We all have a medicine bag.
Or maybe a few, if you’re like me.
One has paintbrushes and pigments.
Another – tinctures, feathers and stones.
A third carries tools for smoke, smudge and prayers.
OK, they might all have feathers.
And the contents of each become sacred when used in that intention.
Maybe yours carries a musical instrument….
I used to carry one to homes that had bandages, catheters, ointments and a stethoscope…
only to be amazed at how many times what was really needed was something else entirely,
something I found in my other bags.
Aside from the rituals and tools you may use,
there’s a medicine that is always with you,
that you, alone, carry.
And in it a remedy, a story, a salve, a song.
Or maybe simply silence and kind eyes,
a deep vision or wild dreams,
or the quick-wit that calls forth laughter.
The medicine you bring
without trying so hard
without fancy steps, techniques or recipes
without a license or certification or memorization
without having an answer, method, or plan,
without editing for profound words.
The medicine you bring just by being true
to the comfort or discomfort
before you within you beside you…
right where you are.
Some of our medicines are slow-cooked and simmered our whole lives long.
In the stories we live, the heartbreaks we endure, the joys we awaken to again and again.
Even your toughest times may be a piece of the divine care-plan for another soul one day.
(They are likely already on their way to meet you and receive it.)
Sometimes, the medicines we bring can taste like shit to someone else – it’s true.
They might look more like lines drawn or triggers pulled –
with an outcome on the other side we may never fully comprehend,
pieces of a story bigger than any one of us,
begging us to expand our comfort, forgive and release.
Other times, our personal medicine might taste like nectar to parched taste-buds,
in right timing –
the softening of being seen – not judged,
received without expectation,
loved within the innocence of love divine,
or the missing link for a chain of perspectives that have been elusive
in desperate attempts to relieve and get on with life.
Both ways of medicine – bitter or sweet –
can bring healing, solace and growth to others.
What I learn
– with my paint, stones and smoke
with my stethoscope and all the tools that come and go,
speaking to me of what is sacred –
is to be a disciple of Listening Close
to rhythms and heart-truths not spoken
to the Great River’s source and Grandmother Moon’s coming and going, as she whispers,
the medicine you seek is seeking you….
Our personal medicines are not found in our magic bags or traditions,
or in our theories, proofs or knowledge.
And though they may grow richer with the tools and practices we ground with,
they are with us all along,
before and after we pick up the bottles, words and bones.
What I learn and remember
with my paint, stones and smoke – in the awakenings they offer,
and what I carry from them
– not in a bag or object, but in the moment I am creating a channel for –
is the power and intimate gift of our pause into Presence.
This is the Stillness where our greatest personal medicines grow and replenish.