It is the very beginning of spring, and in the melting snow a few weeks ago my eye caught a bright reflection on the ground: chunks of broken glass along the wall. When I looked up, I saw that the outer window of the classroom above the garage had been shattered. The window was double-paned, and on the inner pane was a startlingly complete outline of a huge owl, spread winged and tailed, made by either the dust or oil of its feathers on impact. There was no owl body to be found, so miraculously it appeared to have been spared.
A few days later, I noticed that the inner pane had chunks missing, and I assumed it too must have been cracked during the original impact. I went upstairs to find that several pieces had fallen onto the carpet inside the classroom. Impressive! The power of the owl had crashed through 2 layers of glass and opened up this inside space, where I regularly teach shamanic courses, to the great outdoors.
Owl has been a major spirit ally of mine for 23 years, and is the Being that first heralded my entry into shamanism by flying out into a large cow pasture one hot Oklahoma afternoon and landing 20 feet in front of me on the dirt path I was walking at the time. This window crash was equally dramatic, and I knew I needed to attend to the message it was bringing.
I sat quietly in the classroom, taking my pulse as a drumbeat to carry me to the spirit realm. It didn’t take long for Owl to fly into my heart with its message: MAKE MORE ROOM FOR SPIRIT in my work. What had happened in the physical classroom was a clear metaphor. Although I thought that much of my work was already guided by spirit, Owl was asking that I not only talk about spirit and see spirit at work through the metaphoric glass panes – but that I also drop any unnecessary barriers to the direct experience of spirit and its ability to use me in service.
A friend of mine recently observed that in the initial phases of working with helping spirits, we often compartmentalize: now I am doing shamanic journeywork, now I am tending to my regular life, “Oh, I haven’t connected with my helping spirits for a while,” etc. But as we develop and deepen in our understanding of the shamanic path, we recognize that there is no separation: to live in our Truth means to experience the Divine within us and around us at all times — no separation. Owl wants to make this clear to us all!
A young woman I know is working on this issue in a particular way, and I think sums it up for many of us when she writes, “Back as a teenager, I couldn’t fully give into spiritual awakening, because there were too many other ways I felt I had to be.Â But it would come creeping back, reminding me that I was a daughter of the Night and that my path was different than what everyone around me told me it should be.Â I remember realizing at some point that I haven’t figured out how to balance these two worlds, this waking reality with the mystical Spirit world.Â I feel like I always short change one of them in my effort to remain human.Â And that’s just it: in this Spirit work, how do I let it show up every moment of my waking day? How do I worship the moment just as it is, no attachments, just surrendering to the pure bliss of the moment? I think that’s it, that’s the question that’s showing up for me. In this fragile human form, how will I worship today?”
Another friend is the cook at a local high school. There the pace is extremely hectic, and it would be easy for her to get distracted from the deeper purpose she feels about her work there. Yet she is able to bless and send to the Light the spirits of the hundreds of pounds of turkey and chicken and beef that pass through her hands each week as she gives thanks for the animals’ gift; able to say to each of the young students as she hands out a breakfast roll “You’re welcome!” straight from her heart; able to receive information from the spirit of the plants she prepares about how it wants to be put with other foods to create dishes that offer vitality and spiritual energy to the students. The response has been notable: students coming up to thank her, teaching staff starting to eat in the cafeteria more often, others on her cooking staff beginning to pray over the food as well; and a buzz and mystique about what’s going on in the dining service area!
So the possibilities for us to be in service are endless. Spirit wants us to not make unnecessary separations and distinctions about what is and is not holy, about when our life is in service and when it is not. (How can we know, anyway?) Our part in this sacred alliance is to break the glass panes and offer ourselves as a gift to Life!
I am walking the paths in this holy plain. I am sleeping in its ditches. My eyes are dividing the world in four pieces, then in all the directions in between. My ears are hearing music I think is not there when I think the wind has gone elsewhere. I am making notebooks of the grasses in the prairie. I am making songs with the names of trees. I am lying down on this holy ground to meet the intelligences in these rooms, to know what cells say or how cells say - now slither, now fly, now turn.
|— Darrell Bourque, Plainsongs|