Making Things Real: Intention Setting and Storytelling by Michelle Katz
This week I returned from my annual Wilderness Quest. It was the most difficult fast I have had yet, and hope to ever have. The physical pain of this fast was immense and led me to actually to come down from the mountain a day earlier than anticipated. It was a humbling and new experience for me. And of course, despite it’s ordeal, I am awaken to it’s alignment with my intent.
I arrived on the land, a land I did not previously know, to find my spot for this initiation. A rock that called to me was a 20-minute hike up from the basecamp and situated me close to my co-guide and co-quester’s spot in case anything happened. The land was truly magical. The mix of pine forest and desert related showed a juxtaposition that was awe-inspiring. The mica dusted and quarts embedded granite rocks invited a looking in, through and at myself. The view of the surrounding mountains offered a perspective of all directions and expansiveness of seeing. The scent of Ponderosa was faint in the wind and told stories of those that do know this land well, the bears, mountain lion, coyote, elk and deer, finches, eagles, hawks. And the bones and feathers left behind on the earth were the writings of these stories.
At the threshold crossing, I stepped in, speaking of an intention I was reluctant to declare. “I need honest and conscious connection to myself and others.” Admitting to myself that I need people and I need myself to show up fully with them. And in the moving up the mountain slowly with my gear, my body already felt weak, just stepping into this. I knew I was about to embark on something big. And so the ceremony began and guided me to whatever I needed. The ordeal was real, the message was loud and clear and heard immediately. I began feeling more and more ill, and on the third morning, I woke and truly needed someone. I blew my rescue whistle, in the honest and conscious connection to myself and in it’s true lesson of surrendering to my need and the need I have for other, I was assisted down the mountain.
After eating and some good company, I felt much better. In that time we both held our own intention and stories personally and in deep reflection and integration of the experience. And as the next morning came, it was time to do what always seems so hard: share the experience.
No matter what, every time I return from questing, I think, “I have nothing to share” only then to ask, “how do I have much to tell about nothing at all?”
I recall, after one Quest, speaking to Meredith Little, co-founder of the School of Lost Borders, where I did my training to be a Rite of Passage Guide, and telling her “that the most powerful element of this practice for me, is in the storytelling. I often feel my life is nothing much, until I share the story with someone, then I come to realize just how Big my life is and can be.”
After this Quest, I am again shown this profound yet simple and beautiful truth of the practice. I marked the needing of others, regardless of how hard it can be to relate at times, as well as an authentic and trusting connection to myself. And with the time on the land, I was shown the realness of my intent in a clear and firm way; from the truthful cries of the hawk circling above to the knowing of the woodpecker in it’s drumbeat and the showing up of the hummingbird and chipmunk as I needed them most, and, of course, to the showing up of the human being when I sent out my call for help. And none of it felt real until I sat in circle to share that story and be seen for it through the acknowledgement of my community, for the lessons learned and the maturity met. Now, I get to see how I live it in the world, carrying with me the knowledge that I am supported both by the land and the people.