Last night was the first night of the writers' conference at Pacifica Graduate Institute which was opened by one of my favorites ... Michael Meade. Michael came without his drum but filled us with lyrical rhythms of his stories and song and touched us with a call.
Michael told us to "sing into the emptiness between the world and ourselves," to awaken our unique voice, to re-create the world with our words.
A tall order but by the end of the evening, we were ready to pick up the burning feather, a metaphor that came from another story he shared, that goes something like this:
Once upon all time, A young person was riding through an ancient forest (aren't all forests in stories ancient, dark and deep?), when her horse (a magnificent beast) stops just as a golden, flaming feather drops from the sky.
As the young rider contemplated the feather, the horse murmured (because it was a horse of power, of course), "Do not pick up the feather or you will know trouble and fear."
This could be a cautionary tale to avoid new things, to play it safe, but we know (because in the ancient stories, we are always wise and courageous) that fear is telling us where we must go. The burning feather has to be picked up; we have to journey in the direction of our fears.
And that was how Michael told us that our way is marked ... That we have to take the sword of courage in hand and make our way into the dark continent of our fears and psyche to bring back the boon of wisdom to be shared with the world.