Returning from a sublime time, sharing ceremony with exquisite people who gathered from around the world to celebrate the raw power beauty of being alive. On the last day, as our prayers for the healing of Grandmother Earth and all her people began, our beloved Dance Chief Elder shared a vision she had of many Bodhisattvas floating in our midst. Each Deity was encased in a diamond. Earlier, the two people sitting by her side saw something shiny hiding deep in the red dirt by her feet. Needless to say, we all shivered in the early morning sun to hear that a Herkimer diamond was dug out and lifted from the sand, in front of where she sat. It is impossible to express the feeling of utter joy when such things happen. Clearly, it was a testimony of raw power manifestation, that quickly, quickly appears, when hearts are pure, devoted and sincerely focused on the ascension of all humans. Her vision reminds us the impossible is merely an illusion, and that our prayers, hopes and dreams are indeed heard by the Bodhisattvas.
I want to share one sliver of my own experience of this great gathering, where, for ten days a year people travel from around the world to dance and pray in one of the oldest ceremonies on the planet. In the midst of this truly extraordinary constant stream of preparation, along with a small team, I took care of eight teenagers so their parents could participate in the collective gathering for several days.
These teenagers are from rather exceptional families (After all, what kind of parents would send their kids off to the hot June desert to stay in tents surrounded by people they barely know)? For the teens, It is shall I say, totally out of whatever box they live in, and believe me the things we introduce them to are not what’s typically happening at home.
As I share this story, please keep in mind that these 8 brave young souls have been immersed in this new community of strangers, working through their many many grumbles, fumbles and resistances. The land is harsh in a way. The sun and wind relentlessly beat, and it perfectly mirrors their heat, dry humor and at times their indifference to whatever everyone is intent upon doing.
As the ceremony pulses and pulses from the day into the night, an invisible deepening creeps in to permeate even their ever distracted, thrashing teen minds. We catch one of their peaks of boredom, when they are itching to leave (but there’s no where to go), no Internet escape, and no parents to bump against. We climb high above on a high mesa overlooking the whole scenario.
Now, as you might imagine this was no ordinary smores-night campfire. You see, the tension, the questions, the CONSTANT bantering around the only subject that truly, utterly and completely captures their attention flares to the surface; sex. Surely, you’ve heard that sex is on a man’s brain every few seconds. Well, for the teen boy multiply that times ten. The girls, although far more demure in their expressions, are thinking about it too.
What’s different about our night on the mesa however is that rather than try to tone it down or deflect this legitimate symphony of estrogen dancing to the sway of some rather feisty testosterone surges from the boys; we let them talk. And they know we are letting them talk. It’s a perfect time, because as there are no sexual interactions permitted here, the space becomes ripe for questions and teaching.
I must admit, I do gasp at how much these kids already know about sex, and I am amazed by what they’ve already tried at home. Let’s just say, for quite a few of them, everything, so to speak. So teaching them something on the subject is certainly a delicate thing. In my view, you have to start with where they really are, otherwise they blow you off like one of the farts they love to roar and chuckle about.
Here’s what I notice: these teens are literally bursting to talk about sex with us. Why? Because nobody talks to them about this wild and crazy thing that’s happening in their bodies. Yes, they get lots of indirect admonishments, cloaked fears, jokes, advice, cautions and rules. But this is not what they want, nor in my view, what they really need to hear.
First of all, they simply want someone who acknowledges their naturalness, wherever they are in the discovery of themselves. They want someone who can be calm, fun, honest and who listens to what is going on for them sexually. And as soon as they spot someone who is going to be real, and by this I mean, someone who understands their preoccupation, fascination and curiosity about everything sexual, and who treats their sexual feelings as legitamete, they’re all ears.
For me, this is the sweet spot in a teen’s life, for the daring ones think they already know it all, and the more shy souls listen well, hesitating to admit they haven’t dared venture into the territory of sex beyond holding hands and a kiss (my favorite place.)
Like a team of racehorses, the boys want to know everything and anything we will say. And like a circle of fish, the girls coyly smile as if to say, ‘do we really need to talk about all this?’ All of them are smack dab in the midst of assessing their preferences for boys or girls, so when I draw a wheel in the sand giving all choices equal dignity, the swell of relief is as big as the sky.What fascinates me, as I peer through the veils of these eager teen faces, to see such a cocktail of bravado, hesitation, fascination, tenderness, desire, trepidation, clumsiness and thrill, is that it’s not a whole lot different than an adult mind pondering the way to connect with another human being.
I receive a resounding message from the Grandmothers: ‘Tell them it’s wise to wait.’ Even though the dreaded word ‘wait’ makes no sense now as their hormones gallop to the speed of light, still the teen brain, and more importantly the teen heart soaks in these words because they are true. For you see, it’s not the usual brush off of ‘wait till you are older.’ No, it’s about telling them it’s wonderful to have these feelings and speaking of how to enjoy and respect their bodies. I say, ‘If you truly wish to make love, you’d better slow down or you are going to get hurt.’ They, nod in agreement as I tell them, ‘if you want to get some, you better show respect.‘ I remind the girls to be more kind, for even though the boys are keen, they have no idea about the subtle complexities of sex and emotions. I tell them, ‘Ask for an invitation. Don’t rush, for there is beauty in waiting. Say ‘no’ whenever you wish. Grow up until you learn. And only say ‘yes’ when you are truly ready.’
Oh, how their spirits are open to hearing this. They listen with boundless hearts for about five minutes, and then it’s time for smores. While it’s likely they will forget these things (just like I did), in the middle of their minds, like diamonds floating in their pituitary glands, I send a prayer they will remember the Quodoushka teachings, to cherish and respect Mother Life.
In beauty, Amara Keeps the Fire, Hsien Ku
Quehestimahah, (you dance in my heart)
(c) 2011 Amara Charles
Photos Amara Charles