(The initial desire to write about my vision quest was to share a unique and seminal experience. In the organic unfolding of that, I began to build a ‘story,’ a ‘drama,’ out of that experience. At this moment, I am uncertain whether this is my true ‘authentic voice,’ my ‘style,’ or how I will continue. However the ‘story’ unfolds, I pray it offers healing somehow, for others and for me.)
I first met Riun about a year ago. My wife and I were participating in a yearlong training and he and his wife made up one of the 13 other couples present. Standing about 5’ 7”, in his early 50s with short, gray hair, he emanated a softly commanding presence that impressed and intrigued me. Over the course of that year, outside of our weekend trainings, I shared a few brief, but really enjoyable experiences with him; I grew to appreciate our dialogues and often wondered when and how we’d connect again.
After I finished packing for the vision quest, out of nowhere, I had a clear thought to contact Riun. He’d missed the last weekend training and I was wondering if he’d be there at the final one, in two weeks time. I sent him an e-mail and, originally a resident of Calgary, Alberta, found out he was in Nevada at the time, en route to Ventura, CA. We had a brief skype call and made a plan to meet in Olancha, 30 miles West of Death Valley. Suddenly, my sense of a Divine force guiding this journey was renewed; it was clear to me Riun held the last piece of my preparation for the quest.
I woke at 5 am the next morning, knowing what I had to tell my family, but not knowing how best to do it. I rarely have contact with my two older brothers, and my father has passed, so in terms of immediate family, my mother and sisters are it; and they’re all 3,000 miles away. and, dspite my wife’s best encouragements, I’d put off writing until the last minute. After I woke, I went for a walk, breathing in the cool morning air and began to imagine what I would write.
I came back from my walk and at 6 am, with my backpack and food waiting by the door, I sat before the computer and closed my eyes. I breathed in and out three times fully, opened my eyes and wrote in a streaming flow. I hit “send” and with the last piece of ‘official business’ taken care of, I shut down my computer and was out the door. I was free to fly. Of course, if I’d known my flight would be skidding to earth with a minor thud 12 hours later, I might have worded things differently.
I drove North out of Los Angeles, ecstatic to finally be on the road. When I cleared the sprawling suburban communities of Lancaster and Palmdale a few hours later, the Mojave Desert opened before me like the door to an old friend’s house. And while I hadn’t known Riun that long or that well, he, too, felt like an old friend.
We met for lunch at a quiet, roadside restaurant, sharing our most recent epiphanies and insights over BBQ steak and over-cooked baked beans. After lunch, we walked amongst the sagebrush and Cottonwoods ¼ mile from an abruptly rising and jagged mountain range. It was mid-afternoon, the sun was bright and the air had warmed to the mid 50s. As we followed a half-trail toward the mountain, we suddenly started talking about growing up with, or in my case without, guns; I felt like we were two school kids on an adventure in the unknown. What an understatement.
We crossed an irrigation ditch and walked along a curving, undulating gravel road. I told Riun about the book I was reading, “The Secret Life of Babies,” which is, among other things, about the life-long effects of neuro-emotional behavior that get established in utero. Riun shared about the new healing work he was creating that resonated closely with concepts from the book. After about 30 minutes, we looped back toward our cars and I said, “Can we just stand in silence for a bit?”
Now, I’ve grown very fond of sharing silence with friends. As a younger man, I often felt restless. I was nervous to not do or say anything, always feeling, unconsciously, that I had to ‘fill’ the empty space with words or something to distract my mind from really being present. Now I find the silence helps quiet that mind and often allows something entirely new and more interesting to come up for discussion.
Riun eagerly agreed to share the silence and we quickly settled into a comfortable distance two feet apart, just looking at one another. The wind was whipping the branches overhead, the sun was getting close to setting and I had a moment of concern that I might not get to Death Valley before nightfall. Abruptly, I thought about the thousands of times I ‘faced off’ against my father, brothers and other boys and men when I was younger, playing soccer, hockey and tennis. I felt the brief surge of that old impulse to have to fight and win something, then watched that impulse fade as quickly as it appeared. Looking at Riun, I thought about what a powerful presence he was; yet I also thought about how there was nothing to fight about. I could feel how we weren’t against one another; this experience was about being for one another and sharing in the mutual power of our presence.
After several minutes, I closed my eyes briefly. When I opened them again, Riun was smiling. In my excitement I said, “Man, wasn’t that amazing? It was as if I could feel the whole history of “men” just dropping off me- how they’re either trying to beat you, conquer you, get through you, past you or outlast and endure you- and we were just being. God, I love that.”
Riun excitedly grabbed a branch and with passionate, disciplined strokes, began to draw a diagram on the earth; eventually creating a picture that was 10’ long by 5’ wide. There was a figure eight for eyes and a large circle that represented a head. There were horizontal lines representing various levels of awareness in a ‘body’ formed by a few quick curves. Surrounding it all, there were long arcs representing flows of energy from top to bottom.
As he drew he said, “This is my interpretation of the divine alignment of the masculine energy in us. Alignment occurs with surrender of the mind; as it truly opens it allows the soul to fill the body. The body and heart struggle to surrender to the great truth of who we are- valor, strength, with integrity and wisdom - all through the heart. As man stands as a pole to bring forth the true essence of the divine masculine, only then he can truly surrender to the infinite mind.”
Standing over the drawing, this resonated with our time in silence together. I began to wonder how I might surrender even more deeply into this ‘infinite mind’ alone on the vision quest. I could feel a new level of responsibility calling me forward and I felt deep appreciation for Riun as friend, brother and “elder.”
He looked at me and said, “You know, this is kind of out of the blue and it’s just my take on it; but given all you’ve shared today, I think this vision quest is really about you having absolute compassion for the vulnerability of the womb.”
I was bowled over. The words no sooner left his mouth then I realized the absolute perfection of why there’d been such magic to meeting him. I realized that while my intentions for going on the vision quest were still important, they felt linear and incomplete. Riun’s words added a bigger dimension; I thought about the bigger womb of the earth and cosmos I would be nestling in with for several days. I thought about that book I was reading and my journey to heal energetic traumas from pre-birth and early childhood. And, consumed in the moment as I was, I thought very little about what my mother might be going through at the same time.
An hour later, when I arrived in Death Valley, flying high from the consciousness-expanding experience with Riun, there was a voicemail from one of my sisters bringing me back to earth. “Hey Richard, can you please call mom right away. She’s really, really upset. Thanks, and I hope you have a safe trip and you find what you are seeking. Love you.”