If writing is like giving birth, the process with this piece has been a protracted labor. I'd push to get it out, and something else would push back – "not yet". One week stretched into two, then almost three.
Occasionally in this space, I allude to my belief that we are connected to, inseparable from, and continually in dialog with a wise and loving universe. I locate that universe within us, between us and all around us. Sometimes its dialog with us takes the form of outer experiences mirroring inner realities.
Here's a story exploring, once again, those themes.
One afternoon a month or so ago, frazzled at the office, meditation practice temporarily in tatters, attempting to multitask, just ending a call from Marisa (my daughter), I slapped my flip phone shut and shoved it hurriedly toward its holster on my hip. The phone missed the opening and crashed to the floor. A four-letter word burst from my lips.
Bending down to pick up the phone, I saw that it was busted, really busted this time. One of the flip's hinges was disconnected from the body of the phone and resisted every effort I made to reconnect it. At the time, I thought of Humpty Dumpty, the fairy tale egg who had a great fall. As I reflect now, I see a mirroring message: the phone's unhinging mirrored my own.
With one hinge still in place, I could still make calls, but my trusty phone was clearly on its last legs. And, just as clearly, I was disconnected from center. Fortunately, a vacation was on the horizon – five days in Death Valley with Joanie and dear friends, Kirk and Dee. I definitely needed a change of scenery. Sometimes an outer change facilitates an inner shift.
Death Valley is an eerily beautiful place – canyons, colors, magnificent rock uplifts and formations under blue, almost violet, cloudless sky. Hiking through a particularly spectacular, narrow, winding, marble gorge, I wondered aloud about the origin of the word gorgeous: "I bet it has something to do with gorges."
At 282 feet below sea level, Death Valley contains the lowest piece of real estate in the western hemisphere. Some might say it's as close to hell as you can get. I prefer to think that it's as close as we can get to the center.
Anyway, there are salt flats in that deepest part of the valley – miles of salt-covered ground interrupted by fields of crystalline salt structures left behind after centuries of evaporating brine. No two alike, the structures have an other-worldly quality about them. If you're careful, you can walk out among the structures without disturbing them. That's just what I did.
Standing there, under fierce sunshine and surrounded by ancient crystals, a powerful healing energy washed over and through me, bringing release and relief – a softening, a centering, a letting go. Easy breathing. No hurry, no worry. Everything's fine.
Some time later that day, I noticed my inner jukebox. It was playing a line from an old Donovan song: "They call me mellow yellow". And, sure enough, the rest of the trip was a gentle flow, definitely mellow. Even now, Donovan's tune and lyric still visit me.
Next day, we learned there was a short stretch of road in the park where cell service was available. We stopped there to check messages, and I decided to call my good friend and spiritual companion, Rich, whose birthday was the previous day. After a lovely conversation, affirming once again the beauty of all, I re-entered the Jeep. With cell phone held loosely in my left hand, I eased into the driver's seat and, just as I reached with that same hand to close the door, the phone slipped from my grasp and landed on the hard-packed desert gravel.
Not the least bit dismayed, I released all attachment to the phone. I assumed it was finished. I felt at peace. Bending down to pick it up, I was surprised to see that it wasn't in pieces. In fact, it was completely healed. The separated hinge was re-connected to the body of the phone, with no trace of its former injury. Stunned, I stared for a bit, tested the mechanism a couple times, then laughed in amazement.
The scientist in me says: "What a lucky accident." The mystic, whom I tend to trust more in these matters, says: "What a lovely communication."
Nice mirror. Nice healings. Nice sense of humor.