Running for Sekhmet

by Jennifer on June 1, 2008

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Why am I like this?

Why, oh why am I like this?… I thought as I literally ran through the great, columned halls of Karnak temple. Everyone else was poking around like a good tourist…but I had to be running, top speed, ready to take a left at the perfect moment and head off onto the desert-sand path toward my destination…

Unless you have been someplace like Egypt it could be very hard to imagine a temple big enough to “run” through…but, for anyone who hasn’t been there, let me invite you now to visit in your imagination the temple of Karnak–the largest temple in the world. Running through it is like running a football field…or two. It seems to go on forever.

This isn’t necessarily because it is cohesive and grand. Grand it is…cohesive only in a fashion. It didn’t start out so big…it is just that every successive pharaoh couldn’t seem to help but make an addition, until it sprawled like it was reaching out in several directions…wishing to engulf the world in either absolute sacred power or the desire to pretend to own it in stone. Or both.

And running through it I was just reminded, yet again, of how different I feel from most people. Not, however, for the reasons you would think. Not because of my psychic gifts or past-life memories, no. Because of the fire inside my heart that I can never quite seem to put aside the way so many people do. It sounds lovely in writing…maybe even beautiful. It is…beautiful. But it burns and it puts me out on a limb, pushes me at ledges and edges and onto the fringe of who I think I am. It is exposing and ever-risky. Again, sounds cool, definitely isn’t sometimes. It is intense. Always, always intense. And the only thing worse than going with it, is fighting it. I can’t deny it. Maybe that is what I sometimes strangely envy in many people…the ability to deny it. Though I guess that would be slowly dying for someone like me. Still, it is a fantasy I sometimes enjoy in the midsts of being so often a pioneer and so rarely a settler.

Why was I running through Karnak temple that day? Because I had gotten my heart set on something. A situation most experienced people would warn one not to indulge. But what would be the point of living if we didn’t let our hearts get set on anything? I guess we would all be good buddhists, but even a commitment to compassion is something to set your heart on. Anything worth anything at all is. In fact, though I am just about done with over-differentiating gender in human or energetic form, I am just about to label myself a permanent follower of the goddess and leave it at that. Because I don’t want to only follow the middle path, and I don’t want to find freedom from suffering by experiencing detachment from desire. I want to build up so much bliss through the vehicles that bring me joy, that I am simply better and better at picking myself up and brushing myself off when the attachment to desire doesn’t work out and knocks me onto my knees. I may end up with scratched-up skin but with a little antiseptic and a band-aid I am as good as new…and certainly and completely alive. I am not afraid of scars. I didn’t come here to be detached. I could have stayed in “heaven” for that. I came here to live. I came here to love, and get my heart broken…and keep loving. I came here to be destroyed, and recreated, until there is nothing left but my essence…and bliss, even in human form. Why would I slow down that process with too much moderation?

Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t always have to be a roller-coaster. But it can be sometimes even in the midst of or pursuit of peace. And it isn’t only about setting one’s heart or intention, but also about knowing when to let go. For knowing when to let go is one of the finest arts in existence, and I hope to become truly brilliant at it in this life. But I have found I let go best when I have also known moments of holding on with everything inside me. In fact, that is generally when I have known miracles to occur most often, and dreams to come true. To trust the instinct of the heart, against all odds and at whatever cost, is the most incredible of alchemies and not in any way the easiest.

You see, there is a very special statue at Karnak, in a chapel on its outskirts. It is one of very few statues in Egypt actually remaining in the sanctuary built for it. There she stands….complete….timeless in her sacred room. She has the body of a woman, the head of a lion, and eyes that look right into your very being. You can touch her warm, black skin of stone. She rivets you, and you never leave her presence unaltered. She asks you with her absolute presence if you might ever dare to be completely who you are, without shame, and never hiding.

And so, even though we had arranged for me to be one of the afternoon speakers instead, and though I knew we might not even be able get access to her chapel for our group, I went around at dinner to talk to each of the other several presenters on the schedule with me that day anyway. One by one, with brief negotiation, everyone agreed that if I could secure us entry we would all share that space and time to present that day.

So the minute our bus pulled up to Karnak I was out, wildly seeking the man with all the tickets to get mine, and peeling off across the new plaza and into the great pillared halls. I felt my heart pounding and my body in absolute single focus. I thought about the other presenters at the event who were so easygoing about where they wanted to teach and when. That is when I thought, as I ran…why am I like this?

And then all of the sudden it was quiet. Everything stopped. I was standing outside her small temple and the energy was already sweeping me in and up. There was a tourist policeman walking high up on a wall above me. He smiled down at me, this girl who had come running out of nowhere, and quickly I felt welcome. I knew it was about to be worth all the effort and more. He gestured downward and in the distance I saw the temple guardian approaching quickly, his galabea flowing behind him as he jogged toward me, also smiling.

I didn’t need to ask if I could enter. He was already pulling out the keys. I asked if I could bring a group, and he smiled yes. He wouldn’t even take any baksheesh (tip). And then he let me in and there she was. For a few brief moments it was just she and I. She beckoned out of the darkness, light haloing her glowing face, and I felt like crying. This is always how it is, I thought. This is what comes of having a heart on fire that you can never seem to ignore. Yes, you burn. It often hurts and things don’t always go the way you want them to…but when they do it is sensational, absolutely otherworldly and indescribably beautiful. And when this is your aim you do end up having more of these moments than most. It is the only reward of burning.

So I sat with my old friend. I sit with her often, but there is something so special about seeing her in a form. About feeling her hands and looking into her eyes. Ancient Egyptians believed that statues truly lived and breathed…that if a statue lost its nose it died. I know it is true, because she breathes, and her heart beats, and, as always, she speaks. She spoke to me of the lion-hearted…the courage it takes to simply be who you are. So this is what I offered my meditation and chanting on when, happily, the other presenters and the group of forty people we were with that day finally turned the corner of the desert path and saw that I was there as planned…and broke out into huge, knowing smiles.

We shared an exquisite time in that small room. And Sekhmet touched so many hearts, as we all felt the lioness within…breathing.

I know I look like a young woman, which I always get a little kick out of when I look in the mirror and realize it. Though a perpetual child in so many respects, I am truly older than the wind now, and I know it. I have been around enough, and remember enough of it, to know what matters. And still, in some deeper ways than ever I am only just now truly embracing fully the true power of self-validation over self-sublimation. I don’t want to set aside my humanity to be divine. I am divine. And I am human at the same time. It isn’t anything to consider separate. It is the divine that is speaking through my humanity, and showing me things I would never otherwise have seen. I love even my needs and my weaknesses. When they are honored they fly off like birds and become something else. Everything is always becoming something else. You just have to wait, and trust, and find something that you love, or at least that helps you get through, while you do…

So run. Run away when you have to, but don’t forget to run toward too. Run toward what you want with your whole soul…one way, or another, you will get it.

Love, Jennifer

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