Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When Magic Happens

Years ago, I leased a wilderness campsite where my sons and I spent most of our summers. It was on a small lake in the midst of an eighty-square mile private forest and wildlife reserve in Northern Ontario. For me, there is nothing like lying on sun-warmed granite, breathing in the scent of towering pines and listening to the long mournful call of the loon echo across the clear water of a small lake. It heals all the places in me that have become bruised and broken.

But life changed. The site was hit with a tornado (while we were there- and I can say it is a surreal experience to be, even briefly, in the very centre of a tornado flinging hundred foot pines around you like tooth-picks) and my sons needed to be in the city for summer jobs. And then, I married Jeff and moved out of the city to a place in the country in Southern Ontario. Although our home was not on the metamorphic rock of the Canadian Shield it was beautiful and quiet and surrounded by a pine forest. I still longed for the northern rocks and water, but it didn’t seem sensible to maintain a second place outside the city.

Now, things have changed- again. Being back in the city full-time I have come to truly appreciate all that Toronto has to offer. But I also have a renewed need for a place outside the city. But spots like the one I had- affordable, remote, private, on a lake etc.- are few and far between. I went on the waiting list for a leased site at the forest reserve, but did not expect to hear back for several years.

Two nights ago, lying in bed listening to the helicopters sweeping over the city during the G20 meeting, I could feel my heart and body ache for the wilderness. But with all of the logistical and emotional work of my recent marital separation, I didn’t feel I had the energy (or the heart) to do a lengthy search to find some place that would meet my need for privacy and rock and water. Lying there, I suddenly remembered how the original site had come to me: I had been visiting a friend who had a spot at the wildlife reserve, and I’d taken her canoe out onto the lake. I’d lain down in the canoe and drifted with the wind, watching the sky and allowing my deep and desperate need for a place of healing to fill me. And I let my longing fuel my prayer: “Please, I need a place just like this, and I need it now. I have no energy to search, to look at places that don’t fit, to figure out how to do this. Please.” And in one week a site on the same lake became available.

Two nights ago, remembering this , I once again allowed my deep longing for the wilderness, for the healing of the grey and pink granite and clear waters, to fill me. And I prayed a similar prayer: “I do not have the energy to look. I need a place like this again. Please, help me.”

This morning I called the wildlife reserve to see if they had any temporary camp sites available for August. To my surprise, a woman I used to know when I had a long term spot there answered the phone (I thought she had moved on.) She told me the only short term sites they had were for two weeks and were on one of the busier lakes. “But,” she said, “as luck would have it, a seasonal site on the lake where you used to be just became available this morning. Do you want it?”

And I said, “YES!” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

So, for some of July and hopefully most of August, I will be camping on a small quiet lake, surrounded by wilderness and lying on weather-smoothed rock. I will watch the herons, and listen to the loons and the wolves and the coyotes. I will sit by the fire and may even build a sweat lodge (used to have one at the old site.) I will take my heart and my body to the land that heals me. This might mean I miss a blog entry here and there (no electricity or internet) but I will see what kind of connection is available in the village nearby.

I feel. . . . so blessed, and so very grateful. And I also feel. . . . like I have been touched, not for the first time, by sacred magic. It’s not so much that I felt magic had left my life but that in my preoccupation with logistics and survival, with the grief of difficult change and intermittent anxiety about the shape of my future, I had lost my alignment with the magic that is always there. But pausing for a moment and allowing my heart’s longing to fill me I opened. And magic reached out and pulled me back into alignment with the sacred heart that holds us all. I am blessed.


  1. I find it very interesting that by doing this, your return to the wilderness, to granite and water, that you have come full circle.....which begs the asking of the question: Your decision to take the sabbatical from writing and workshops, after you and Jeff married and moved to your new home in the country, and retreat and rest from the world......was that "your" conscience idea?......and do you feel that the "mystery, that which is larger than us, that holds us all," has brought you back to where I first met you because maybe this mystery, who has worked thru you to reach all of us, wasn't and or isn't done with you and has more messages to send thru to all of the world?......just a thought and a feeling that I had..... I understand the need for r & r and silence, but maybe, just maybe your best writing is yet to come......that is my prayer for myself and the world because what the mystery has brought to me thru you has saved my life over and over and over again and again and which I will be ever gratefull.......and my prayer for you dear friend is that by coming full circle, that you will again thru your writing, dance in beauty and that your dance will like a pebble to the water, send waves of renewal and hope and fresh starts, new beginnings out to all of us who you have touched so deeply..........

    your friend Chris in Western Maryland

  2. Oriah, I am so so happy for you! Yippee!:-D

  3. what a beautiful sentiment from Chris. thank you for giving voice about the gifts Oriah sends to our world.
    and today, thank you Oriah for reminding us that the magical stream is there for us all to dip our feet in, as we choose to, with our conscious requests and prayers and love.

  4. I'm sooooooooooo happy for you Oriah! Woweeee! Yayyyyyy! Yippiehhhh! :-)))) You sooooo deserve this miracle with this wonderful sounding campsite! Good for you!
    I agree with Chris, he has said it all and so very beautifully. You are such a magical miracle for us all :-)
    No worries re. the blogs. YOU so deserve time off and not doing anything! Be good to yourself! Of course it will be tough not to be blessed and uplifted by your blogs, but that's our problem. We'll deal with it ;-)

    Much Love & FairyBearyBigHugs,
    Sabine xoxoooxoxxoxooxooxoxxooxoooxoxoxx

  5. I'm so glad for you Oriah, I have my own magical wilderness place and I know how important it is for my soul.

    One observation- you didn't just wait for the magic to comne to you- you also had to do some work to make it happen- you had the courage to allow yourself to believe that maybe it could be and then to make the phone call. Often I think that the gifts of the universe are out there waiting for us- but we also have to be willing to reach out and take them.

    Have a blessed retreat and thank you for all your loving and willingness to share your own journey.

  6. It sounds like a slice of heaven on earth!! Go, enjoy and revitalize yourself. If this time away is something you really need to do,I,for one will not begrudge you the time you need to heal. A few missed blogs are nothing compared to you regaining your sense of self and healing your soul.

  7. Living in the woods on the water, for the last 8 years, sustains me through the joys and heartaches of life. At one time to be in a home like this was my heart's longing. Now that I am living it daily I seem to have forgotten that my heart still has longings and I stopped listening, rather just expected that I would live gratefully for my beautiful space and that is enough. But it hasn't been and I have wondered why ... I have processed and queried what was it needed, what did I want? I forgot to "believe in" the sacred magic that comes when we listen to our hearts ...
    Thank you ...
    As I read your blog today I felt a stirring deep within me. My heart was swelling with the joy of recognition that your words bring. This weekend I will go to my trees and water and quietly listen to my heart's longing and then ask to be shown the way to create what is truly wanted ...

  8. What a relief and a joy. So very happy for you. May you find much healing.


  9. I am doing a jig for you right now:) You have been on my mind lately. This is such AWESOME news and I am so happy for you!!! I believe in prayer, sending desires of the heart/mind/body/soul out to the universe, and when it speaks back, I feel so touched and honored. I am so happy that gal answered the phone......

    Back to thinking about you. You make me think. I like that:)

    I hadn't responded to your Joy post, be/c I had to sit back and wait for my own answer to come to me. Where do I find the most joy? I didn't want to be a copy cat, because truly, I too love the quiet morning, writing in my dream journal, although I wait until I get to work to have my coffee. Something about sitting at a desk, it calls for coffee.

    Anyhow, I've been contemplating where else I get my kicks, where I find my most serene state of mind, and it was thus: In an old chicken coop in the country, sewing until the wee hours. I have been driving 2.5 hrs away (5 hrs total) every weekend for 6 weeks straight during the summer the past 10 years to sew for an annual renaissance fair, voluntarily. I have had the opportunity to work on other projects, like batiking, painting, and cooking. The coop has great light, big tables, and a nice breeze that flows through all day. People stationed all over the place working on other projects, allowing you to step away from your own personal project for awhile to get other ideas, share with others. The annoying parts are the loud tools being used, overbearing egos, or the argument on what is going on the radio next. I've succumbed to my ipod at times, so I could get into my own head, follow my vision, and not be overwhelmed by everyone's energy. (I am sponge-like, and have finally accepted, that's okay, and I'm just the way I was supposed to be made. It's alright that I'm uber sensitive to the world around me. I'm just getting creative at perfecting my shield, my bubble, my what-have-you.)

    This year I am unable to attend for several reasons, and I'm finding myself yearning to get crafty when the weekends come. I also think I come alive in the summer months, when the sun comes out. And I've been thinking to myself, "How can I have my happy place, where I can listen freely to whatever I want to listen to, to fuel my soul while I create pretty things? I can have my serenity bubble right here, darn it!"

    In the last week, I have given boxes after boxes after boxes of clothes to a dear friend, a 28 year old single woman of 3 kids, the oldest child having Cerebral Palsy. She works part time and goes to school. She is an inspiration to me. She takes what clothes she likes, and gives the rest to the homeless shelter. (I have to clean out my space in order to get creative -- a making the bed mentality).

    So last night, I cleared out the spare bedroom of old paperwork, old clothes, things I haven't looked at in years so why am I holding onto them, and set up my sewing machine in the corner, dusted it off from its chicken coop remnants, and got to stitchin'. Swung the window open for the breeze. And sat in silence. Instead, I sang as I stitched, and IT FELT AMAZING!!!!!!

    Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for following your heart. Thank you for sharing your dreams and prayers. Thank you for you. Thank you to whoever made you, gives you inspiration, and leads you to the warm granite. I am overwhelmed with the JOY you have brought to me. YOU bring me JOY. Chris is on it!

    We are all messengers of some kind. Thanks for blogs, hugs, energy, spirit, light, and love. Now go have some fun in the forest!!

    ~Nattie from Ptown

  10. will come back to respond later (not sure what more can i say) and read others' responses.....

    but for now just wanted to say: you are the best. thank you for sharing magic is real.

    immense gratitude,


  11. Your words always capture my heart, So thank you so much Oriah for just being you. This is a wonderful thing for you, be good to yourself :)

    Sometimes the magic finds us when we least expect it to :)

    take care xxx

    Phoebe, England

  12. My dear Oriah,
    I call that Magic…….God’s LOVE.
    Sweet Blessings to you,

  13. okay just wanted to say: i am very happy for you. and yes, the best is yet to come as we embrace the now. we create magic and you are proof of that. it was through magic i found you. you are stardust that never fades.

    love, gratitude, & light.

  14. Happy tears for you. I think I need to breathe that same prayer. I hope your time is healing in an equally "magical" way that takes you by surprise.

  15. I smiled when I read this post. I was in the process of negotiating the purchase of a new home in the area I had dreamed of since I was a child - the foothills of Alberta with the Rockies as a backdrop.

    The whole process was magical. Sometime in the last few weeks I was shown / told to let go and put this in the hands of the Universe. I no longer had to be involved and the time had come for me to pay attention to what is coming next. Those were a few interesting weeks when "nothing was happening" and I kept having to get myself out of the way. The only thing that saved me was the deep sense of knowingness I felt despite the supposed lack of evidence.

    I thought of this post a few times over the past couple of days as we finalized the negotiation process.

    Magic indeed.

  16. This made me smile. When I first read The Dance I was going through a heartbreaking divorce myself. I told you in a recent email how much your poem inspired me. It was what led me to actually take a dance class and now, I am a dancer. So the message about your own divorce touched me quite deeply.

    Recently, I had a similar experience. I was "given" a Divine gift, a little cabin on 80 acres of land out in the country at a time when it seemed I needed just that. When I'm there, I feel cradled by God. So it just made me smile to think you will be experiencing this same nurturing.