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June 29, 2017

Pain Is Love

By Maryanna Gabriel


"From the time of conception each soul works with the growing structure
of its chosen physical body, shaping it, guiding its unfolding,
and encoding within its bones vast amounts of soul information."
-Andrew Ramer "Revelations For An New Millenium"



Pelvis With Distance by Georgia O'Keefe


     More adjustments. Bone reset. Has the Camino gotten a hold of me? I feel no doubt about this. In sordid preparation I worry about my crooked walking. My bones are more than out of sorts. They groan and creak, crack and grizzle. Gristle and tendons wrench and writhe. My knees feel sad and partially hinged. I clatter down the hallway trailing bed clothes feeling like a tree unfamiliar with movement whose dry and leafless branches are scraping the wall as I grope in the dark for the medicine cabinet with mossy roots for feet, my hair a tangle of bird nests and bees. My bones are touching into love given and returned to sender with pain. As I tune into my own story I am extended to the turmoil of humanity then all the way back to the ancient of days. This is the Buddhist practice of "tonglen". Akkk. 


     The physical process of walking and all of the struggles inherent physically on the Camino are a part of cracking the ego and opening the psyche so that spirit or pneuma may enter in a mini theatre of life engaged with a seemingly mad director intent on maturing the soul. I seem to be ahead of schedule. I have been through this initiation countless times. This is not my first pilgrimage.  Maybe I am sick. I take my temperature. Either I am dead or my thermometer is broken. The last thing I feel like doing is walking. All I want to do is bury myself in a curl of pain within a sandy burrow, the comfort of earth all around me, an interment of old grief. Perhaps this is a purification process. Perhaps I won't be able to even leave, to get off the ground, let alone out of it. I think of Findhorn in Scotland. There I learned about accessing divinity without an external medium, that I can do it myself. My bones reach for my deepest self and I lean on Spirit. As I fight nausea, Georgia's beautiful paintings come to mind and I reach to transcend the more difficult emotional work but I know the only out is through. 



Red Hills And Bones by Georgia O'Keefe

June 28, 2017

Dr. Yank

By Maryanna Gabriel 



     The other night I swung onto the property and did a double take of surprise as I took in the sight of an enormous stag having a snooze against the fence. He looked at me gently. I decided to leave him alone and I came into the house. As I settled in for sleep it gave me
A sign. 
comfort to think of him there as though he was a ward or perhaps a sign. A sign. Oh boy. I am deeply worried. I have booked a flight to walk the Camino Frances and I can barely move. My body is a pretzel and I am fighting waves of nausea. Dear Dr. Yank, a chiropractor, is trying to reform my rebellious bones. After my mother died it was like I kept collapsing. I could not seem to hold myself up. The trauma of ensuing events took up residence in my bones and that year I visited chiro's over 33 times. It was punishing. My knees became most unhappy with the process. They apparently still are. The training for this trek has come to an abrupt halt as I endure their swollen protest. Dr. Yank has enthusiastically decided he is my coach.

    "Don't worry about that. Just do what you do," I reply a bit breathlessly, finding it difficult to surrender to the acrobatics we were engaging in. Apparently I am a mess and my meniscus is laterally displaced. He thinks there is hope. I have three appointments this week. 


June 16, 2017

In The Still Of The Night

By Maryanna Gabriel

     Except for my pounding heart the night was still. The adrenaline that had just surged through me was beginning to ebb. I tried not to shake. I was frightened. My courage seemed to take leave of me. I had no idea where I was. It was hard to think. Was I past the camp ground or before the camp ground? And shouldn't I get off the beach in case they come back. Yes, I decide. I turn into the narrow cobblestone streets. I find a hotel. The man at the desk does not know where the camp ground is. I can see he cannot help me and I go back out onto the street. My heart pounds and my fear mounts. It is so dark. I have no choice. I head back to the beach and then as I get my bearings I realize I am before the camp ground. It was difficult to recognize the place because it was closed and gated. In fact the gate was locked. I scaled the wall. I landed in the camp site court yard. A man had been watching me. He now stepped forward to question me. I began to babble.

      It was then a kind of a miracle happened. He recognized I was traumatized and began talking to me in a soft calm voice, telling me I was safe, and that it was all alright. He said he was a retired fire chief from Orillia, Ontario. I guess he knew how to speak to victims in shock. He spoke to me gently for a long time. He told me little stories. Did he give me a blanket? I don't remember. I know he walked me to my camper in the black night. I will be forever grateful to this man. 

Mount Shasta
     Rather incredibly the gentleman I was travelling with didn't believe me. He turned a deaf ear, rolled away from me, and ignored me. I ran a theory or two as to why this might be so. Somehow the morning came. By then the news of what had happened was all over the campground. I heard later that the priest gave a sermon in the local church that day, gringos are not just "marks" but people too. The lady who owned the campground brought me buns.

     I was so weary. My heart and soul were heavy. I just wanted to go home. This was it for me. Finally, after all was said and done, I remember driving past Mount Shasta in California. I wept with huge heart-rending sobs. Maybe it was the smell of the pine. I love pine. It is one my favourite smells. It connects me to life and all that I hold dear.

   I felt gratitude. Grateful I was safe, grateful I was heading home, and grateful for resolution around someone who supposedly cared for me. And thus ends this tale of travelling south. 



June 10, 2017

Rincon de Guayabitos, Mexico

By Maryanna Gabriel

                                        

Boca de Iguana with friends. 

Boca de Iguana with friends, Manzanilla with crocodiles, and finally in Rincon de Guayabitos in a destination campground we stopped for a longer sojourn. Let us just say that travel is a good way to know somebody and fissures that had been revealing themselves had just become a crack. I was needing to cool off. Quickly. 

I set out onto the beach. I was walking quickly seeking the calming affect of the ocean when some boys came by and began to speak to me in Spanish. I say boys, they seemed like boys, but they were closer to twenty. I just spoke quickly in Spanish that I did not want to talk and kept moving without paying much attention. I began to feel better. By now it was dark, I had covered the breadth of a sandy bay and the stars were out. I may not have had resolution to what I was feeling but clearly it was time to return whether I was looking forward to it or not.

I made my way along the shore glad for the starlight gleaming on the waves. It was hard to see. Suddenly the same boys parted from the shadows on a wall. There were three. They surrounded me. I backed up with the ocean behind me and like wolves they closed in. A cold fear coagulated as I realized I was cornered. "Oooh miss you are so beautiful," I hear one say. One stepped forward, grabbed a breast and retreated. With difficulty I focused on a feeling of incredulity. I was old enough to be their mother, maybe their grandmother. Did they need glasses? The slightly bigger one reached forward and grabbed my crotch and then he stepped back. The world immediately slowed. Frame by frame my mind reached for a quiet puff of thought as I remembered words from long ago. It was of a tea cup reader I had seen. She told me I would be sexually assaulted against a wall. Her words had frightened me at the time. Eventually I had forgotten her words. Until now.



Something in me turned over. Not a chance. I swiftly take in their height. I am bigger. This is not going to happen. Not these punks. Not on my life. With that thought I felt myself puff up. It was as if some primal force inside of me was tapped into. I grew and I grew. Instinctively I knew I needed to make a sound. Screaming wasn't big enough for I felt huge. I seemed to bump my head against the stars. I threw back my head and opened my lips. I reared and I roared, a surging torrent of carnal rage. It overflowed from gaping hairy jaws and the roaring seemed endless. A red ferocity of the she-grizzly possessed me and I knew in this savagery I could easily tear them limb from limb. Then I did what grizzlies do. I charged. I charged roaring with claws outstretched and I went for the throat of the boy who had gone for me. But he was not there. 

They had vanished. The night was quiet once again. I was alone. Was I? Was I really?




June 3, 2017

Guanajuato

By Maryanna Gabriel


City Of Guanajuato

I was stunned by this place. It is an outstanding testimony to colonial architecture as it was built on money that was mined from silver and gold. It has a history that dates back to the 1500's. Prosperity and violence are intertwined as Spain interfered with taxes and bloody feuding resulted. For nearly two centuries, 30 to 40 percent of the world's silver was mined here. Silver barons lived opulent lives while slaves, the indigenous peoples,
Tunnels of cobblestone.
worked. Jesuits struggled for their existence as the monarch of Spain felt they were too powerful and banned them. Eventually it all settled down as independence from Spain was achieved and theaters, churches and mansions were built on narrow cobblestone streets. We walked through a series of underground tunnels. I was awed by the labour invested with everywhere we looked. A popular art university flourishes here.

It was time to head to the west coast. I was not looking forward to all of the tolls and road checks. Men in uniform with machine guns and ammunition strapped to their bodies has never been my favourite thing.