I want to say that something profound has taken place.
I’ve found the love of my life.
But a mystical experience often precedes love, and this is the story of what happened during a simple vacation two summers ago….
I’ll start with this: 2010 was the most transformative and agonizing year of my life. It was the year of my divorce. I’ve come to realize that only those who’ve been through this harrowing experience can truly understand its complex and multifarious emotional landscape.
My divorce, which was a relatively smooth and amicable one, still felt like a spiritual disembowelment. Extricating myself from a life partner and soul mate of eight years was more than just an extrication, it’s was about grieving the belief that soul mates last forever, and that there is such thing as ‘ the One ‘ (my modified beliefs on this belong in another article).
The hardest part was to stare at the broken shards of my assumption that I would grow old and die with Kevin, and that I would enjoy the love, security and support of our vows for the rest of my life.
I was really counting on it.
The second hardest part was when the memories would seize and attack at random (often in the middle of the night) and send me into an involuntary spasm of sobs. These mercifully lessened over time.
The third hardest part was wondering if I would find love again. I can say with certainty that I do want partnership. Or at least, for now, a friendly, fun and passionate lover to defibrillate my heart and my hope.
I consider this: I’m pushing 40 and the likelihood that I will have children is diminishing (I’ve made peace with this reality). And I factor in that my list of needs in a partner has grown increasingly specific and inflexible. He must be over 40, a spiritual warrior, devoted to being of service, super intelligent, and have just about every other characteristic that I’ve discovered is next to impossible to find in a man over 40.
My dream of romantic love has thankfully matured into a more realistic expectation, and I take this as a healthy sign of growing up. As my hero Roger Waters once sang: “…I cannot put my finger on it now / but the child has grown / and the dream is gone.”
Unfortunately the journey toward this new man has been…well…disappointing. This year has brought only a few short-lived, unfulfilling and mostly unrequited romantic interests. I’ve had nothing to help me believe that I’ll have a relationship anytime soon. Not for lack of looking and hoping, mind you, but there has just not been a worthy suitor. As my wise (and divorced) friend Alicia once said, “All women going through a divorce deserve one pass for a crazy transitional love affair.”… I took that pass with a tempest of a 25 year old, thanks, and really don’t need another.
With that said, here’s how it all happened.
The summer of 2010 led me out of the weeping, sobbing divorcee-den of my Los Angeles apartment to a family reunion in Virginia (and trust me, this LA girl would not have chosen Virginia as a vacation spot otherwise). The Clay family has a long legacy of colonial and political life stemming from the very first English settlement at Jamestown in 1607 where my forefather John Clay was a resident. The reunion involved a tour of the archaeological site, a clever outdoor exhibit of where the Powhatan Indians were settled when European colonists arrived. The two groups were neighbors on this land in tense cycles of trade and combat before warfare erupted, and one thing felt eerily sure to me as I strolled the grounds – I had been here before. I couldn’t explain it but this place felt so familiar, in a way that my lifelong home of LA never had.
Joining us that day was a friend of the family – actually I think she’s the cousin of my former uncle by marriage, or something. Anyway we’ll call her Marla (she’s asked for her identity to be protected), she’s in her 60’s maybe, and she has a glimmer of rebellion in her eye that only mystics and old-school hippies have. Her hair is short and grey, she doesn’t wear a stitch of make-up, and she drives a truck with a sticker on it that says something like “Save the Whales”. I liked her immediately.
Sensing a kindred spirit, she invited me to spend a few days on her rural farm on the Rappahannock River. I didn’t hesitate at the chance to be in a forest and commune with the plant spirits, and in fact I can’t think of a single thing I enjoy more than being alone in a forest. Seriously. So I agreed to finish my trip with a few days on her farm.
When I arrived my heart melted and I could feel myself softening into the breast of mother earth. Marla said her land had been home to some 15,000+ Powhatan Indians until the Europeans decimated them through disease, warfare, and starvation.
The outer ring of the farm has old-growth forest, but the interior of the property is stripped flat. Apparently during Marla’s parents’ generation the land was unsustainably over-farmed and infused with herbicides, pesticides and genetically modified crops. Marla has decided to convert this 200+ acre parcel from a corn and soybean farm to a nature preserve. She’s replanting indigenous species of trees and other plant life so that a native forest will once again cover this land that she alone inherited from her parents.
She’s doing it all on her own, and with her physical resources isn’t sure how she’ll make it happen. She has no surviving family and she needs help on every level – especially with the back-breaking work of recreating an eco-system. The Native American history is evident, and Marla has an entire cabinet of artifacts – from arrowheads to stone axes to grinding implements that she routinely discovers as she’s planting trees. She told me these artifacts date back to 10,000 BC.
One night we went for a sunset canoe ride down the Rappahannock…and that night the river claimed my heart forever. As we glided down the river at twilight the soft and heavy air of an eastern summer night hugged me like a grandmother, and the stillness of the water made our oars slip quietly through the mystery of its surface. From a patch of floating lily pads came a concert of frogs and cicadas, singing some orchestration that I have no human ability to understand. I was enchanted by the metaphor of the river that night; mighty in its flow, solemn on its surface, and abounding with life underneath.
As we paddled toward the horizontal strip of crimson in the sky it seemed to promise that if you follow the light you will find your way to happiness.
The next day I sat meditating in Marla’s forest on a fallen tree, taking in the ancient energies surrounding me. Could my calling to this land be reparation for the deeds of my colonial forefathers? I prayed to the forest spirits, to the trees, to the insects and the birds. I prayed to my ancestors who walked this earth before me. I implored them all, “What am I to do?” Nothing short of a mystical experience happened next.
The answer came swift and sure: “YOU WILL PROTECT THE FOREST.”
My Ego chimed in, “But I’m already doing service”. I run a shelter for battered women, I have a private practice in spiritual psychotherapy, and I produce a sacred dance workshop. More? Really?”
” YES. YOU ARE NEEDED. HERE IS WHAT WE NEED YOU TO DO,” said the Voice.
“QUIT WASTING ENERGY ON THINGS THAT HAVE NO CAPACITY TO SUPPORT YOUR PURPOSE.
QUIT POISONING YOUR BODY.
QUIT PURSUING SUPERFICIAL RELATIONSHIPS THAT DISTRACT YOU.
RISE ABOVE YOUR IMMATURE DILEMMAS, EVA.
SAVE THE FOREST. “
Sitting there on the log my life began to flash like a slide show in my mind, all the dramas of the last year – the parties, festivals, and the endless pursuits at distraction and excess. But almost everything that thrilled me for the past 9 years has taken a turn lately – even Burning Man, of which I’d been a die-hard fanatic – had left me feeling flat, exhausted and dissatisfied. While I watched my friends have wild and transcendent experiences, there I walked away wondering if I’m the only one who would’ve rather been at home reading National Geographic or doing sun salutations on the beach. This party girl is pooped.
I realized this last year I’ve been operating mostly from fear, and from the core concern of “Holy shit, am I going to be ok?” From the space of my pain-body I’ve needed to feel as though I’m loved, that I have a place in my community, that I’m capable of taking care of myself as a single woman.
But in that Virginia forest I gave up my investment in it all and the desire for a man in my life was lifted. Gone. I can’t tell you what a relief this is for me to trust that I’ve been striking out in romance for a reason. A very good reason. The forest needs me.
And now a new Purpose larger than myself calls me to step fully into my power.
We are never given a calling without being given the resources to fulfill it. During my stay on the farm I had overwhelming psychic visions of the people who once lived in this forest. I felt the needs of the animals who are struggling to survive here, and every time I held an arrowhead from Marla’s cabinet I saw a movie behind my eyes, a story of the arrowhead’s maker and its journey into present time. The forest revealed new gifts to be used – gifts of vision, wisdom and clairvoyance beyond what I thought I had before. I understood that my gifts are not be squandered, dimmed or misapplied out of some egotistic need to expend energy on the next big party or in concerning myself with is-he-going-to-call-me?
I kneeled and atoned to the forest for my behavior the past year:
I’m sorry I’ve been so embroiled in my selfish dramas.
I’m sorry I’ve been preoccupied by my need for attention.
I’m sorry I’ve doubted my psychic vision.
I’m sorry I’ve compromised my body temple.
Lastly, I atoned to the forest for the trespasses of my colonial forefathers, who drove the natives from their land and commenced the historic rape of North America’s natural resources.
Exactly how I’ll be of service to the forest is yet to be revealed, but already ideas and visions are coming through that will sponsor native groves, especially there in Indian country. I understand that the forest has spoken through me in a desperate plea for help.
Now as I write this I feel wildly in love with our forests and am clear in my Purpose, my Promise, and my Mission. I remembered I am more than a decedent European settlers, I am a child of the earth, a Medicine Woman, a Healer, a Priestess, a Visionary, an Activist, and now: A voice for the forest. I promise I won’t forget this again.
Thanks for bearing witness. I guess I needed to say all this. Let my life be of service to Earth and Her creatures. Aho.
P.S. Please help me in preserving our old growth forests. Your time and resources are urgently needed. Contact the 500 Year Forest Foundation at www.500YearForest.org, they directly support Marla’s farm. Thank you.
About the Author: Eva is the creatrix and muse of LA’s hit sensation Sacred Dance Live: a Tribal Ecstatic Dance Experience. She believes in creativity as a catalyst for change and eloquently marries the profound with the playful in all her adventures. She’s a spiritual psychotherapist, community activist, and public speaker who spends her free time making mayhem on a dance floor. In addition to facilitating her therapeutic dance workshops, she manages a non-profit organization for battered women and has a private counseling practice for singles seeking their soul mate. Of late she’s been crashing open mike events with her dangerously irreverent poetry.
Eva’s not only passionate about being a shaman of dance, she also offers workshops on radical self-expression and speaks about the spiritual dimensions of intimacy, sex and love. Visit Her Website