“…Stoned me just like goin' Home…And it stoned me…” In a final twist of fate, singing Van Morrison’s ode to quasi-mystical childhood experiences, I took a right on 63rd street last night, and with one final bend in the road, I was home. Home, after driving a hundred other roads singing a hundred other songs, on a spiritual odyssey that carried me over six thousand miles, 32 days, and 12 united states. Beginning on a white Christmas morning in the tiny central Michigan town of Concord, the journey lead me through Kansas City, Missouri, to the San Luis Valley of Colorado, across the hardpan of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert and happily paused on the Pacific coastline of Ranchos Palos Verde in southern California, where we flipped a proverbial bitch and took it East - bound and down - all the way back. Along the jagged route there were people and places visited, nine days of noble silence during a meditation retreat with my Teacher the Mighty Shinzen Young, a Ceremony in a sweat lodge surrounded by Joshua Trees, art and treasures procured and prayers proffered . Finally spitting crushed concrete, punching it up the hill to my house, I felt a flood of positivity, surrounding me, uplifting me, welcoming back to a familiar place made new. “Subtle voices in the wind, hear The Truth they're telling, a World begins where this road ends… See...You’ve… left it all behind… Far behind…” Enveloped back in the winter quiet of my country homestead, the stove fire sharply snapping, land and sky blanched a serene winter white, all is well. Considering I left on December 25th and returned just over one month later, my tree is still up and silently twinkling, thinking we'll keep Christmas going all year here. All is calm and bright.
With a glance back, my month-long, cross-country jaunt may not at first appear to be a working vacation. But around here business is personal, the reason for the long ride clearly tied to my efforts as Chief Creative Officer of The Higher Haven Retreat Center. The unhealable can be healed here, Miracles have and will occur, and Ceremonial purification - rooted in the spiritual practices of America’s indigenous people - is one of a few powerful modalities of alternative therapies we offer on The Farm. Although somewhat of a modern day mystery, whenever the workings of the Inipi or Sweatlodge Ceremony are explained, one begins by referencing the Lodge-istics as I like to say, as in: "You begin by taking stones and heating them in a fire". But not just any stones. The diamonds of the Ceremony world, the most high quality, semi-precious stones are of the porous, volcanic variety, small chunks of ancient lava flows that have cooled to a warm, beaver-like, sepia brown color of dark desert sand. And the desert, namely the Sonoran Desert of the American Southwest, is where you find ‘em, mounds of them, mountains even. Like a good rock, they’re stable, firm and dependable, these Grandmas and Grandpas being the Grand Masters of the material world. Plus, when it comes to upholding a tradition, it’s always g'ut to do it the way you was taught.
Sure feels good to back in my own bed, attending the Sunday Church of The New York Times. Foxes have holes and birds have nests, and I too have been super blessed with a fortress of peace in which I lay down my achey head and body. After long-ass twelve hour plus days on the road, everything starts to come unhinged, a bit blurry, and a late at night, a little hallucinatory. The road becomes an endless typewriter ribbon stretched long, black and yellow to the horizon, a dotted, lined sheet – a flat, thin, endlessly rolling expanse. Stanzas of poetry in green and white creative blips wicket past, from Last Chance, Colorado to Sweet Home, Texas to Truth or Consequences, New Mex. There are words and pictures, too, images in my minds-eye of CO’s Great Sand Dunes Natl. Monument, OK’s Gilcrease Museum's Native art collection, and AZ’s hundred year-old Sagauro Cacti Standing people, along with many, many more. Unbuckled, feeling a bit more unbound, I’m back home, with a truckload of healing stones and new stories to tell.