Day 3 of ourTasmanian walkabout, we hiked the Freycinet Trail to Wineglass Bay Look out. The day began with an early morning rain so initially we confined our walk to the town ofSwansea but when the sun peaked out from behind the dark clouds, we decided to risk driving to the National Park. Glad we did! The climb may not have been as difficult as the Appalachian Trail but we were huffing and puffing. As we finally crested the lookout to place our tired butts on a rock, kookaburras struck up a Greek chorus commenting on the occasion and the day! We sat upon our wayside rock and munched our way through cheese and salami, breathing in deeply the scent of wet leafed tea tree bushes and oily white gums. With an occasional wallaby wallying by I certainly knew I was not in North Carolina. We completed our afternoon walk with a Devonshire Tea at the Freycinet Lodge and the goal of finding sand dunes on our way back to our seaside cabin. It struck me as I sipped my English Breakfast tea and ate my jam and cream smothered, fluffy scones that this was no ordinary day and that somehow my life was about to be transformed with a visit to some dunes.
From the outset of our vacation my friend Angie had declared her intention to show me theTasmanian sand dunes that she had first visited over 30 years ago. Although we had journeyed the day before to the site of the publically listed sand dunes and hoped that they would be the ones that had provided so long ago a dramatic vista, what we discovered was not the long remembered landscape. Instead of rippling white sands what we found where dunes overgrown with vegetation. So on day 3with our return to Swansea from Freycinet, we turned off the main highway to try once again to find the mysterious and elusive white dunes. They were however, as once remembered, nowhere to be found.
It appeared after our second attempt to go back in time that no matter how hard we searched, how long we drove or how many new roads we took, we would not find a desert. The desert had transfigured itself over the years and moved away from its beautiful and full emptiness into sands capable of sustaining growth and habitation for unique lifeforms, including its self. In that moment I too understood that my desert had grown up.
I beg Kay Jamison, author, professor of psychiatry and victim to bipolar disorder, this paraphrasing of her words from ‘nothing was the same.’
In the wake of my first love lost I assumed less more. and doubted more. I kept my mind on a short lead and my heart yet closer in...after I think and to negotiate the world, and as the world measures things, I did well enough. Then I came back to Australia which upended my cautious stance toward life....here lived the woman I must have been before I bowed to fear. Here grace prodded my resistance and undermined my wariness with laughter. ...far from finding the intensity of my nature disturbing I discovered I could gravitate toward it...
So at the sand dunes, now dressed in semi -arid clothing and infused with spirit, I heard the metal doors swing open from the chambers of an imprisoned heart, my heart, creaking , rusty and weak but unsealing nonetheless. I clamoured down to the beach in front of the dunes and understood that this was to be the location of my surrender to life. I removed from my medicine bag the white feather that I had acquired on the walk of a 1000 steps in my first few days in this land down under. I thanked it for blessing me and I released it back to Source, carrying with it that which would no longer serve me.
I shall not forget that moment of watching Creator’s feather float away into the sea. I became not Lorna Doone but Lorna of the Dunes.
As I traversed back over the white soft sandy beach to find my friend who had started ahead of me to locate the car park, my eye caught sight of a deeply purple mother of pearl seashell. It was broken but striking in vibrant color and energy for all its brokenness. This gift I picked up from the sand and placed in my medicine bag for it is medicine I am now more equipped to carry.
A sense of peace has followed me since the heart wrenching surrender on the beach and it clings to my skin. It feels warm and cozy, this second skin. I shall lubricate it with dreams, gratitude, perspective and integrity.
To complete our dune adventure, however we needed to get back to our vehicle. We really had not made note of our exit spot from the forest onto the dunes and as we wandered over and through the sand and turf, every place looked like the spot before it. I took a deep breath and then I saw a butterfly. I asked it to lead my friend and I home or at least to the car. Guided by Madama Butterfly, we found what we sought. She blessed us like the angel in Dante’s Purgatory who brushed its wings on the forehead of the pilgrims as they moved on to their next levels of reformation.
A purple seashell in my pouch, a feather let go of, a growing dune, what more could be in store for me? So much more! But that is for another day’s episode. I am so grateful to my friend for taking me to Tasmania.