We are human AND we are divine. We have a physical body AND a soul. Our hearts are our direct connection, our conduit, our navigation system, between the two parts.
Lady’s Slipper has such a magical presence. Coming across one in the woods is just like finding hidden treasure. There have been years when I haven’t come across any—this year was not one of them.
If you look at them closely the flower looks just like a large heart, suspended underneath, and protected by, a great bird with outstretched wings. You can see both halves of the heart. You can even see the “veins” and “arteries” coursing across the surface. Each plant manifests a single bloom supported by a very strong, straight stalk that rises up from a collection of large leaves that look like they are rising up directly from the Earth.
Lady’s Slipper speaks to me of CONNECTION.
Not so much the connection we have to others. More the connection we have between our divine souls and the human forms in which we are embodied.
Right now, writing this, I’m sitting on an airplane bound for San Francisco. Sitting next to me is my oldest daughter and I am delivering her to her new college home, 3000 miles away, literally on the other side of the country.
Periodically both of us are overcome by tears. She is ready to fledge and I am so very excited for her as she sets off into the world, but my mama heart is aching all the same.
A blink over 19 years ago I became a mother for the first time.
When I was three months pregnant, I remember spending one morning at the local laundromat. I was just beginning a new knitting project, making a sweet little baby sweater for the little being growing in my belly. My heart was wide open and filled with expansive joy and excitement.
Arriving home later, I was horrified to see thick, black smoke pouring out all of the windows and doors of the big barn our rental apartment was located in. The smoke was so heavy I couldn’t even begin to approach the building.
Forty five eternal minutes later, as multiple fire trucks finally arrived, sirens wailing, the building was completely gone, and along with it my two precious pups and a bunch of other material stuff I couldn’t care less about.
I was heartbroken and the pain wedged itself in my heart, softening slightly by the passage of time and by my focusing all my attention on the anticipation of welcoming our first child. Oh and we were building a house. Hard physical work is definitely a good distraction from emotional pain.
Our hearts have the most amazing capacity to heal when we allow them to remain open, to feel the pain, and allow it to move through us. Most often though it hurts too much and we close our hearts, harden them, numb them as protection against the pains and sorrows that inevitably we have to deal with in our human lives.
Unconsciously, trauma and “bad” experiences cause us to disconnect from our hearts, from our inner guidance system, and we move into survival mode.
The rest of my pregnancy was mostly uneventful, easy even. I remember being in total awe of my swelling body, and my midwife, and my doting husband and totally loving and trusting the whole process. I felt so very ready at almost 31 to be a mother and every step of the way felt natural and aligned, unfolding exactly as I envisioned it would.
My baby would be born at home into my welcoming arms.
Life had other plans however. One of many lessons that were to come helping me to remember the folly that it is that we humans think we have any control over the events and experiences in our lives.
To make a long story short, absolutely nothing went how I'd imagined it would. My gentle transition into motherhood was anything but.
My daughter was born in the emergency room, via cesarean section, with severe meconium aspiration after three days of unproductive labor—a painful result in so many ways of me not trusting my intuition and relying on an external “expert” to know what was best for me—but that’s a whole other blog post, and “hindsight is 20/20” as they say.
When I woke up from the anesthesia the doctors wheeled my beautiful baby girl by in one of those little plastic incubators on her way to a bigger hospital about an hour and a half away.
I joined her the following day making the long journey in an ambulance that I have absolutely no memory of, but my husband reminded me of recently as he experienced deja-vu following an ambulance on the highway with its lights flashing, no sirens blaring this time. We had just been talking about her arrival in the world…and thinking about her upcoming departure.
My desire for no intervention turned into mass intervention, an unsettling month spent living at the hospital or the Ronald McDonald house, and our new baby in NICU, prodded and poked, intubated and drugged. It was 10 days before I was even able to hold her.
The pain of separation was almost unbearable.
Through it all though, I knew with certainty with my new mother’s heart that she was going to be fine. I never doubted that she would eventually be coming home with me. And my new path, my new direction, was crystal clear.
It involved focusing every single ounce of my energy on my daughter, on being the best mother I could be, nurturing her, healing her, loving her whole again after her traumatic and violent entry into this world.
I know now, looking back, that this was the point I completely lost my fragile connection with myself, with my internal guidance system, with my own heart.
This was the point in my life where I left the path my soul intended and where I choose instead to devote my life to the beautiful piece of my heart that I was now, finally, holding in my arms.
“Go on,” says Lady’s Slipper gently. A voiceless voice, but I can feel her words bubbling up from within, along with another flush of tears.
Over the next 12 years, the heart outside of my body grew larger and larger. Expanding to hold two more daughters, a new puppy, new adventures, new homes, new communities. I tended it so lovingly and carefully, determined to anticipate and meet it’s every need.
And my external heart flourished.
But along the way I had forgotten, as you do, to tend to the heart beating within my own body, and exhausted and malnourished it was floundering and unhappy.
This was about the time I began my Soulflower journey. Not consciously of course, but the Universe stepped in, as only the Universe can, with event after event that pulled the proverbial rug out from under me.
I was left on my hands and knees, in the dirt, in the dark and I had no choice but to, albeit unwillingly, surrender and begin the long journey back to myself.
Back to my heart.
(You can read another piece of my story, and more about the creation of the Soulflower Plant Spirit Oracle deck, here.)
This moon cycle, lovingly supported by Lady’s Slipper, I have begun to see clearly, with the eye of my heart, a big circle, or cycle in my life, that is coming around to where it began. Although not exactly.
Life moves more in spirals than circles I think, ever expanding and integrating, deeper and deeper, wider and wider levels of awareness and understanding—consciousness. We grow. I am not the same person I was 19 years ago.
I see my daughter taking her next big steps along the path of her life and simultaneously I am finally stepping more fully and completely back onto my own heart-led path—the path my soul intends.
A beautifully orchestrated dance along a path where there is no end and no beginning. Round and round we go, together, dancing in our magical Lady’s Slippers.
The seat-belt sign bleeps on loudly and I return to my body after being lost, completely absorbed in my thoughts and writing.
The plane is bouncing around and I instinctively reach out to hold my daughter’s hand. Too big to cradle in my arms now, but the feeling is the same and I have a good imagination.
I take a deep, calming breath and bring my awareness to my center, to my heart. Allowing it to expand to connect both parts of me, both realms—the Divine, spiritual, thinking me and the physical, slightly nervous, earthly me. And then bigger still to encompass my daughter, and then the entire airplane and all the other dancers sharing this stretch of the journey with me.
This life, like the rare Lady’s Slipper, is so heartbreakingly delicate and achingly beautiful.
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On our metaphorical dance floor that is life, we are faced with many choices every moment about what steps to take next. Lady’s Slipper asks if our steps come from within, guided by our connection with our higher selves, or if are they choreographed by others?