The fire keeper had a big round belly. He wore red converse sneakers and a sweet smile. We only heard two words from him. Each time he passed a stone over the threshold, he said what sounded like: “toto clio.” It made me think of the way rocks on the beach dance when water carries them.
They borrowed the stones from a volcano nearby and will return them after one year. During that time they will serve as centerpieces for ceremonies to honor the full moon, the new moon and other births and deaths… including ours.
A sweet young songstress in a flowing turquoise dress guided us. She made markings in the sand for the water and on the seven stones before she set them in the center of our circle. Each phase was described: birth, life, death, rebirth and we moved through them with her. She sprinkled palo santo, sage and other precious plants and a most heavenly scent arose with the steam. We breathed it in, we breathed it out.
She told us to welcome our ancestors. She welcomed us so completely. Her husband in his NY Yankees ball cap, blue jeans and thin moustache waited outside with their tiny little girl while we sweated and sang and cried.
The rhythm of the drum and the maracas, the simple melodies and easy to repeat refrains, drew our voices out and emotions came too.
Some spoke the names of mothers and grandmothers aloud… mine got stuck somewhere between my gut, heart and throat. There were daughters and deaths and adoptions and surgeries… and sweat and heat.
Then… there was a shower to wash the sand off of our skin, a meal, a walk on the beach, some time on the mat… and the cycle continued.
When we recognize our place in this process, when we hold space to be present and observe, when we smell and sing and sweat and cry… these are just some of the ways that we find freedom in the container that is our life.
These places are sacred. This land, this little stone structure, these lives, we, are sacred. Here, in this awareness, we find a clear path. We feel deeply and can express openly the fullness that is this experience. The generosity of people who engage in these practices is profound. When we do, our generosity too, is profound.
As my mom said as she came close to the transition that separated her from the body we knew… “I just love the world!”
May you be loving and know you are loved… you ARE the world!