How I can help the sea turtle survive

I remember initially sensing her presence at a sabbath day retreat I attended  in May. It was there that I felt the first nudges and dreamed of the upcoming incarnation of me, and simultaneously where the image of the turtle entering the water, responding to the call of home, appeared.  I wonder if the quickening I experienced that day is tied (of course it is !) to the more recent dreams of being hugely pregnant with something, and to the urgency with which I have been feeling the need to find  place.  I have most recently had the ‘aha!’  that of course when all the young leave the nest the parents also fly, felt the rightness of leaving this particular nest at this particular time because its needfulness is all-at-once passed.  But in writing this  now I am struck with a deeper realization that I am also experiencing what cannot be denied is a nesting instinct! In this undeniably insistent, seemingly urgent call I am being called to build a new nest, to prepare a space in which I might be born!  This is a homing instinct, after all, not unlike the one that also causes the sea turtle to follow her own call to place, as some  powerful birthing instinct informs its movement across oceans to the beach of some distant shore, where its eggs must be laid.

There is still a lot of vagueness  in and around the vision, specifically the details of what I will ‘do’ exactly in that place, although who knows what will surface more concretely in the writing/voicing of it that I have been unaware of, or afraid to say aloud.  Perhaps this vagueness is reflected in the results of the vocational seeking and discernment tools, which while fascinating in their self-awarenesses, have failed to reveal and remained empty of that for which I am yearning. Perhaps I need to build the nest first, and cannot see what will be born until I am in the place where that birthing will ultimately take place, as a woman in labor cannot truly imagine the face of the child she is also birthing.

 It has been suggested to me that I need to give this vision a voice, to be unafraid to speak it first, then to claim it. Envision, speak, claim, become, be….feels like a journey down the chakras from divine inspiration to incarnation… Is that the way of transformation, I wonder?

The vision.

Years ago, when working with a client via email whom had serendipitiously (at least it seemed so to me) stumbled onto the path to my house, we played a game of sorts, where we imagined he, a wounded one, had been taken into my home  in the woods for healing. At the time, I pictured something like the hut that is depicted in a scene of the book and film, Cold Mountain. In my mind, the house was made of wood and stone, with a large hearth for cooking broths and teas, which I made from the gatherings of woodland plants and roots, along with vegetables and herbs grown in the garden out front. The house is set in a small opening deep in the woods, near to a flowing stream, which is strewn with roundish stones. I live there alone, an old wise woman, slightly bent over, stocky, my hair wrapped in a scarf.  Persons know where to find me. They come for a season and then leave to go back to the world.  It is known that my home is a place of healing.

A few years later, when camping with 2 of my sons and my sister, we took a side trip one day to Linn Run State Park, near Ligonier, Pa. On the way, we traveled a narrow mountain valley road, along a stream so similar to the one in my imagining, the banks of which were heavily blanketed in rhododendron.  There were a few small cottages along the road and I joked with my son that if he ever won the lottery, he could buy me one.

This spring, at the retreat I mentioned, I envision myself again, not yet quite so old and bent over as the medicine woman  I had imagined, but leaner and lithe, my silver hair uncovered and held in a long braid down my back. I am wearing a gray t-shirt and jeans,  boot-clad. I am planting my garden in the woods, my hands calloused and tanned, from working in the soil and the sun, tending the earth. In my penetratingly blue gaze, I see a vibrancy in my eyes and my spirit that in my current life is missing , that is hidden somewhere in me (waiting to be born?). In the image, the aliveness in my eyes matches the vibrancy and strength in my body, which also currently lays dormant beneath considerable  bloatedness.   This is not a maiden/virginal vibrancy, it is another sort of vibrancy, a wiser vibrancy,  a ‘whole unto myself’ vibrancy. I am struck during this retreat that the virgin and the crone are nearer to one another in this way than either one is to the mother , as if the circle of life brings her around  to where they meet again.  The mother gives herself away, her life becomes about the other, but the crone comes home to herself.  She is FULL of herself—not in a bloated way, but in a self-contained way. She is whole. It was at this retreat that the image of the turtle, entering the water appeared to me.

I ended my journal entries from the retreat with a prayer to the Goddess of Life, giver of water and soil and sun, to help me to love myself fully into life.

It is interesting to note that 2 days later, in my journal, I noted the first stirrings of movement, as the first intimations came from my husband that we might not be able to continue living in our current house. I suppose that was the toss into the water I needed! While it had never been our intent to live here beyond these years of child-rearing, we had fallen into comfort here, begun to consider it home, planted our gardens, and I had forgotten/let go of my dream of a house (and a life) in the mountains. In fact I had (foolishly:) shared with friends just months before that I felt as if I’d finally ‘moved in’ to my life, felt at last at home with myself, and that the yearning for something more, other-than, or after, was gone .  I had fully embraced my life-as-it-was as whole, good, complete, and all that was necessary.  Of course, this is/was true, as it always is true that a turtle is home wherever it goes because it carries its home with it.  This learning to ‘take mySelf along with me’ had been my spiritual work for some time.  But life doesn’t stand still, it is always flowing and I suppose this settling in-  and ultimately into myself -was needed before I could truly go on a journey of discovery . There is a both/and to being at home—the being at home with yourself in all places, and the being-at-home that is the call to specific place. They are complementary to one another., the way feminin eenergy is to masculine , the way unitive energy is to the particular, the way energy of wholenss is to the one. 

Yesterday, I drove out New Lancaster Valley Road from Milroy, to a home that has been on the edge of my awareness for several months, but which, for various reasons and despite several attempts, I have not been able to see. When I rounded the corner of the dirt lane yesterday, my heart took a leap. There was the wood and stone house in a small clearing, deep in the woods, with a stream nearby.

Now I don’t know if that place will become home, though I can fully envision myself living there.  As I imagine it, I see myself rising in the morning with the sun, seeing my husband off with coffee and breakfast, then taking my cup to the porch for some quiet meditation….. or perhaps rising early to go, with coffee in hand, to the computer desk on the loft,  at the window that overlooks the trees, to capture into words  the remnants of those subliminal dreamland whispers before they slip beneath the surface of my awareness. Maybe later I’d take a stroll along the trail I’d cleared alothrough the woods down to the creek, to while some time with the camera,  or simply to practice stillness; or I’d tend the small raised garden I’d created in the clearing of sunlight created by the sandmound, maybe help with the horses next door, or go to the Amish market.  Perhaps I’d find a midwife to apprentice with, or find an organic or community farm to work on, or finally take up the weaving I’ve been itching to try, establish a yoga practice, volunteer at the State Park nearby. I imagine I might have hungry or tired folks come to retreat awhile, to receive nourishment and refreshment, or healing. My husband would have a workspace in the basement, or perhaps in a separate outbuilding yet to be built, to practice whatever dream he has yet to unveil in himself. In the evenings we’d sit in the coolness beneath the stars or keep warm by the fire and share dreams. Our grandchildren would come to spend long weekends or weeks in the summer, where I’d share with them my love of things wild and tell them stories that’d help them remember how beautiful life is, and keep their spirits alive. By day, we would explore together water and woods and by night catch dreams neath the stars.

So there it is, the beginning at least of the vision. I recently had a dream from which I awoke screaming, one in which I was being suffocated and was fighting for my life. I have read that sea turtles get entangled in fishermens’ nets, are unable to surface and so perish because they cannot breathe.  I vow to the one wanting to be born in me I won’t let that happen to her.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Carolyn
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 13:48:08

    Powerful, Vicki, esp. the last words. Opening yourself to your visions and dreams and purposes seems useless without making this vow. It is a sign of love for yourself and those whom your love will touch.



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