No Turning Back

A rebirth, a poem, and a new path

Omega Institute of Holistic Studies, Rhinebeck, NY, September 27, 2015
Steps climbing to the Sanctuary, pre-dawn
I started to breathe my soul this weekend.
How long I have held that breath.
Sitting in this sacred space, a space of our mutual making. A tribe, created from nothing, from everything.
From words that penetrate minds and pierce hearts.
From awe born of sacred silence.
No time. No world.
There is no turning back now.
The dream, retreating, 
reveals profound reality devoid of form.
A glimpse of truth.
We breathed our souls as one.
Carl Godlove
 (on his 58th birthday)
 Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Day Before
Friday, September 25, 2015

Alone in my Pennsylvania home, I paced like a caged tiger around my kitchen island while group texting my wife, gone for the day, and my three grown children, all in California. For years, I had considered spending a weekend at The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies at the urging of my good friend, Jane Garis at Pathways to Healing. But this time was different. I wouldn’t call it panic. Or maybe I would. Perhaps, looking back now, “unrelenting spirit guide persistence” may be a better characterization. It felt like palms on my back, leaning into me. Stirring me up. Urging me on. Blocking my retreat.

Omega’s weekend workshops run from Friday evening dinner, through Sunday afternoon lunch. “Something” inspired me to explore Omega’s website over the previous couple of weeks. Now it was Friday and decision time. I’d been considering two options. Option one had a variety of speakers presenting multiple topics. Option two was an immersive experience with just one facilitator, Mark Nepo, a man and poet I’d never heard of.

I felt clearly nudged toward the immersion option and the topic, “The Endless Practice — Becoming Who You Were Born To Be.” I put Mark Nepo in my shopping cart at the last minute and hovered over the “Buy” button. My family’s texts were incessant. DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! Finally, with that encouragement, I clicked it at noon with no time to spare. I had to pack and get on the road for the 200-mile drive to Rhinebeck, NY in time to check in, have dinner, and get to the evening session. I’m amazed to this day at the impact of that decision.

Mark Nepo and me at the end of our weekend at Omega
This 12-sided Pavilion held the palpable energy of our small group

My poem was inspired by Mark Nepo’s weekend workshop, “The Endless Practice - Becoming Who You Were Born To Be” during my first visit to Omega. On Friday night, September 25, 2015, Mark guided our small group’s co-creation of a sacred space, selectively reading and sharing from a stack of his books by his feet. It deepened profoundly throughout the weekend and remains with me still.

“No Turning Back” turned out to be prophetic. My conscious mind didn’t know that in September. My soul, on the other hand, seems to have been well informed. It still gives me chills. It gave voice to its truth, my truth, declaring that it was prepared to guide me through the most difficult, and liberating, time of my life. It gave birth to this poem in my small room at Omega after the second day with Mark. It was Saturday, September 26, 2015, my 58th birthday. Prophetic, indeed, as you’ll see.

Christmas, Three Months Later
December 25, 2015

Writing alone by firelight in Santa Barbara — pre-dawn, Christmas morning, 2015.
Our entire family was together in a truly magical Airbnb — our adult children, 
the loves of their lives, and our eldest daughter’s then future mother- and father-in-law.

As I mentioned, I privately gave birth to these poetic words on my 58th birthday at Omega. Three months later, on Christmas Day, immersed in my family’s love and encouragement, and my son’s reassurance and insistence, I published One week later, on New Year’s Day, I posted this poem, declaring publicly what I had promised myself privately — that I would never again tether my future to the tyranny of the past.

Two weeks after that, back to work and our home in Pennsylvania, the deal was sealed. The career I’d built over the previous twenty years was abruptly ended by my in-law family business partners. And the family bonds tied to it, woven through five generations of relationships, were ruptured and unraveled, leaving my wife and me adrift in a sea of uncertainty.

I never pictured having to deal with this much loss and pain. But I also never pictured how much love and grace would enter my life to help heal and move me forward. The stark contrast between the two is sometimes blinding. But the lessons, oh the lessons. I’m getting my money’s worth from this lifetime. And for that, I am eternally grateful for the whole of my life experience and everyone in it. Every player. Every part. Even, and especially, in this chapter, announced and ushered in by a simple declaration.

“There is no turning back now.