Yesterday I embarked upon a “vision quest” of sorts: a virtual retreat with Comfort Queen. I AM SO PUMPED! Four days I am giving over to bursting outta ordinary life in order to sit with my existence. It’s a time to look long and with new slant at how I do things, especially how I live my life and WHY. Ah, yes, I’ll even spend some time pondering the BIG QUESTION and if you don’t know what the heck THAT is, well, there’s probably no need for pondering on your part. For types like me, it is a darn-near obsession and one that I welcome iotas of answers. But then, there I am in the retreat and I find out that what it’s all about is ASKING MORE QUESTIONS! What gives with this?
I follow the guidelines in the How to Create Retreat Space doc….light pretty candles, gather colored pens, 2 notebooks (lined and unlined…just in case, I go journalling wild), create seating possibilities, including a small rocking chair that I bought at Salvation Army, yoga mat and blankets for impromptu practice and warmth. My space was comfy and safe, good for looking deeply sans interruptions from myself or others.
Jen Louden, retreat diva, led the first session and my oh my, it was exhilarating. I’d never been on a virtual retreat so it was a relief, both that I could figure it out (OMG as simple as making a phone call) and that I’d be inspired to do the work I felt needin’ to do. My excitement burbled after the call as I wrote in my journal and then headed upstairs to eat lunch and take care of a few other tasks. .
While happily munching away on my leftover stuffed delicata squash, something inside nudged me to go downstairs and blow out the candles, candles shouldn’t be left unattended and all that. Starting downstairs, I gasped upon nearly being flown into by a large black bird, a starling, for gosh sakes—in the basement! I ran upstairs, closed the door, breathed a few, and tried to think about how it got there…and how weird, one has never come into our house in winter, never in the basement…but it is zero degrees outside and I guess the poor thing was freezing.
I’m on a vision quest and a STARLING FLIES INTO MY SACRED SPACE!
It actually alights on the yoga ropes! Was it feeling the gorgeous spaciousness of retreat time and space? Was it connecting with re-treatants around the globe, seeking calm, confidence, and contentment with comfort? Hoping that at the least, its purpose will shift away from GRAND SUET MONGER at my feeder to something more uplifting like SINGER OF GOLDEN ARIAS, but not sure that THAT is in Starling’s DNA.
The symbolist in me immediately connected this bird with the poem Jen read at the opening. Even though underground and the wild wind was growling with buckets of snow belting outta the gray sky, I could feel the forest inside with the Wren and Raven’s presence when she read. Human- nature boundaries dissolved. Poetry holds much the same purpose as yoga —connectiveness.
Here’s the poem; sorry the spacing is off. It’s a lovely by one of my fav poets.
By David Waggoner
Stand still. The trees and bushes beside you Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
FF to Day 2 of the Comfort Retreat: it’s mid-mornin’ and I’m setting up my “Stuff” and notice that there is a god-awful smell in the room. I call Mike down and we figure out that it’s coming from the furnace pipe (the day before we didn’t actually know HOW Starling got in…today the poop on the furnace was a dead giveaway). We hear a fluttering and realize that this bird is stuck inside the pipe!!! This is a horrible SAD disgusting unthinkable way for a poor defenseless bird to die. And since it’s our pipe, we are feeling kinda to blame. Mike puts on his gallant face (the one I LOVE so much) and informs me that he’ll take the pipe apart and retrieve the poor thing. I’m free to go upstairs and listen to the retreat call that is starts momentarily.
While I’m dialing-in, my head is screaming: GOOD LORD, THERE IS A BIRD BURNING IN MY PIPE!!! How very SHIVA-esque! Do I need a stronger metaphor for transformation???? Am I that dense? Did the universe really need to like bang me upside my head with a life on fire? The smell that now permeated the house? like Pashupatinath, the burning ghats in Nepal…GROSSSSSS.
Ahh, the second bird was only singed. It flew freely outside. The smell remains to remind me to let go of the past, to open, AND TO LISTEN to that which is my heart’s desire.
Which bird will you follow today? The one that flew towards the heat of the blue flame and found an opening into freedom, openness! Or the one that tried to retreat when it grew too warm and then became stuck in the pipe, singeing its feathers in the process?
Here’s to asking yourself GOOD Questions.