With all there is
Why settle for just a piece of sky?
~ from the score of Yentl, Lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman
Thursday, Sept. 25 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico
I'm walking on a nature trail in Albuquerque's Sandia Mountain foothills, the late-day sun gilding the granite outcroppings and illuminating the sage, cactus and juniper.
This is one of my final farewell walks in a landscape that has so nurtured and inspired me.
You see, in five days I will be gone from here, launched yet again on an open-ended, Spirit-directed odyssey into the unknown and unimagined -- my third such journey of faith in the past 11 years.
My first, in 1997, opened me to marriage, parenthood and life in a new country. The second, which spanned 30 months and was sparked by the end of that marriage, led to my two books and CD and kindled for me a more empowered professionalism. Both journeys pushed and expanded me, challenging me to surrender more fully to the divine imperative that directs and prospers me -- when I let it.
In each case, I knew nothing of what lay head. I simply stepped off the cliff of my certainty and into the void from which all creation emerges.
Was I afraid? Sometimes.
Did I allow that fear to stand in my way? Rarely, and never for long.
As I think ahead to what's next, this lyric from Osibisa's song "Woyaya" plays in my head:
We are going
Heaven knows where we are going
We'll know we're there
We will get there
Heaven knows how we will get there
We know we will
I'm also reminded of the scene in The MoonQuest where Toshar and his three companions must step through an opening that will carry them "beyond the end of the known world."
Dense smoke chokes them where they stand as the jungle through which they have trekked burns up. There is no way back.
The only way is forward -- into the unknown, with its challenges and opportunities. With its secrets and mysteries. With gifts more wondrous and miracle-filled than any they could imagine.
When I left Toronto in 1997, the only direction I had from my GPS (God Positioning System) was to head west. Ultimately, it landed me in a new life in Sedona, Arizona.
When I left Sedona seven years and a Hawaii sojourn later, my GPS also sent me west -- at first. In the many months of cross-country travel that followed, I always managed to find my way back to the New Mexico that has been my full-time home for the past year.
Now, as I prepare to leave Albuquerque, my divine compass points eastward, directing me to the McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas.
I've felt pulled toward the home of National Public Radio's StarDate since August, when I knew I would be returning to the road.
It was a mystifying pull because, as stunning as is the observatory's setting and as fascinating as is its planetarium show, I've been there -- twice -- and never experienced any life-altering epiphanies.
At a conscious level, at least, it was a fun place to visit. Nothing more.
Yet if I've learned anything through my years of personal and spiritual growth, it's the importance of surrendering to the highest imperative I can access in any given moment. (There's a reason why the word "surrender" appears 67 times in The Voice of the Muse!) Like Toshar and his friends, I too must surrender to whatever lies beyond the end of my known world and be open to all the wonders that await me on the other side.
And so, if that highest imperative is sending me back to southwest Texas, I'll go -- whatever it means.
I've asked what it means countless times in recent weeks. Today, on my Sandia walk, I ask again.
For the first time, I hear an answer: "To remind you to reach for the stars."
Now, as I write these words, that same inner voice adds: "Reach for the stars...and touch them."
We all need reminders to reach for the stars, that potent metaphor for our highest, most divine potential. In these challenging, turbulent times, we also need to be reminded that those stars are not beyond our grasp. We can touch them. All it takes is a hand, outstretched to the infinite...the infinite we already are.
Photos by Mark David Gerson: #1 Sandia Foothills, Albuquerque, NM; #2 From the McDonald Observatory, near Fort Davis, TX
Thursday, September 25, 2008
With all there is
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, Sept. 9 ~ Sedona, Arizona
I'm walking along Hwy. 179 in Sedona's Village of Oak Creek, nursing a bashed nose that's still tender and a bit bloody after its run-in this morning with a plate-glass slider.
Sedona, which has always been good to me through the two times I've lived here and through countless visits since, seems to have taken on a Mommie Dearest persona on this trip.
Although Saturday's talk and book-signing at The Well Red Coyote went wonderfully, I've had no end of challenges with my hotel: locks and keys that don't work, a mattress that leaves my back aching each morning, rowdy guests who wake me in the wee hours and, of course, the glass slider in the breakfast room.
If this is a dress rehearsal for a return to on-the-road living, it's not going well.
You see, when I get back to Albuquerque on Friday, I'll be packing up and preparing to return to some version of the road odyssey that I've written about so often on this site.
Meantime, in true Sedona style, I'm sort of stuck here. That's because my daughter's ninth birthday is the main reason I'm in town, and that's not until Thursday. I suppose I could change hotels, but it doesn't feel as though this particular hotel is the real issue.
As I continue my walk, trying to clear the fuzziness from my head, my cell phone rings. It's a dear friend who has been experiencing challenges of her own. Her call is not about challenges, though. It's about the angel who volunteered to help her out over the weekend and then gifted her with a massage.
I don't often get direct messages for people when I'm not in session mode. But in this moment, a powerful inner/higher voice urges me to say to her, "Don't doubt that you're being taken care of."
As I speak the words, my voice catches and I feel a surge of emotion. These words are also for me.
I realize in that moment that all the mishaps that have been feeding my anxiety about going back on the road are because of my anxiety about going back on the road.
Why am I anxious? Because I'm afraid I won't be supported.
Of course, there's no reason to feel that. Through 30 months of full-time travel I was always supported. Miracle after wondrous miracle kept me going, and never did I feel abandoned.
Yet I fear abandonment now because this journey isn't like the last one. How could it be? Why would I repeat something I've already mastered?
No, this is a new level -- of something. And not knowing what kind of void I'm about to drive into leaves me feeling fearful.
Conventional thinking and common sense support my fear. But conventional thinking and common sense also argue against the way I live my life: leaping off cliffs and trusting that I'll sprout wings on the way down...stepping into one void after another in the certainty that I'll be supported...surrendering unconditionally to the highest, most divine nature I can access in any moment.
It's no accident that my friend's call came after I bashed my head. Perhaps I needed common sense knocked out of me to make room for the higher, divine sense that generally directs my life. Perhaps I needed to be reminded what is true (my faith) and what is illusion (my fear).
Twenty-four hours have passed since I walked into the glass slider. I'm sitting in the same hotel breakfast room wearing the same Voice of the Muse t-shirt I wore yesterday.
Today, though, a fellow hotel guest notices my shirt, asks me about it and, ultimately, buys a copy of the book. Ten minutes later, I've sold a second book. Within an hour, I've sold a third.
All three sales occur right by the plate-glass slider that knocked common sense out of me yesterday -- to remind me that I'm always supported on this uncommon journey of faith.
As I travel east this fall, I'll be looking for opportunities to present talks and sound activations, offer classes and workshops, and do book-signings. If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions or are open to hosting an event, please drop me a line.
Photos #1 & 3 by Mark David Gerson: #1 Sedona Red Rocks; #3 Hwy 167 near Mono Lake, California. Photo #2: The patio by my hotel's breakfast room.
Tuesday, Sept. 9 ~ Sedona, Arizona
Just in case you missed my newsletter invitation, I'm repeating it here: Please join me online on Thursday, Sept. 11 when I'm the featured Inspirational Luminary on InspireMeToday.com.
The site's basic inspirational features, including mine, are free. But you can also sign up for an enhanced membership that will continue to inspire you every day.
It's easy, whichever level you choose. Just click on this link on 9/11, register (using this code: IVYIBTZCXT) and be inspired! (When you click on the "View Luminary Profile" link, it will take you to my inspirational resources.)
Thanks for joining me, and be sure to come back here to leave your comments!
Tuesday, Sept. 9 ~ Sedona, Arizona
My fellow author and blogger Marvin D. Wilson has had his Free Spirit blog nominated for the web's Brilliant Blog Appreciation Awards, a singular recognition.
Marvin's blog focuses on both spiritual evolvement and good writing and is certainly worth checking out. If you do, please add your vote to push him over the top in the award competition's "Best Christian/Inspirational" category.
You can vote using this link. Just be sure to cast yours before the midnight (PT) deadline Friday night, Sept. 12.
By the way, I'll be featured on Marvin's blog in a Sept. 11 post. Please check it out!
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Saturday, August 30 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico
I'm sitting in the showroom of a local car dealership. It's been a long day of car buying. Nearly eight hours long.
Although the quintessential auto-purchase experience in terms of time spent (why does it have to take so long!?), my day here belies all stereotypes about car salesmen. Brad and Kelly, my salesman and his sales-manager boss, have been warm, engaging and genuine.
Still, I'm exhausted and stressed.
After two failed attempts at car-buying in recent months, I was reluctant to give it a third try, even as I knew it was time for a new vehicle.
Then, seemingly from nowhere, I got an e-mail and follow-up call from this particular dealership. They claimed they were responding to an internet request for information -- a request I have no memory of having made.
I put them off for several weeks, somewhat gun-shy after my previous experiences. Finally, today, I relented, no longer able to ignore the many synchronicities of the situation (not to mention the end-of-season discounts).
Now, the test drives are done, the credit apps have been processed, we've negotiated back and forth on terms and down payments and I'm staring at final figures -- the figures I said I would need to see in order to make a decision today.
When I drove in this morning, I asked Spirit for a sense of what a new monthly car payment would look like. Not surprisingly, the resulting figure pushed my financial comfort-zone buttons...just as a comparable figure had three years ago under similar circumstances. Yet I knew that if I acted today from a place of trust, centeredness and integrity I would be taken care of, as I always have been.
The "final figure" now before me is uncomfortably higher than the one I sensed this morning. Yet despite my fears, I know I must say yes. Not because I've been worn down after eight hours in this shabby showroom. But because all my higher senses tell me to.
I say yes.
When I get home, I’m so fearful and frazzled I can't get out of the garage and away from the new car quickly enough.
I spend a restless evening and sleepless night mired in doubt and distress and wake up exhausted and barely functional. Fortunately, pep talks from a couple of friends give me the courage to begin to take ownership of the vehicle. I browse through the manual, marveling at all the gadgetry, and call my insurance company to switch my coverage.
And then the phone rings. It's Dana, the dealership's finance manager. My heart sinks.
Eight years ago in Hawaii, I drove a new car home from the lot only to get a call the next day from the dealership, sorrowfully advising me that I would need to kick in more money or the deal was dead.
I had warned the Albuquerque dealership that if that were to happen here, I would return the car.
"Yes?" I answer tentatively.
"Could you come down to the dealership this afternoon?"
Oh, God, I gasp silently. "Why?" ask hesitantly.
"We'd like to lower your monthly payment."
"We’d like to lower your monthly payment."
A few hours later, I’m back at the dealership, signing a new set papers. My interest rate has dropped by a third, my payment has dropped 14 percent, and my new monthly payment is within the range I had (erroneously, I thought) predicted.
As I drive home, considerably lighter-feeling than during the same drive yesterday, I think of the journey of trust the biblical Abraham went through when God asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
A man of infinite faith, Abraham began to prepare for the unthinkable and unconscionable. Only when his knife was a whisper away from Isaac’s throat did an angel appear, praising Abraham for his faith and releasing him from his vow.
I feel like Abraham right now.
During the past 24 hours, my faith has also been stretched beyond all reasonable limits. Like Abraham, the only thing I have been asked to give up is my fear.
Now, having let it go, I have been rewarded for my trust and am free to move forward on the next leg of my journey -- in my vehicle of faith.
Art by Marc Chagall: "Sacrifice of Isaac," Musée Marc Chagall, Nice, France
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Friday, August 22 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico
O'ric raised his hands over my head in benediction. "Ride north one league at a time. Aris will guide you at night. A path between the suns will guide you in the day. Your heart will guide you always."
~ The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy
I knew it could happen any time. I knew my days in this house were numbered. But when I listen to the woman who owns the house I’m renting, I'm numb with shock.
"This isn't working," she says of her attempts to sell the house with a tenant (me) in it. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to give you notice."
This isn't how it was supposed to be. I expected to stay in the house until it sold, which in this market could have taken months. Meantime, I've been scouring Craig's List for suitable alternatives.
It takes me a few hours to settle into an emotional state conducive to meditative activity. Once there, I feel out the energy of my known options:
1) Find another Albuquerque rental
2) Find a rental somewhere else, in or out of state
3) Hit the road for some indefinite, transitional period
If you've followed these Chronicles for any length of time, you know that the last time I did #3, I ended up on the road for 30 months!
Although I'm not keen to embark on another open-ended odyssey, the romance of the road still carries a certain appeal. Still, my first choice is #1...though it’s proving hard to find anything that measures up to where I now live. As for #2, I'm open, but nothing solid has presented itself.
Frankly, I'm open to all options, despite my conscious preference. I’m particularly open to the options I can’t yet see or imagine.
That's just as well because whatever inner/higher/heart intelligence is guiding this human journey, it keeps urging me to "expect the unexpected" and to pack in a way that offers me the most flexibility (#3).
Like Toshar, the questing protagonist of my novel The MoonQuest, all I can do is follow the path that presents itself in each moment -- wherever it carries me, whatever the consequences.
If there's one thing I've learned through my years of personal and spiritual growth (and writing The MoonQuest was a potent teacher in that regard), it's that the unimagined and unimaginable is nearly always far more wondrous than the known and predictable.
Travel beyond the end of the known world, Toshar and his companions are told. A similar voice constantly offers me the same counsel.
Not for the first time in my life (and, undoubtedly, not for the last), what's ahead is beyond my ability to predict or project. Not only is there a catalog of options betyond nos. 1, 2 and 3, there are variations -- 1a, 2c, 3f -- that my mind can't yet figure out because it can't yet see them as possibilities. They lie beyond the end of my known world.
Living in this place of unlimited openness isn't without its stresses. Not knowing whether I'm moving or roving, not knowing which contingency to pack and prepare for -- these information voids catapult me well beyond what's left of my comfort zone.
Yet through it all, I have an abiding knowingness that when I trust and surrender, when I let go and leap, I end up somewhere magnificent, somewhere I could never have imagined, predicted or chosen.
For today, all I can do is to start packing and let tomorrow take care of itself...and me. It always has.
Art by Mark David Gerson: "Surrendering to the Mystery, Surrendering to the Void (#34)"