Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spring Adult Wilderness Quest

Spring Adult Wilderness Quest Reflections

We were different people from different cities going different directions. We met for one moment of life transformation and redirection in the wilds of Washington. This was a path we had chosen for answers…for clarification…because we knew this is what we were called to do even if we didn’t know why.

During the Spring Adult Wilderness Quest this year we blurred the lines of wildlife, self, and Gaia and found a deeper appreciation for the relationships we have built, the love that we give and receive, and the sacrifice of the trees and the animals that give us life. Kneeling before elk we became vulnerable. Our connection became powerful. Following the eagle’s path we became lost. We are now found. Dancing around a snake, we shed our old skin. In our hunger for more, we created new skin. Whatever we needed, this quest became medicine for our soul.

The challenges we faced were by choice. The victories we made were because of the inner gifts that we both uncovered and sharpened; and because of structure and heart of the Rite of Passage Journeys organization. The staff – Helen, Cassandra, Kirt – walk the walk and talk the talk in ways that are authenticate and heartfelt. They see your passion…they draw you near…they hold you close…and they help you dig deep and push through in ways that go beyond community – they become family.

Although nine days seemed like an enormous amount of time at the beginning, it became a blur of reality that left us with big, satiated smiles. We spent three days acknowledging and releasing our expectations and intentions of what a quest is and could be. Three days were spent alone, fasting, facing our fears, overcoming our challenges, and learning that we are stronger, more intuitive, more loved and capable of love than we ever knew. And then we finished with three days of no longer hiding behind the masks of our past existence. Without judgment we were welcomed. Even though some of us were tempted to leave during the hardest parts of the journey, we are now happy that we stayed. The last two days of the entire experience became the most critical, important part.

If it is true, you do not learn until you have time to reflect then we have only just begun to appreciate the gift of the Spring Adult Wilderness Quest experience. There was a combination of the natural and the sacred that resonated with each of us, enabling us to breathe, pray, and stomp our way through like warriors. In the end we are just like you. We are teachers, students, advocates, artists, advisers, therapists, guides, administrators, planners… and we are chosen. So are you.

Welcome home.

--Katie, Janel, Nadine, Candace, Jay, Julie, Tiffany, and Meris

From the 2010 Apprentices (a brand-new program)

We, the new staff of Journeys, made a group flag before our 3 day orientation trip out to the coast. A tradition shared by all Journeys trips, the flag flies at each campsite with our values we want like to create together plus the outline of our hands symbolizing our agreement tattooed on its side. During our trip, our many intentions to create a safe space in which to learn, experience, and perhaps make mistakes became flesh and that process created some of the most moving shared moments. There's really no substitute for feeling the sand of Third Beach in between your toes or transitioning from beach to green and soggy trail via a gnarly yosemite ladder but we'll try to recreate it for you!

We wanted to create CONNECTION

In only a few days, we were visited by small deer bounding up and down the beach, heralded first by nickle-sized tracks in the sand, a rainbow of starfish, huge white seals, bald eagles, a snake, and a river otter. The multitude of slugs and their inherent funniness captured our delight as well as tracks from both raccoons and bobcats. It seems crows narrated each part of our journey with raucous caw caws. Through these visitations and our contact with the beauty of off-shore haystacks or the pale night sky directly after sunset, our connection with the earth was deepened.

We wanted to bring GRATITUDE

Our connection to the earth lives close to our gratitude for it. Truly, that night of crescent moonlight under a sky full of stars silhouetting the small mountains of rock and fir standing in the waters of the Pacific reflected our own thanks at the chance to witness it, a first for a few of us. We found ourselves grateful for the immense wisdom and gracious support of both Darcy and Jason, our two Journeys veterans and guides without whom there would've been no trip. We would also be remiss if we didn't mention the tasty trail meals (You should ask Jason for his (in)famous mac and cheese recipe.) We celebrated each one with blessings beforehand.

We wanted HUMOR

We found as we grew closer to one another and especially in the last 12 hours of the trip, we felt more comfortable displaying the creative and zany parts of ourselves. Or perhaps the added humor preceded a tighter bond between us. Whatever the order, the last 24 hours saw us beginning to work together on a new level.

Laughing and smiling, we came together the last night to cook dinner, all 7 of us with a hand in this pot or that or doing the terribly important work of telling jokes and supervising. The next morning, our day started at 3 A.M. (got to get the van back to Songaia) with a record breaking 45 minute camp pack up. We hiked the 1.4 miles back to the van in the dark, head lamps slashing the deep black of the woods. Perhaps due to sleep deprivation, the van ride back was hilarious and full of light hearted joking. Still laughing, we enjoyed a delicious base camp breakfast and the powerful welcoming back of Journeys community.

Looking forward to a summer on the trail,
Stephanie, Melissa, Leah, Mallory, Nevada, Darcy, and Jason