Steve Brammeier: My Bracelet of Surrender
My Spiritual practice isn't always the same. Sometimes, I feel that I'm failing because I'm not disciplined in specific spiritual ritual and therefore less spiritual. I'm fortunate enough to have an extra bedroom that serves as a "quiet room." I have my altar there. There's also an easy chair for comfortable sitting and enough room to set up a massage table. My altar holds items that are sacred to me; things that have come into my life at special times, or from individuals who have touched my life. For a while I was meditating every morning for ten minutes or so at my altar. In the last few months I seem antsy when I try to do that every day. I feel like my day is pulling me into it.
At the suggestion of a mentor well-versed in the spiritual practices of many different cultures, I decided to create a beaded bracelet as a ritual that could become a portable sacred object. I was fortunate to be at Easton Mountain during the summer, with Easton's wonderful “Beading Tree,” an outdoor craft studio created by Hunter Reynolds, as a resource. I didn't have a specific theme or design in mind as I made my bracelet. I just found beads that appealed to me and assembled them. The finished product ended up being highly symbolic of earth, fire, wind and water. I place the bracelet on my altar and frequently take it with me into my day. When I get to work, I take it off, wrapping in around my wallet, which I place in my desk drawer, so I'm less likely to forget it when I leave. Then before I go to bed I place it back on my altar, spending a few minutes connecting with the sacred objects there.
The bracelet became a large part of my Vision Quest experience this summer in Colorado. I took the bracelet into nature on my solo of four days of fasting. I kept it tied in a bandana with the rest of my sacred objects. I would open the bandana every morning as part of my ritual on the mountain. On the third day, I took the bracelet on a meditating walk through the forest. I held it in my hand, moving from bead to bead as I walked. Later that day back at my campsite, I realized I did not have the bracelet. I looked through everything multiple times. I was devastated that somehow I had lost it. How could this object that had come to me in such a meaningful way and become so sacred to me be lost? How could I now believe in whatever seemed to me to be intuitively connecting with me? I knew it was just an object, but it held my hope, my joy, and my trust in the knowledge of my own spirit.
I became despondent. I considered ending my solo time on the mountain early. I went deep into the shadow of doubt. I climbed into my sleeping bag well before sundown and stewed in my own juices of misery.
The next morning I resolved to retrace my steps, figuring I likely would come across the place where I'd set it down. There is not a lot else to do alone on the mountain and no one else there to pick it up, so I went out again. It was not a frantic walk, but a quiet, deliberate, thoughtful search. I did not find it. Part of my practice on the mountain also included drawing Animal Spirit cards. My card that morning called me to "surrender." So, I resolved that my spiritual path could be less about actively seeking or searching and more about surrendering to what was being put in front of me: my bracelet and my guidance would "find" me if I keep an open awareness.
More things transpired that day and night, but that realization was a turning point. I moved out of the shadow and came down the mountain the next morning as scheduled, feeling strong.
Two days later, while riding my bicycle from Breckenridge to Frisco, I discovered a little bead shop. I went in to see what I could find and ended up with specific intention recreating my bracelet—this his time with a stretchy cord that allows it to fit perfectly over my hand and snugly on my wrist. It has almost exactly the same design and has come to be a significant part of my life. I feel like spirit taught me a huge lesson and my bracelet indeed "found" me again.