Along My Way Home - A Learning in Following the Heart
by Indigo Rønlov, April 2012
As sleep came Monday evening,
I did not know whether to leave
Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday
morning, and decided to leave it
up to how I felt when I woke.
Morning came with joy in my
heart, footsteps in the kitchen on
the floor above my head, and a
clear knowing that I would head
up Highway 101 this day. I knew
I needed to visit the big momma
trees that grace this region. I felt
complete. I was ready to begin the
It was decided that the group and I would leave the house at the same time to go to the ocean together. I was thinking to offer a small water ceremony with the water I carry, but when the parking was for a fee for even a very short time, I had a heart knowing this was a sign to keep along my way. The running car had the pull of the road under its tires. I knew that I had to listen to this pull.
With the motor idling, each in turn offered a hug and devotion to the time spent together and for the Frog Clan we have become. I know each of these beautiful souls are a part of me and I them. The container we created will continue to reverberate into the ethers. Some I will see again. A few will deepen into long lasting connections. It is all-good.
The bitter-sweet parting past, I am off through the rolling coastal hills. It is just me, the car, and the road. A stirring in my heart tickles my attention as I pass the bones of the earth protruding from the otherwise rounded and vibrantly green pastures. Here in this place, I can feel the core of a mountain so very old and long weathered. Mountain’s heart bones remained while the rest was long ago washed away to the sea.
As I began to pass this powerful place I felt the pull to stop. Backing up into it a small space, I cut the engine to reveal to magic of the air and the sounds floating gently along. Crow was eating something atop one of the rocks. Watching the clouds float on the breeze, I know I am to get out and walk in this ancient place.
Just below where the crow had been, I found a sheltered spot where the rock was worn into a small cave. It was just high enough to sit under. I sat. I felt the earth. I felt the Holy Mother. I allowed Her to fill all of who I am. It was in this moment that I knew my service to the Divine Mother was truly my path as she poured her love into me. The two years of the ministry training has led me to this moment, as I sit in the womb of the earth, accepting my service to Her.
It was in this moment that the small heart voice that has always been with me began to gain significance, gain power, gain attention. Not knowing the adventure that was ahead, this voice will lead me home in a magical way that could only happen in atmosphere of complete surrender. I knew then that the heart knowing I was following was the voice of the Mother guiding me along my way.
As the road turned with the curve of the hillside, I drove in a general northern direction, Thinking that Hwy 1 would take me north, I leave 101. Not the right way, said the knowing. I did feel as if I was headed a stray, and yet still I kept going. There came a point when I had to stop and figure out where I was and where I was heading. Sure enough, I was driving south back toward where I had come. Told you so, said the heart.
Along the way back to 101, I passed a trickle of a stream dripping down the hillside. Go back, I hear. Going back was not convenient as I was on a winding road. GO BACK. I feel myself arguing looking to justify why I did not need to go back. GO BACK more urgently. So, at the next safe place, I turned around, stopped at the trickle, and exchanged water from this place. I had listened, and it was a very sweet moment with the little dripping stream so eager to join with more of its kin down the mountain.
With this, I begin to see consciously that this journey home is to be guided entirely by this heart voice. I am to really listen to a heart knowing much vaster than my mind, to really trust that the way I would be led would be perfect and just where I need to be at every given moment.
I was nearing the Avenue of the Giants and am eager to find a redwood grove to stop and wander about. These trees where on my mind when I woke and I had been looking forward to being with them since leaving the group in Dillion Beach. At some point, I feel a bit of a pull to one grove and even find myself down by a river with many, many stones. I stretch my legs and feel quite peaceful but this was not my grove. These were not the trees I could hear calling me.
Back in the car and along my way, I pass a few more groves with the big, big trees. I want to stop, but, No, not yet, and so I continue on. At a point, I come around a turn and hear NOW and a moment later a small parking lot appears. I park. Stepping out, I almost hear the trees singing from deep down in the roots and in the branches to high above. Stepping on the earth, my steps are hushed from the layers and layers of sequoia needles blanketing the ground. I feel calm and at ease. I am where I need to be.
Allowing my feet to guide me into the grove, I find a small stream where I exchange water again. Walk to the back of the grove, I am guided. So, I do. At a place were the trail no longer continues, a huge tree has fallen to the earth, beginning its new life as nurse to the new generations. I am humbled by its horizontal magnificence. Allowing it to support me as I lean back, I soak in this place. The giants tower above me as sacred guardians of earth, air and water, and sentinels to unseen forces at play.
My attention becomes drawn down the top of this fallen log, where the light catches a tiny glimpse of something shiny, a mere glimmer under a thick litter of sequoia needles. Leaning towards it and brushing away the needles, a chain and charms are exposed. I pick it up to examine it closer. The length of chain has nine silver rose beads evenly spaced, and at the end are two pendants. One is a cross with a crucified Jesus, and the other a silver dime-size Jesus holding up his open hands and his heart glowing with love.
I am stunned. I had open my heart to listen to were it wanted to lead me and find myself deep in a ancient redwood forest only to find a rosary with an open hearted image of divinity. Take it and begin walking, I hear. Sit on that log by the stream, it says. As I sit on that log, holding this treasure, it feels funny. Something is off. I wonder if I am suppose to take it. Looking at the charms, I am struck that two stories are represented here; one of suffering and persecution, and one of love.
Taking the crucifix off the length of chain, I say aloud to the trees and the birds that this is an old story. We have had a good practice with this one, and it is no longer needed. Thanking it for what it was taught us, I throw the silver crucifix into the stream. Looking down at the rosary in my hand, it feels good. It feels right. I was meant to find this. By listening to the call of my heart, I find that which needs to be found. With gratitude for the teaching and gift, I take my leave of these magnificent creatures so firmly rooted and pulsing with life.
The road calls again. Many uneventful hours pass as I hold this silver treasure in my palm. Soon the daylight begins to fade, as does my attention to the road. Crescent City, I am told. You will find your night’s stop as you first arrive in Crescent City. So, I drive. My destination comes eventually as I pass a small hotel. It is the first one before the town begins. I pass it and continue on through. You passed it, says the knowing. Sure, but maybe there is another, a better one. Nope you passed it. By the time I get to the other side of town, I come to acknowledge that the Holy Mama was right and that I needed to turn around and head back.
Parking, I open the car door and a chorus of frogs sings greeting. It is the confirmation I need; the clue provided. I am right where I need to be, a room on the ocean, waves providing a backdrop to the melody of the frogs. It is good.
I carried Coyote pipe to California with me, waiting for a moment to bring it out and pray with it. Each time I wanted to at Wildwood, I heard, no it is your ego that wants to bring it out. This is not its way. You will wait. So I did. Then here on this morning in the room by the sea, I know that now is the time. So, before the dawn with dreams still on my eyelids, I bring out the pipe and feel my ways through the prayer. It is good. This day will bring just what I need. I know that listening for the Holy Mother through my heart continues to be the key.
I now begin listening carefully and eagerly. Where will I be led next? What might I find? What is for breakfast? I look for a diner at each little town I pass though. Nothing draws my attention. Then I pass Paradise Café. It is amazing I even noticed it, as it is a small roadside establishment without much by way of signage. Go back, says the knowing. There will be another, says I. GO BACK. So once again, I turn around.
While having breakfast at the Paradise Café I understand that often it is a very small confirmation showing I am where I need to be. As I took my stool at the bar, the previous seat occupant left open the local paper to a page with an article stating “ Bandon Celebrate its 5th Water Festival.” Given my focus on the waters, I know this seat was meant for me. I also was privileged to witness the interactions between the owner and a few of her local customers. It was a beautiful moment of small town knowing and holding and honoring. Belly full, off I go.
Heart more open then ever. I am really getting into the grove of this heart following. Turn now. I do. I find an old cemetery at the top of a hill. Walk in, turn around, gaze across the ground of the dead, and walk back to the car picking up a rock under your car door. The day is pouring its coastal rains down, and still I get out and walk the walk I have been instructed. In this way, I understood that the prayer is very much in the walk, and not really so much in all the words that spin around it. Walking the prayer is being the prayer as action. As I walked up and back to the car, words were not necessary. I felt an ease in my heart, in the ground beneath my feet, and it the rain filled air. I pick up the first rock I notice under my car door, but then my critical mind steps wondering if this is really the one, is there a better one? I laugh at myself as I drive back to 101.
Stop now, as I barely have time to pull into a parking area off the road. As I park, I notice a small trail disappearing into the trees. Walk in, turn left and turn three times and see what you see. I begin feeling a bit funny to be following instructions that are getting more and more specific. My linear logical mind becomes more agitated without really understanding what I am to know from this experience. And still, I turn off the engine. Walking into the trees the path makes a T, offering a choice of direction. Taking the left path I come to a stream rushing to its destination. Turing three times, my eyes land on an old, old oak up the hill along the path. I exchange water and cross the stream to say hello to the oak. It is simple. I am surrounded by beauty of this forest and this moment.
Driving again, I am filled with awe. Already the day has been awash with wonder. I have carried the open hearted Jesus in my hands all day, reminding me to listen to my heart. My thoughts have drifted in and around, as my focus remains listening to the next instruction. Suddenly I barely catch the glimpse of the words sheepskin on a small store off the road. Go back. Again, I protest. There is something to momentum that yearns for forward motion. GO BACK! And so I do.
Opening the car door, I can feel this place. It is well loved. Walking into the shop, I am greeted by a visual feast of color and texture. Two friendly smiling women are in the store. It turns out this place represents a small cottage industry on the coast. They raise the sheep that grow the wool that is sheared to be prepared for dying, spinning, or felting. They offer classes using the wool as the creative center, as well as sell hats and sock and such created by local skilled hands. It was all quite lovely.
After perusing the place, I am pulled to the front where the sheepskins hang. It was the words sheepskin that caught my attention when driving by. My desires crave one of these soft comforting pelts, but my attention is drawn to a white deerskin instead. Picking it up, I am filled with thoughts of the Center for Sacred Studies and the program I just completed some few days prior. As these thoughts come around to the others in the Frog Clan, the door opens and in walks Susan.
She and I had parted ways a top the mountain at Wildwood in California days before. Here I am on the Oregon Coast, and the Mother times it just so that our paths cross. Had I not listened to the heart knowing that had led me to this fine place, our timing would not have connected. Had I listened to my head, to that part that surely thinks it knows best, I would not have made some of the seemingly wrong way turns that took extra time. Right now, right here, I really get that all is perfect. Here I get that I can trust my heart. Truly. This is a beautiful knowing.
Susan and I say so long once again and north I go. I know that I have learned the lessons put before me on this drive, and the rest of the way will be with my focus on home and my family. There are still many hours to go to Eugene, and I allow the road and my vehicle to embrace one another they way only a long drive will allow.
The Oregon Country Fair property is on the way in from the coast, and with only twenty minutes drive left to home, I still have time to stop. Stepping out of the car, I am welcomed by this land that is so familiar. It feels, it is, an extension of who I am. I am grateful for the gift that it brings to my life.
Taking the altared water from the trip, I exchange it with the large water altar from the ceremony and the small one that lives in my camp. Offering prayer, I now feel complete. I am ready to step back into the stream of every day reality. Or at least I think I am…
My challenge will now be keeping my heart open in the face of the mundane, the chaos, the responsibilities and obligations, the day to day that is life. I have the beautiful opportunity to be a walking prayer through all of it, that which I perceive to be great and that which is difficult. I can allow the arising of each moment to surround me with the gift of being alive. I am ever so grateful.
©2017 Sacred Witness / K. Indigo Rønlov, MA