From the Perimeter

From The Perimeter By Ahriana Platten | A Soul-Full World Spiritual Community
“Beyond the edge of the world, there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.” 
― Haruki Murakami

Every year or two I have the opportunity to travel to an event called Spiritfire.  By its founder's definition.

"SpiritFire provides a nourishing and inspirational environment in which drummers, dancers, chanters, poets, visual artists, and seekers of all types can both honor individual diversity yet share a common and powerful bond at the fire.  Each night we acknowledge our connections in the spirit of joyous celebration, deep listening, infectious groove, and ecstatic trance!"

The Fire. We gather at the fire. From 11pm to sunrise, we sing, we dance, we chant, we serve, we pray, each in our own way, for transformation. This event, attended by about 150, attracts people of all ages and walks of life, expressing creativity in wildly different ways. It is held in a very rustic and natural environment that provides its own challenges. One must be willing to interact with the natural world to participate. It is an outdoor event held on a mountaintop in the woods.  

After more than thirty years of attending events like this, my experience has changed. In earlier years, I reached ecstatic bliss in these ceremonies - dancing, chanting and communing with the energy of the living fire. These days, it is different. I am older now.  My body requires different care. I once loved to circle very close to the fire, its heat often leaving me with something similar to a sunburn. Now I tend to the perimeter. It's a bit cooler and less "tranced-out" but so very potent for me.

You see, at the perimeter of the circle, I can take my time. In the center, one is often caught up in the swirl and twirl of the energy, moved by the call to wildness that blazes in the crackling flames. There was a time that I lived for the chance to feel that wild sense of freedom. That has changed. The perimeter calls me now. It's different on the perimeter. 

Those that hold the edges of the circle often move with steadfast control. The steps are slower and driven by an inner knowing - the knowing that every-single-intentional-step holds the potential for connection. On the perimeter, we are warmed by each other's eyes, the numinous presence of the ancestors, and the brilliant strength of Spirit shining forth in the fire's reflection on the branches of the trees. This year, for the first time, I gave time to connecting with the drummers drumming. I watched the faces of those who provide the sonic bed upon which we move and sing. The beauty I observed is beyond description. It warmed my heart in a different way than the fire does. The same can be said for the harmonies I heard in the chanting - harmonies that blend in a unique way when you are standing on the edge - rising and falling with grace and emotion.

From the perimeter, I often pray for the safety and transformation of those who are ablaze with change both in the circle and in other aspects of my life. Those of us, at the edge, are seers - observing the holy in its deepest expression and "catching" when the heat of the fire overwhelms the ones in the center.  We use the sound of a rattle to provide a safe boundary so those within the circle know where they are.

Others on the perimeter might describe this differently.  We all experience life in our own ways - and I am grateful for that. I feel certain, however, that they experience the same sense of kinship I do as we walk around the perimeter and pass each other throughout the night. Our faces become touchstones for the passing of time and there is a nameless thing that happens between us, a knowing that our contribution to the process is powerful and important. As the years pass, it is important to find ways to contribute that are different from earlier times.

It occurs to me that walking the perimeter is very similar to the way we walk through life when we have passed through the gates of experience and gained wisdom. We use our stories to sound the signal that the catharsis at the center, where the fire of life burns hot, brings needed change. We chant the prayer that provides a boundary so those who are living in experiential ways learn how to use hope and faith as a safety net. We walk alongside them, moving with steady steps and heralding that there is, indeed, a knowing that comes from living life fully. We teach the songs we have learned. We serve as we are called.  We move in the way a hundred-foot-tall tree moves in a strong wind...the way that has kept it from breaking and falling for so many years.  We witness what is transpiring, confident that all will be well, because - well... it was for us, and wisdom tells us it will be for others. It is such a gift to witness what one formerly experienced and know the transformation that can come from it.  That witness is a seed of hope for the future.

As age and experience move me to the edges of life, it is not the wild and unpredictable insight that I seek, but the wise sense of knowing that ushers in my own transformation. I am aware of the process of life - the learning, the growing, the changing, and the coming to one's true self over and over again.  I know more about who I really am and that I make the world a little bit better by my being.  This knowing brings me infinite peace. 

I am grateful for the Fire - and I am grateful to walk its edges, where life is slow and steady, and a little cooler - and where I can witness the Divine in the eyes that witness me.

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