On Initiation

There continues to be many ways that I both seek out and offer learnings on initiation. There’s Fire & Water, the 16-month cohort program that Quanita Roberson and I created. We are nearing completion with our third group. There’s the Wisdom Series, the four-week online program that Quanita and I recently offered. With weekly themes of Elders, Surrender, Spirit Walk, and Earth Walk. There’s Soultime, the twice per year men’s group that I join with.

Initiation continues to teach me. Initiation continues to guide. In narrative. And in practice with self and with others. Below are rough notes of what is evolving in me and in what I offer with Quanita.

  • Experience shows up in our lives — we are alive. We can’t live without day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year happenings.
  • I am one that orients to “life is learning” — all of life is learning. My grandmothers taught me a lot about learning, about paying attention. I’m glad for that.
  • I am not one that orients to all learning is initiation. Learning to repair the leaky faucet in my home could have some initiatory power, but it might just be fixing a leak.
  • The big learnings are more likely to be initiations.
  • Some big learnings we choose — the move, the divorce, the profession.
  • Some big learnings arrive for us or upon us — the death of a loved one, the illness, the house fire, the opening of the heart through a grandchild.
  • Some big learnings we reject — we get rigid, we go into a trauma response. But they often come back — perhaps life guides.

Here’s some of what glues all of that together. And it feels like a kind framing and practice for living. With a bow to Christina Baldwin, a key teacher for me and for many.

  • Important growth happens, perhaps the fruits of initiations, when we are able to metabolize experience into story, to principles, to practices, and to guidance.
  • Something important happens when we are able to recognize and continue in a vibration of integration from those life experiences metabolized.
  • Some of that happens in deep personal work. Some of that happens in the essentialness of community.

There are many kinds of initiations. The kind I’m particularly interested in are the ones that bring us humans to paying attention in more integrated and wholistic ways. They bring us to an energetic of love, kindness, consciousness, and flow. With self. Received from others. Offered to others. Practiced as a commitment to being on planet earth at this time.

From the recent Wisdom Series…

  • Elders and Guides can hold us, they can offer “I got you” as this metabolizing goes on, sometimes taking us beyond the edges of what we can be with.
  • Surrender is when we get on our knees, and in the trees, with the honesty of “I don’t know what to do.” It’s when we give ourselves to intuitive ways of being, to gut knowing.
  • Spirit Walk brings us to relationship and invitation with the unseen — we suspend patterns of knowing. We welcome mystery to companion us. We further practice letting go.
  • Earth Walk brings us to practices, that continue to metabolize experience. We become ceremonialists. We bring the mystical to the everyday, with simplicity. It’s lighting candles. It’s mediation practices. It’s walks in the labyrinth. It’s a healthier diet. It’s seeing with a heart of beauty.

As I continue to give myself to initiations — departures (from norms, from ego), journey (ordeals, serendipity, soul level experience), and return (to self, to community, to witness) — I often feel like there remains more unsaid and unseen that said and seen. And yet, this might be the point. When we enter big learnings, they invoke the language of feeling, of sensing, of insufficient words, of listening to winds.

I’m glad for the many that join these learnings. For the many that trust enough to find new layers of being. For the many that celebrate and contribute to more kind ways of living in these times — unsatisfied with unconscious replication of numbing norms.

A bow.

2 Replies to “On Initiation”

  1. “The big learnings are more likely to be initiations.”

    The distinction between fixing the leaky faucet and other kinds of experience was useful to me. I especially like the word “metabolize.”

    The leaky faucet could be an initiatory experience (that, btw, is another phrase I resonate to … “initiatory experience”) in that it could create an opportunity for one to reflect on the choice of what is leaking in me, what needs repair, what might evoke the tears of grief in me … or it could be I don’t need to fix it myself and arrange for someone else to come in and do that in support of my choice to focus on art or poetry or just sitting outside in the labyrinth.

    Thank you, as ever.

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