First I must make it perfectly clear. I am not a paleontologist, anthropologist, archeologist, theologian, or a scholar. Nor am I an advocate of disrupting the earth by digging into her body only to disturb the resting-place of ancient bones. While I am aware that valuable information can be gathered from such activities I do have grave misgivings about them and feel that we must be very careful and respectful at all times. This disclaimer serves to illustrate the surprise, not quite epiphany that I experienced recently as I watched a National Geographic Special.

My watching of this special happened simply by the flipping of the channels as my husband and I hoped to relax and watch something for a little while before going to bed. Generally we are not very hopeful of finding anything on our very few channels, we do not have cable or any paid for television, so our quick flip was not expected to offer any favors. Coming upon a nature or science special of any kind on PBS is always enticing so, of course, we gave it fair viewing.

I wish I could say that while watching the show I did experience an epiphany, but that simply would not be a true and accurate report. An epiphany could be defined as an insight or clarity, a new and deeper understanding of something not previously known, or perhaps a joyful and spiritual moment of relationship with a higher body of wisdom. The experience of an epiphany could be illustrated by a comical cartoon picture of a light bulb suddenly lighting up to signify a new and more complete level of awareness. A more dignified description might even refer to it as a prophetic moment. However said, that was not my experience at all. Instead, what I felt was a deep, moving, unyielding, and not quite formed question. A nagging to be quenched question that was known somewhere within me but just out of reach. While it was not clear enough to actually grasp, it remained present enough so as to not be shaken off and easily forgotten. In essence, a great field of innocent wondering lingered, esoteric in nature and creating a sense of deep anticipation about a new level of heightened understanding coming to the surface. Consequently, I was prompted to write this account in hopes of finding more clarity. I wanted a clear question to show itself with a meaningful response to decipher that would ultimately take me further along on my spiritual journey. I have found that putting pen to paper, while entering a relaxed state to facilitate a sincere and open heart, would generally reward me with the esoteric insights that tend to enrich life. That is precisely what I am anticipating now!

A brief summary of the TV special that caught my attention amounts to the recent discovery and uncovering of the burial grounds for an unknown ancient people. Beyond this concise and surface description was the very striking manner in which the bodies had been arranged at the time of burial, and the reaction to this by the individuals who had found them and bore witness to this. What stayed with me was the abundance of love and thought that went into these burials. This was particularly evident at one grave in which a mother and her three children were so tenderly arranged to hold each other as they journeyed beyond this life. A variety of items, also found at the grave, were placed ceremonially around their remains. Equally tender was the gentle approach taken by each person involved in the “awakening” of this site as they continued with their work. Gingerly, with great trepidation, respect, and compassion, the scientists and technicians alike were visibly moved and deeply touched by the scene of those lost people who had been so clearly loved, honored, and missed. This was a population with no apparent weapons and an ample supply of love and sophistication.

As I witnessed the power of this scene and how it effected all of those involved in that dig I felt as though something sacred was occurring. At this point, I am hoping that eyes are not rolling as my readers think to themselves that I am getting carried away and perhaps even inventing the significance of this event. After all, it was just a digging up of old bones. However that was not my experience. I became a witness and participant in the viewing. What I felt was precisely that it was not just a show about a “dig” for artifacts. That might be how it began but somewhere along the line there was a shift to something far more grand. It was not merely a dig that could result in insights about ancient people that might help to inform us, the current Homosapiens, about our circumstances now on earth. More remarkable, it manifested an energy and created an emotional and spiritual relationship between modern humans and the remains of what we call the past. This happened not as an obvious conclusion that one might expect after a day of routine fossil hunting, but more through the insidious nature of that which is ethereal , as love and spirit, that slowly permeates one’s heart and psyche before one even realizes that this alchemy has occurred. As smoke might rise from a once dormant volcano where it first simmered long before it was known, so too the spirits had risen from “dead” bones to be felt, even if not known. That was my experience felt at a level beyond the intellect. Instead, it was a mysteriously woven connection between the infinite parts of myself and the infinite nature of all that is. Ancient bones were revealed and touched the eternal core of all whom encountered that moment.

It appears to me that the great separation of that which is termed “life” and that determined to be “death” became less clarified and harder to define. Can one’s heart and soul be so affected simply by studying the arrangement of dead bones from long ago? Is something dead only because we, in our collective decisiveness, cannot understand its life qualities? Many indigenous societies believe that there is a spirit living in all things. It is easy for many people to consider the possibility of trees and plants possibly possessing a spirit, however, I ask you now to consider what some native people participating in a sweat lodge ceremony refer to as “the rock people”. Do we rely solely on our current scientific notions of what qualifies as life, such as; breath, motion, and growth (I am certain I knew this better once in some biology class), even as our perimeters of knowledge are based on a very short span of time? In our brief lifetimes, can we really define the existence of that which remains hundreds and even thousands of years longer than ourselves? Perhaps the lone rock is as the mountain, moving and growing. Then what of our bones, drained of blood and life support as they are, do they remain connected to the human spirit or eternal life force enough so as to evoke empathy, love, and compassion from those who come to view them? Finally, I must ask are not the essences of love, compassion, and empathy eternal components of a force that cannot be seen, known, or comprehended and yet deeply felt in the joining of spirit and bone?

The feeling that had merged within my soul has now emerged in the language of words. The sought after and lingering question appeared and unveiled itself to be multiple questions. The answers of which can be found waiting in each of our hearts, and yes in fact, an epiphany did initiate this journey. Not an epiphany in the form of a light bulb suddenly illuminating, but in a lovely flow of insurgent awareness that invaded the illusion of separateness and demanded immediate awareness, expansion, and exploration.