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86_Vision Quest Two – Deer – July 6, 1999

I follow my vision quest sponsor along the same two rut road I traveled last year, but this year I travel in a new direction. I move East, downstream of the sacred circle and our camps. I do not know anything about the destination. I simply walk, head down, behind my sponsor to a place she has selected. This year I have decided to surrender my own intuition. I have decided to turn the entire experience over to the Creator, abandoning any opportunity to interfere in His plan for me.

I am generally a person who will make things as hard as they can be. I seldom take the ‘easy road,’ and I have decided I want as much from this quest as I can possibly receive. I feel, in turning the decision over to my sponsor to select the space, I will be challenged, and she will create a circle where I can face those things I might otherwise deny. I am grateful for the opportunity to stand before the mirror and meet the Creator today. 

We step from the road only feet from the vision quest camp, cutting through a break in the trees to enter into a small clearing. I lift my head to see we stand under a canopy of green, and I realize I may be pushed in a completely different direction than the one I initially anticipated. 

The setting she has selected is beautiful and serene. The entire clearing is probably only 20 feet in diameter and filled entirely with tall grass. Directly in front of me, there is a thicket. I can hear the river speaking to me again from behind it. Slightly to the left, there is a narrow path to the river. To my right, there is a near-perfect circle of grass. The grass is long but laid flat against the ground. The reeds are not broken but gently folded to leave life in the plant. It is as if someone has come before, to lay it flat so I may rest. I hear my sponsor speak to the group, telling them of how the grass stood tall when she selected this place. She pauses to consider who might have laid it flat. This could be the work of another quester preparing the ground.

After a moment of inner dialog, she asks the group to post my flags around the circle that has been created. The glade is surrounded by trees. It is only viewable through a small break from the road, through a narrow gap to the East. I realize a person would need to be looking for this exact place to find it. Looking at the grass and the way it has been gently laid to the ground, I am hopeful my sponsor has not selected a location already chosen by another quester. I worry, wanting to intervene, but I do not speak. I cannot talk to those who still travel the Red Road. I cannot share my fears with the two-leggeds standing around me, and I immediately face my first hurdle.

This situation places me directly before one of the most significant issues of my life, the idea of ever putting myself before anyone else. I realize I can do nothing about the situation, but what happens if the other quester shows up? What if I’m in their way. I can’t leave. I promised myself I would stay a second night. I promised myself I would be here when the morning star came. I must stay, and it seems it must be here.

I try to connect the deeper truth. I tell myself, if someone has come and prepared this spot for their quest, I know they too will find their perfect place. It sounds hollow and selfish in my ears. I feel I’m robbing someone of the joy I feel here. I send a prayer to the Great Spirit, “Please, let my questing here take nothing from anyone else.” 

It will not be an easy task to accept the nurturing I feel in this place, but it is in the hands of the Creator. It always was. I have never really allowed myself much nurturing. It is too foreign an experience and usually comes at too great a cost. In every story I’ve ever written for my life, I am always the sacrificial lamb. I will not say I have not been selfish, because I have, but when I step into the place of my insecurities, I always choose to sacrifice my peace or my nurturing. 

I can’t really say I always put myself last as much as I put my comfort and my soothing last or nowhere at all. I have embedded myself within this reality and am now to the point where anything I might consider nurturing quickly becomes coddling in my mind. I feel unworthy of it and ashamed, and now I find myself buried in it. Worse yet, I must take this gift from another who might claim the same. Ironically enough, this serene setting has already become almost unbearable to me. 

As I stand, still waiting for my sponsor and supporters to finish the circle, I notice how much this space reminds me of a womb. It is like a cocoon. I wonder how I will emerge at the end of my quest. I don’t see myself as much of a butterfly, but I am open to any possibility. My sponsor has selected a place of nurturing and comfort, and it is obvious why. This is the place that will teach me something new about myself. 

I will not be in the sun or on the rocks. I will be settled into the grass, beneath shady oak and surrounded by tall brush. It is like stepping back into the lodge. It is protection and love. How sad is it that I am devastated by the idea of it?

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