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Transformed by fiction
I realize that I will learn what I'm ready to learn, when I'm ready to learn it.
- Susan Power

By Susan Power

My most spirit-rattling, intuitive downloads always come while doing the most banal activities: dusting, brushing my teeth. On a day in May 2003, my imagination lit up with a woman sitting in a park near my home in St. Paul, typing on a personal computer held on her lap. I understood that she was indigenous, as I am, but from a different tribal nation. She was Mohawk.

Then the Virgin Mary appeared and I was astonished and delighted when she produced a wampum belt she held out in offering to the woman. I wrote the following words: the Virgin Mary is friends with this woman's ancestor, and she is here to push her to return to her Mohawk roots and culture. I was delighted to have been handed the key to what I imagined would be a subversive short story.

The gift of this vision launched what would become an 11-year odyssey. The story turned into a novel. The Virgin Mary, I learned, was one of four "Clan Mothers" whose stories I would discover during the coming years. What I came to understand was that this project was here to transform me. I would have to launch my own spiritual development before I could be trusted with sacred material brought forward by the fictional characters. They were creating me as much as I was creating them.

I was taught to trust my intuition, trust the gift of imagination - especially those unbidden threads of stories that seem to come from a deep place of collective knowledge. I was a different person after that journey. I may struggle with the process as we all struggle with challenges in our lives, I may complain that my process is slow and arduous. Ultimately, I realize that I will learn what I'm ready to learn, when I'm ready to learn it. Not before. I keep faith that the next step, the next choice, the next breakthrough will show up eventually as long as I am present with myself, the work and the many teachers who appear in my life.

During a difficult moment at a writing residency in Sitka, Alaska, I stopped on the trail and asked the spirits of the woods, the spirits of the territory, to show me what was coming next. I closed my eyes and pushed my question into the quiet with great force. When I opened my eyes, I saw that my hands were open at my sides, expectant and accepting. I noticed I had stopped at a point on the trail right before a curve that obscured my view of what was coming beyond the next couple of steps. The answer was clear. I was on my path.
Susan Power
lives in St. Paul and is the author of "Sacred Wilderness" and "The Grass Dancer."

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