it was an unusually sunny day in seattle. weekend of the annual bumbershoot festival. music & artisans & food at every turn, there was lots to take in. not the first time i'd been, but certainly the one i'll always remember. for that one beautiful man who changed by world.
he was sitting behind his display tables, well protected under the canopy of his booth. there were tall wood boxes that held the many pieces he'd already completed. ranging in size from waist high to over the top, each piece was as stunning as he was. i was completely enthralled. i stopped to watch him as he worked, trying to be silent, not wanting to disturb him. i was so fascinated by his hands & by the work those hands produced. i stood there for a very long while, trying not to breath for fear the sound would distract him.
i suppose it was the intensity of my stare. he looked up at me & smiled ever so slightly. he asked if he could help me. i was unable to speak in that first moment. he waited. finally i asked, "how do you know what to carve? how do you get those details from the wood? where did you learn how to do that?"
his response surprised me almost as much as the pieces themselves. he told me that he had nothing to do with how they 'came out'. he said that it was merely his willingness to listen to the tree's spirit. he said that inside each branch was a part of that tree's spirit...& his job was to listen for it, then, ever so respectfully, use the tools to help let it out.
i remember tears rolling down my cheek as he spoke. i remember not being able to respond (verbally) to what he'd told me. i remember that at that moment, it felt like all those thousands of people there at the festival had suddenly disappeared & all that were left were him, me & those tree spirits.
to say that it changed me is an immense understatement. it was such an incredible moment that, to this day, when i think of it, it still brings tears to my eyes. i bought one of those tree spirits...& he kindly carved my name onto it. i still have it. it's a walking stick...& it has purple suede around the top part of it where my hand rests as i walk. every time i touch it, i can feel the charge of energy that it holds. it is one of my greatest treasures. but the reason is very different now.
for the past few days, i've been experiencing some very intense pain in my bones. usually it's manageable, but lately it's been so deep it's made me nauseous. that's a whole lotta pain. when this happens, my usual course of action is to sit in a hot tub until the water gets cool...& then just go lie down until i fall asleep. it's the only thing that helps (short of taking a bunch of pain-killers, which i don't like taking.) usually, once i've slept for a while, the pain lightens up enough for me to carry on. but yesterday...well, yesterday was a tough one.
so, after trying to muscle my way thru it for hours, i finally decided it was time to say 'uncle' & just go lie down. even this didn't help. my cat came & laid down with me, purring & licking my hands, doing her best to share the love. with tears rolling down my face, i prayed that it would pass...RIGHT NOW!
at last, i fell asleep. i didn't sleep well, as each time i moved the pain shot thru me. but i stayed in bed until my bladder screamed. once i stepped out of bed, i walked as gently as i could to the bathroom, and got in the tub. as i laid there, i realized something that my sister told me.
she said that the pain was like the excess stuff that needed to be removed to uncover the 'real' me. she said that, like a sculptor, it's not about creating a piece, it's about removing what's in the way. she reminded me of the work i do with wood & how it's all very much the same. she also reminded me that this process, all of the pain included, is my soul's way of breaking out.
& when i heard those words, i remembered that beautiful man & his tree spirits. i was right back there again...watching him work. only this time, it was me he was helping, not those tree spirits. it was me he was helping to set free from the 'not' parts. somehow, just thinking about that made all the pain disappear...even for just a little while.
think i'll keep this one in my pocket.