Bend in the Road

moon over the grand canyon

As the New Year began, I found myself reflecting on this project and taking stock of this journey. I have been asking myself why I am blogging and why anyone else would be interested in reading about my thoughts and experiences. It is a bigger question really.  Why are any of us interested in reading about any other person’s thoughts or experiences? I am questioning how and where we learn our life lessons. I wonder why it sometimes seems necessary to learn them alone while other times we benefit from the presence of companions or the guiding hands of teachers. As I was thinking about these questions, I saw the movie The Kings Speech. I was gripped by the realization that this man, who eventually became King, had suffered as a boy. He had been neglected and tormented by his nannies, teased and tormented by his brothers, and terrified by his father. In the movie we witness his struggle as an adult to accept help, to find his own voice and free himself from the hold of his childhood trauma. Why is it that the story of suffering, obstacles to be overcome, and success is captivating time and time again? Why is it that it is even more fascinating if it happened to someone who is now famous? Does personal growth and healing happen when we hear the stories of others? Are our movies and memories the equivalent in our time, of stories told around the fire?  Are these our collective teaching stories? Are they our myths and fairy tales?

Recently, I read an autobiographical article about a woman’s experience with a devastating loss. When I had finished the article I was aware that her story had left me feeling a little less alone in my own experiences. I realized that sometimes I read other authors in the hope that they have learned something that will provide me with the answers I am looking for. I love to find an experience, similar to the one I am struggling with, set down in someone else’s words. Someone else giving voice to my thoughts dispels my feeling that I am in it alone. Their words are like the white stones dropped on the path by Hansel and Gretel and help me to find my way and go on with my journey.

This morning I went out at daybreak for a hike on the trails behind my house. It was a perfect morning. The moon was full and high in the sky and the sun had risen enough to be shining on the hills across the canyon beneath the moon.  For just a few minutes the light from the sun and the moon were illuminating the earth simultaneously. I walked to an old oak grove with one ancient “grandmother” tree at its center.  I often visit this tree but I hadn’t been to see her in a long time. I leaned into the huge old tree and gave her a hug – my arms not even reaching half way around her trunk. I was surprised to feel myself become grounded as I touched the tree as if I was absorbing her energy. As I continued to stand there leaning on and hugging this old tree it felt as if the bottoms of my feet grew roots that reached deep into the earth.  I put my ear against the tree and heard her softly whisper her stories of the wind and the rain and the animals. I felt my heart swell and connect with hers as I recognize my self in her stories.  I could see the white stones that this sage and storyteller had set out on the path before me.

I stayed there like that for a long time with the tree, feeling the first warmth from the sun, the rough cold bark against my skin and looking at the moon. From that spot, connected to the earth, the sun, the moon, and the air, I again took stock of this journey. When I began writing I felt like I was on a new path and had no idea where it was leading me. Six months later I am aware that I have been on this same path all of my life. It is not a new path. The terrain, my traveling companions and my attitude has simply changed. I have never known where this path was leading me. I have never been able to see around the next bend in the road. Still, I continue to move forward with the blind faith and trust that I have always had, learning from those who have gone before me, collecting their stories and sharing a few of my own.

1 comment to Bend in the Road

  • Joyce

    Marlena, I’ve been reading your posts for some time now and each one has touched me on many levels. I have been through some dark times this past year and when I read your words and the contemplative questions you ask and then answer for yourself, I feel much less isolated and lost in my own cloudy mind. The magic way you connect ordinary daily chores and events to the teachings from our physical and spiritual world, has shifted my thinking and begs me to slow down and listen for myself.
    I too am on some sort of journey and am grapling with many of the same insecurities, uncertainties, fear, sadness and rigid rules that you talk about. It is refreshing and comforting, to feel hope and optimism, and that is what you bless us with in your writings. Thank you Marlena, please keep going….

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