Today I was visiting Robert at the cemetery.
I have never had a ritual like this. Though I have attended a few funerals and witnessed a few burials, I've never been physically close, proximity wise to anyone, so that I regularly go to visit their grave site, until recently.
I've seen this in movies. People going to visit a significant person in their life in the cemetery with flowers and a few earthly sentiments.
I had been walking around in the cemetery looking for a sign. I didn't get one. Or so I thought.
I didn't really know what I was looking for, just that I was seeking some kind of guidance and then ended up on the lovely bench in front of Robert's headstone that said "Historian and Poet" and that got me to thinking. That got me to thinking about pumpkin pies and eggnog lattes, but more importantly that got me to thinking about who I am, and who I want to be.
A lover, a mother, a writer, a poet, an artist.
My Dad called me after finding out about the time I was spending in the cemetery and wondered why I was I doing this? We had a good conversation about life and joy and the meaning of life and things, then he put my Mom on the phone, and while she was asking me the same question about why was I spending time in the cemetery? I didn't have the heart to tell them that I was actually sitting in the cemetery as we talked.
Hanging in the cemetery has become a sacred time for me to reflect and gain inspiration, perhaps not the most conventional of places, but it’s wonderful nonetheless. Would someone find me more authentic and interesting if I said I was hanging out in the yoga studio, burning incense? Well I do that too... but somehow I'm more comfortable and at peace in the cemetery than any other place I've ever visited regularly.
Robert was in WWII, Guam, and a few other battles. He wrote a few books, the one I'm most interested in is "The Millennium Compact". I have no idea what it is about, but I'm fascinated to learn the message that might be waiting for me in his writing. Robert has become a dear friend.
It really is quite beautiful.
I've watched the sun go down in the cemetery and the crows descend in droves.
Apparently, they gather together as night falls and congregate in peaceful silence in the trees and cover the grass. They are respectful evening guests, as I've watched their descent, I sense tranquility and comfort set in, as if they are the bringers of freedom from violence.
The dark guardian angels and protectors from fear. The preservers of dreams.
They say, "You are safe again till morning, you can rest now."
I find myself thinking "Oh I'll have to go visit Robert today." And I go and I tell him about my dreams and desires, he's buried next to his wife, and I tell him I want to fall in love and get married. That is the reason I started out on this entire fantastical journey in the first place.
I had been living a half life, so cut off from my desires and dreams, what I really wanted was to be living out the most amazing love story of all time, and so I set out on a different path, the one less followed, in search of love, life purpose, and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Many times I have claimed I am writing the best love story of all time, but somehow recently that had gotten covered up by the "trying and doing" imagined weight of the world.
As I was finishing my conversation with my parents the other day, while visiting Robert, my Mom says to me "Maybe you should be waiting at the bus stop instead of spending time in the cemetery."
And she was right.
I am waiting at the bus stop.
When I traveled to Peru to experience a sacred Ayahuasca Ceremony, I didn't even know what Ayahuasca was, I just knew I was being called there and I wasn't fearful of anything, and that nothing had felt more right.
The first few days in Peru we participated in ancient cleansing ceremonies and leading up to our full moon Ayahuasca ceremony at the top of a mountain next to the Inca Moon temple we fasted and meditated in relative silence.
The morning after our Ayahuasca journey we met with the Shaman, Maestro Juan Carlos, who had journeyed with us to the ends of the earth, through time and space, and had sung us safely home again. In the morning we shared our experience in detail, processing and integrating the visions.
Maestro Juan Carlos had been performing these ceremonies since he was 11 years old. The medicinal tradition had been passed to him by his grandfather who had died sometime in the Shaman's young adulthood. Maestro Juan Carlos shared with us his own story and path that had lead him into service and Shamanism. I had assumed that this is "just what he does", you know he's Peruvian, and perhaps, growing up to be a Shaman is kind of like the same as growing up to be a fireman in the states. He, in fact, had been attending engineering school as a young man after high school when his grandfather visited him from the other side (now keep in mind we had a translator, but the entire experience was so moving I will attempt to do it poetic justice here in blog format). His grandfather visited him and told him, you are not living your purpose, you are denying your God given gifts as a healer and a Shaman, and the people need you to do healing work. This message was not easily received, here he was attending engineering school, and jobs are scarce in Peru and the economy is much worse than we can even imagine in the US. If you leave school, it’s not like you can start up where you left off like in our colleges. Plus the money that his family had worked so hard to give him just to send him to engineering school would be lost. This decision plagued him and when he told his family of his decision to leave engineering school and become a Shaman, it did not go over well.
I'll tell you I want to try to tell you this story, sweetly and concisely, but here I was listening to this Shaman who had just guided me through the most amazing transformative experience of my entire life and he was telling me that he struggled leaving his engineering career to pursue the path of medicinal healing and Shamanism that was passed down to him by his ancestors.
I cried. I couldn't imagine what a loss the world would have experienced if this very intelligent man had pursued engineering instead of healing. I can't explain the absolute gift this human being is to the world and what he now facilitates for others.
I imagined what a loss the world would experience if he had not followed his calling. I sobbed.
Maestro Juan Carlos went to the jungle for two years and was trained by the grandfather Shamans for his healing skills. I'll always remember that he laughed and said "I got skinny and grew a long beard." He was still a young man when he emerged from the jungle with nothing. Somehow he knew he was to go to Cusco, a city a good ways away from his birthplace in Peru. (I met him in Cusco). He said he made it there with no money, only the clothes he was wearing, and sat in the bus stop.
At this time the decision had been long decided. He had left engineering school and spent two years in the jungle with the grandfather Shamans. He knew he was to come to Cusco, when he arrived, he landed in the bus stop.
So he sat in the bus stop and waited.
A few days went by, he sat in the bus stop and waited. He didn't know what he was waiting for or who, but just that he was where he should be so he waited.
A woman came to him, she said, I've been watching you for the past couple of days sitting in the bus stop. Aren't you hungry? Come home with me and get something to eat. The woman had a little shop in the town and it was failing and she was down on her luck, but she picked up this skinny barely clothed, bearded young man in the bus stop and took him home and fed him. Maestro Juan Carlos went about doing his healing work for her and her family in exchange for shelter and food.
As the story goes, the woman now has 4 successful stores, and the town is prosperous. Maestro Juan Carlos was able to pay his family back all of the money they spent to send him to engineering school, and then some. And he has a partner and several children and performs life changing ceremonies for people who come from all around the world (people like me).
But not that long ago, he emerged from the jungle after 2 years of trials, with no money, few clothes, skinny, with a long beard, and sat hungry, for days, in a bus station. Waiting.
When he told me this story, he didn't even tell it is as if it was inspirational, because at the point when he landed in the bus station with nothing, he already knew it was decided.
Life was going to show up for him, he is a healer on his path, and the people would find him, including his love, his children, and he would heal with his family, and serve the world. These are my words, not his, FYI... cause he just talked to me like we were brother and sister and he had gone away to college and wanted to tell me all about his adventures, now being a grown man with a family and genuine happiness. FYI he's also younger than I, a sprite young Shaman who wears neon Nikes on his way home to his family.
I'm hungry and I've been out in the jungle for a couple of years, but I'm sure of who I am.
I'm waiting at the bus stop.