Roadtripping to Reclaim Our Skin

 

A myth has been following me in the way Mother Universe and Auntie Time will place a theme repeatedly before us until curiosity can’t turn away. It is the myth of the Seal Skin – a mythical creature from the sea trades her seal skin for a life on land, becomes a mother then makes hard choices and goes on a journey to reclaim her seal skin as passage to return to her origins and share that part of her with her child. Now, if that’s not a direct translation to motherhood, I’m not sure what is.

Over the past few years, I’ve been on a search for my own misplaced seal skins.

This summer, my oldest three and I drove from San Diego to Yellowstone and back. The unexpected happiness was discovering previously lost seal skins all along the way. Over two-thousand miles of KidzBop, Chexmix, loose expectations, and national parks, and each mile a reclamation of parts of me that have been missing or dormant.

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Here’s what I know:

This earth is so, so beautiful. Take notice. Let it overwhelm you. Then use it up. 

The land. The sky. The people. Do you ever get overwhelmed at the sheer beauty of it all and whoosh an exhale when you didn’t even realize you had been holding your breath? The canyons and clouds are poetry just be being and I receive it in awe. But as a favorite current theologian of mine, Butler Bass, says, awe in itself is not the point of spirituality. “Awe is the gateway to compassion.” I love that.

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The gift really is the journey, not the destination as annoyingly trite as that truth sounds. 

I love not knowing exactly what the day holds. I love having a destination point, but filling in the details as we go. I love unexpected finds along the way and being surprised by the joy of it all. Road trips birth free-form  filling a day in a way the structured routine of our daily life simply cannot.

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Making decisions on the fly…seal skin.

Honestly? Making authoritative decisions without checking in with another person at all…seal skin.

Taking detours to explore new experiences…seal skin.

Saying yes to the fun of hotel swims before breakfast and unlimited fruit snacks…seal skin.

Curiosity. Playfulness. Seal skin. Space for introspection and perspective. Seal skin.

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So the trick is translating all the life-giving forms back into our everyday life. I don’t have all the answers yet. But I have been given the gift of remembering what it is like to reclaim parts of me that have been gone and for that I will maintain gratitude and renewed fervor to be wholly me to my family and not fade into a role, because what they don’t need is a generic mommy/wife figure. What they need is a wholly, vibrant ME swimming in my seal skin and showing them the mystical lands available to experience themselves.

 

I’m going to continue on this journey. I’m going to try.

Have you misplaced your seal skin?  I hope you, too, will search to reclaim it and use it to dive into the deep beyond.

 

 

What Dreams Reveal

I stand in a meadow at dusk.

The last light of day sweeps waist deep wild grasses in shimmer-shadows of purple and silver.

My twenty-two year old self stands facing me. She smiles her freckle smile.

Twenty-two year old self looks at me and giggles; practically bounces in her silence. I stare and remember; I used to be bouncy. Yes, I decide. I can be playful again.

We embrace.

I look into her eyes long enough to notice the speckle-sparkle brown within. Fewer creases mirror back.

Then, with tenderness, I give her permission to go. She recedes into the grove near the meadow’s edge and I continue toward to mountain.

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Maybe you don’t believe in the power of dreams.

I do.

I believe dreams can act as a gateway between our subconscious, our soul, and our awakening.

I believe dreams can be a visual guide or a warning or an affirmation.

I believe dreams – no matter the content- invite a curiosity to explore what new or deeper truths there are for us to learn about ourself, our Creator.

If, like me, you have been a vivid dreamer since childhood, I believe God can use the subconscious let-down of our mind in sleep to connect and progress our spiritual development as an adult.

Find this a little whack-a-doodle? To that I say yes. It’s a certain kind of mystical magic that happens when the ancient stardust compounded into the very cells of our being meets the luminal liminal space between our awake and unawake selves under the stars.

I receive the imagery in this particular dream as divine gift and answered prayer to questions I have been asking about my own spiritual deconstruction and progression of faith.

She meets me in the meadow as a reminder that the joyfully alive, playful, most spontaneous parts of my personality are not lost. Dormant perhaps, but still accessible within.

The doctrine and world systems I held as a young adult were beneficial and necessary then, but now I can release them. Release her. I can walk on.

I have dismantled the faith of my college days. I have expanded. I will allow myself to do so. Even if – no- even though I don’t look the same, and both I and my community aren’t sure what to do with that yet. Change happened so gradually over the years. Tiny imperceivable shifts until the accumulative waves have moved me great distances.

Suddenly my church of fifteen years feels estranged.

Suddenly my spouse stares at me as if a stranger to relearn.

What do you do with an expansion of self when you discover the new self no longer fits into the same life?

Their discomfort is not a crisis of my faith I remind myself. Continue.

I fill my lungs with wind and allow myself to be carried forward.

I am changed. I don’t want to go back, but I don’t know the way forward yet.

I am used to moving surrounded by people. I am used to being understood. I am used to being articulate about my beliefs or maybe not needing to be when there is little difference to explain. This new revolution? You don’t know until you know.

I stand on a new ridge overlooking the landscape of my past. Wind whips wild and rejuvenating through me. More God Yes Breath surrounding. Eyes darting wildly in search of a travel companion.

I am alone, but not panicked.

Although millions of adults my age are also in process of dismantling and reconstructing not only their personal faith, but the institution of Christianity (in America especially) as a whole, I am still alone. Just as you are also alone in the unfolding. For the hero’s journey in any classic myth and ancient tale is a solitary revolution of leaving the known place toward the unknown.

Compiling the team of traveling companions for this uncertain road produces a jarring and janky jamble of podcast hosts, authors, and atheists who offer genuine expressions of love to me as I trust the unfolding. I find rest in new spaces and am awash in gratitude for these star guides and these anchorings.

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She waves from the meadow’s edge of my dream, but I don’t see. My gaze is set forward. I lift my face toward the breeze and inhale in thanks as I continue toward the unknown and the yet discovered.