It was nine years ago last month that I took myself to Big Sur for the first time. I disorientedly rang up my friend Swirly and asked her where she loved to go when she needed space away from it all, and this is where she directed me.
I'd had a second trimester miscarriage two weeks before I phoned her and those around me were worried that I would go up there and fling myself off of a cliff. Which, interestingly enough, was where I received the healing I required to move forward in the light, and in a new kind of strength that I'd never before experienced, alone.
Traumatic and blindsiding loss made me feel as though I was standing on a precipice. I packed some art supplies and my journal, and took the curvaceous drive up the California coast to the place where artists have been taking sanctuary for a hundred years or more. In many places the road comes very close to the edge of the Earth, reminding me of my fear of heights, my stomach flipping over as I snatched glimpses of the waves crashing on the rocks below.
The room I stayed in had nothing but a bed and a bathroom. No phone, no tv, no cell service. I painted, journalled, slept long hours dreaming of this baby spirit that had chosen to gift me with this experience before gifting me with motherhood.
On my last day there, I decided to stand at the scariest edge I could find on the roadside and rage out my grief-all of it-all the way back to childhood. I recalled what I'd heard someone say about heights reflecting fear not that we will fall, but that we will jump. I wonder if, for me, it was a fear of soaring...despite what was happening in my body and in my injured soul at the time. I remember feeling a tremendous comfort-that the sea was like a big bowl, a container that could totally hear and understand my rage, my disappointment and hold my tears for me. I grew louder and bolder, and still she rocked me softly. The sea lions below barked and cheerleaded. The turkey vultures circled overhead, not in wait for me to lay down and die so they could pick at my bones, but to take from me all that would become toxic if I held it inside. The scent of sagebrush wafted up and cleansed me. I can't remember a time where I felt more held and safe. I closed my eyes and felt the rubble moving under my unsteady feet, and learned to trust for the first time in my life. Tears of rage turned to tears of gratitude for my life, for all that was possible. I felt it for the whole world.
Often I am asked how it is I came to this work-to my connection with the Earth as a healer, and to the creatures. I suppose in some part, it began with this loss, and then an emptying. The void inside of me filled with light and I felt a strange commitment to want to give back to the Earth for the gift of being held when no one could hold me. I wanted to know I could always come here as if to an altar and find my illuminated self waiting at the edge, trusting.
It was lifechanging to discover that between just she and I, a relationship existed that could keep me in the light. That every part of her was rooting for me. Crumbling, barking, splashing, crashing...daring me to live well, to thrive, to be fully expressed.
I travel back every year to revisit the cliff's edge and to reconnect with my own light. Oddly enough, it only rained that year, and I visit in January or February, ritually. Twice I've been pregnant. Every time, I am rebirthed.