It’s been very difficult to start writing again after the fire that was Montana. I don’t really want to talk about much of what happened there. It’s simply too precious and too fucking sacred to reduce to words. And of course, there’s a lot of fear about saying the ‘wrong thing’… of revealing too much, effectively giving up the option of ever taking a ‘regular job’ again or of using language that makes me sound like the latest over-enthusiastic member of a fluffy New Age goddess cult.

But at the same time, I feel compelled to honour the retreat – to ‘do it justice’ – by speaking about some of what took place and where I’m left afterwards. Because in truth, this was the least fluffy or ‘New Agey’ experience I’ve had. In fact, it’s made many of my recent spiritual adventures feel like some kind of Alice-in-Wonderland sugar-dusted fantasy… sweet treats, entertaining and a lot of fun but not deeply nourishing, ultimately unfulfilling and absolutely not real.

So I’ll begin with the land. The piece of Montana we were invited to sit, walk and even sleep on for a week started working her magic on me as soon as I arrived at Feathered Pipe. I felt something I’d experienced a couple of times before in different parts of India, which I can only describe as ‘super-gravity’ – a sense of being pulled down onto and almost into the earth. I wanted to get very quiet, very quickly and simply feel the red hot heart of Mama Earth beating in time with mine. When I did, I could feel how she holds me, always… even when I forget she’s there. More than that: I could actually feel how she loves me… in fact, how she loves all of us in spite of what we’ve done and keep doing to her. It’s an understatement to say that this is a VERY BIG LOVE. And I’m left with a deep desire to love her back. It’s not been easy coming back to concrete sidewalks but when I pay attention, that sense of connection with Mama Earth’s love is still strong. I finally get why people love gardening. And for as long as I live in the city, I’ll appreciate parks a lot more.

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And then there were the women… fierce warriors of the heart, every one. Your willingness to show and share yourselves gave me permission to get real. Thank you. The expression ‘soul sister’ has new meaning.

And then there was her. My soul, finally coming home to rest in this body. I will never forget the moment she showed me that my experience of divinity can be (and from now on will be) deeply personal. I’m not simply a wave on the ocean of the divine, although that is true. Neither am I simply one with everything, although that is also true. It’s not even that there’s no separation between me and grace, although (you guessed it) that’s true as well. My news flash is that I am a completely unique instantiation of all that is divine. My soul (although it’s more correct to say that I ‘belong to’ her) has been incarnating over and over and over again simply because experiencing all the beauty and the horror of being human is how she grows. She loves all of it – even the most messy, chaotic and perfectly-imperfect moments. Because the point of the whole game is growth. Because the nature of love is to expand.

So the paradox of diving into this deeply personal mystical experience of myself as divinity is that it drove up (and continues to drive out) exponentially more freaky layers of fear, especially about the prospect of ‘losing’ the connection. I thought I’d felt into a lack of trust of the divine before now. I believed I’d faced the fear of surrendering to all-that-is. But in the cold light of a Montana dawn, I felt my body contract so hard in response to the prospect of trusting my soul to take care of ‘me’ and ‘my life’… that it literally scared the shit out of me.

In that moment, there were no mystical visions… no unicorns farting rainbows on the forest path. I simply got an incredibly visceral demonstration of the body/mind’s power to create the illusion of separation from my soul. And I heard her laughing her ass off, as she loved me anyway. It was a beautifully humbling lesson in what it really means to be human.

Two weeks later, it actually feels like the growth has accelerated. There are new layers of fear around trust and surrender coming up and falling away every day (and yesterday, it was every hour). I know there are ongoing decisions to make around creating more space for her, both inside and out. The commitment I’ve made to choose her first feels very scary to my body and (even more so) my mind, which is used to running this show. But what’s profoundly different is that I’m not facing the fear alone any more. She is with me, at the same time as she is me… simultaneously there as a separate, incredibly reassuring presence and felt in the most intimate sense as hot and very holy love in every cell of this body. This is new… and it’s very, very good. It’s an understatement to say that this is an EVEN BIGGER LOVE.

Well – there goes that regular job! Gotta say, I’m feeling slightly sick as I prepare to hit ‘Publish’. But as I read in my social media streams about the too-soon loss of yet another fierce talent, I reflect on the many causes of suffering and renew my determination to tell the truth – to say out loud what’s important in my world. Because while I treasure the quiet times, life is too precious to be spent entirely in silence… and love is too precious to be kept a secret.

If you’re still with me and you’re feeling curious, your soul might want you to investigate Sera Beak’s book. Her courage in speaking so openly about her red night of the soul is partly responsible for this blog. Sera – you inspire me daily to dive deeper and deeper again. To you and to the Red Lady, I will forever cry blood-red tears of gratitude containing all the words I couldn’t find or was too chicken-shit to publish. Thank you, thank you, thank you for dancing us home.

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