The last two days of our backcountry portion were probably the most powerfully descriptive of the journey. Arriving at our last site, on a dried portion of Knoll Lake, we figured a plan out to end the trek with in a positive and soulful way. The last day we sent the participants out on solos after Jonesie facilitated another medicine wheel activity. She tailored it this time to our group, making it shorter in length and simpler. Despite the simplicity, it was clear that we had received the blessing of mother nature when three hawks swung hundreds of feet above us, cawing out a signal, during the exact moment that Jonesie called upon the energy of the East, which is defined by air, spring, renewal, wisdom, enlightenment, and eagle.
That evening with the intention of facilitating the development of confidence and play we gave a lesson on fire making. Jonesie and I showed the group how to bow-drill a fire (a primitive method of fire making, commonly used as a therapeutic skill in Wilderness Therapy), and invited the group into a challenge. They would create their own fire, and every single individual would contribute in some way. A few faces lit up with the idea, and people began saying what they would do.
Farzeneh began collecting more wood; Laura, Elaine and Vanessa took on the physical challenge of tandem bow-drilling; once a coal was created Vanessa held the nest of kindling, while Taliyah blew it into flames; Maira stacked kindling in the fire ring to begin tending to the fire; and Mylin helped to tend.
As the fire grew stronger, there was a visible difference in the way the participants carried themselves. Despite all of the ups and downs, we had witnessed every single one of those young women develop a resilience that they may have never seen in themselves. A couple of them commented that they had never sat around a fire before, let alone created one. The reality of this fact made me both sad that many young people have not experienced the delight of a warm fire; and also full of joy that we could be catalysts for our group to feel the satisfaction that comes from becoming intimate with the earth, and forming a skill that has represented human survival for centuries. That night we played music, and took time before retreating to our tents to lie underneath the starry sky. We celebrated in a playful spirit, the conquering of not only a physical trek, but also an inner journey.
Reflecting on my experience as a Soul Journey instructor, I am full with gratitude. To see the playful confidence in each participant as I return to the photos we took during our time at the Grand Canyon, brings me joy. I now have a bond unlike any other with Jonesie, and evidence of my guiding strengths. I didn’t do everything perfect, nor did I become as close as I had hoped with the participants, but I did witness a transformation. My Soul Journey experience was a reminder that being my authentic self, even with all of the imperfections, is enough to make a difference in someone’s life. It takes showing up with an open heart.
- Sage Narbonne