Monday, September 16, 2013

The Sweatlodge That Was Not

Monday, September 16, 2013

So here I am now forty years old and quite aware of the preciousness of time.  Various friends have reminded me that age is just a number.  And this is true.  There are many people who pursue all manner of hobbies and accomplish amazing feats of physical and intellectual prowess at an amazing variety of ages. And yet I am also aware of the truth that I will not have an infinite number of tomorrows.  One day the sun will rise and I myself will not rise to greet its warmth and promise.  Time indeed does not wait for anyone.  I am thus growing much more mindful about the projects I pursue; time is precious for all of us.

It can be all too easy to convince ourselves that we will always have tomorrow to accomplish that which we could have begun in earnest today.  I was reminded of the ephemeral quality of the time we have by certain events and non-events at the conference I attended this past week.  One participant learned of the death of a relative on Friday night.  I myself had intended to attend a sweatlodge at some point during the conference.  Yet the first two evenings the lodges took place I felt neither the energy nor that magnetic pull of interest to motivate me to show up for the event.  I reasoned with myself that I would have an opportunity on Saturday night.  And then it rained.  And there was no lodge.  And so I could not attend the Saturday sweatlodge because there was no Saturday lodge.  You never can be sure how your day will unfold.

I thought of my father quite a bit throughout the conference.  This seemed only natural considering I was about to celebrate the watershed birthday of forty.  And yet something unexpected occurred during my days away.  Actually many unexpected events transpired.  I will share more about a very thrilling development in a subsequent post.

Grief and gratitude was one theme of the conference.  A therapist and teacher based in California was one of the speakers present at the conference.  I found the times he shared his own wisdom to be very thought provoking.  Somehow, in both those spaces filled with words as well as the other silent spaces between them, a memory from the time I was a very young man came back to me.  And simultaneous to this memory came another memory corresponding to a much earlier time in my life.  I will share the contents of these memories in a separate post as well.  Events like this conference tend to turbo-charge my creative energy; it is not uncommon for me to emerge from such experiences feeling myself overflowing with thought and feeling.

Yesterday, prior to my departure, I walked to Sturgeon Lake and made an offering with a mug I had not expected to find.  Again I am hinting at a post I will compose soon.  It was a beautiful day with a brisk wind.  I felt myself full of the memories of so many different times and places.  I could feel the deep grief within me that I have carried for so long.  I could also feel the gratitude for this amazing Earth that has nurtured me for so long.  And then the grief would well up again when my thoughts would turn to the numerous ways we are harming this planet and imperiling the quality of life for future generations.

In closing this entry that referenced the sweatlodge that never was I invite you to ponder the following. We are defined not just by what we do but what we do not do.  What we choose and what we do not choose defines that path that we walk each and every day.  It is my desire to walk the remainder of my life journey with a greater mindfulness than what I have already brought to the life I have lived thus far.

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