The vigil is not something to take lightly. It is a period of time that consists of reaching into the farthest parts of one’s soul. Going further than one could even imagine possible. And then going a little bit further.
The vigil requires one to become knowledgeable about turning weaknesses into strengths. It is about pouring the final cement layer in cementing our ideals about service. Either we discover that maybe we aren’t ready to sacrifice oneself, to put others ahead of us. Or maybe we are ready to help others at all times, to pass on traditions and knowledge of the world around us and how to peacefully cohabitate with it.
The vigil, is like looking in to a mirror and seeing if one is ready to confront their inner battles.
Thursday night, we were still packing 2hrs past my bedtime. I barely slept that night. Roughly 3hrs. And then I had to go to work. It was a long day. A LONG day. Everything that has transpired over the past 5 days either was NOT on my to-do list, or completed extremely late.
Finally! The SuperHusband arrived home. It was time to finally pack the last bits of stuff for Hullabaloo 2018! An event that I have been giddy with excitement to be able to attend since last Sept! But it evolved into more than that. This weekend, I knew in my gut, that it was going to be transformative somehow. And then 1 thing led to another thing, led to us to taking off way later than I planned.
I started to get snippy. For some reason, my anxiety and restlessness, was thru the roof. And then it hit me. I have been waiting for this weekend for A LONG time. And it was so close, yet so far, away. So I took
a few a bunch of deep breathes, closed my eyes, and let it go.
We finally arrived. 620PM. 2hrs behind schedule. Its fine. Just need to rush to get camp set up and a plan in place before I could adventure off on my vigil.
We lost cell service at about 6PM. Not sure why I kept my phone on.
The next couple hours were a blur. Unpacking, sorting, putting up tents. Finding the scout master and my mentor. Coming up with a timeline for when things would be done and how it would fit into our weekend.
FINALLY! 920P. My mentors walked me to the spot where the the knighting ceremony was to be held at 655A the next morning. We discussed what a vigil could be. The questions I needed to discover within my inner soul.
For weeks, leading up to this moment, I have been looking at the questions. I have been thinking about the questions. I wrote them down in a journal so that I could write my answers down, on paper. For weeks, I was planning for hiking in the dark, alone. Mentally preparing myself to stay calm if I got lost.
I started listening to a podcast called She Explores. And I discovered that I was letting fear hold me back in being able to fully experience this process.
945A. My mentors leave me alone at the top of the hill, in silence, overlooking the peaceful, yet rushing, creek. The sky got a little darker. And there was no trail to hike.
What do I do? No! Shhh. I quiet my brain. I tell myself that I need to go wherever my soul needed me to go. I tell myself that I cannot make any plans this evening.
I stood quietly, at the overlook. I closed my eyes. I listened. My soul spoke.
It told me that I needed to be closer to the water.
So in the dark, I put one foot in front of the other. I opened a gate. I steadied myself with my staff that still had its barky layer. And I went down the hill. I had my headlamp on.
I stopped at the bottom. I took off my pack. I pulled out my hammock and gently placed it on the most perfect sandy spot by the river bank. I found my knife. I grabbed my staff. I tucked my Rover Handbook under my armpit. And I walked along the riverbank. My soul led me to a mossy rock that I could comfortably sit on.
I unsheathed my knife. I repositioned my staff. I took a look at the first set of questions that required me to become aware of who I am at this moment. If I have been a helper, or if I hurt people. If I am utilizing my life in the most effective and helpful way possible, or if there are areas I could improve upon.
I carefully, slowly, read each word in each question. One by one, I spent as much time as I needed to, on each question. I whittled my staff. Not too deep. My soul was only ready to remove the topmost layer. I went deeper, and then a little bit more deeper, with each question.
My staff was a 3rd of the way done.
I had to then search the deepest depths of my soul, to discover why exactly, I am here. Sitting by the riverbank. In the dark. Whittling another section of my staff. I asked myself if I was truly ready to be of service to others at all times. If I was ready, to turn my strengths, in to something to aid my fellow human beings.
My staff was 2/3rds of the way done.
Sitting by the riverbank, I started to shiver. Bugs were becoming a little too friendly. So I walked up to where my hammock was laid down on the ground. I plugged in my phone to my solar power USB charger (p.s. not sure if I know to operate it, or if it does not work). I got out a snack. Drank some water. Searched for where I put the knife sharpener. Oh and I grabbed the deet to ward off some of these hungry bugs.
I felt an itch next to my left lower lip. And I scratched it. Of course! With the hand that I had just used to rub Deet all over. Ok…we are going to experience this tonight……numb mouth. Interesting. Mental note: Don’t do that again!
I sharpened my knife. And I went back to my staff.
I jumped 3 feet in the air.
I held my breath.
My mind races. I am alone. Next to the river. In the dark. And in all green. I am camouflaged. My fear heightens a little. This was definitely not in any plan – if I had made a plan of course. But I am able to quickly take 3 deep breaths and I refocus.
The 3rd set of questions. I finally reached the farthest I have ever gone into my soul. And there it appeared. I saw 10ft tall, ornate wood carved, red stained doors, swing open in a creakingly slow pace. On the other side – were my values, my beliefs, the contents of my character. Weaknesses? Trustworthhy? Kind? Never Give Up? Individuality? Ability to overcome? Persevere? Sacrifice
My staff, was finished (for now!).
And it was 8 minutes until midnight. 8 minutes until I turn 31. I put away my knife. I put aside my staff. I closed my eyes. I listened to the water bounce off rocks in its path, easily finding a new route.
I got up. I walked over to the right side of the same riverbank. I was curious if it sounded different. I sat on a smoothly mossy rock. I felt the moss between the fingers on my left hand. I sat upright. Closed my eyes. Slowed my breathing. And I opened my ears. My mind wanted to make a plan. I told it shh. Again! It sure is talkative.
Midnight. It was officially my birthday. My heart might have been set on going on a long hike. But that is not what my soul needed. My soul needed me to sit next to this river. Slowing my breath. Closing my eyes. And listening to how the water naturally finds the best route.
I looked up. The sky was clear. The clouds magically dissipated. And the stars were so bright. My feet knew what they needed to do before I did. I walked back up to my hammock. I sat down. I grabbed my pack and made it into a pillow.
I wanted to stare up at the stars. Just thinking. Seeing how much more I can uncover of myself. And it was the most cathartic feeling. So I fell asleep. For about an hr. And then I started shivering. Whoops. That was not in the plan. I forgot a warm blanket (I did put on another warm layer).
I packed up the hammock. Put my pack back on. I grabbed my staff. And I walked back up that hill. It was alot steeper going up than it was going down. How could it get steeper in just a couple hours? I didn’t stop. Not until I got thru the gate.
And then the brightest motion detector light I have ever seen – went off.
I froze like a goose not wanting to cross the street. I was hoping it did not wake up the camp. I was also hoping someone wasn’t thinking I was creeping around camp and then come question me. I took a vow of silence for this vigil! So I tiptoed back to the other gate. The one that took you to the overlook. And I hung up my hammock.
I spilled in to the hammock and I closed my eyes as I swung from side to side. Not wanting to get sea sick. I had to just close my eyes and relax. I reviewed, silently, my answers to the questions. And then, I fell asleep for another hour.
I had been planning and prepping to wake up and watch the sunrise. On my birthday. During my vigil. Needless to say – it didn’t happen. I woke up about 30 minutes late. I could feel my inner voice get upset. Plans didn’t work out according to plan.
And then I had to aggressively remind myself to let it go. There was no plan tonight. Whatever happened….happened.
So I packed up my hammock. And I spent the next hour or so, in silence. Complete, silence. The only thing I could hear, was not my inner monologue, but was the traveling water down below me. I made the conscious decision to end my vigil free from the past. Free from the obstacles I erect for myself. I made the conscious decision to love myself, so that I could love others.
I have been preparing myself for this moment, for at least 2 years. I have worked hard on my outlook on life. I have worked hard in finding the light when there seems to be none. I have worked hard on making sure people around me know they are loved and supported. I have worked hard to be kind without a single expectation.
Unbeknownst to me, I have worked hard to get to this moment of self reflection in which I finally realize that I am worthy, that I am strong, that I am able, that what I do – is important.
And this vigil – is exactly what I needed to come full circle. Because now, I know what the BEST ME looks like – trusty, loyal and helpful, brotherly, courteous, kind, obedient, smiling and thrifty, and pure as the rustling wind.
I know now, what I need to get there. I know now, that I am strong enough to make the changes that will help me be the best me so that I can share with others – how to be the best them.
Post Vigil, this weekend – was Ah-Mazing. I met so many new friends. Made so many new connections. I never felt more alive and at home, than I did during this campout. The best part – Thing 1 came in to her own, busting out of her shell, and discovering how badass she is as a fellow scout AND as a leader. And Thing 2! She made SO MANY FRIENDS. She PLAYED. FOR HOURS! She showed empathy, courage to go it alone, and strength when she wanted to give up but didn’t.
6P, 2 days later. We finally get home. I plug in my phone. And I turn it on for the first time since Friday evening. And it felt so good. I feel a little guilty I didn’t get any pictures – but it was the break that I needed to break a couple addictions.
Being Akela – no longer scares me. In fact, I am embracing it and cannot WAIT to get started. I am already talking about finishing my next badge – The Practical Training strip – within the next 5 months. The quicker I finish it,
the quicker I can conquer the special proficency badges the more I am learning about the world around me.
Who knew? A 31 year old woman, with 2 kids, an insane life, finally figuring out her purpose on this earth. All thanks to a fateful encounter with a physical therapist. And some thanks to spending to a night in the woods where I numbed my mouth from Deet, panicked about being hunted as I camouflaged in to the river bank, activated the brightest light you could probably see from space, and then had to find the courage to get out of my hammock.
Truly discovering who I am – has been an adventure in and of itself. But this personal and intimate understanding of what makes me – ME – is what is going to be the anchor in all the storms.