Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bethel Wrap Up

The whirlwind that I have lived in for the last month continues unabated, but I am not totally overwhelmed by it so far. For that I can thank the help and support of several dear friends. In the last month I have had moments of profound exhaustion as well as moments of exquisite joy. My life continues to amaze me.

The spirituality conference in California at the beginning of the month was remarkable in several ways, not the least of which was spending three days beneath the towering redwoods of the coastal mountains south of San Francisco. Those massive trees have such strength and antiquity that just leaning against the trunk of one leads me to a feeling of calm and peace.

I was reunited with old friends I haven’t seen since my post-college years of the 1970s, and that was wonderful. But the most remarkable and somewhat miraculous thing was being reunited with the twin girls I co-parented for five years, from the time they were four until they were nine years old, and whom I have not seen for nearly twenty years. They are now 36 years old, and they are beautiful, caring, considerate and passionate young women. They are truly the daughters of my heart, las hijas de mi corizon, and I am so incredibly proud of them.

For three days we laughed and cried together, and did all the catching up that such a long separation requires. I last saw them in 1991, when they were in their first year of college at the University of Washington, where I was also in my first year of PA training. Our paths diverged from there, and I was unable to locate them in all the years since. They found my name listed on the conference’s website as one of the presenters and showed up. I was blown away to see them again, and joyous beyond measure.

Immediately greedy to have more time with them, I told them about the Women’s Harvest Celebration in Montana, and invited them to attend. They read my post about last year’s Harvest and decided it sounded like just what they needed. A quick check with Susan Rangitsch, who leads the program, confirmed that there was—just barely—space for them to participate. I was delighted.

A quick trip back to Bethel to wash clothes and repack, in my nearly empty house, as the movers came on September 1st and removed about 96% of my belongings. A quick visit with Dad and Stepmom in Anacortes before picking up the twins in Seattle to drive to Montana with my dear and long-time friends the Drum Maker and the Stained Glass Artist. The old friends and the new-found daughters hit it off immediately and we had a great time trekking together across Washington and Idaho to Montana.

The five days of Harvest were, as always, exciting, challenging, healing, and renewing. There were 32 women attending, and the weather at Black Tail Ranch on the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains was perfect. The full moon shone at night from a clear and cloudless sky, the days were warm and sunny, the air was crisp and smelled of fall. We danced, we sang, we cried and laughed together, we opened our hearts to each other, we held each other gently and hummed the theme of our common strength and power.

I delighted in watching my beautiful daughters insert themselves into this close circle of flowing woman energy, make new friends, open and expand themselves like sunflowers greeting the sun. We had many moments of loving closeness and reconnection, and many of the women there remarked on the joy radiating from the three of us together. It was a profound experience for me.

After Harvest I had a few glorious days in Missoula with my dear friends Susan and Jody (both were part of the Arctic Expedition in April), and then Jody and I flew back to Bethel for the final packing and details of moving. Jody has been a diva of organization, sorting, list-making, and packing in this final push, and her help has been invaluable. We are so on schedule that we may even have time to take the boat out this afternoon for a spin on the river. How great is that? And we are having such beautiful weather for it. Hard frost in the mornings, about 26 degrees, and sunny clear afternoons. The fact that we can do it does mean, unfortunately, that the boat has not sold yet. I will leave it here in storage for the winter and hope to find the right person to buy it next summer.

The wrap up will be complete on Tuesday morning, when Jody and I hop aboard the morning jet to Anchorage. A bit of fun and business there, and then it is on to Kenai to rejoin Dutch and all three of the dogs, who are anxiously awaiting our arrival. On October 1st, the long Summer of Solitude will finally be over.

Photos: Redwood trees in California by The Tundra PA; portrait of Susan Rangitsch by Linda Tracy.