In the recesses of my mind there is a private place I visit when I need to withdraw from the world and into my soul. It is a chamber in which I consult Wisdom. I discovered it first when I was doing some active imagination in Jungian analysis; I visit it from time to time whenever I need solitude, serenity, or guidance. I have never shared it until now. I hope I can do it justice as I attempt to describe this familiar path. The photos I provide are of course not the place, but they are similes to assist my inadequate prose.
In the Northwest in a clearing stands a Tlingit longhouse, its entrance facing a bank, for it looks out into the Pacific Ocean. The air is cool and damp, for it is always raining in this vision. The cedar lodge holds many families, yet there is never any one there. I don’t know the explanation for why it is empty. It is not abandoned; The Tribe has gone to another place for fishing and will someday return. The house is not entirely empty, for I always see in my approach (apparently by boat) smoke rising above the roof.
The longhouse interior is dark, vast, and carries a pungent aroma. It is the smell of cedar columns, mixed with the odor of people, dried berries, and salmon. Normally the house is full of the sounds of people cooking and singing and children running around. For now the longhouse is still, but for the sound of rain and the crackle of a single fire, located in a pit at the back of the lodge.
At the fire, waiting for me, is the old man. He is sitting cross legged on the ground before the fire. He is wrapped with an elaborate Tlingit blanket, which conveys his rank as Elder. It is hard to see his aged weathered face, for a Tlingit rain hat stays low on his brow. His long raven hair, now brindled with age, drapes his shoulders.
Until recently he had no name. For twenty years he was Elder or Sage or Father. He promised me someday I would know his name, and today I suddenly ‘remembered’ his name is Qi.**.
When I visit, I sit adjacent or across the fire from him. I ask questions. Qi listens. This is hard to explain. Qi has told me many things, he has never spoken. I sense if he did speak it would be in a lost Tlingit dialect – and he knows no English. Yet he listens well and tells me many things.
Today I discussed my fears and doubts. He hardly ever moves, and at times I think he is not breathing. As is his wont, there is a long pause after I finish speaking.
Today he told me I am to love my life. Do not demand this, that, or another before I love my life. Just love as it is. Every day I am to find the blessing in it.
This summer I turn 50. Another piece of synchronicity: I will be in Tlingit territory for this milestone. When a man reaches 50 in the Tlingit society he is now an Elder among his people.
For the past ten years I have had the slow realization the real reason I am going to Qi is I am being summoned to become Qi; remembering his name is the first step in this metamorphosis.
Someday when I sit down by the fire to take counsel I will realize I have on the hat and blanket and I am in Qi’s place. Only then will the sun come out and The Tribe will come home.
** I had no idea what “Qi” means. After I wrote this, I looked it up the definition. Who says Synchronicity doesn’t work?