Midway through our Findaway retreat, the Open Heart hike took place. 108 wooden hearts placed on the path and around it with intention and care earlier that morning were to bring me to a place of effortless joy. Each with a purpose of their own as well as together, just like the beautiful souls that attended.
Earlier in the morning, Kim led a heart opening session of yoga, which had followed a day of 108 sun salutations in the morning and an evening session with Kim on the beach. So much work. Preparation I felt was necessary to use muscle energy to pull inward towards alignment and start recognizing how the inner bright shines out even as they begin to turn into themselves.
As the hike commenced, near the 1st heart hanging on the bridge, the invitation to be open and present in the searching soul was given. Some were immediately on it, the heart, delicately hanging from the railing of the big bridge that would move us forward to the trail. Some were already moving across the bridge even as I spoke, not listening, not seeing but feeling confident that would just be enjoying an afternoon hike for they had already told themselves they weren’t open to seeing yet. Even as they returned to the beginning spot with the group, clues were being missed. It took my hand to almost touch the heart for them to finally see it. A look of awe and revelation came across their faces. One admitted that she wasn’t capable of seeing stuff like this. She said how hard it would be for her. So interesting and so very promising to me. Would they be able to open their minds, their souls and their hearts in such a short time? We were soon to find out. Although I had deeper intentions, they recognized now that this event was to be an actual search for physical, tangible, beautiful hearts.
As we traveled the dusty trail across the bridge, looking down river gave a glorious reflection of the Sun and the promise of the day. I had imagined and almost dreamt this day and still I had no expectations. I had prepared clues, prompts and also the time I would spend behind the group, uninvolved. I had placed 5 hearts on the bridge and only 2 remained! A sweet surprise it was! This could only mean that others had found a lonely heart dangling in the warmth of the day and felt inclined to take it! I was already wondering what could have been going through their mind. Was it a sense of curiosity? Was it a sense of wonderment? Could they be smiling and talking about the odd presence along the days trip up the path? How exciting this was for me!
As we traversed the path, I would pause and speak of ways to get out of your head and into just being content with the search, the search for hearts. I asked that as they spotted each heart that they leave it and just take note in the journals that had been provided about what ever it may be that they were thinking as they spotted it. Could it be a thought of gratitude, joy or possibly disillusionment, disappointment and then surprise? Where are the thoughts as you are here, in nature. Asking them to just be present in the moment, as you look for the next heart, could you take in the other things around you even as there is not a heart?
There was a variety of personalities, all at a different stages in life, here together discovering more than just wooden hearts on a trail. One such personality was in a unique place in her life and she couldn’t stop seeing hearts. Hearts that I hadn’t placed here, but ones made by nature. The rocks, the moss on the trees, even the branches overlapping each other from a certain perspective, hearts were everywhere. It was like having a forest fairy attending the party. Raw and untamed, seeing everything. I was reminded of my 1st trip on the trail a month earlier to see if it was the right place for this hike. I had found 2 large stones in the river, not more than 2 feet away from each other, unmistakable hearts. This was definately the place. It was unfolding into an incredible transformational movement stirring inside all of our souls. The evolution was visible and almost palpable. How crazy is that. As another soul on this journey stated, it isn’t crazy, it’s magical. That is exactly what it was, magical.
There was a stretch of trail where I purposely left no hearts on or around the trail. As we spoke of the moments in life where we keep searching for something that may not be present. How we try to make something happen and yet we cannot. As the search gave way to conversation and mystical knowledge of each other and this place, the camaraderie began to set in. Together in the dark part of the trail, with much time of finding nothing they were looking for, talking, connecting and a beginning of finding each other, seeing each other. No wooden hearts, but live, beating, beautiful hearts. Those hearts on the trail being discovered in some moments were the ones beating within their own chests. Enough time to connect with others and enough time to connect within themselves. It was becoming even more magical!
Our forest fairy not only kept finding the hearts nature had left for us, but was giving strangers we came upon along the trail her gift of hearts. The faces of some as they saw the gift folded within their hands by her tender touch was so beautiful. You could see the recognition and Ah-ha look in their eyes. You could see the last puzzle piece fall into place. They would talk about the hearts they kept seeing on the trail, the conversation that took place about the how and why. The uncontrollable smiles that fell across their lips was so freaking amazing and beautiful to me! I saw some stop and take pictures of these little hearts dangling from twine in the trees. The realization that they met the people that were there specifically for the hearts was so cool, so exciting.
Care free laughter and other strange behaviors of people we don’t see enough of in the community began to emerge. The eye contact, the connections. POW! These moments were enlivening my spirit for sure.
As we exited the dry spell of hearts, there it hung, high in the tree, the last tree that would give way again to the sunlight we had been without for a stretch. We were speaking of how, when in the throws of distraction, darkness and dismay we should be still cognizant of the moment when our hearts reappear. When they open into the sunlight and the path seems clear. It was again another Ah-ha moment. Here we go, into the light and as we exited the shady path, we hear for the 1st time, the sound of the water, falling and tumbling down the ancient boulders in the falls. We can’t see it, but we can definitely hear it and in this case, we can certainly feel it.
To be continued………