep sense of peace that descends on a creek when children become engrossed in what they and the creek decide to do together.  Two puzzle pieces, the creek and the children, fitting together perfectly and suddenly it all makes sense.  Freedom is definitely an essential ingredient.  Yet…

Wild is the other.

When children set out on their own adventure into wilderness, they are seeking a relationship.  They are looking for connection with each other and me.  But deeper than that, they are seeking connection with the wild.  They know on some soul level that when they find that tadpole and hold it in their hands, it was created in just that way, at just that moment, just for them.  When they are mining for gold in the creek and they find a ‘crystal’, they believe that rock was put there at that moment in time, just for them.   When they sit in their secret hide out, hidden from the rest of us, they are not alone.  They know that this secret spot was created around them, for them.   They don’t seek connection with the man made bridge, as much as, they are drawn to what is flowing and growing and swimming and winding beneath it.  The wild.

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Two weeks ago when a pouring rain just happened to find us outside looking for adventure, they embraced it as the gift it was.  How could this not have been created just for them?  The joy as they received this gift however they chose, was something I will never forget. Standing back and watching them dance with the wild was my joy.

They went home high.

The next day I heard reports of “the best day ever”.  One child told his special grownup that it was “the best day of his life”.  Then he changed his mind.  “It is the second best day of my life.  The best day was the day I was born.”

I watch this and I remember.  I remember what I was born knowing and then forgot. I remember my own freedom dancing with the wild.  I seek relationship with What created the wild.  I catch a glimmer of conversation with my Creator.

The Forgotten Path.  Children are born into the world knowing this path.  It is not forgotten for them.  By protecting space for them to play on their own path, I remember.  They are my guides.  They teach me how to recall all that I know.  It is as much for me as for them.

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the souls of my tribe

Cousins

When I was 17, I lived through a nuclear explosion.  My parents divorced.

Before that day I had lived my life full of family. Not just my sister and parents living our life in our little house together, but my enormous comforting cushion of 23 aunts and uncles, 27 cousins and 3 living grandparents.

Up until that day I spent many hours growing that connection, sharing experiences, creating memories with ‘my people’. People with whom I shared a genetic pool and a history.  My tribe. It wasn’t something I gave much thought.   I had the privilege of taking it all for granted.

After our nuclear family explosion, there was a black hole where that cushion of family had been.   It wasn’t really anyone’s fault.   Just the fall out of that type of war.  My uncle Andy was the only one close enough to walk with us through the rubble.

We left our home we grew up in and were taken to new homes.  We were handed a new family. Step family.  My sister and I tried to forge bonds there. We failed. Perhaps we were half hearted in our attempt. There was no shared genes or history there. There was instead, a shared wariness. A jealousy over the territory of our parents.

We decided to not need it. To not need family. To not need to be a part of our tribe. We had each other, it could be enough.  So my sister and I became an island. Shipwrecked and lonely. We didn’t admit this to any one but each other. It was our shameful little secret of isolation. Everybody else seemed to have that happy Thanksgiving  thing going on. That Rockefeller Christmas. It was just us. We were the tainted broken ones not good enough to be included any more.

Jelalluddin Rumi speaks of the Open Secret in his poems and commentaries written centuries ago.  This ‘secret’ that we ALL carry around in some form or another trying to hide from each other.  The one about how everyone else has it (life, family, etc) figured out except us.

I was amazed at the affection and longing my children seemed to be born with for their extended family.  Even very young they seemed to know that family was different from friends we had made along the way. This love seemed to be especially powerful towards their cousins. Watching this, I felt a stirring.

This deep love seemed to be there even when we lived far away and they saw each other rarely.  It caused me to reach out tentatively for my own, my people, my tribe. It had been so long. An email here and there. Finding and friending family bit by bit on Facebook. All from a distance.

Then there was an opening. A window. My cousin’s wedding.

I have not seen Patrick, Macon and Emily since they were very little.

That was a long time ago.

  Rumi writes that “When you do something from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy”.

I had no idea how much I missed them. I had not paid attention to the Open Secret they had been carrying all these years.  Each in our own worlds thinking we were the only ones not invited to sit at the family table.  Their suffering so much greater than mine.

My soul woke up and whispered, ‘pay attention, these are your people. You have been away too long’.  I felt the river moving in me. It was joy.

I spent the evening soaking them in.  Trying to catch up on our stories. Crying at the beauty of them. Missing their father. Touching them to make sure they were real. Wanting to sit them down on my lap and pet them and hold them close. Instead trying to use my words to say ‘i am sorry for all the time I have lost. I want to come back home’. 

We don’t live in villages with our families much anymore. We are spread out across countries and even continents many times. Our lives are hectic and some days I can barely keep up with my own children much less my sister or parents. I am not doing a good job of keeping my children connected to their cousins, in spite of their longing.

But this weekend I felt an opening of my heart. So many things came into focus that I had pushed down below the surface of my soul.

I reconnected with ‘my tribe’… my cousins.   

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