The Courage of a Quester

Posted on Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 by Ann Linnea
Quester returning from solo time

Quester returning from solo time

Carrying a tent, tarp, sleeping bag, and clothing back from a solo site one mile from base camp, a lone quester returns from 48 hours of living alone. Eleven other questers will also soon be returning from their solo spots around this valley in eastern Washington in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Center of the ceremonial circle welcoming the returning questers

Center of the ceremonial circle welcoming the returning questers

In the tradition of vision quests, these people went seeking answers to life’s questions by spending time alone in nature without electronics, food, or many of the comforts of home. Some were marking a passage of one time of life to the next. Others were seeking solace for grief. Still others were seeking to know themselves more deeply.

The dozen men and women, aged 31-71, who just participated in our annual June Cascadia Quest were welcomed back to base camp and then sat together in story council for a day to share their journeys with one another. Now they have all returned home. This last phase of the quest is called incorporation—discovering how “to grow corn for themselves and their people”.

Circle of peace flags at base camp

Circle of peace flags at base camp

I am thinking about each of them. The act of participating in a vision quest is a step out of the norm of most people’s lives. It is definitely an act of courage. AND returning home from a vision quest to implement change is hard, subtle and demanding work. Thank you, questers. The world needs people who are living intentional lives of seeking.

This circle of people worked together learning the skills of the quest.

Facing west as part of learning to call in the directions of the medicine wheel

Facing west as part of learning to call in the directions of the medicine wheel

Hiking throughout the valley to learn flora, fauna, and navigation

Hiking throughout the valley to learn flora, fauna, and navigation

 Now they are working alone and together to make manifest what they learned “on the mountain”. Since returning to their homes, they have been emailing support to one another, including a beautiful exchange of poems. I close with one of the shared poems.

Unconditional by California poet Jennifer Welwood

Willing to experience aloneness,

I discover connection everywhere;

Turning to face my fear,

I meet the warrior who lives within;

Opening to my loss,

I gain the embrace of the universe;

Surrendering into emptiness,

I find fullness without end.

 

Each condition I flee from pursues me.

Each condition I welcome transforms me

and becomes itself transformed

into its radiant jewel-like essence.

I bow to the one who has made it so,

Who has crafted this Master Game;

To play it is pure delight,

To honor its form – true devotion.

A yellow warbler held in the trustworthy hands of a quester

A yellow warbler held in the trustworthy hands of a quester

 

 

 

 

4 responses to “The Courage of a Quester”

  1. Diane Tilstra says:

    Thank you so much Ann, Christina, Debs and Julia for Quest 2016. My first Quest was 2005 and I now realize that this “medicine” walk is critical for me to find clarity and receive the blessings of my fellow questers, the mountains, trees, birds and animals that occupy this place of retreat. My heart is full of deep gratitude for the listening and the ceremony.

  2. Meredith Jordan says:

    As always, a beautiful narrative, Ann, and one that reminds me of my quest many years ago into the High Sierras, and—later—another to Whidbey Island. Much love!

  3. Annamari Erdei says:

    Thank you, Ann and Christina for being and for offering this gift to the world that needs it desperately. Sending you all my love, Annamari

  4. Sloane Dugan says:

    Dear Ann and Christina,

    Just reading your note this afternoon about the 2016 vision quest. Fond memories continue from my time there with you and others.

    Amazingly, the red thread around my wrist continues still to this day. After 16 months or so. Still a daily reminder of visioning and living purposefully. This red thread is becoming thinner and thinner on my left wrist, and will continue in one form or another in the months and years ahead.

    Fondly, Sloane

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