I completed this ROP with Rites of Passage, based out of Santa Rosa, California, although the quest itself was in the Owlshead Mountains in Death Valley. I’m beginning training as a vision quest guide with Rites of Passage as an adjunct to my chaplaincy training. This gives some further insight into it all:
I’m stepping into this VQ to mark the beginning of a new phase of my life. I’m beginning training as a hospice chaplain with a focus on death as a right of passage. I suspect that our culture’s fear of death and fear of the wilderness are related–in both cases we are facing into the unknown. I feel this for myself. This quest is also to mark my transition from a career that has served me and my family well, but from which I’m now beginning the process of turning away.
Beginnings, middles, ends. I’m a smart enough person, but a little thick-headed sometimes and don’t always get subtlety. So I’ve found in my 50 years that I do best with spiritual practices that are rigorous, simple and repetitive (and by “work best” I mean bring me into awareness of my individual and temporal place within a collective and eternal consciousness)–prayer that is repetitive and ancient, acknowledgement of ancestors, shamanism, wandering out into the desert alone without food. This will be my second guided vision fast.
In addition to marking this time in my life, this is also the entrance for me to training as a vision quest guide. While I don’t expect to take dying people into the wilderness to fast very often, I have an intuition that there can be some overlap in the experience of the quest and in dying. I hope to be able to be support one by studying the other. I am also in the process of apply for Certified Pastoral Education programs.
Finally, I have a 13 year old daughter and a wife of 16 years, and I’m very aware that I carry not only my own future but that of my family, all with their good wishes and prayers. I hope from this quest to gain clarity, strength and the grace I will need to make our future peaceful, satisfied, loving and full of curiosity.
I look forward to do the work with the guides, the group and on my own. Thank you for creating the space for this.