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.
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”.
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.
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.