Hibernia. . .

Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart.”

-Bruce Springsteen

So where do I begin? 

Many times along this path I’ve encountered situations that would have frightened – or at the very least, unnerved – the “average” person and come through them without so much as a second thought.  That’s not to say I haven’t taken them seriously – quite the contrary, in fact, I take this work very seriously.  Thankfully, though my practice has taught me to take myself much less so.

Over the course of the last year or so I’d reached an understanding of where my path would lead.  Watching my mother succumb to end stage renal failure in 2008 – and the care she’d received in Hospice during her final days in this world – led me to realize that I would end up working with the terminally ill. 

About a year or so after that the opportunity to volunteer with a Hospice service near where I live presented itself.  Since then, I’ve been visiting patients and have come to love the work. 

Several months ago I decided to pursue a degree in Spiritual Counseling.  The idea behind this was that after getting my Masters Degree I would apply for a position as a Spiritual Counselor with a Hospice.  Finances kept me from enrolling in classes immediately. Now that things are a little bit better, I planned on enrolling within the month.

Then I journeyed the other night and sought some advice from a Teacher.  I went with no specific question in mind, but seeking vision for the course my life would take.  He presented me with a bonfire and told me to leap in and find the answers for myself. 

I jumped in, and the flames danced around me, obscuring everything.  Finally, as they receded, I saw myself standing in the center of a circle of dying men seated cross-legged on the floor.  As I played my Horse drum, their spirits rose and converged in a circle of light near the ceiling.  Before they passed into the light, their spirits thanked me for aiding them.  As the vision faded, I found myself sitting before my Teacher.

This is your way,” he said.

“What about the Spiritual Counseling degree,” I asked.

“That is not your way,” he answered. 

He told me that I needed to pour everything into my Shamanic work and that the rest would take care of itself.  My day job, he said, was just that – a way to pay the bills in the meantime. I thanked him for his help and returned from the journey.

As I opened my eyes, I knew to the very core of my being, that I had reached put-up-or-shut-up time.  I knew that if I were to continue this path, it had to be all or nothing. 

And for the first time since I’d begun walking it, I was scared shitless

I closed my eyes, took a long, deep breath, and turned myself completely over to Spirit.  Because I was scared, I knew in that moment that all I could do was step forward; and that all those times of praying in lodges to have everything removed that could possibly divert me from walking this road had finally come home to roost.

In the days that have followed, I’ve recognized within myself a growing sense of liberation.  The prayer requests continue to come in.  I’ve been asked to sing and lead a prayer at a Pro Peace ceremony in April.  And last night I spent almost two hours talking with a patient about her situation and preparing for the preliminary journey work I’ll be doing this evening.

“God is in His Heaven,” the old saying goes, “and all is right with the world.”  For the first time ever in my 47 years, I believe I have a handle on how that feels…

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5 Responses to “Hibernia. . .”

  1. This was a wonderful experience Ben, thank you for sharing. It mirrors what has been happening in my own life-I have had thoughts of pursuing avenues in my normal life that I have been shown are not for me. Things I thought would provide the security I need to feel safe in the world but it seems the spirits have other ideas, scary as that is. However I am slowly learning that it is best to trust them in all things.

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  2. Thanks, Siobhan.

    There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with it. A feeling like the company’s gone and the silverware’s been put away in the drawer. Everything’s in it’s place, and there’s nothing left to do…

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  3. […] of the blogs I visit often is “Walking the Drum”. I stopped by today, and caught up on recent posts. As I read, I was heartened by his humility and […]

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  4. It’s either in the air or the water. Siobhán and I were talking last week and she reminded me that it is always Spirit that ought to be leading us. Our egos and the agendas of this world often toss us off course. A friend went for a job interview recently and flubbed it up, but later came across a quote from Isaac Pennington, an early Quaker, who reminded her that it’s about God’s (Spirit’s) lead that we must assent and follow.

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  5. Yep.

    If practicing shamanism has taught me anything, it’s exactly that…

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