"Today in the deep silence of the early dawn I sit with my tea, Ya’Acov’s cup beside mine; a moment of gathered, silky quiet.
Today is the day that the group will fly into the forest. The tiny planes, the teeny landing strips, the unpredictable and powerful changes of weather are handled by skilled and experienced pilots. But the timing of everything is and has to be fluid.
This was, for me, a moment of bowing to a new and yet very ancient sense of scale; we humans are very small relative to the power of an all-encompassing and powerful nature. As I write this now, I sense the awe which is the best word for what I feel contemplating the Amazon. Awe encompasses profound respect, sacred reverence, fear and trembling in the face of this vast unknown.
I'm also aware on this day of a man who is no longer with us. We went on our first Pachamama journey as participants. After that journey Pat, the leader of that journey, suggested that we speak with David Tucker about the possibility of leading a journey ourselves. David Tucker was at that time the director of the Pachamama Journeys programme, which he'd created at the request of Achuar and later Sapara indigenous communities who are part of the Pachamama Alliance.
We became allies and then deep friends. David lived in realms where political, ecological, social, biographical and psycho-therapeutic, spiritual awareness and personal angst, love and joy met and interwove. I revelled in these fields all being open and awake in this man whose love of his family, love of the Amazon and love of the planet danced with such vitality in him. Over the years, so many conversations, so much richness of revelations. There were moments of inexplicable beauty and mystery which we shared together which I know Ya'Acov and I will always treasure.
David died of ALS in the summer of 2021. As a youth he had played American football which gave him a channel for his strength and the rage that needed to move through him. With that came multiple head injuries and it is probable that this was, at least in part, the genesis of the ALS that killed him before his 50th birthday.
Because of the pandemic, we were only able to accompany him on zoom, though Ya’Acov was able to visit with him and his family once. We witnessed him losing the ability to move, until, in the last months he was only able to communicate using a keyboard he activated with his eyes. He had lost his ability to move his limbs but his capacity to feel to express those feelings, if anything, grew stronger. We had such deep weeps and great laughs with him in those last times. He met it with deep strength, but it was really difficult. For him, for his family and for his carers.
Today, on the way to the forest, the group paused to meet an old healer who gave them each a limpia (an energetic cleansing). He was an old friend of David’s, and Ya’Acov and he shared tears and memories together. They also swopped hats!
Then I got a voice message from Ya’Acov. He said:
“I feel deeply privileged and blessed to be here after the 3 year gap caused by the pandemic. As always, when facing such magnificent beauty and wildness, I feel a certain sense of awe - a marriage of fear and excitement. I recognise this as foundational to any spiritual journey. Although I feel that most days of my life, this experience is heightened here, not only because of the wild magnificence, but because this is not just a joy ride. This is a place of deep work and deep commitment to the vision that the indigenous people brought about through the creation of the Pachamama Alliance. Going into the rainforest in this way means being willing to be with the threats to one of the last remaining places of natural wild beauty that exists on our planet. Coming into this forest, we come as part of a project that is shoulder to shoulder with the indigenous peoples as they continue to fulfil their role as guardians of the forest. That is an extraordinary privilege and responsibility to honour the promises that Susannah and I made the very first time we came here; now 11 years ago.
Sitting on the bus travelling down from Quito, down through the valley of the volcanoes, I missed my beloved wife so much. That part of the journey has always been a time of quiet contemplation for us, sitting together holding hands and talking with our dear friend David Tucker who is no longer with us. So that drive yesterday and being here at this gateway without my beloved Susannah at my side and acknowledging that David Tucker has left this world brought an extra level of poignancy to the journey.
At the same time, I'm so glad that Susannah has followed the integrity of her spirit and that she's keeping you in touch with us. I appreciate that hugely, as does the group.
Thank you for being part of this journey through reading these blogs. Over the next 10 days there will be ceremonies happening and from those ceremonies, prayers going out to the eight directions, through the roots, trunk and branches of the tree of life. If you listen in, maybe you'll feel or hear that whistling or the rattling of leaves that call the spirit of the wind that call us humans back to the integrity of their own embodied spirit. Be well, thank you.”
A few hours later, Ya’Acov sent me a message as the tiny aeroplane took off, and then the phone lost signal and he was gone.
From my journal last time we were there: “As the tiny plane takes off from the airstrip and soars over the forest, leaving behind the last roads and pipeline, tears spring from my eyes, and there is, simultaneously, a feeling of entering the deep unknown and unfathomable mystery, and at the same time, a feeling of simply and utterly going home."
They are now in the deep quiet beyond internet reach, in the jungle so alive with life and the noise and songs of all those creatures. I am touched by the generosity of Ya’Acov’s message for me and for us all. I bow to the courage of Ya'Acov, Catherine, Taylor and to all the group members. May they receive all that they need to grow and take the next steps of their soul journeys. And may you too, if that is your wish.
Stay tuned! The soul of connection is simply connected.
With love, more to come, Susannah Darling Khan
Find out about journeys in the Amazon with the Pachamama Alliance.
Find out about the Sacred Headwaters Alliance.
Find out about the Movement Medicine Summer Long Dance
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