I love Tuesday mornings. It is the time when I get to stroll the farmer's market, chatting with friends whom I see as I take in the beauty of the fresh local vegetables, fruits, dairy and meats. Last Tuesday, I stopped at a small cheese stand. Soon after I arrived, two young boys approached. Eagerly, one of the boys exclaimed, "Oh my gosh! Cheese!" The other boy replied rather unenthusiastically, "Yea. So." Followed by a bewildered question from his friend, "You mean your mom lets you eat cheese?" The farmer and I both smiled endearingly and when he left, he said with a gentle laugh, "First world problems." "Indeed" I replied.
Having lived two years in a small underdeveloped town in Brazil as well taking yearly pilgrimages for the past seven years to work with a Q'ero family, an indigenous tribe in Peru, I have come to a more intimate understanding of what this means. In the high villages of Peru at 16,000 feet, the only food that grows there is potatoes. I joined them at every meal as they carefully and adoringly peeled back the potato skin and gleefully popped them in their mouth. I watched them for two weeks, every day and every meal eat potatoes with the same joy as if they were eating them for the first time.
On my first visit I stayed in these high mountain villages which had no electricity nor running water. I met a young Q'ero woman and it seemed very apparent that she had never seen a Westerner before. Having no arm hair, she was enthralled by mine and gently touched it as she rolled my skin in between her fingers. Speaking only Quechua, she asked me why I didn't have my hair double braided as all the other women did. Then she offered to braid it for me. As I let her braid my hair, I felt a wellspring of grief wanting to arise out of nowhere. I made my way to the river where I wept a thousand complicated desires of my life. All of the taking, the wanting to be seen, the desire for more, to have some recognition and to thrive were all attempts to fill this gaping hole which didn't seem present in their culture. In my psyche, the hole was constantly reoriented to my enculturation which keeps the cycle of 'what about me' perpetuating.
Being with them was a culture shock for my psyche into a 'we' culture. In Peruvian traditions, the underwords (our inner worlds) isn't 'hell' or a negative place. It isn't filled complicated repressed emotions. It is the home and cavern of Pachamama, the World Mother who is the Creatrix of all Creation and is often depicted as a dragon or a serpent.
A significant loss in my life occurred the year after this first visit where the river of my grief brought me into many unattended sorrows. In a culture, where I learned the opposite of expansion was failure, it has taken a lot to come into an intimate relationship with loss. When loss was present, when my work wasn't flowering, it was so easy to try to whip myself back into a state of expansiveness, an attempt to blame myself into perfection for not being good enough. It was also easy to blame others, see how 'they' weren't doing it right or blame the culture.
It takes a lot to loosen this grip of control to my inner depths and allow this sacred shattering from this 'me' perspective as it gradually opens to an awareness of a greater whole. Having years of therapeutic training, it has been a shedding for my therapeutic sense of self where I tried to consciously or unconsciously fix, master or control my depths. It was useful for a while. There is also a time to not follow these habits to grasp, maintain or take and to burn in the flames of our soul's fire. There is a time to get rubbed down of a thousand complicated desires of what we have been told to want or who we need to be. This is a holy fire filled with both grief and grace of sacrifice. Or as Rumi wrote, "To change, a person must face the dragon of his appetites, with another dragon, the life-energy of the soul."
The rise of the feminine Earth is truly here and roaring. Also arising are the cultural shadows and how quickly things can become co-opted in a survival grip of the dragon of appetite if it goes by unexamined. The shadow may even appear glittery with hopes and promises that we too can have the quick and easy road where we fulfill our dreams and create a blissful life of abundance effortlessly. It seems to me the real work of coming into the sacred dimension of soul is a slow journey. It is the constant willingness to turn towards our shadows, to be humbled and knocked off our thrones of where I/we prop ourselves up, make ourselves better than (or less than), so the real roar of our soul can emerge with passion and purpose in deep equality and care for all of life. Are we going to grasp for a grandness of culture where we constantly look for immediate satisfaction of our own desires, the next best experience, fame, recognition, etc? Or as we going to dive deep and open to the grandness and glory of soul and co-create from here? Can we dare make the shift from the new age perspective of co-creation which still orients around "What can I get?" To the radical soul question of "What is life asking of me?"
What is our most sacred longing and how can this be our guide?
To find out more about Courtney's soul centered healing sessions and retreats, please visit her website at www.courtneydukelow.com.