Each month in my Hand to Heart offering, I extend an invitation to the women in the group to send over a story they need someone to catch. I read their words and then I carry their stories with me and release them in a special ceremony.
Today, I want to share a glimpse into one of these ceremonies that have become one of my favorite offerings I'm putting into the world. I hope it will also be a starting place for you to create your own releasing ceremonies as you need them.
On an afternoon in April, I sat in the quiet and reread all the stories that had been sent my way. Tucking them into my pocket, I walked outside and the first thing I did was gather up these little flowers from my front yard. I picked one for each person who shared her story with me + one to represent the whole group + one to represent me. I took them with me on the short drive to the woods in Point Defiance Park. A little round junco greeted me on my path as I began walking into the woods breathing deeply, trusting I would find the spot that felt like it was ready to hold our stories.
As raindrops fell upon my head, a man standing under a shelter meant for picnics began playing a hand accordian. For real. I couldn't help but laugh out loud, "Only in the Pacific Northwest." He set the background music for my walk further into the woods.
After a couple of minutes, a huge tree called out to me from a distance. As I got closer, I saw that it was thick with moss and ferns who decided to make their home right there toward its roots. Its leaves were just unfurling up toward the sun, and it was as though a whisper said, "I can hold all of this and release it to the winds for you."
Yes, a little woo woo. But also, true.
As I stepped over a few overturned logs to get to it, I realized it had a perfect little crevice waiting to hold the flowers I'd brought. Thinking about the words shared and the hopes I have for each person in our circle, I tucked the flowers in one at a time while continuing to take deep breaths. The moss surrounded them like soft blankets.
I stood there for several minutes, my hand to the mossy trunk of this tree. Noticing the sounds, the smells, the shades of green surrounding me. As I was breathing, I felt this visceral sense of calm within and around me. I said a prayer of thanks to that beautiful tree and asked it to hold our stories and then release them into the wind and the rain so they could become nourishment.
As I turned to walk back, a junco was hopping right along the path. It stopped and looked at me for almost three full seconds and then flew away.
Soul Homework :: Think about how you can incorporate simple rituals like this one to help you let go and connect. You might want to talk a walk into the woods this weekend and leave behind in offering at the base of a huge tree or even under a pile of leaves. Let the wisdom of the earth that has been here for so many years hold your stories for you.
And feel free to send over any questions that you have.
UPDATED: Hand to Heart is now a free private Facebook group for women who want to be in conversation about self-care practices and how we can hold the beauty in one hand and grit in the other. Each month we explore a new theme to add to our current self-care practices, and this month, I'm sharing weekly stories about my own journey of learning to stand in my light. You can read more about the group and request to join right here.