Learning from the Amazon

Yesterday, Susan Grimaldi visited the class I am teaching at a local college. The course is entitled “Shamanisms”, and surveys the immense variety of shamanic practices alive in the world, historically, and today. Susan is a profoundly gifted teacher and healer, and as always, kept the class spellbound throughout her visit.

As I waited for Susan my thoughts returned repeatedly to an incident that occurred a few years ago while we were visiting friends and teachers in the upper Amazon region of  Brazil. One day we were taken to a national park where a broad river cascaded over a fifteen foot high waterfall. We wandered for a while, then began to explore the river. Near the falls the water was not deep, and some of our friends worked their way to the base of the falls. Susan and I sat for a while just watching the falls and river, then she began stepping from one flat rock to another, until she had managed to move several feet into the water from shore.

Susan steadied herself on the rock, then merged with the river and the falls. As I watched, she simply became those massive forces of nature. Susan was both the woman standing on the rock, and the river. That was a profound teaching moment for me. I have always known that nature invites us to join with her. I have always known such joining to be a deep and inexhaustible well of joy and healing energy. That day, I learned from Susan one may merge one’s entire being with natural forces, and in so doing, be inexorably changed. I remain profoundly grateful to her for sharing her knowing with me.

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