Stuck in Paradise: Further Adventures on a Soul Quest 

Eyes closed, hands on our bellies, we are twirling. Hands on our hearts, our heads, blind-eyed, sensing, wondering, the most marvelous game of “Which Way Shall We Go?”  Which way do our hearts want to go? And which way our heads? Our bellies? And what of all of us together?  Which way shall we go?  

We are little children twirling in the field, all so serious and all so silly.

Which way shall we go? 

I open my eyes. Huh! There? Not what I thought, not what I thought I wanted. Certainly not what I’d planned. 

But then I see it, yes, that point out there, at the far end of the valley, that white rock at the head of Indian Canyon. I picture myself there and it’s perfect, up there with a view down the valley, the great mountain before me, it’s just where I want to go. 

That Christian and Alison who I’d stayed with in San Diego before the retreat are also facing the same direction as me sets me laughing. Of course! A few days ago we’d met over dinner. None of us knew what our astrology friends meant by “Saturn returning” but something about 30-year cycles. Whatever it meant it felt so right that of course here we were, three strangers, two 30-year-olds and a 61-year-old wondering on the weeks in the desert ahead. 

We hadn’t a clue of course. Not a clue. All our stories far too small, except for our longing. For that something unnameable that drew us here, to give ourselves to something. To be known, figured out, found.

I walk with Alison and Christian up the valley towards Indian Canyon. I scramble down and over a stream, up a steep rocky bank towards the rock I saw. The story I told myself about this place was right about the view – there’s a great view down the valley and what would be a wonderful setting to wake up into. But its impractical and perhaps just plain dangerous as well. I struggled to climb the steep bank this morning and figure a few days into a fast I won’t want to. It’s a great spot, and yes, I’ll look on. 

We head together up Indian Canyon, pass a spot just off the boulder-strewn trail with a prominent pillar of stone. The remnants of a fire pit, a good place, yes. A good place to be for three days alone. After Alison and Christian find their spots further up the trail, I return to claim this good spot as my own.  

Of course its not at all what I pictured, the stories I told. I pictured desolate, arid, barren, dry. A good share of misery as somehow appropriate for my three solo days of fasting. 

Instead, I’ve been plunked down in Paradise. A true Garden of Eden – a rushing stream beside my campsite complete with croaking frogs, a palm tree just downstream and other palms behind me up the valley. Nestled in a gorgeous steep valley.  Not at all what I’d imagined and perfect. Somehow just perfect. A good space to spend the next three nights alone.  

Sometimes the pain in my life can prevent me from seeing everything that is

Sometimes the pain in my life can prevent me from seeing Everything that is

Sometimes the pain in my life can prevent me from seeing EVERYTHING that is

I am standing now and pointing at the group, the sky, the ground, the cactus

This everything, everything, everything, EVERYTHING 

I want to give myself to it all

Everything that calls and squeaks

Is silent and still


I sit down

I have no idea what I’m talking about

Never been so certain

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