Sunday, December 12, 2010

Soaring through the sacred hoop

Ten days ago, my dear friend Clive - for thirty of our fifty years, a fellow traveler, kindred spirit, brother - left this earth to begin what he referred to as his 'next adventure'. I wanted to acknowledge his passing then but was unable to find words. 

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this time last year, three months before his fiftieth birthday. Clive was a catalyst, a bringer-together of people, a life-affirming spirit for whom friends and an attentive relationship with our planet were highest priorities.  He was a yoga teacher, an extreme sportsman, lover of sea and earth and air (an atmospheric scientist by training and vocation), a person who lived with a sense of urgent-yet-tender appreciation for Now. 

Clive wrote letters during the months between his diagnosis and his death (he spoke of 'dying in order to live the next chapter'); he became a source of courage and inspiration to many. As well as friend, he became coach. Wise counsel. Teacher. He valued transparency, was as courageous in his joy as he was honest in his despair. Two weeks before he made his crossing, he called us together in celebration of friendship, life, love, spontaneity, unpredictability; he acknowledged life as a process and death as a passage, each reality part of the other, the two a meaningful mix of challenge, heart-ache, exhilaration, disappointment, grief, elation. . . with growth and learning overarching it all. 

The night before he died, Clive wrote one final letter to his friends; the subject space carried the words 'Knowing it's time" and the first line read,  "You know when something is going to happen, if you listen closely..." 

Clive hang gliding above Cape Town, South Africa - early 1990s


In one of his letters Clive sent these Native American story lines - 

Long road winding began in the stars, spilled onto the mountain tops, and was carried in the snow to the streams,to the rivers, to the ocean. The Red Road is a circle of people standing hand in hand, people in this world, people between people in the Spirit world, star people, animal people, stone people, river people, tree people. The Sacred Hoop.

To walk the Red Road is to know sacrifice, suffering. It is to understand humility. It is the ability to stand naked before God in all things for your wrong doings, for your lack of strength, for your uncompassionate way, for your arrogance - because to walk the Red Road, you always know you can do better. And you know when you do good things, it is through the Creator, and you are grateful.

To walk the Red Road is to know you stand on equal ground with all living things. It is to know that because you were born human, it gives you superiority over nothing. It is to know that every creation carries a Spirit, and the river knows more than you do, the mountains know more than you do, the stone people know more than you do, the trees know more than you do, the wind is wiser than you are, and animal people carry wisdom. You can learn from every one of them, because they have something you don't: They are void of evil thoughts. They wish vengeance on no one, they seek Justice.

To Walk the Red Road, you have God-given rights; 
you have the right to pray,
you have the right to dance,
you have the right to think,
you have the right to protect,
you have the right to know Mother,
you have the right to dream,
you have the right to vision,
you have the right to teach,
you have the right to learn,
you have a right to grieve,
you have a right to happiness,
you have the right to fix the wrongs,
you have the right to truth,
you have a right to the Spirit World.

To Walk the Red Road, is to know your Ancestors, to call to them for assistance; it is to know that there is good medicine, and there is bad medicine; it is to know that Evil exists, but is cowardly as it is often in disguise. It is to know there are evil spirits who are in constant watch for a way to gain strength for themselves at the expense of you.

To Walk the Red Road, you have less fear of being wrong, because you know that life is a journey, a continuous circle, a sacred hoop. Mistakes will be made, and mistakes can be corrected if you will be humble, for if you cannot be humble, you will never know when you have made a mistake.

If you walk the Red Road, you know that every sorrow leads to a better understanding, every horror cannot be explained, but can offer growth.

To Walk the Red Road is to look for beauty in all things.

To Walk the Red Road is to know you will one day cross to the Spirit World, and you will not be afraid. 



  1. An unforgettable portrait of love and grief, of an extraordinary man, friend, soul. I wlll keep Clive and The Red Road with me for a long time, Claire. You've made me feel that I might have lost something very precious too. L,M.

  2. Claire, I am so sorry for your great loss. This has been a raging terrible season. Keep hope alive in yourself. You are a beacon in my life.

  3. Claire,

    Clive sounded a brave soul, and kind, and generous with his life and death. You brought him back to life. Sorry for your loss.


  4. Claire,
    Keep the waters close to you. What a beautiful, beautiful life. I feel lucky just to have read this. My heart is with you.
    Stay strong.
    Much love,

  5. Bless you for your loving messages, kind friends. You understand - I am thankful.
    Love, Claire xo

  6. Claire, I am so sorry for the too many days of loss and challenge, which your have borne with true grace. What a friend, teacher, guide, whose story enriches us all. I was regretting having missed your postings yet now know finding them this morning was the perfect time. The Red Road will stay with me as well. The wisdom of the natural world, from which I feel so distant at times, is humbling, yet affirming. xo

  7. Thank you, Marylinn - I felt similarly whilst visiting your blog this morning and reading back over your past few postings.

    Place and pace. . . everything seems to have its right time.

    Clive shifted something deep in many of us re; death - his own, and, too all the other, smaller-but-in-some-ways-no-less-significant deaths that are integral parts of our day-to-day life. I'm grateful. Amongst its many truths, 'The Red Road' seems to be saying 'banish fear'. . . in its place, invite trust in. Let it be our loyal companion.

    L, C xo