There are hundreds of reasons I should not be going to Alchemy this year; very clear, bold, number-oriented reasons. There are loud voices that accompany these numbers and reasons, some of them of my own making and others are very real people voices. And it is amazing how silent they become when I turn to listen to that one, small voice in the back of the room that asks me only to trust and follow.
The first time I went to Alchemy was in this same way. I declared I was taking a writing sabbatical. I was twenty-seven, working at a natural food store and living at home. At the time my parents didn’t even know I wrote. “A sabbatical? To do what? Are you going somewhere?” To write, I said. “Don’t you have to be at a university to take a sabbatical?” Not anymore.
I didn’t know what I was doing. All I knew was that there was a stirring inside that I trusted more than any thought I could cultivate, conjure or create.
When I arrived at Alchemy, the doubts grew louder and louder. What are you doing here? You aren’t a leader of any organization, any woman-centered group, in fact, you aren’t a leader of anything. You don’t even know what your religious affiliation is? I looked down at the worn-out sandals on my feet and felt just enough confidence to keep me there.
Sometime on the first day, a group of us met to discuss inter-generational mentoring. During the meeting, a young woman shared her story. She shared her hunger for being there, her hunger for voices she’d never heard before, voices that told her she deserved to be there. When her story ended, an elder stood up, crossed the circle and held her. She said: “You belong here.” And that was the first time I saw my seat at the circle.
I understand the need for money is real. I also understand that anytime this need becomes greater than the ache in my chest, the one that pulls me closer to the Earth, than it is not a need at all, but a black hole I am filling. I am blessed to have people around me that love and support me. I am blessed with good health. I am blessed with freedoms that allow me to make this decision.
And so I am going to Alchemy this year because faith is the only compass I’ve found that works.
Denise Casey lives in Vermont where she writes, hikes, sings, studies and practices mind-body healing and just “keeps on showin up.” She is also one of the young leaders with Women of Spirit and Faith. While she still feels rooted in Christian teachings of her childhood, she has taken to practicing and studying Buddhism and earth-based religions and traditions.