By Leona Thomas
I successfully completed a 40-hour Vision Quest in Northern Ontario, Canada in 2005. It was my first experience of spiritual fasting and it had a profound effect through my being alone in nature for so long.
We were a group of 20 participants together on a wilderness island for a 10-day spiritual experience.
The Vision Quest challenged me most when we had to row across a very deep lake to reach the mainland. I don't swim well and am terrified of deep water after nearly drowning when I was 10 years old.
We all successfully arrived on the mainland and parked our canoes upside down as instructed. Then we split up. Nobody should be able to see each other once we got started for our Vision Quest.
Most people were apprehensive at the idea of being alone in nature with just themselves for company for 40 hours. But I love nature and I also enjoy being alone so I was fine.
Although we were not allowed to eat or drink anything for 40 hours I could see the shore of Lake Temagami and knew that I could get fresh water if I needed it.
I found my spot and made a circle out of stones. This would be my home for 40 hours. I would step out only to toilet.
I remember there was drumming from the island in the evening and I could hear the drum was speaking to me. Each drumbeat was a word. English was somehow being transmitted through that drum to me!
I also had made a little altar and my singing bowl was sitting on it.
Chipmunks made a lot of noise as they ran through the dead leaves. At night it always sounded louder...
On the second day I watched in amusement as a chipmunk ran full pelt towards my altar and then realised his mistake at the last moment. He managed to stop running but his front two feet were already on the cloth. Then he turned and ran back in the opposite direction!
Eventually the 40 hours were over. We heard the signal to pack up and go to our canoes
Unfortunately I could not leave immediately as one of the retreat organisers had asked me to make a ceremony for a broken object. Once the ritual was complete I packed and made my way to the canoe.
The ground was hilly and I was quite high up. I approached a short gully and had an instinct to throw my day pack across and then jump over after it.
I watched in horror as the bag hit the ground and began to roll. In just a few seconds it had gathered up speed and was bouncing down the hill!
I gave chase but there were tree roots and rocks everywhere so I had to be careful.
Finally the bag stopped about 1 metre from the edge of the lake. I caught up with it and stood looking back up the steep hill. I was cursing under my breath, complaining, 'Are you kidding me? Now I am going to be so late getting to the canoe!'
But, before I could take a single step to begin climbing back up that hill, I heard a voice from behind me
I turned around and found myself looking at my canoe!
My 2 friends had decided to come looking for me. And my Spirit team knew it. So they used the runaway bag to lead me to an easy rendezvous with the canoe at its new location!
Many wonderful things unfolded during that magical 10-day holiday but that runaway bag was a neat trick! Follow your guidance Even if it looks crazy because you never know what is coming next...