A deep sigh of relief spreads through my body as we enter the Ouachita Mountains. A trip made each year to breathe in a place with so much history that you can feel it pulse from the land itself. Like much of history anywhere, it has its war stories and abuse suffered, but a thread travels much deeper through many people, plants, mineral, and animals who have dwelled this place in past times. The ancestry is alive, however buried the stories may be.
Shortly before I was to return here, I was given directions to a place of light by a chance encounter. I scribbled down the words on a scrap of paper as I heard them, not quite sure If I could find it. Actually not quite sure if the directions were even real. They sounded more like something given to a person in search of treasure, which I was not so what did it matter? It was more like a riddle and to some it may have sounded a little sketchy at best. If I found it I found it, if I didn't then I didn't. I scribbled away and stuffed the torn page in my pocket.
The plan was to search for this place of light two days into the trip. The night before we set up camp on a lonely but beautiful peninsula surrounded by calm blue waters. No one was was around and the air had a hint of that familiar mystic quality I was raised with. It told me quickly why there was no one around and what the weather forecast confirmed, there was a severe storm heading directly towards us. Our campsite gave us such an advantage to hold on through the worst of it. A tornado followed through later that evening, pursuing the land but broke up around our semi protected place perched on the tip of a lake.
*We huddled in a tiny tent and from this experience I cannot express enough how all tents are not created equal. If you plan to be in real elements of nature, go for the pricier well made tents. You may just land yourself in the outskirts of a tornado. *
The rain plummeted down so hard with winds ranging 50-60 mph. Through the darkness and sounds of strong wind I remember feeling like I was in the depths of a ship, at the mercy of the ocean. It was hard to tell if water was raging from below as well as above and it was the craziest sensation to hear and feel it all while still remaining dry. Not knowing if the tent would hold, not knowing how much worse it would get till it released its grip. Several deep breaths of slight anxiety mixed with absolute love and awe that these storms often bring me, we waited and waited until eventually we fell asleep. I remember waking a few hours later to the soft sound of a gentle rain before I rolled over and slipped back into a dreamless sleep.
The next day woke with a brilliant sunshine and blessed heat. Everything around pulsing with renewed life the storm swept in. The air dense with humidity, blanketed my body in comfort. In the face of such a storm left me with a bounce in my step. I reached for that crumpled bit of paper and we climbed into my jeep and drove towards it's direction. Interpreting my scratches, we located the nameless road. A windy mud road so narrow and crowded with forest that there would be no turning around once we entered. As it turned and twisted the overhead canopy thickened and we pushed further into this terrain. I looked down at my paper where it clearly said to follow the road till it ended. As promised, just when I was wondering if I had taken us down the right place, the road ended. It simply ended in the middle of the woods. Loading up our packs, we hiked upward. My paper told me I was to hike until I saw what I was looking for. Not knowing really how far I should hike or really what I was looking for in the first place, we walked on. Eventually I started chatting away to help tame my curiosity, leaving my eyes open and searching. Once I relaxed into the complacency of the hike we reached the top of a steep incline and I abruptly shut up. Before me stretched a red rock valley glinting in light like a mirror of a star strewn sky.
The storm of the night before had washed the top layer of clay away revealing sparkled glints of light reflected from crystals of the earth. And they were everywhere in numbers as vast as the stars themselves, shinning their brilliance in all directions. I felt as though I stepped inside a cathedral in the clay, a holy relic awaiting with open arms. As I walked I could not shake this sensation that was taking over my entire being, that I was surrounded by living entities that were emitting a child like joyfulness. I swear I heard the laughter or did I feel it? I felt the love and the LIFE so strongly it brought tears to my eyes.
Overwhelmed and soaking everything into my core, feeling the communication poring from the earth at my feet, I stripped off my shirt and lay my bare back into the clay bed. Closing my eyes, the sun on my breasts, I was cocooned in an energetic field of joyfulness. I opened my eyes and there perched on the leg of my cotton pants was a butterfly looking right at me. I smiled at her for a few minutes before getting up and walking on, exploring this beautiful place I was in. And she followed. Every steep incline, gust of wind, she fought and powered through to land again and again on the rock next to me, or the tip of my boot and tilt herself to to look up at me. When I moved five feet, she moved five feet. Each time repositioning herself to look up at me. Flattered and a little bewildered I laughed it off and continued on. And still she followed and I turned to watch her fight every strong wind to keep up with my path, wondering why she put in this tremendous effort to be with me. I sank down onto the ground and waited for her. She worked herself through the breezes and this time she perched herself right upon my bent knee in front of my face and tilted and re positioned herself to gaze upon me as a tear streamed down my face. Here this little butterfly sat and a kindness and comfort swept over me that I completely surrendered to.
At that time I had yet to put forth the bus project that was formulating in my mind but I was feeling the sweeping changes that were beginning to take root. Here in this valley of light I was blessed by a butterfly that reminded me of my sisterhood to this earth. That gave me some kind of unexplained familiarity like an ancestor or connection of blood ties. I did not know what to expect and I did not know this place would flood me with love and light and an overflow of emotion. I can't quite convey how I felt as though a thousand little faces were smiling on me or how I knew a butterfly in the depths of my soul. We don't have a language for these things without making them sound ridiculous to many. That language was stolen from us all long ago. But even now, almost a year later I can't recall that moment without my heart bursting at the seams with a feeling I have come come to call the Divine love. An inner light that floods my very core with joy and gratitude.
I still marvel at times that I am chosen to have these experiences. Many of a similar nature are kept private and close to me at all times. But I have since learned to graciously except a gift that is being offered and that is a gift in itself. We left that place with our packs light. Bringing with us a small amount of tiny crystals after asking permission. It took me four days to write all those little notes by hand and send all of you off with a little glint of light for helping me purchase this bus. The crystal you received is one directly from this story and I gave it to you with so much gratitude so that it may carry with it the essence of that day to have in your keeping. An energetic exchange for supporting what this journey represents and putting your faith behind it that fuels me onward.