Starting “Wakan” – a spiritually-based educational commnity dedicated to the premise that all life is sacred…

Honoring Elders

Christmas Eve is a traditional time for family gatherings and gift-giving. In 1983 I was given a strange “gift” that came during the middle of the night. I was visiting at my in-laws home in Los Angeles for the holidays. At 2:00 in the morning I was awakened from a sound sleep by a voice of some sort telling me to take down dic- tation in my dream journal. I sat up in bed, turned on the light and began to write. I was “told” that I needed to start a non-profit organization called “Wakan”, a word borrowed from the Lakota Sioux language which means sacred or holy. The voice went on to state the purpose of this organization. The following words are the exact ones I recorded in my journal that Christmas Eve:

“WAKAN, Inc. is a spiritually-based educational organization dedicated to the premise that all life is sacred. Our goal is to provide programs that help participants find and remember what is sacred to their highest awareness, and to empower the ability to realize an incorporate the sacred in all aspects of life. This includes personally, professionally, socially, in the corporate marketplace, in the political arena, at home with family and in all relationships. Services, programs and educational materials are to help participants Walk On A Path of Heart, a path with purpose and meaning inspiring all whom it touches upon.”

After finishing the transcription, half asleep and groggy, I went back to bed without thinking about what had just happened. The next morning I awoke and checked my journal to see if I had merely dreamed the whole incident and no, it was not a dream, the writing was right there in front of me. I had a good feeling about the con- tent of the message but was not excited at the prospect of taking on another “respon- sibility”. I had quite enough challenge trying to keep up with all my current responsi- bilities without taking on starting a whole new project. Besides, I knew nothing about starting a non-profit and wasn’t anxious to learn. So I let this “assignment” simmer on the back burners for several years.

During this time I increasingly noticed how many people I was seeing in my private practice and on retreats and workshops who had a healing need that was not being addressed by conventional treatment interventions. They were becoming healthier in their personal lives and in their relationships, but there was still something vital missing. As I looked closer and listened more carefully to what I was hearing over and over again, I got that people were crying out for involvement in a caring, supportive and meaningful community.

A sense of this was beginning to build up out of the solstice and equinox retreats I had been doing quarterly since 1982. People were connecting in a deeper way with themselves, each other and with the forces of nature. But then three months would go by and there would be little or no contact and people would loose much of what they had gained. So I decided to start a monthly gathering, an evening of drumming and prayer, to help participants keep the connec- tion going and to build on the retreat insights and empowerment. It started small and then as word got out it began to grow.

It was during this first year of the “Medicine Ways Empowerment Group” that the Christmas Eve message about starting Wakan, Inc., began to move forward from the back burners. Midway through that first year I awoke one morning and just knew intuitively that “it was time”.

I contacted several friends who had started non-profits themselves and just like that I was given a copy of instructions of what to do and the name of a lawyer who specialized in non-profit startups. Within a few months all the paper work was done and several months after that Wakan, Inc. received its official notice from the federal government and the state of California that it was now a legal entity and “in business”.  I excitedly shared the good news with members of the drumming group and others who had been regulars at the quarterly retreats and Wakan was “out of the closet”.

Looking back now it seems the delay between getting the assignment to start Wakan and bringing it out of the closet several years later served an incubation function. It needed to “cook” awhile on an inner plane, trusting right timing to bring it out so that it could “hatch” in a healthy way and not be premature. I am happy to say that the community has grown and prospered since that time and continues to evolve ad- dressing peoples’ changing needs in an organic sort of way.

That is part of the excitement of exploring what is possible when people make a commit- ment to care for each other, to work consciously at integrating spirituality into all that we do in a healing and loving and responsible way for the entire Sacred Circle of Life. Re- lationships are deepening, growing richer and stronger. We are learning what it means to be in a caring community. We are teaching each other how to do it, as students and teachers to one another, no one individual the final authority but using an ongoing council process that enables each voice to be listened too and heard. We stay with it until we reach a “felt consensus”, then act in a joined way, “todos unidos”, as one.

It takes a lot of patience, a lot of trust in the process, faith in the Great Mystery and a willingness to face and own our own shadows instead of projecting our garbage on the other person. But it’s worth it. We are growing in a good way, through the gift of community seeking to integrate spirit into our daily lives for the good of all.