Seconds into sitting in front of the stone, I had this encounter...
At last the largest stone of my father's findings had come home to me, 20 years since his death. Many tumultuous adventures had surrounded getting the stone home safely, and now it was time to welcome it properly and commune with its presence in its new placement in front of the rising roses.
I keep a copper water bottle behind the rock, so that I may douse it before meditation, seeing the colors come to life. The idea is to begin these "stone sittings" and allow for insight and active imagination to ensue, inspired by the billion year-old stone.
Here is What Happened Moments after sitting with the stone:
While just starting to sink into the imagery revealed by the water on the rock's surface, all of a sudden a very large, very long bodied wasp (a type I had never before seen) landed just before me on the ground. Sticking its head towards the earth, its stinger-ed back up like hands clasped in prayer.
A defender, I thought, It is protecting the stone.
Having just emerged from a training in sacred reciprocity, on how to ask permission, on how to give offering, on how to listen - had I done it wrong? This was my first time sitting before it and a highly menacing-looking wasp shows up?
The wasp began to move around, flying, investigating, it was checking me out too - What did I do? I RAN!
Like any millennial seeking answers to the unknown I fled to my ... phone. I had to figure out what this thing was and if it could be as harmful as it looked. Or... maybe it would just be gone by the time I got back so I could get on with my meditation?
No such luck. Upon sitting back in front of the stone the wasp came back again, within moments. I snapped a foolhardy picture:
The wonderful Seek app I have on my phone was able to identify it as a....
Black-and-Yellow Mud Dauber
It's latin name means "mason" or "builder of walls." So, it was a sort of a protector, using the materials of the earth itself. My mind cut to my husband Joro's hands today placing the brick back within the path where it had been removed for recent work. Just before going out to the stone sitting, I had seen them beautifully set into place - watered so that the mud set neatly between the bricks. I had mentioned to Joro while working that the first Quackenbushs in the United States had been brick layers in New York. Was there something ancestral here?
The living wasp stole my attention back. Watching it more closely, I noticed it was indeed interested in the watered parts of the soil. I thought of the bees needing bee baths, the hot summer day and thought, "It must be thirsty from all this work it's doing!" I poured some more water near the stone's base. The wasp flew away.
I heard Sandy, the neighborhood cat, announce himself behind me. He loves attention and I was dismayed at the distraction he might cause for my "meditation." I had to laugh - I was reading my phone, so may as well read aloud to Sandy! He rubbed affectionately against the stone as he checked out my new spot and then plopped done in the shade under the neighboring bush. This is Sandy:
I read to him about the Mud Dauber from Wikipedia:
This species is found in a wide variety of habitats, such as rock ledges, man-made structures, puddles and other water edges.
"Ah - so it does love water! The Mud Dauber is a water lover!"
At that moment, the wasp returned, right to the very spot I had poured the extra water. This time I watched it more closely, my fear lessoning, my attention sharpening. It seemed to be digging around, and then flying to the stone and back to the ground again. Sandy had taken notice of where my attention was directed and was now on the prowl, attempting to sneak up on the wasp.
"No Sandy, don't!" I was afraid he would piss the thing off and we'd both get stung. Suprised by my voice, Sandy slunk back down into his spot beneath the bush. The wasp carried on its peculiar business beneath the stone. I continued:
The black-and-yellow mud daubers are solitary, and build nests out of mud. They collect mud balls at puddle and pool edges for constructing nests.
Duh- Mud Dauber! It wasn't trying to drink the water, it was digging beneath the mulch for the mud! The water that my offering had created (in addition to the watering my husband had done earlier) had attracted it and it was flying back and forth to deliver this mud to its nest. I watched its concerted digging, interested only in the dark, rick soil - ignoring the grubs and ants that it encountered in its work.
What it couldn't ignore, however, was Sandy who was making a solid attempt to pounce and was now ignoring my protests completely. The wasp flew away and Sandy, hearing the slam of a neighbor's door, scampered off. I continued to learn:
After building a nest (which consists of 25 cylindrical cells) the female captures several spiders, each stung an paralyzed before being placed in the nest, and then a single egg is laid on the prey within each cell. The wasp then seals the cell with a thick mud plug... once an adult emerges from its pupal case it breaks out of its mud chamber.
Like a cocoon of earth! Nourished by spiders! My previous week of animal medicine work in Big Sur had been almost entirely with spiders. A Daddy long-legs had spun a web beneath the driver's side of my car before my departure. I had caught and released a giant black spider that had been in my room, my travel companion had caught another spider from my pillow. Spider had dangled from my ukulele while song writing, and from me while painting the organizational web of my book project.... they were the weavers of the universe, and here was what fed on them. Spiders had been such a big part of the previous weeks breakthroughs, when I had retrieved the stone, Rhonda had also gifted me one of her spiders, hand made by Tessa the Spider Woman:
You see, Rhonda, who had been caring for this stone the past twenty years, lives in the middle of the desert. She has worked through her fears and befriended the wild. Rattlesnakes sleep on her porch, lizards snack from her hand, coyotes come at the call of her whistle.
About the Mud Dauber, I finally read that they:
...have a low reproductive rate. Stings are rare due to their solitary and usually nonaggressive nature.
My heart softened towards this delicate, striking creature. In this first sitting I had faced and overcome my own inherited, irrational fears. Not just of the wasp's sting, but of fears that I had been "doing it wrong" even after the asking and ceremony with the moving of the stone. I overcame the fear that I was going to be punished by nature in some way, and broke through to the heart centered being, the aloha if you will, of all these elements. The fabulous black-and-yellow mud dauber allowed me to face these fears, to open my eyes and watch what was really happening. This delicate, striking creature was using the wetness of my offering to go and build its rare nest - to welcome new life and to feast on the master weavers of the universe.
The mud dauber made her way back and forth several times, taking such small amounts of soil. I was no longer afraid, for I had learned who she really was.
Small amounts, small experiences of the earth - take these small tidbits back and build your nest....
If there was ever a storied arrival, a storied welcoming of the stone, this was it. The stone was now here, it had been welcomed, and the adventure had just begun...
The billion year-old stone is a portal to understanding self and world. Follow my blog to hear more stone stories!