From dust to tribe . . .

Dust and Tribe (D&T) is the experience of growth through adventure.

Our fall and spring signature excursions are annual opportunities for Muslim men and women to push through the boundaries of supposed mental and physical limits into a new awareness of what we can be when we support one another.

It is where we discover what we are (dust) and what we become together (tribe).

Spring 2016: D&T Grrrl!

On April 22nd, fifteen women left for three days and two nights camped out on an island two-hours off the California coast. This blog is their story!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Santa Cruz Island: Part I

It's been nearly a month since the fifteen pioneering women of D&T Grrrl! ventured across the treacherous Santa Barbara Channel to spend three days on Santa Cruz Island.

There are certainly things that happened on their journey that will remain concealed from the wider world. This is the way of things. For all that is apparent, there is an equal and balancing mystery.

However, the Tale-Weavers among them, Sisters Khadeeja, Mariam, and Tracie, have brought back something of their experience. What follows is an amalgam of their words and mine. And I'll start by saying that perhaps only a farmer or a mariner can relate to how closely we all studied the weather in the week leading up to their departure.

The forecast called for wind and rain.

For so many of these women, it would be their first time camping, or their first time in the exclusive company of their sisters, or their first time on a boat, and certainly their first time on Santa Cruz Island. Fear and doubt are to be expected, and I spent a good amount of time playing on those themes as a way of enhancing mindfulness and firming intention.

But, at bottom, I wanted sunshine and rainbows for this troop. As the week unfolded, it became apparent that rain wouldn't be an issue, but the wind situation was sketchy. Wind means waves. Those waves get to a certain intensity and boats stay out of the channel.

And here I want to report on the incredible fortitude of these women. Despite the prospect of a very bumpy crossing, or even no crossing at all, not a single person dropped out. That's unprecedented.

I've been putting together wilderness trips for the better part of a decade. And almost exclusively for men. There are drop-outs every year.

These women were all on that dock in Ventura on the morning of April 22, 2016.

Sister Mariam tells us how her day started:
My considerate and thoughtful husband packed my backpack. I stumbled out the door, a bit off-balance with all my gear, and I drove off at 4:30 in the morning to meet up with the lovely and introspective Sister Syma and the rest of the ladies for our carpool. We prayed fajr at Sister Lobna’s house. Our prayer made the trip to our meet-up destination a lot less stressful. It was like a work-out, but a spiritual and mental work-out that gave us the brain pump for the rest of the ride.
But Ventura is at least a two-hour ride from Sister Mariam's home. The long ride took its toll, on her and on others.
Not sleeping enough the night before, staying up and doing my laundry and packing my bag at 4 a.m.- I was tired. I was mentally foggy and my face carried that unfortunate expression as well. Sister Lobna and I made sure to pop our motion sickness pills an hour before the boat ride. I was very vigilant about taking the pills. Sister Anjum was gracious and offered some bracelets that supposedly would ward off any waves of nausea and I quickly snapped them on my wrists for extra good measure. You could never be too sure, and honestly I was not too sure. I am generally a “less is more” kind of woman but in that moment I was definitely all about more is more.
Eventually we got on the boat and I started searching for a place to focus on not getting sick and space out without the commotion around me. I needed to make sure I was not going to have a volcanic eruption on the boat. The man listing the rules before we shipped off emphasized that our stomach contents should be emptied over the railing to feed the fish and sea life beneath the boat.

Hood over my hijab and black glasses to hide my face, I slumped against the rails of the boat feeling a little masculine. I stuck my hands deep into the pockets of my pants and enjoyed the feel of the fabric. I wear dresses and jackets most of the time and I really enjoyed my adventure attire.

The boat began to move and I braced myself internally and physically. I forced my laced up hiking shoes to stay on the boat’s deck. I silently prayed that I was not going to get sick and that’s when it got rocky.
Not all were as sensitive. Sister Khadeeja reports:
The boat ride to the island was, for most, a comfortable scenic ride, though some had motion sickness. Some of us sat together, some slept, some stood watching the waves and dolphins. At one point we tried to get a peek at a gray whale and her calf.
Crossing the channel can take up to two hours depending on conditions and wildlife. Eventually, the women found themselves in Scorpion Anchorage.

It's a lovely, sheltered harbor. Usually. The surges got bad enough last year that the pier was washed out. That makes landing a little more challenging. Sister Khadeeja tells us what happened next:
Once we approached Scorpion Anchorage, we took a small skiff to the shore and unloaded our gear as a community.

They had to pack their gear about a mile to their campsite. Sister Khadeeja continues:
Some packed light, others heavy, but everyone helped each other to the campsite. After a scenic walk through what felt like meadows of the past, we arrived at our campsite to be greeted by little foxes searching for food.

The weather was holding, but the ladies couldn't take any chances. Setting up camp was the first order of business.

After that, Sister Khadeeja led the tribe through the Opening Circle. It's an initiatic moment where words of our blessed Prophet are shared, may God's peace and blessings be upon him, while taking the hand of another. Here, she describes the experience:
Taking a direct chain of narration back to the Prophet, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, we all held hands and heard words that, for a moment, made us feel like we were holding the hands of God’s Messenger. That would give us the strength we needed to get through the tough times in our life.
Rising well before dawn, these fifteen women had journeyed from their homes, across the sea, and, by way of these initiatic words, through the millennia to that primordial place that is the beginning and ending of discovery.

It was time for a nap.

1 comment :

  1. Had no idea Mariam was seasick!....I remember we kept on looking for her, making sure she was not left behind.