Remembering Our True Name ~ Making Love With The Wild
This morning our elkhound is in a state of euphoria and reunion. He awoke to the ground lightly covered with two inches of snow.
Not a lot. But he is far from picky. Snow is his people. It’s in his bones, his DNA, a distant memory of his lineage in each frozen crystal piled on his wet nose. He turns his face upward to receive the falling flakes, keeping his eyes open. I watch as the snow lightly lands on the dome of each eye and melts. Snow tears. I learn about the elkhound when we are in the snow. Watch him become something else, something older, something a little less domestic, a little more wild, a little more of the cold snow-covered wind of him howling through the north peaks of the Vassdalseggi of Rogaland. One who runs in packs. Who hears the snow’s stories and talks with the wind. The Earthquake Man is the same way in the desert. It’s the place where his wholeness is evoked. Even better if there is a light wind, stirring the stories of this old place that live patiently in his bones. I believe, after he is no longer breathing in this lifetime (a thing which will not happen for a long time to come), one could open his gorgeous big femur and out would pour fine pale yellow silica, golden and glistening, each tiny polished grain of glass a story of his and the desert’s brilliance combined.
Years ago, when I first went into the desert with the EQM, I watched as the dayworld man I was just getting to know disappeared and an old-world man emerged, a man who could read the walls of the canyon, whose body I saw in a different way. In the dayworld he is made of rock. Here among the rocks he became something else. The hardness of him, typically a prominent feature, became simultaneously soft and stronger than ever before. I learned something critical about this man here in the desert with him. Aspects of his soul became visible, animated. I watched him have silent conversations with ancient layers of exposed, weathered and worn sandstone. I felt left out in a the most beautiful way. I could see him here, but I would never really know him here. Not the way the rocks clearly knew him. Brother. Son. Welcomed home.
The EQM would say I am this way when immersed in the cold, dark waters of the Adirondacks. I remember, one summer dawn a few years ago, slipping into the still-mist-covered Upper Ausable Lake. Out in the middle, an adolescent loon was flapping around, making a big commotion as they do. I was certain he would not allow me to get too close to him, but I quietly swam toward him anyway. Each inch closer to him igniting a deeper longing to be known by him and the waters which knew him so well. Finally there I was, just ten feet from him, when he stopped his revelry and sat erect and still in the water. One blood-red eye marking me. My breath halted. Just my head, from the nose up, above the surface of the water. Stealth lust. He darted under. I waited. Slowly turning in a circle, knowing he would have to surface somewhere, eventually. He surfaced just five feet from me. Water rolling off his pristine, plumed young body, that red eye on me once again.
Then under he went. Coming up just seconds later on the other side of me, five feet from my fingertips, which were now outstretched in desperate longing to get even the briefest brush of contact with him. Then he was down again, and up again and down and up. I looked down toward my feet dangling in the water below me, trying to get a glimpse of his torpedoing body darting back and forth under me. But healthy Adirondack water, though clear, is dense. I could only see to my thighs, the rest of my body, and his, hidden in the depths. I stayed in that water that morning for more than one hour, floating and rolling around as I was circled and taunted and reconstituted by this feathered red-eyed young one. Remembered and reclaimed, made wild once again as a daughter of these cold waters; one who knows what lies at the bottom, one who trusts, in fact is in love with, that which she cannot see. Lover of mystery. Lover of cold dark death and its lone red-eyed messenger.
For many people, this will read as poetic gibberish, without application, meaningless. And please hear me when I say, there is a mass destitution underway. An unspeakable orphaning of ourselves, humans, from the place of our true belonging. Far too many of us unknowingly welcome this certain bankruptcy upon ourselves. We imagine a device, an article of clothing, an expensive car, a tv show, our ideals or even a particular person, has more significance to us - to who and what we are - than the first word the moon utters to us tonight, as she climbs through the trees in the sky just on the other side of our front door. And in doing so we buy the smallest of all stories of our humanness. One that eviscerates us into a quiet insanity. “Perhaps,” you say, “I am already there.” But this is not irrevocable. I promise you, it can always be reversed.
Participate as if you are here for a reason vastly more meaningful than the functions you perform or the tricks you’ve discovered to find a fleeting sense of comfort. Turn toward the places that have never stopped calling you, and listen for your true name. Dare to declare to others who you really are and honor your indigenous places and people often. Imagine, on this Thanksgiving, that you are the feast, feeding yourself to the beings and the places which have been starved of your affection and presence. Do this as if your life depended upon it. Because it does.