When we get together for our spiritual gatherings, when we settle in, we begin by each of us naming our “intention.” Our intention. It is always clear to me that it is time for another weekend, but when it comes to naming my “intention,”…this is not always so clear.

Spiritual journeys to me, feel like a drop of paint falling onto a watery canvass; the journey spreads and branches off…everywhere. As humans, we are physically confined to linear time. We have memories of our past that color our perception of the present and create this next moment of a spiritual journey that immediately leads off into the future. Even beyond that, there are generations before us that have created us and affected the world we live in. There are generations that we have created and that we now affect. And for many of us, there is…a knowing that is beyond time. This knowing is beyond the confines of what our brain can fathom and beyond what seems linear. Somehow, there are “others” out there who help us, who guide us, who cheers us on as we journey. If spiritual journeys really are like a drop of paint falling onto a watery canvass, then paint, water and canvas all play a part in the journey. We question, “Who dropped the paint?” Did this journey begin with an “intention?”

If you read the previous blog, you may remember that this particular journey began as four friends. Now we are three. Our friend, I will use his initials, CM, died in the fall of 2000. And as I have recently awoken to find he had been on my mind, I realized that his 14-year anniversary was the following day. Like many who had AIDS long before the “drug cocktails” emerged, CM was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Treatment was a delicate balance of an already weakened immune system with chemotherapy. We thought his last bout in the hospital was like the half a dozen before: one day he was on his deathbed and the next, he would be sitting up making snide comments as only gay men can make.

The last time I saw him, he was lying in his hospital bed on oxygen. There was a small group of us who had made the three-hour trip to see him. I stood at the foot of his bed and held his feet in the manner he had taught me to do in our various energy get-togethers. The nurse wasn’t sure how cognizant he was of his surroundings and asked if he knew who was in the room. He made some noise through his oxygen mask. It was unintelligible. The nurse asked again, and with every bit of breath he had available, he gasped my full name somehow audible through the oxygen mask. The sound of his voice, while so soft in its amplification, reverberated in my body. Something stirred, like I was…called. I’m not sure to what. Was this boom of his voice to my soul an intentional call? Nothing really happened after that. But I keep going back to that memory. CM died within the next two days. Maybe because of the disease, maybe because of years and years of smoking, his lungs were so porous. My understanding is that his lungs…finally imploded.

By the following year, I had moved to the city where CM died. I had a job in a city an hour away and I commuted with my boss. At the anniversary of his death, while I was waiting for my ride to work, I took about 30 minutes to sit and remember him. I turned off the TV, grabbed my guitar and played through songs that we had sung together while he was alive. Somewhere while I was strumming through some song, I heard my boss honking her horn, letting me know that she was here and waiting. I put down the guitar, grabbed my stuff for work, ran down the stairs and hurriedly entered her car. As we took off, she asked if I had been seeing what was happening. I told her that it was the first anniversary of CMs death and I had shut the TV off and played a few songs on the guitar. She stopped a moment to tell me that she had forgotten that it was his anniversary (we were all connected through my previous job), and then went on to tell me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

That this horrible event was happening on September 11th, one year after CMs death, seemed significant to me, but I didn’t know how. There was a running video stream projected to a screen in the auditorium of the building in which I worked. I stood with a hundred others watching in disbelief as the towers of the World Trade Center exploded. This undercurrent of realization ran through my being: the World Trade Center exploded; CMs lungs imploded.

I talked with one of the other two who are included in this blog and she said that maybe CM helped those that died arrive on the other side. Was that intentional?

When we get together for our gatherings, we begin with an intention. This was hard for me. I started out beseeching the powers that be, through the cards, to let me know what they wanted me to know. Yet, there is value in focusing our desire. Is intention a feather or an arrow?

We sit down, settle in for our gatherings, and state an intention. Sometimes I will settle down to our weekend of readings and throw my intention to the wind like a feather and the readings feel like they are leading me like an arrow. Other times my intention is focused and the readings seem to meander beyond my intention. All of it is welcome. Whether or not I have a clear stated intention for my weekend of readings, I am…neither feather nor arrow. I am working to be present and available and open to both the challenge and/or encouragement of a card reading. Not just the card in my hand and the information it provides to me, but also the responses of those who share this weekend with me.

I don’t know if CMs death on September 11, 2000 made him integral to the passage into the next world of those who died on September 11, 2001. I don’t know why him calling me by my full name as he lay on his deathbed shook me so. Were these “intentional” or just well received? I’m still working it out. I do know that knowing CM is part of the “paint” that has brought me here to these weekends. He is part of the “paint” that brings my other two companions to these weekends as well. And I do know that my intention, whether on these weekends or with life in general, is to receive and discern what comes, even if it seems coincidental and not “intentional.”


Stretching the Envelop

In 1999, four of us took a spiritual journey. For a few hours each day for one week, we took turns exploring a hypnotic regression into past lives. As one of us was certified as a hypnotherapist, we felt confident in our process. Crystals were placed strategically around and on each of us as we took turns in our regression with the other three helping to guide and support. I was new to this experience and excited to be included. I found myself having the ability to access, if only intermittently, sound, smell and vision each day of each past life of each friend as we rotated throughout the week. At the end of every session we shared our experiences, either as the one who regressed or the ones who were there as support. My turn was at the end of the week, our last day. I was so afraid that I would not be able to access anything. That I would be lying on a table waiting for something that would not happen – like a thud, a deafening halt to an incredibly spiritually rich week. But it did happen; I did relive events in a past life that brought tears streaming down my face in the beauty of very real memories. I was brought out of this hypnosis acutely aware that the envelop of what I recognized as reality was broadened, stretched beyond its bounds. The intensity of this event… it didn’t change me. It deepened me.

By the following year, of the four of us who shared this incredible journey, one of us had died. Two of us had moved: one to a bigger city, the other to a bigger state. Of course we kept in touch, not often, but absolutely connected by this experience and our friendship. A little more than ten years later, the three of us decided to gather together for a spiritual weekend. All three of us had been wounded by losses. The unexpected death of a cherished friend, the chronic frailty of a health situation, the end of a marriage, the abrupt dismissal from a job. Each with an uncertain future; each ending one way of life and beginning another, reeling from a tremendous sense of loss and purposelessness and failure.

We prepared for our weekend, not really knowing what we were going to do. We brought tarot cards, animal cards, really just too many to mention. We brought crystals and rocks. We brought a candle. We brought sage. We brought food. Did we bring food! Cheeses, crackers, bread, fruit, nuts, coffee, tea, wine, vegetables, meat, eggs, more cheese. We brought rattles and drums. One of us brought her canine companion. We brought no expectations.

We drew cards from the moment we arrived to the moment before we left. Each card brought questions or insights. Having lost so much, there was no illusion that we had any control. We challenged each other. We challenged ourselves. We already knew our losses, but by the end of that weekend we had begun to explore in depth how we contributed to the inevitability of those losses. Every card brought contemplation, validation or an unexplored facet. We ended that weekend knowing that we would do this again. What we had experienced brought us hope.

Returning to our lives, however, felt less “real”. We had come down from the mountain, literally and figuratively, having experienced…not an epiphany in the sense of knowing some specific truth, but an epiphany in the sense of having lived on some edge, surviving, now walking in its brilliance. No, not just surviving, but inhaling, imbibing, embracing a shared… heartbeat. For me, returning to my daily life, the heartbeats were not the same. I struggled for a week hearing two distinct beats, one strong with brilliance, and the other faint and interfering. I wanted to focus on the beat experienced during the weekend, wondering why the beat of my daily life felt dull and less rhythmic in its beat. Not that my daily life was some lie or even less in its richness. But I found its beat less focused, less uncovered or open. Every time we met, the transition was less startling. It did become easier to transmute the events of our weekends into the events of my daily life. Over the last three years we have met faithfully, mostly every 4 to 6 weeks. Sometimes the weeks in between turned into months as each of our wounds healed, our paths broadened and our responsibilities multiplied.

And it is the experiences of our spiritual heartbeats, as I call them, we know that we want to share. We feel called to share, but we are not sure how. We have thought about inviting others to these weekends. Many friends and acquaintances have expressed interest, “Oh, I want to go!” What we share on these weekends is incredible, but it is also demanding and difficult. Challenging each other sometimes brings blood. Old unresolved issues that we have shared or perceived in our almost 20 years of friendship have raised their powerful claws. What we bring to each other, what we learn from each other…it involves trust and love and laughter and anger and pain and forgiveness, maybe some letting go until another issue or another facet of something unresolved raises its unrelenting claws again. How do you bring experiences that intimate to others?

So, we thought about a blog. This allows us to share, each in our own turn. We will call ourselves Snake, Lion and Horse. These were cards we received when we asked our guides how to get from one place to another on one of our journeys. And while we each received that one animal card on that one particular reading, we believe that each of those animals was not just meant for the individual who received it, but for all three of us. And maybe for anyone who finds interest in reading our blog of our spiritual weekend journeys. This is an unexplored path of our journey, but one that seems like another envelop to stretch, another facet to broaden, another course to explore, another life to deepen. We are throwing this out into the universe. Let’s see where it goes.