|Billie, friend Carol, Jack - Cave City 9/24/94|
The Libra energies of balance between polarities — light/dark, male/female, day/night, hot/cold, life/death — were strong throughout the entire weekend.
|Jungle Room Stalactites|
The evening sounds in this beautiful and remote valley were LOUD! The crickets, night birds, night mammals and other creatures were all singing and talking prolifically and constantly. My husband and I both wondered if we'd be able to sleep. But sleep we did, to be awoken by the morning songs of the myriad of birds in the valley. And then the breeze came through and the falling leaves of the surrounding cottonwoods showered down on us with every breath of the sky. Ah, autumn...
On this day of celebration a leisurely morning ensued, including a walk up the mountain to a marble outcropping called "The Pyramid", and also to what is known as Alley's Pit, an area that goes down to Tom's Lake. This lake is the most incredible feature of the cavern. Spelunking tours have to raft across it when they journey thru the cave. To be in the raft, floating quietly on this underground lake while surrounded by Mother Earth, and then with lights turned off — this is the most awesome experience ever! It is what I imagine it to be like when a child in-utero. Although I did not go on a spelunking tour to visit this area of the cave on this trip, my husband did later in the afternoon.
|Autumn Quadrant - 2011 Medicine Wheel Collage|
by Jennifer Star
So, while my husband offered and was taken up by our former boss to be a tail guide for the afternoon spelunking tour, playing and filling up his soul underground, I stayed above ground and helped setup the Celebration of Life for our friend Jack, in support of his wife Billie.
As all those coming to honor and celebrate Jack's life started to arrive, the reunion for me began... I saw and hugged and visited with SO many people that I've not seen in many, many years. Some that went back to when I was 16 — thirty-one years ago! And in fact, that was when I met Jack and Billie for the first time.
The most special and synchronous connection was with my late mom's (Sally Dunn's) best friend from her Mountain Ranch days — a connection that I would have never even considered as happening here because this friend lives in Montana (moved there in 1984). But here she was with her husband, both just happening to be in the area because their son moved back here recently. When she saw me and heard my voice, she was moved to tears — I look and sound so much like my mom. And she said she misses my mom so, so much. It was a very moving reconnection for us both.
|Jack Shields - Cave City 9/24/94|
My Jack story is that I met he and Billie Lou in 1980 when I was 16 and living in Mountain Ranch. They were new to the area. I instantly fell in love with them both. Their authentic, REAL, love and kindness and acceptance of who I was/am touched me so deeply that no matter how long we would eventually go without seeing the other it didn't matter. We always just picked up where we left off, like no time had passed.
Jack was a big boulder dropped into the sea of life, sending out huge ripples that touched many, many folks. His very being transformed the lives of all those he touched — whether they realize it or not. At this celebration of Jack's life I saw him — in the eyes and hearts of everyone there.
As dusk fell, more sharing of prayers, songs, and live music began, and the celebration continued on.
|Jennifer and Craig - Winter Palace 9/24/94|
Jack's celebration wound down by midnight, and the valley returned to all its usual evening sounds — this day of celebrating life and love complete. Sunday morning brought more bird song to awaken us, this time including a flock of wild turkeys (the day before on our walk I found a turkey feather!), and an overcast and cool sky, which stayed with us all day. After a leisurely morning in the valley, and an afternoon of visiting with our former boss and his wife, we headed back home, a gentle rain falling on us half-way there.
This Autumnal Equinox weekend is one to be remembered...
For Craig & Jennifer
poem by Jack Shields, September 1994
You enter the cavern as two
The friction of two souls
Sparks, cinders, smokes
Sweat, the oil of love
Waters the roots of
This mountain and the
Tree of Marriage
Joined as one
In the womb of the earth
Slide out of the dark birth canal
Newborn to the world
Of Moon and Sun
New to every common bread breaking
Crust and crumb communion
All the small sacrifices
The shared secrets that
Lead to THIS
The meat of myth
Cooking in sex
And heart-ringed ceremony of the soul