The funny thing about spiritual journeys is that sometimes you don't realize you' re in the midst of them. Other times, if you pay attention, you are acutely aware of the spiritual significance of your path. I knew almost immediately when I was hired for a job in New Mexico, that is was because a significant spiritual journey was in the works for me. It was almost like Great Spirit looked upon me and thought, "He's stuck...he's just not getting it...he needs to be somewhere else."
They say that when something is meant to be, the steps to get there will seem nearly effortless. Things will fall into place as the Universe rises to support the endeavor before you. The path to that point may be full of challenges, but when it's time, you will be amazed how easy everything seems!
The time between my application with a staffing agency until I accepted the position in New Mexico was no more than 3 or 4 days...I had been out of work for fourteen months.
"Pay attention!" my mind said..."Something big is about to happen!"
Now, I'll let you in on a little secret...I have spirit guides that speak to me, when I am tapped in enough to listen.
I was hesitant to share this detail with the world...once when a psychiatrist asked me if I heard voices that no one else hears, I truthfully said that I did...I was placed on anti-psychotics.
I learned that it is important to add, in similar situations, that the voices are consistent with the patient's spiritual beliefs.
My spirit guides have a collective nickname, and I think it's amusing how the nickname came about. While driving with C one day, we were having a conversation heavily influenced by our spirit guides. It seems my guides have a rather snarky sense of humor on the whole. I was communicating exactly what I was experiencing, and a lot of good natured teasing was coming through. At one point, C made a comment about my guides being like my own personal peanut gallery. What popped into my head immediately was, "Cashew. Cashew Gallery."
I immediately started laughing for two reasons: 1. I was eating cashews at the time (one of my favorite snacks) and 2. That is exactly the type of comment I would make.
From that moment on, my spirit guides have been referred to as "The Cashews."
Almost two years ago, I had a powerful experience during a workshop with a shaman at a holistic learning conference. After the session, I spoke with the shaman and I told him I was strongly drawn to follow a shaman's path. He smiled, hugged me and said, "Welcome home."
I was told if I was meant to travel the path of a shaman, I would find a teacher when the time was right.
When I learned I was moving to New Mexico, the Cashews kept telling me, "You're on the right path. You will find a teacher."
A few short weeks after moving to the Southwest, I went to the Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Arizona. On the way, I was wandering in the general direction of Window Rock and the road took me over a beautiful mountain. As I descended the other side, I happened upon a tiny waterfall. I stopped to enjoy the cold, fresh water and offer a prayer of thanks for the beautiful day, and to ask to be guided to a teacher. The message again resonated in my soul: "You will find a teacher."
As I started walking around the vendor booths at the fair, I noticed that several vendors were selling similar things. I saw bags of corn kernels, yellow and white, occasionally blue, as well as bags of corn meal. I was confused by the bags of what appeared to be evergreen needles at the booths. A few vendors were selling carved lengths of wood, not quite as big around as the business end of a Louisville Slugger.
I was feeling quite out of place, convinced I was the only white guy at the fair (which I later discovered was not true) but finally I asked a man who was examining the carved shafts of wood what they were used for. He told me the end was lit on fire and then used to keep burning whatever was being smoked during a ceremony, tobacco, marijuana, whatever.
Feeling thankful for his thorough explanation, I decided to ask what the evergreen needles, which I now noticed were labelled "cedar" and "flat leaf cedar" were used for. The man kindly explained that they are used for prayer. The needles are burned and the pleasing aroma is used to clear away negative energy. I thanked the man and continued to browse.
At another booth, I decided to buy a small medicine bag. I asked the woman at the booth what the bags of corn I saw everywhere were used for. "Prayer"she replied. White corn for men and yellow corn for women. She directed me to the man at the next booth who was selling bags of corn. As I was paying for the corn, I asked the man what the corn meal was used for. His answer was...prayer. I bought some corn meal as well.
I had landed in a highly spiritual part of the country...everything was sacred!
As I continued to browse, I came upon a Navajo woman who was selling herbs, her husband, the best medicine bags I had ever seen.
She had many jars of Navajo herbs and as I read their uses, I saw one that claimed to lower blood sugar. As a loosely controlled diabetic, I decided to buy some. I talked with the woman for a while and eventually asked her if she ever taught what she knows about herbs. She said her sister taught sometimes but she didn't really. I thanked her and went on my way. (I later discovered the herb she sold me was very powerful and immediately improved my blood sugar levels).
I was somewhat disappointed, because I thought for sure that this woman was the teacher the Cashews assured me I would find. All of a sudden, a thought struck me and I laughed out loud (not LOLed). I had been blessed with MANY teachers that day!
My instincts told me to go back and talk to the herbalist again.
Something had been weighing heavily on my mind...I asked her what she had to help anxiety. What do you think her answer was?
That sparked the beginning of a friendship that was mutually beneficial. I found out that the herbalist and her husband vended regularly at a market in Gallup, NM, two hours from where I was living, though they lived near Flagstaff, AZ.
I told them I would see them soon, and I did.
Over the next few months, I spent hours talking with them about herbs, healing, white culture and indigenous culture. I learned a lot from them and they learned a lot from me. She told me they really enjoyed having my perspective on life, the history between our people and the current state of spirituality in the world.
The last time I saw them, her husband agreed to teach me how he makes his medicine bags.
I fear I may never learn.
Today may be my last chance to ever see my friends, and they have not been vending during the winter months.
You see, my spiritual journey in New Mexico is nearly complete.
It seems I have learned what I came here to learn, and now it is time for me to learn elsewhere.
Through an unexpected turn of events, the school district I have been working for hired someone directly for my position and ended their contract with my staffing agency. In less than a week, I will move to Jacksonville, Florida to finish the school year.
I have learned so much during my time in New Mexico. I have complete faith that I am being led to the place I need to go to continue this spiritual journey.
I will be away from C and my children for a while longer, but it seems I am meant to continue this journey on my own for now.
I find comfort in the knowledge that I will be close to a childhood friend I have not seen much in recent years and close to my mother in law...many lessons to learn from her :)
Pay attention to the lessons in front of you. Not everyone needs to traipse around the country to engage their spiritual journey. Every journey is a spiritual journey. Think of the wisdom contained in taking care of a sick child, showing kindness to a stray animal or stepping forward as an agent of positive change in your community. One moment of fully conscious awareness will do more for the evolution of your spiritual journey than you can imagine.
Whether your path leads you into the depths of your soul, or to Jacksonville, Florida, stay alert to the power of each moment.
Be. Here. Now.