Thoughts on Spiritual Apprenticeship


"The scientist does not randomly choose a specific discipline or speciality, but is drawn to a particular field by a complex of subjective experiences and encounters, many of which unfold far from the laboratory and its rarefied atmosphere."        


                                                                                                                                                                                                            -David Abram 


Someone asked recently if they could interview me about my time as an apprentice of the Delicate Lodge Teachings. I said thank you and turned down the interview, but I do have a few things to say on the subject. 


These teachings came to me at a time when I was remembering my spiritual sense-of-self. I was in graduate school studying poetics and alternative healing modalities. I was dancing and reading a lot. I was looking for myself in the poetics of language, in the process of communication (communion through words) and through the magical quality of healing that comes when one focuses upon beauty and design in the human body and in nature. I was seeking myself through that which animates and affirms life simultaneously. Poems. Dance. Touch. Prayer. Nature. Laughter. Community. 


After studying different spiritual traditions, all of which are essentially poetic in their structure, I found what was called the Origin Teachings of the Delicate Lodge. I knew in our first ceremony, a small gathering of women on the rocky shores of Lake Superior, that I was being offered something comprehensive, something that could contain every other spiritual notion I had thus far encountered. Wisdom feels pure and innate when it reaches us. Whenever we feel touched by wisdom we are simultaneously touched by a universal hand. A collective energy. A sensation of bell-clarity arrives. A knowing of the unknowable. It's as if a breath of clean air has drifted from high in the ancient mountains down to our lungs, here now, in the present moment. With one breath we feel the renewed articulation of Truth. 


The Sikh’s call their religion the one universal religion. The Buddist and Daoists express a similar sentiment. The Christians say "God is Love." A universal quality can be found in all spiritual lineages, these rivers of information where one encounters the "Truth." When you come upon a model of Truth—be it in a poem, in the words of a yoga teacher, in the voice of a vibrant and connected child, in an ancient text, or in a serendipitous sign—you feel it deeply. It reaches you. You are touched. Changed. And what is true for you is not necessarily true for me. And what is true for you now might not be true for you in a year. Or five years. Or ten years. And for me, great spiritual structures can endure the shifting and changing perspectives of our inexorable human questioning. 

I found an aspect of my truth in the Medicine Wheel teachings--so much so that I decided to embark upon a ten year journey to study the teachings, apprenticing with WhiteEagle Woman Sterling, a Keeper of the Delicate Lodge lineage, to more fully embody the wisdom I found there. As an apprentice, I sought to live the teachings fully in my daily life. With my family. With my community. With the natural elementals around me. With every thought and breath I sought to take the wisdom more deeply into my being. I woke daily with a spiritual focus. 


Last year I left my apprenticeship and many people have asked why. Because I trust this: my heart said I needed to move on. One of my teachers during this time said, "Always follow your heart, no matter what anyone else says!" So simple and Hallmark-cardish. Simple and brilliant and true. How do we make sense of the comprehensiveness of the heart's message in moments when not all the information has presented itself? While there were very personal things that happened for me in the months leading up to my decision to leave, there were also mysterious elements and messages that came during that time that I have not surmised the total meaning of yet. I am still gestating what I felt, sensed, and dreamed about during that time. 


I am a writer. A poet and non-fiction writer, and I share transparently about my life in many forums. But to share about my decision to leave my apprenticeship, now, while I am still coming to understand my own learning ground would be a dishonor to the creative process that I am in. It would be making-up-a-story-to-make-other-people-happy. A pretense. Dear Reader, I offer no pretenses to make life more comfortable. Snakes digest their prey without haste. Anything sustainable grows slowly. I am still ruminating upon the nuances of what happened for me, what activation of self-authority occurred that made me turn suddenly to embark upon a different, more authentic path. Nonetheless, thank you for your questions, your care and concerns. Thank you for your love. Thank you for the years or moments of relationship that have passed between us. A dear friend recently said, "I'm starting to think that relationship is God." This rings true for me. This is the context of everything I do and write. (So more on that soon...)


The ultimate apprenticeship is always with one's self-authority. The apprenticeship that we can all claim for ourselves is the intimate conversation we are in with Life itself. All the designs of nature are reeling through our daily experiences. In sorrow or happiness the wisdom is huddling around us. We live in a net of universal wisdom whether we are awake or asleep to it, or hungrily seeking it. Our opportunity to speak directly to "God" is always upon us, as though to our shirt collar is pinned a live microphone, and the Divine is sitting here with us, ready to ask the next question in a life-long interview.

I offer this to you, Life--my most current and enthusiastic reply. 

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    WhiteEagle Woman (Thursday, 29 March 2018 17:46)

    You still stun me with your perfect self. Sending deep love and appreciation!