As we merge bravely into the Via Creativa I know that we are all being re-birthed to one degree or another and it feels right to mark this passage with sacred ceremony.
This morning I sat outside and the chill air was augmented by the blessed sunlight. I smoked a wonderful Cuban style cigar from Miami, gifted to me this Christmas by a treasured friend. My occasional enjoyment of a good cigar has been viewed by some of my loved ones as just one more bad habit. They are probably right. But it has become a ceremony for me and I’m not ready to give it up.
I gave up cigarettes more than two decades ago, and similarly they held a mystique for me because I had shared the experience of smoking with my brothers after we emerged from the sweat lodge, steam rising off our naked bodies into the chill air on a sacred hill near Wounded Knee in South Dakota.
This ceremony began in Mexico, last July, when I pulled my vintage Airstream down to the Sea of Cortez to camp on the beach with a companion. It was the off-season which means it was hotter than hell and we had no competition for selecting the best campsite.
In the mornings we would drive to the harbor and have fish tacos and beer for breakfast. In the evenings we would nestle into the warm moist air of the evening and split a bottle of good red wine and share one of those Cuban cigars we had picked up from the friendly young man in the market who said he could sell us something stronger to smoke if we so desired.
We had looked at each other with big grins, feeling carefree and dangerous, but deciding the cigars and the wine were quite enough for these two aging pilgrims. We had found some comfort in each other; some joy in re-entering our youth and finding another wounded one across the table; someone who knew your mind without your needing to speak; someone who would drink that bottle of wine with you and pass the cigar back and forth until it was down to a finger scorching nub. We talked deep into the night.
When it was time to leave, we headed back to the Arizona border where a guard yelled at me for stopping on the wrong line, confounding his electronic sensing devices. But he didn’t even want to take a peek into the little trailer which could have hidden any number of sins, but in reality hid only two small wooden boxes of contraband Cuban cigars.
Back home we had several more evenings on the patio passing one of those cigars back and forth. When the summer was gone, so were the cigars, and so was the short-lived pairing of twin flames.
Then on Christmas this year she gave me the humidor and a package of good cigars. And now, far from the southwestern desert, I sit alone in the chill of a Carolina winter and send my smoke into the receptive ether. I observe and I honor the ceremony of wafting my prayer into the heavens with the help of a good cigar.
We have gone deep this time and now we are emerging from our murky and moist method; knowing that this time represents our birthing so we are not all scrubbed and shiny yet. We still carry the evidence of our process: some blood and some mucus.
And we quite possibly have not extracted ourselves completely from that tight opening. But every step along the way is a holy one, so we will bless the journey as well as the destination. And I will have one more puff on my cigar as I pull my last captive foot through the sacred opening.