We are just now back home from our first Safe Passage Odyssey and I can’t believe how well it worked out. My experience is that first time efforts are usually fraught with mistakes and mediocre results. This Odyssey was surprisingly more powerful than I had expected. I didn’t expect to feel so emotionally moved on a spiritual level. Perhaps we were lucky with such a courageous couple who were able to self-examine and confront some uncomfortable schemas that were destroying their marriage. But I’m hoping that there’s something magical in the process itself – that Helen and I being so intimate with another couple for 7 days on such an unusual adventure can actually nudge them into a new way of thinking and feeling. There’s no question that this first couple experienced a very profound change in their perspectives, not only about their relationship but to some extent about how they are approaching life.
There was a lot of teaching, a lot of story-telling, some tears and a whole lot of laughter. I think that the laughter was especially important in framing the voyage as a safe place to explore. Even so, the process was emotionally intense. By Wednesday we all agreed that we needed a break to NOT focus on the relationship and to just relax and take in New Bern. I think the zenith of the trip was when we arranged an old resentment burial service out on a remote beach at sunrise. We ferried the couple there at 6 AM when the sun was just rising and the beach was deserted. Each person had a full half-hour to read and vent their list of past resentments with their partner listening with no retort. After each had their turn, they burned their lists together in a little grave they had dug for their cremation ceremony. After they filled in the resentment grave, I officiated as captain and guided them through their pledges to each other. Then out came the champagne, toasts and hugs all around. While the whole ceremony was going on, I felt so blessed to be able to have these kinds of experiences that so many people aren’t able to have. It was a somewhat transcendent feeling of being so close to the pulse of life. These people were sharing their core truths in the most heroic way imaginable.
Another take-away from this trip was to again see Helen’s innate brilliance when she combines her wisdom with her awesome emotional warmth. I remember sitting there watching her as the couple talked with us. But I had to laugh out loud at how much she out-matched me in making a connection with them. They were looking at her the majority of the time and for good reason. There she was, nodding her head and giving little verbal reassurances that she was tracking and understanding it all. Her attunement skills are out of this world! I sit and listen with interest and wonder. But she listens and exudes warmth and compassion. I may have more understanding of how things fit together and how people need to grow. She’s able to model how to be emotionally whole. She and I have different strengths and it’s good for my “Inner Ceasar” to be humbled by some of hers.
Bryce – 7/18/2010