I have a wound deep inside of me that hasn’t fully healed. It’s tender, soft, and warm. It has an electric sensitivity to emotions, mine and others. When it witnesses beauty in all its many splendid forms, it fills up my soul and almost crushes it at the same time. It is a special, sacred place tucked away inside the cave of my heart. I can access it at any time, in a variety of creative ways. It sometimes reveals itself to me as a fountain of tears falling into a crystalline bright pink lotus flower with green petals surrounding it. Other times, it appears to me in the form of a small girl child that can only communicate through images and dance-like movements.
In Colorado, I came to know my wound and found some of the lessons it has been trying to teach me all my life.
I was on another one of my solo hikes, searching for a place off trail that was beckoning me to sit and tell my story. As I climbed up the trail, the creek was to my right, slowly gliding down the foothill of the mountain. Dappled sunlight streamed through the pines and aspen trees. A short distance away, I saw a clearing where the light broke through the underbrush. I approached this space and immediately felt the magical call of faeries, woodland sprites and all the other tiny creatures that once inhabited my childhood imagination.
I stepped off the trail into this spot, and saw a boulder in the center of the stream. I carefully waded out into the creek bed, choosing stable, large stones that looked like they would support me and my backpack. Each step became more precarious as a few of the stones rolled slightly left to right. The boulder was almost within arm’s length and so I became brave and stepped boldly towards it. I did not gage the depth of the river well enough, and for all the money I spent on waterproof boots they weren’t enough to keep the water from rushing in over my ankles, past my shins, and soaking my socks and shoes. But, I was committed, so I tossed my pack onto the boulder and dragged my waterlogged feet behind me as I crawled up the flat-faced, sun-baked boulder.
After a few minutes of ringing out my socks and dumping water out of my boots, I got cozy and realized I was blessed to be in such a quiet, untouched part of the woods with a rushing creek on both sides of me.
Gently and lovingly, I called out the wounded child in me who has been afraid of living, creating, and loving too passionately and too grandly. Afraid of being seen as weak, or different, or too emotional. I told her story to the creek and the stones. I shared with them how she remembers playing a game in kindergarten where everyone was in a circle, holding the edge of a red parachute and moving it up and down while kids were called to run underneath it and escape to the other side before it touched down on them. Her name was called. She remembers being underneath the parachute and looking up to see the sunlight diffused in a glow of translucent red, like the inside of a womb or a beating heart. She stayed under there longer than most children, mesmerized at the beauty of the moment. She had to crawl on the cool green grass to make it to the other side and was teased by another kid for being “too slow” to play this game.
I told the creek and the stones how she remembers her heart breaking as natural light flooded through the windows of the darkened second grade classroom during a “lights out, heads down” moment. She saw the tiny beans planted in the plastic cup, their stems reaching up to the light. Tears came to her eyes at the sheer beauty of beanstalks and dirt and sunlight. She pretended to pay attention when the halogen lights came back on, but her head kept turning towards the sunlight and the beanstalks on the bookshelves instead of towards the chalkboard.
I told the creek and the stones how she would walk her dog down the neighborhood street and stare up at the moon and stars, hoping that if she stared long enough she would be filled with starlight and stardust and float away on the breeze.
Her world as it was then wasn’t ready for her romantic gifts of light, tenderness, beauty and expression. She would write poetry, but then throw them away because she feared they were not good enough. She would criticize her mistakes on her drawings or get frustrated when kids didn’t see her vision of how their games could be made more special by adding in song or dance. She would keep ideas, dreams and imagination tucked inside of her, storing it all within the dark recesses of her sacred cave and instead encourage friends to feel like they were the ones more creative and entitled to attention and recognition. Over the years as she shed some of her fears, her gifts trickled out in forms of tears, of poems, of drawings, or of dance. But they were quickly put away when they became too much to handle, either for her or for others around her.
Here in the middle of the creek bed I let her be seen by the butterflies, the chipmunks, the creek, and the stones. I asked her what she wanted to do with all of these gifts she had stored away or doled out in small doses over the years. I audibly heard myself tell my pent up dreams to the creek, the same dreams of the small, wounded girl who is a steward to the sacred wound in the cave of my heart. If money, status, career do not really matter on this earth, then my dream is to fall in love and be loved and seen in return. To be creative and write, draw, dance and express myself in every way that I know how at any given moment when beauty abounds, whether inside or outside of me.
I told the creek that I would pledge my stewardship to my creative talents that come out in various forms that can only be expressed by me. Creative nonfiction writing and poetry are part of this plan to express and share my heart with others. I also know by sharing my writing others they will have moments to access their own emotions more freely and willingly and connect to their own hearts more authentically as well.
I even told the creek and the stones that I knew this meant letting go of my job as a high school English teacher and I would follow the path whenever it appears and to wherever it takes me, no matter how uncertain it may seem at times. Creative ideas of becoming a freelance writer, a yoga and body-centered instructor, a nature lover/guide, and a creative arts program director all danced in my heart and mind. New ideas are revealing themselves as the days and weeks go by.
My inner child thanked me for being so honest with myself. I felt a lightness, a lifting, form around my heart and fill up my body with peace and contentment. The sunlight danced brighter on the ripples of the creek, and the birds and insect chirps became louder, almost as if they were cheering me on. Tears of relief flowed down my face. I let out a sigh and wiped away the remaining droplets that were streaming now down my neck. I took a long inhale, and as I exhaled any residual worries or fears, an osprey silently glided over me and swooped down near the creek as it continued flying south. I took this as a sign that the unfolding of my desires, talents, and gifts are beginning to flow more freely from my fountain of tears that were once locked inside the cave of my heart.