Mollie McMurray: Come and See

Sermon for Seekers Church
by Mollie McMurray
January 20, 2002

Come and See

John 1:38-39

“When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying and remained with him that day.”

Like the disciples in our scripture passage, I have chosen as an adult to follow Christ. My conversion began when I experienced God’s unconditional love within my practice of meditation. During my baptism, there was an awareness of Christ having died for our redemption and being held by the testimony of sharing spiritual experiences within the community. I believe the Holy Spirit comes as a movement among the community to transform and guide our awareness of our spiritual connectedness within our daily lives.

I believe a “vision quest” is an intentional way for being open to the spirits movement within creation. The term comes from the English language, which is derived from the Latin, visum, “to see,” and quaesitum, “to seek” or “to ask.” This morning I will be sharing my experience of being on a vision quest from October 8 through October 20, in Cortez, New Mexico.

There are three phases in the process of a vision quest:

The first phase is preparing to leave daily activities by reflecting upon your current relationships and creating a ceremonial process for clarifying the question of “What are you seeking?”

The second phase is “The threshold” this phase is expressed by the story of Jumping Mouse. In this vision quest story there is a little mouse and frog who meet at the edge of a sacred river.

“Would you like to have some Medicine Power?” Frog asked. Medicine Power? Me? asked Little Mouse. “Yes, Yes! If it is possible.” “Then crouch as low as you can, and then jump as high as you are able! You will have your medicine!” Frog said. Little Mouse did as he was instructed. He crouched as low as he could and jumped. And when he did, his eyes saw the Sacred Mountain. Little Mouse could hardly believe his eyes. But there they where! But then he fell back to earth, and he landed in the river! Little Mouse became frightened and scrambled back to the bank. He was wet and frightened nearly to death. “You have tricked me!” little mouse screamed at the frog. “Wait,” said the frog. “You are not harmed. Do not let your fear and anger blind you. What did you see?” “I,” mouse stammered, “I, I saw the Sacred Mountains!” “And you have a new name!” Frog said. “It is Jumping Mouse.” The essential wisdom in our story is not what we see that transforms us but the actual act of jumping. For each person chooses to enter into and transcend his or her own limitations in order to come face to face with the truth and there is nothing more to say.

The third phase is “Returning” which is an awareness of the lessons you learned from the recent experience must be practically applied. You wonder: “Will I be able to hold to my resolve and not lose the vision?” Therefore, to every vision quest, the charge is the same: to live your myth.

I would like to go back to the scriptural passage and focus on three questions that were asked within the exchange between Jesus and the disciples.

The first question was by Jesus when he turns and asks the disciples, "What are you looking for?" As Christ’s disciples, we bring our own emotions and longings into our relationship with Jesus. We long for a deeper encounter of his transforming love within our daily lives.

For me, this first question became an invitation to prepare both physically and emotionally for answering the question of "What was I looking for?" The answer came in conversations with several people in the Seekers Community. In addition, I felt supported by placing the ribbon that was given to me in my medicine pouch as a reminder of my spiritual grounding in the Seekers Community. My intention for going on a vision quest was in praying for awareness in the delicate balance between individual calls and our evolving vision for creating community in our new home. My personal intention was to ask for a vision on how to describe and structure my life in the coming years.

There where several exercises and ceremonies in which we participated before going on our individual vision quests. One exercise was to write a letter for way you wanted to be on this vision quest. I would like to read a part of my letter.

To my family and friends,

I am going on my vision quest to be present and open within the darkness of dying to my old ways I believe there is a gift of rebirth, which happens in both claming and saying yes to our truest self within creation. My gifts become my way of being authentic within my relationships. In addition, I believe the mystery of spirit flows within the darkness to produce the gem of wisdom for growing within my spiritual journey.

The second question within the scriptural passage is by the disciples when they ask Jesus, "Where are you staying?" This question became a way for reflecting upon my individual four days of being alone in the canyon and wanting a vision for my future. Just before leaving the base camp upon our individual vision quests, we make a confirmation statement. My personal statement was:

“I walk upon this earth as a healer and ritual maker to empower people to become their authentic selves. I also confirm my deepening relationship with coyote.

Then I stepped across the threshold with my backpack and hiked to my chosen power place. My power place was on a ledge, which overlooked a river and around to the beautiful mountain walls which formed the canyon.

My backpack held only the minimal equipment for camping and defiantly not a tent for my power place. I was only allowed water for the four days and this was from going down to the river with a filter to fill a two-gallon plastic container. Our guides also instructed us on the symptoms of hyperthermia since the evening temperatures were twenty-seven degrees. I was grateful for having a candle lantern, because I figured out how to light the candle and to put my cup with water on top to have hot water. My drum and rattle became a way of creating sacred space within my journey. I brought paints to draw with and a leather notebook. Our saying in base camp is that some people go on vacation at Club Med — we however voluntarily chose club dead.

So there I was setting in my chair and looking out over the valley and feeling great about being able to sit in my physical environment with my feelings of both anticipation and gratefulness for having four days to be on my spiritual journey. I felt the need to begin my journey by drumming as an invitation for sacred space to envelop whatever experiences where going to happen.

The first lesson was in coming to terms with my greatest fear, which is that of abandonment. This gift came by way of looking across at the mountain walls and focusing on a cave. Within the cave appeared a clay person who was sitting upon a rock and for what seemed like an eternity mirrored my every move. I could feel my fear of being abandoned within my psyche and a struggle either to accept or to be emotionally paralyzed for the remainder of my vision quest. I choose to gently rock the child and acknowledged that you are loved and cared for — tears where flowing which released my emotions. This gentle rocking motion transformation my experience into accepting and then birthing my feelings toward a co-creative energy within the universe.

Another lesson was in seeing the con tails left by the jets as spiritual paths, which moved within the clear blue sky over the canyon. How this reminded me of the various spiritual paths of the Seekers Community. Also of those who have been my teachers and companions upon my spiritual journey. The image became a sense of wanting to bring a way for creating sacred space to further healing and gather others in creating various forms of worship within Seekers.

There were several lessons that came from finding a juniper branch, which became my wisdom and prayer stick. During various times within my vision quest I would hold the stick. I became aware of wisdom teachings flowing within me and was able to claim my becoming an elder, since my fiftieth birthday will be in the coming year. Christ’s presence was felt in my remembering how he died upon a wooden cross for our salvation. In the gentle environment of the canyon, I felt moved to pray for several people within the Seekers Community and other people. Finally, there was a response to giving back the gift by living the stick upon the canyon floor. This was in response to wanting the gift that was freely given to remain free and acknowledging my transformation.

My coyote relationship was deepened by feeling the importance of the wisdom of humor in healing my personal losses in the environment of my childhood. In addition, my reflections unlocked a deeper awareness of my soul within this vision quest. My feelings where confirmed with a gift from Max who actually carved a coyote for me which was waiting for my return to Kelly’s Place where we stayed before leaving for the Canyon.

Coyote presence came out in my experience of getting lost at four in the morning. I had only gone a few feet from the tent and when I turned around and started back, I could not find my tent. My feelings turned to the practical and decided I had about two more hours before dawn and I had dressed for warmth. My problem was would I be too weak to get back to wherever my camp was in the canyon. With my disorientation at its height, I came upon a strange camp and heard rattling. Then someone said, "Who’s out there?" I finally realized that I had instinctively found my partners tent. She, however, assumed a wild animal was near her tent. After we resolved our communication problem, we had to find a way for me to get back to my tent and not have both of us get lost. We finally came up with a way by using our flashlights in the dark. Then just before leaving her camp site she asked if I would drum when I got up on the day that we were to get back to camp so she would not oversleep for our first meal in four days. I was fine with the request since we both had to go back together to base camp for breakfast. Coyote enjoys wondering into new places and then returning home.

Going back to our scripture passage, I feel the third or “Incorporation” stage begins when we come back much as the disciples did from the encounter with Jesus and ask, "How do we live our lives after the experience?"

After coming back from my vision quest, I have been in several conversations to ask for support in finding ways to live out my myth. I have talked with my sister Julie to ask if she would let me do some research to find a wilderness camping experience for Joshua. I feel this is important since Joshua lives in a condominium beside the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey. I feel this would be important in allowing him to explore and enjoy nature. I have talked with Peter Bankson about his vision to create a sacred space when we move to the new building. In addition, I have been in dialogue with several people about the nature of healing within the Seekers Community. Finally, I have on my computer at home a file that says,

What Would Coyote Do?

As a reminder to close my eyes and get in touch with being back in the canyon and then respond from the center of myself in my relationships and opportunities.

I would like to close by having you listen to a song by Jan Garrett who writes her music from the experience of having been on a vision quest.


Don’t Go Back to Sleep

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
The market only wants to buy and sell you
Listen to the sound underneath the ground
Deep inside your dreams the heart is beating
(Don’t go back to sleep.)

You know that you must ask for your treasure
Move, therefore, toward the greatest pleasure
Fight to stay awake
Choose the path you take
Even if you do not know where it is going
Trust your own unknowing
(Don’t go back to sleep.)

It is easy to be there with your long perfumed hair
And the footsteps on the stair in the cool of the evening
No ones sees me as I draw back the veil on a wave of creation
The physical sensation of another world….

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
The market only wants to buy and sell you
Fight to stay awake
Choose the path you take
Even if you do not know where it is going
Trust your own unknowing
(Don’t go back to sleep!)

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