When the world shuts down…
A six week pandemic lock down in Washington State left its residents with being alone in nature as the only safe activity. In the absence of a schedule determined by outside forces, in the destruction of a “to do“ list that involved close social interaction, like my fellow residents, I was left with just...Myself.
A thought flew into my head. I could drive to Deception Pass alone, take my journal, and spend some time with God. I had a clear prompting from my inner Spirit that an encounter awaited me on the lonely, rugged coast in the early morning hours.
As soon as the thought was in my head, I literally felt the presence of an inner critic with her hands on her hips, girded with a stained apron. Her face was shrunken with hard, cold eyes and she spoke into my heart. "You cannot expect to just head off into the woods to connect with God for six weeks now, can you? You have things to do."
Just like that, I felt my spirit deflate as I contemplated her admonition.
But a stronger, quieter feeling was brewing. A promised encounter awaited me, and for the first time, I heard my own inner voice declare softly, "I just have to go." And I did, battling the whole time the Woman With Her Hands on Her Hips for the journey.
Arriving at the beach, I felt compelled to walk the shores rather than the forest. Again the Woman With Her Hands on Her Hips dug in. "You hate walking in the sand. Go to the forest. You won't walk very far. It's colder here." On and on and on... But a quieter, softly strong voice stood her ground.
I just have to go.
I turned to walk the shore near the lapping waves of the high tide. Watching my feet carefully, I noted old footsteps immortalized temporarily on the sand under my feet. Ahead, I noted a circle of stones, and drawn to it, I walked that direction. As I came closer I noted that the artist had taken stones with a sliver of white crossing their surface and had aligned those white slivers so as to create an inner circle within the stones. I marveled at the ingenuity and creativity of the circle and stopped to take a photo before moving on.
In the distance walked a woman in a bright red coat, a solitary figure like myself meandering down the shore. As we approached, keeping a safe distance, she spoke to me excitedly. "Up there by that tree trunk there is a beautiful sculpture of stone in the sand. You don't want to miss it!"
"And there is a beautiful circle of stones ahead of you, " I said, "I feel like the person who created this order in the chaos could be my twin!"
"That was me," she said. And then she explained that her friend was recovering from surgery, so she had created a hug circle for her and taken a photo to send it.
I told her of my search for prayer stones, flat and smooth. That these were chaotic times, but that like the ancient Jews, I wanted to reflect on where I met God each day in the chaos, and then build a rock pillar to be able to say,
God was here.
We said our goodbyes and I started to wander on. A voice, the quiet one, spoke into my heart. "You need to write about this moment." The Woman With Her Hands on Her Hips yammered on about the need to press on to keep up with a non-existent time schedule. Her pull was strong, but my inner pull to journal about the experience was stronger.
I turned to seek the first log suitable for sitting to capture this encounter. Walking towards it, head down watching my path, I reached the log and scanned for a suitable sitting place. To the left of me, on the log I had chosen from a distance, lay rock pillars...sentinels to this day, waiting...I think...just for me.
And I sat to write a Mediation on Stones.
The Woman With Her Hands on Her Hips did not disturb me for the rest of the day. I think in the absence of schedules and tasks and rush and worry, maybe for the first time in my life at 68, I could see her. She was no longer camouflaged behind the veneer and imprisonment of responsibility I had carried since childhood.
I made a decision this day to listen to the soft flutter of the Spirit's wings instead of the harsh voice of The Woman With Her Hands on Her Hips. I am not naive enough to think she is gone for good, but, like any challenge, once true identity is known,transformation can happen.
I only know this for sure: I came here today to meet God in a powerful way, to have an encounter that would leave me changed.
As always, God did not disappoint.