In the Brotherhood of the Phoenix this is the season of Quintessence, the season of the Explorer. It is a time of consideration and preparation. We move beyond the spiritual awareness of all that is new, and learn to move through excitement and wonder and into fear. It is as though we learn that we are finite, and because we are finite our concept of self is not inviolate.
The Gift of the Explorer is Courage. Courage for many things, but fundamentally I think of it as Courage to embrace the unknown. This year the Explorer, brought to us by Stephan, told us to get lost. Not as a rejection. But as an embrace. We are conditional beings, psychologically bound to our thoughts and perceptions of self. The Explorer scolded us for holding too tightly to those notions. "Get lost," he said. In our lives. In our loves. In our selves.
Getting lost is something that is terrifying even for the seasoned adventurer of the soul. Even though I know I will find my way back, it is scary, because when we are lost we do not know what awaits us, and we do not know how that unknown will change us. And that, I think, is the core of my fear. I'm not afraid of pain, or of being unable to find my way back to myself. I'm afraid of encountering something that changes me in a way that I don't want to be changed.
What if something happens and I become bitter and unable to forgive?
What if I commit to something and can't see that it makes me a bad person?
What if I am too pliable and my beliefs are just tumbleweeds blown into me by the people around me?
Maybe I will still like myself, but the people I care about won't. Maybe I won't be able to handle that and will convince myself that what I found wasn't real and pretend it isn't there and living that lie will destroy me.
And these are not small fears to be chased away like cobwebs. I believe very deeply that we can change as people, that we are not fixed or static beings.
We talk about courage as though it were a talisman. As though once I have it I can keep it in my pocket and confront my fears whenever I need.
Courage is a lot of things. But in this particular context, the unknown, courage is willingness to step into the flames of transformation; to walk the labyrinth, Cleu in hand, knowing that the minotaur awaits you in the center; to get lost in the depths of who you are even though you don't know who you'll be when you come back.
And so I leave you not with an answer, but with a question.
What are you afraid to find in yourself, and are you willing to seek it out anyway? Get lost. Get found.