My unit is on the top floor of a large three-storey complex whose floors spiral gently upwards in a roughly oval shape, fitting around old trees and allowing central space for lawns, gardens and places to sit and enjoy the natural beauty.
From my bedroom and living room windows, I have views stretching across rooftops, treetops and gardens to the north and the east; from the south-west-facing kitchen window, a clear view of the liquid amber tree.
Up here, I am amongst the elements. Each morning, waking early, I can sit in bed and watch the sun rise; later, see its golden light creep across my living room floor as I sit and write morning pages. With my balcony door open, I feel the breeze on my bare feet and on days like this, when the wind’s wild, it calls me to go out and walk; to merge with its wildness and let it take me over and cleanse me.
On hot days, I drop the balcony awning to block out the baking sun and open my front door and my balcony door to give the cooling breezes full reign, only closing everything up on those stifling days when even the wind takes a rest.
There’s a stone that I use, reverently, to prop open the front door. It came into my life many years ago when I was wandering in a dry river bed up in the Barrington Ranges of New South Wales where I was staying the weekend with a group of friends on a spiritual retreat. At that period in my life, I was deeply interested in Native American culture, spirituality and ceremonies, particularly drumming and sweat lodges, and knew that only certain stones had the capacity to survive the ferocity of the sweat lodge elements. This stone, the size and shape of a human heart, rested heavy in my hand and seemed suitable.
Over the next few years, it proved its resilience and fortitude several times, being heated in the sweat lodge fire until it was glowing deep red, then resting in the dark earthen centre of the lodge as water was poured over it, sending steam hissing into the herb-scented air.
A sweat lodge is a small dome-shaped structure erected on the earth and covered in layers of blankets, into which those seeking cleansing, healing and insight crawl, humbly, to sit close together in near-darkness as the humidity quickly reaches saturation point and the heat becomes intense. Typically, there is chanting and drumming, prayer and silent contemplation. The testing of human resilience is but an echo of that experienced by the rocks that provide the heat; some rocks crack or split open, and few survive through multiple sweat lodges. Some people also find the elemental forces too much to bear, and crawl out to lie on the cool earth partway through the ceremony.
This dear stone has stayed with me through many house moves and has come to represent to me the infinitely loving energy of the Great Mystery; the creative force whose natural state is love, vitality, creativity, balance and harmony. When I hold the heart stone, spend time with it, I am always reminded of its strength and resilience; the strength and resilience of my own heart, my own spirit; and of the elements from which we are formed.
It seems very fitting that at the end of a year of major transition for me, my family and so many others, there’s a wild wind whipping the treetops, blowing away whatever isn’t securely anchored. I had to go out and walk in it. Had to let it take me over and blow right through me, preparing me to enter clear, clean and refreshed into whatever 2014 will bring.
blow through me wild wind
uproot all past suffering —
clear the new year’s path