We finally had our belated honeymoon, a trip we nearly put off doing all together because of financial considerations. I'm grateful we didn't let money concerns stop us. We discovered a world of adventure together, learned how to rely on one another, trust one another, guide one another. A gentle quietness grew in us that gave way to a terrific, much needed calm and peacefulness.
The hikes were arduous, climbing over 2,000 feet nearly straight up the side of bare-backed mountains covered in nettle, sage, fennel, wild flowers, and camomile. We traveled over 30 miles with packs on our backs and blisters on our gritty feet.
I often spent the afternoon tracking up the mountain sides in search of wild camomile, making careful clippings and plucking the tissue-soft buds from their stems.
Often our paths were lined with field after field of wild flowers and herbs, filling our noses with the smell of god's great garden.
Some mornings the mist from the sea would fill the mountain crevices, blanketing everything in a cool fog. It was eerie and beautiful and full of such moving silence...
By mid-afternoon the fog would break free and the skies opened up to a glorious, crisp view of the ragged ocean far below. Much of the sea gave off an intense aqua color because of all of the gorgeous green serpentine rock.
By late afternoon fog could be seen gathering again like smoke rising from the sea towards the mountains, reminding us of the all too recent wildfires that swept through the ancient Ventana -- a site just 20 miles from the Tassajara, where a group of zen monks gaurded their forest monastery against the flames that claimed so much in 2006.
The trip was a remarkable journey. I united with my best friend, soul-mother, Rita. For fifteen years we have held between us an indescribably close relationship. Spiritual and profound, meaningful and prophetic, even rescuing at times... all built over countless letters, emails, and occasional phone conversations. Seeing her for the first time brought me to my knees, literally. I cried and kissed her head and listened to her for hours upon hours. I breathed her in and felt so much love flowing between us. Our presence together had a magical, healing effect -- not only for her, but for me as well.
I also really enjoyed meditating deep in the redwood valleys, or perched at the edge of a mountain overlooking valleys and ocean. We had the great fortune of hiking through Big Sur while the full moon grew in the sky, reaching her peak on our third day in, and waning as we made our way back out of the forest. The way her light illuminates the forest and the mountains fills me with awe and amazement. It is so much easier to become concentrated and quiet in the deep of the forest. It is much harder returning to the city with the trains and the traffic and the demands of home and work.
Nonetheless, we pick up where we left off. The new semester has begun. I'll be volunteering with hospice starting next week. Already the inner-workings of the psychology program have begun to fill my mind with introspection and reflection. Last night I worked on my personal loss history for psychology of loss. Creating such a heavy inventory brought a lot of 'ah-ha' moments as connections became clearer between life-moments of growth and regression. To look back and see this tangled string of losses and how they steered who I was to become from day to day, life to life, I'm finding a new sense of self-compassion and forgiveness. I am also seeing how every person I come into contact with has such losses in their histories, too, and this fills me with even deeper compassion for our shared humanity -- our shared pain.