Her words haunt me. Sending me on a journey deep into myself.
I have had many mentors and elders cross my spiritual path. They have come and gone from my birth to their death I have met angels upon angels in my travels. Each one has offered me an opportunity for healing, truth, reconciliation, justice, magic, and ritual. They offered me belonging. Belonging to something, a tribe, a spiritual clandestine community, a sacred circle.
For the most part, they have held me, protected, and guided me. But some I outgrew, some made me question this whole thing called healing and spirituality. Our egos battled, spirit lost. To some, I became a disappointment, to others a competition fearing that I would replace them because I was only supposed to go so far in their mentorship and under their leadership.
To others, I was a mirror of everything they hadn't yet accomplished.
Sojourner, however, was special.
There were days as a spiritual organizer and healer that I said to myself I would not participate in another ritual, not another invocation or libation. I didn't want to be a part of another sacred circle or healing circle. I was exhausted of so much healing, so much self-reflection, so much taking responsibility for myself when the people and world around me were so inauthentic and out of integrity. No one was taking responsibility for their actions, no one was being held accountable. What am I doing here, trying to be a healer a coach for what, for who? Why am I trying to make my way in a spiritual tradition whose roots are in an ancestral burial ground I have to die and bury myself to uncover?
"You know", were the last words Sojourner said to me before she passed away. She was my spiritual teacher, coach, and friend for over 20 years. "You are ready - stop looking outside of yourself for the answers". A couple of weeks before she passed I was rubbing her feet. They smelled of rotten flesh but I didn't care. I had done this before, many times before to all the elders, mentors, and women I have supported in their healing. Many had come through my professional life, many of whom came through my home that I don't talk to today and many my mother took care of and showed me how to honor no matter what they did or how they treated me.
But Sojourner, it was an honor to clean her feet. She never gave up on me, she wanted me to become who I am. She knew something I didn't, that I was ready to know.
To know me, to discern for myself. That has been my journey through COVID. Those words are the building blocks for my future as a healer, for my next steps this 2022. I didn't know it then but those words were going to be my healing and salvation through social isolation, quarantine, uprisings, and revolutions.
In retrospect, what I have learned about healing in the past two years is that it's painful and isolating. Healing is not for the faint of hearts or for pendejas.
Healing needs an elders circle, a protection circle, a recovery circle. Healing from organizational traumas and crises, leadership gone ego, oppressive mentorships, and power over straight-on violent and abusive collective, movements, and sisterhoods needs sacred circles around it to hold, recover, and transform it.
But during social isolation, as a healer, I had to learn and my community had to learn to be extra creative in our spirituality and healing when we couldn't access healing supplies at local botanicas or light candles because they didn't have them at the grocery store during a pandemic. I had to look back to everyone that I learned from, that taught me. I gave reverence, I forgave, and let go.
I know, these are the most powerful and scariest words I have ever heard. They paralyze and haunt me at night when I face my fears in the dark by myself when I want to call a friend that is no longer available or get counsel from a mentor I no longer have access to. I know, are the words that she constantly whispered in my ear through COVID and up to this very moment as I struggle to write this piece. Get back to your altar and you will know your next steps she tells me from the oceans and heavens. But will I knows my next steps when I still struggle to not look outside myself for acknowledgment or affirmation? Will I know my next steps when I wrestle with the past, holding on to resentments or what I should've, could've done, or been?
Never forget your altar she said. Always come back to your altar. There is where the answers will come from. At the altar is where you will know.
I wish she could have met me now, she who I have become. The She, who she knew I was always going to be.
When I was given her holy sacrament and told that it would now be on my altar and be my responsibility after being with her in ritual for over 30 years; I knew exactly what I needed to do. All of a sudden I became she who knows.
My offering to you this summer: YOU KNOW TOO!
My affirmation for you this summer: I know. I have everything I need within myself.
As we struggle to come up for air after social isolation and quarantine. WE KNOW!
As we go back to offices and try to resume a "normal" life or go back to routine. WE KNOW
As we start to remember who we were before the pandemic and think about what we want to keep or let go of about ourselves. I KNOW
In BOLD Healing
P.S. I don't know about you but this has left me asking myself
How do I recover and heal in a way that I have never thought about before?
What healing does my community need that has never been offered before?
What needs do you have now that no one is addressing?
I'm looking forward to reading your answers.....