(The three previous stories now have their own page, ‘Prelude’ just up there on the header)
I must admit, after the events of the previous week I approached my third Journey with a small degree of trepidation, and wondering just how vast an undertaking this was all going to be.
In the Gap Between the Worlds a whirlpool of misty vapor came into being in front of my feet. Tiny eddies of energy at the edges swept inexorably around counter-clockwise surging faster and faster toward the center and disappearing down to who-knows-where. I studied it intently, looking for clues as to what this might mean. I was pulled down into it with a force that took my breath away. Before I could gasp my breath back into my lungs, I was standing at a place where the sea meets the sand looking out across gently breaking waves.
Some years prior, Ocean and I had come to a mutually agreed upon covenant which did not include me going swimming in Her, even if it was in another Realm of Awareness.
I glanced behind me. Nothing there. Literally nothing. I sighed, perhaps a little fatalistically, and said to the wavelets, “Well then, I’d just have to go forward, won’t I?”
The wet sand squeaked as I walked into the water. It rose higher and higher around my body and the receding tidal surge pulled the sand out from under my feet. Soon the water lapped at my chin. Panic brought tears to my eyes. I tilted my head back and held my breath, trying to find the strength to trust the choice I made only days ago.
I can do this, I told myself. I can let the water close over the top of my head.
My breath was now stuck somewhere between my lungs and the back of my throat. An unearthly howl of terror rippled across the water. It took me a moment to realize that it was me. I was drowning.
A part of my awareness, far off in the distance asked, “What is it about water that brings this terror up?” But no answer was forthcoming. I had to do a lot more Work before I would be ready to face the answer to that question.
Also, I didn’t drown. Which was a great relief.
The water simply became a substance like air, albeit denser than air, that I could pass through. I took in a few steadying breaths and descended to the ocean floor where a scattering of coral outcroppings floated among the mercurial beams of light that danced across the sandy floor.
I could get used to this. I smiled as I walked toward a small crevasse that caught my attention. The closer I got the bigger it got, or the smaller I became, it was hard to tell. I passed through some sort of portal in the crevasse and entered a completely different ocean. One with a living pulsing entity. I hung, suspended, with nothing to see except the blue-green water.
Suddenly my ‘walking through water like it was air’ wasn’t working anymore. I struggled and thrashed about until I created enough bubbles to show me which way was up. I took off for the surface as though my life depended on it.
My lungs filled with water. Seawater tastes disgusting when you’re drowning. Eventually I broke through the surface and thrashed around some more, trying really hard not to sink. I spun this way and that desperate to find something to hang on to, to keep me above the water.
Then I became aware of Her.
A presence, encompassing all the waters of the world. Lakes and streams, rivers and oceans, and even tiny puddles on the side of a road. She held me in Her immense watery arms, and murmured over and over again, “You will not drown. I am holding you.”
It was my personal experience, starting right back in my childhood, that no-one was capable of that kind of holding.
I stopped struggling though, and tried to accept that I wouldn’t drown. That I would be able to rest in the depths of the passionate love She offered.
In a voice that washed around me like a caress, She asked, “Do you trust Me?”
I broke out in a cold sweat, which is really a neat trick with most of me submerged. My heart pounded so hard in my chest that I wondered if it would shatter my ribs.
“Do you trust me?” She said again.
I could say that, yes, I did trust Her, but we’d both know that wasn’t true. So, how was I supposed to tell an entity of Ocean’s eminence that, really, I didn’t trust Her?
I had to answer, that much I did know. It was part of the agreement I made when I chose to do this Work.
I struggled to hold myself still, to relax my body, both physical and psychic, so that I could face my fear and be able to answer Her truthfully.
“No,” My voice cracked and the words seemed to come from very far away. “I don’t trust You.”
My heart slowed down and I said again, this time clearly, with ownership, “No, I don’t trust you.” I braced myself for the end of the Universe or something equally catastrophic. Or at the very least, my own demise.
My choice was simply accepted, not judged, nor reacted upon, simply accepted. I had been challenged to find the courage to risk an unwelcome answer, to be true to myself. I was cradled and rocked on Ocean’s gentle breast, accepting acceptance.
When I was a child we lived in a shack built of sturdy bush timber and old corrugated iron next to a small gully with a creek at the bottom of it. We carried our water up from the creek by hand and emptied each bucket into a trio forty-four gallon drums.
I loved that creek. I loved it’s earthy, lush smell. I loved all the unknown creatures that wiggled, slithered, and flapped just beyond my line of vision either along its banks or down in the, sometimes still, sometimes burbling along, green waters.
Our main swimming hole was formed by a natural rock dam that headed the first ever waterfall I saw, all of about a meter high, but seeing as I wasn’t much taller than that it impressed me none-the-less. Through all the floods that came and went that swimming hole never silted up, and I dog-paddled around in it to my hearts content because I knew that no matter where I was, my feet could always touch the bottom and I was safe.
The first time I saw the Pacific Ocean I was about ten years old. Up until then my horizons had always been limited by trees and garden plots, houses, and the clutter of human things. I looked across the waves and felt completely lost. I was very young but I felt such an adult fear. It was something I had no words for, and so I filed it away in my silent place inside, with all the other knowledge and fears that I had no words for, that grown-ups wouldn’t understand or believe.
When I was in my mid-twenties a group of my friends and I traveled north to a Women’s Music Festival at Lismore on the North Coast of New South Wales. Afterwards we headed to the ocean and camped for a few days with some other women from the festival. The ocean called to me like a Siren, an irresistible pull, and wasn’t I an adult now? Not a child with childish fears?
The others were in the water already, confidently swimming out to catch the crest of the waves and body-surf them in to the shore. It looked all pretty easy, so I plunged in and swam out beyond the surf. Floating in the swell I battled with the lump of fear in my throat which was conducting an on-going dialogue with my rational brain, that went something like this: “The tide is turning, I will be dragged out to sea, the positive buoyancy that women are supposed to have because of the extra layer of fat is a lie, and I will probably just paddle around like that silly woman in that silly Sixties song ‘Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’, (not that I was wearing anything … which probably contributed to the … hmm, getting ahead of myself here) get waterlogged, and sink anyway.”
After a while it became obvious that none of the above scenarios were about to unfold, except the one about the tide turning, so I decided it was okay to relax and enjoy myself, and try body-surfing.
The very first wave I caught was perfect all the way in, until a few meters from the beach where there was a pit of gravel dug out by the undertow from that pesky turning tide. I ended up back on the beach all right, but half-drowned from having swallowed a generous portion of the Pacific Ocean, and the ungrateful recipient of a gravel rash from my chin to my knees.
It was then and there, as various soothing unguents were being applied to my body, that Ocean and I made our agreement. I would be able to travel over Her, walk beside Her, even paddle and splash about and make sandcastles at Her edge, but I would never go any deeper into Her than what I could stand up in, and She wouldn’t drown me!
Quite fair, I thought.
You just knew I was going to post this video …