I wrote this post some months ago when I was visiting Canada. After returning from an exceptionally difficult time in the jungle, I really enjoyed reading and remembering this story that unfolded with teachings. I am reminded how when we are in one moment, we cannot see the thousand moments that are unfolding like a flowers petals. The flower blooming only when it has received the sufficient amount of sun and water and time to nourish, grow and open into its majesty.
After some months of Jungle medicine work, simple good living in the Sacred Valley of Peru, I returned for the summer to see my family and beloveds up north in Eastern Canada.
Over the last month we grounded into the land of North America, with incredible luxuries such as hot water in every tap, pre-washed greens and berries, internet that works, and good coffee everywhere!
I have to say in our weeks back, I felt deeply grateful for the little things taken for granted.
After way too much moving around. Suitcases, motor taxis, vans, boats, air planes and much more, the lessons that have unfolded have been different from what I expected. But expectations and ideas are culprits to unhappiness aren’t they? Booby traps laid out on the ground, where parts of ourselves fall inside without escape.
So much of my personal journey these days has been about letting go of my ideas and trusting that whisper and feeling of my hearts wisdom.
Before we arrived in Canada, We again had immersed ourselves in a one month Dieta, drinking the medicine Ayahuasca in ceremony every few days, fasting from food and water for periods of time, and remaining deeply devoted to learning and letting go. To be honest, before arriving, I was dreading the dynamite of the plant medicine process, but as usual I pushed myself forward knowing it would be good for me. During one of those days out in the jungle, I began to panic that we did not have a house secured for us upon arrival, I walked around ranting how there was no way we could handle living in someone else’s space, and so to avoid living in our friends living room, I made some effort, and found some available internet, I posted a request for housing on Facebook and started to discuss with a previous landlord an almost “too good to be true” house in the hills.
We arrived to a little black house in Chelsea Quebec, the backyard running down to a beautiful untouched habitat and a river rushing through it with old growth cedar trees welcoming us.
Though the land itself was majestic. The house part of the equation was not. It was in terrible shape. The owners of the house had not let us know that there was a major Mold problem. As in B Major ‘Black’.
I started to wake up with headaches, and a stuffed up nose and congested lungs. Within a week I was already toying with the idea of moving, but thought it would be unsettling to move again for the kids, after all the moving around. And though I was not feeling my best, were so busy, I just thought we would truck through a few months and make it work.
That was until one day I was baking some awesome oatmeal chocolate chip spelt cookies …..( mmm yummy! ), I had left both doors open on this sunny day, and as I returned from closing them, I looked in the living room and SCREAMED!! There in front of me, was a large, very beautiful Skunk. Looking right at me, with its tail pointed upwards
My littler year old baby ran into my arms and we made it to the bathroom and closed the door.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
“Hey I’m here! Sorry I am so late, traffic was terrible.” Yelled my sister wandering into her possible doom.
“Leave the door open there is a skunk!” I yelled from the window.
“What ! Oh my god!”
“I’m in the bathroom!”
She ran in quickly without creating any upset.
We slammed the door shut. We looked at each other, and then creaking the bathroom door open to peek through, there it was, a happy little skunk, meandering around our house.
And as I watched it make a bed in the living room, I knew this was a blessing.
“If this is not your sign to move Naomi, I don’t know what is.” My sister said looking me in the eye.
Kuray, my baby, gurgled and smiled at us both.
We laughed as I was definitely happy to have the company in this scenario, as we took turns carrying my 16 month old boy who was more than excited to crawl over and make friends with Mr. black and white.
“OK how about we call 911”
“Hello ma’am, how can I help you?”
“Yes there is a skunk in my house and we need your help! I have two kids in the house with me and one is sleeping upstairs.”
“A skunk…… pause. And how exactly did the skunk get in ma’am?”
“Well….it just walked right in.”
“Mmmhmm. It just walked right in did it.”
“OK ma’am and where are you located exactly. We are in Chelsea….. Chelsea Quebec.”
“Isn’t that in Canada?” As we heard a whole bunch of men laughing in the background.
“Yes that is in Canada, why else would we call you. Could you please just get over here!”
“Ma’am this is the Police Department in Chelsea Massachusetts…..” More men laughing.
“Good luck with everything now……. “
“OK. Well that didn’t work. Damn iPhones!”
“OK here are the Canadian Police.” My sister Zoe handed me the phone.
“What do you mean you don’t cover skunks?! This is an emergency.”
“ I am sorry ma’am there is nothing I can do. It is not a police matter.”
“Well if my children suffer from skunk fumes I have your number!”
The local fire department was closed because it was Friday night. Even the animal control people said they were off duty and there was nothing they could do to help.
“OK, it says here that skunks really like nachos.”
“Oh thanks Zoe, that is really going to help us.”
She reached in her bag and lo and behold a bag of gluten-free bread.
I ran out while it was on the other side of the living room.
Then we began to throw bread from the bathroom in a pathway towards both doors.
Apparently skunks don’t like gluten-free bread…….hmmmmm.
Out of nowhere I heard a truck pulling out close by.
I opened the door. Looked at my new wannabe room-mate and ran! It so happened it was my amazing neighbours who run a wilderness school. If anyone could help they could!
Within a minute he had shooed it out with a big piece of cardboard.
“Hey Naomi would you mind if I take this Skunk scat home?”
“You want to take the skunks poo?”
“Ya I will add it to the collection for the school.” He said with a big grin.
“Please be my guest Pierre. Thanks for saving the day.”
“No worries. We were happy to help.”
Hugs and waves and settling into the moment.
Beyond elated that this was over, and no one got sprayed and no kids hurt. No to mention that big pile of skunk poo was gone too.
But after all that, I knew this meant something more.
Yes we were going to leave that moldy house. A house that came into our lives because I panicked instead of trusting while I was in the process of retreat… Yes, to listening to my heart and gut right away and not being concerned about inconveniences. All this, good lessons, beautiful unfolding.
But I also felt that this was something bigger. Call it a feeling, but that this was one of those big lessons where life in its fullest was trying to teach me and show me something in a comical and straight up way.
Hours before that skunk arrived and looked me in the eye, its colours were following me around like bright wild flowers.
All that day I had noticed black and white. I was even wearing a black and white stripped dress. Like I was some skunk mama. And yes time seemed to stop when I realized the house, yes the entire outside of the house is black, and the inside is white. After the skunk incident I felt a bit shaken in a way. It seemed like everywhere I went after this, black and white images would jump out at me out of no where. Black and White, Black and White, Black and White…. In my waking life and my dreaming one, I felt something was trying to communicate with me, and I did not know what.
I arrived at the Sundance grounds one week later. The first arrival was a complete purge. As I stepped into the arbour, I began to cry. The smell of sage and sweet grass over took me. Eagle feathers danced with elders to drums beating and old songs sung.
I began to sob. And the great mysterious light took over. I did not cry much. I was strong. I was together. And I just let go. Like a child without inhibitions. My tears had permission to pass, and after those tears fell to the earth, joy flew.
Having such a cathartic experience, we went back again a few days later. The second arrival was slow. We were on native time. Four hours later, we were still waiting to gather in the Arbour, and my children were getting restless.
I felt a bit trapped out there in the middle of fields upon fields. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting. Not Unlike my special time in the bathroom waiting for a skunk to leave my living room.
Then just as we were about to leave, I heard the drums beating for ceremony to begin. I hiked up the hill back to the arbour where the dancers were sitting and looking at the tree. I gathered my pipe and tobacco and thought I would just leave a little on the earth, give thanks, and sneak off to make dinner. And then, I noticed, oh yes I did notice That all the elders were wearing A black and white ribbon shirt, they had black and white bundles and a black and white shawl.
We are all wearing black and white today to talk about a very special ceremony. This ceremony is the Chi Bai Ceremony. It was a ceremony that was lost and then was reborn. The ancestors have gifted it to us to use in this time.
A Cree Grandfather began to share the incredible power of this ceremony that was lost during the residential schools period and so forth and the spirits had brought it back.
The Chi Bai ceremony that had many layers to it, a ritual of deep spirit. But it was a ceremony to recognize both aspects of this life. The Shadow and the Light. A ritual without judgement.
And one of the main focuses of this particular ceremony was for grief and it’s ails.
Grief, the energy that I knew was deeply responsible for my Lungs and my Chronic asthma.
The same ailment that I had been desperately trying to heal, and was extremely exasperated in my black and white Moldy skunk house : )
Here I was shown a beautiful ritual to deal with grief. Grief for those who had passed on, Grief for what was lost and never found. Grief buried deep down and never acknowledged.
And then the calling in. The remembering, The light. The Beauty. The understanding that opposites are interwoven in this tapestry. That duality is a reality and yet it is not. That everything has a shadow and a light. And to honour both. The heavy and the weightless. The sinner and the saint. Honouring all aspects of humanity. As I sat there and watched these elders share their teachings. I watched the light from the sky come down, I watched the spirits of horses and buffalo roam this arbour and I just felt so so grateful.
I held my heart where grief had lived. It really is quite something, how in this journey called life, we so often do not want to look at the uncomfortable. Instead we would rather carry it around like an illness, or a way of being if it allows us to avoid or fear of pain. I realized that there was a huge part of me that was really deeply afraid of accepting the hard parts in life, not just in my life, but the world around me, the ugly parts, the heavy parts, the parts that were just so messed up. And yet I knew part of my journey was learning to look it in the eye unwavering. Watching calmly, not reacting, and believing that through all the heavy dark parts and stories of humanity, love still would reign.
We all go through cycles. There are joyful times, there are busy times, there are slow times, there are hard times. But throughout all of it, this life is playing out on a planet in space that is billions of years old. Humanity only thousands. And through it all, one of the most amazing parts of our journey as human beings, is our ability to choose. One choice, opening up worlds of thousands.
And in this space between the lines, if we are able to honour all of that which we are, the perfect and imperfect, the darkness and the Light. Our choices playing out our destiny. And even through all that, somewhere deep inside us all, We remember that all of us are made of stars. All birthed from the same atoms and heart of the universe.
And so we sit still and listen to the horizon. We open our hearts even when its hard. We believe in miracles even when we doubt. We trust that quiet voice inside of us even if the people around us tell us we are crazy. Because deep down we know that inside of each of us lives something so great it is actually indescribable. It made home in us before we were even born and it will continue to live there even past our last moments incarnate. Its called wisdom. And some days I feel it more than others……. and some days there are Skunks.