I remember in the dark of the night, walking up to a friend's cabin at Squam a few years back. She and a few others were huddled in front, bundled in sweaters and scarves but their hair was soaked. Each of their faces were filled with a rosy-cheeked glow. I knew something went down and when I asked, they excitedly told me how they just returned from skinny dipping by moonlight in the lake. I remember feeling my heart take flight for each of them and at the same time, it ached to feel that free in my body and comfortable in my skin.
I've attracted quite a few free spirited friends in my life. I lived vicariously through their stories of running naked with people in a field or soaking nude in a hot springs. I've often wondered what it would feel like to be so uninhibited that way. I wondered if I was capable of not being self conscious. I grew up in a very modest household. We didn't walk around naked like some of my friend's families. We always dressed or went to the bathroom in private. I honor this way of being too. I am grateful that I considered my body, my temple sacred when in romantic relationships at such a young age. All of that served me so well then.
But now, especially lately, I ache for a freedom and acceptance and celebration of my body. Perhaps its turning 40. Perhaps its me wanting to release the wounds left from (in)fertility and the doubts that crept in about me being fully woman. Perhaps its me being more open to the call of sisters long before me that danced under the moon with their skin glowing and curves swaying up on a mountaintop where shame didn't exist. Perhaps me pulling the layers of clothing off would feel symbolic to me of renewal and rebirth and transformation in this new world I am living in. Whatever it is and I know I don't really need to know what it is exactly yet...but this ache led me to something so beautiful that happened yesterday.
A new organic farmer friend of mine invited me over to this glorious house where she is house sitting up on a hill over looking the bay. In my mind, I imagined us snuggling up on the couch with tea and soaking in this very first time her and I had alone. Any other time we were together with both of my boys. Her and I have been longing for girl time. When I arrived, the sun came out and warmed our skin after a spell of such chilled weather, so we decided to say out on the deck. She had told me she put the hot tub on and that she wanted to go in nude. I sat with her on the deck, as we both were petting a cat and I felt my heart pounding in my chest. She held me gently with her gaze, and I felt the tears come and I shared with her how healing this will be for me and that I have never been fully nude out in the open with a friend. I knew this was the time. The time to shed the temptation to hide, to shed shame and to accept I am fully woman, along side this other woman...fully woman. She was moved that this was new and tender and that she was the one to honor it all with me.
I found myself wanting to savor the moment. I shed my clothing one by one, slowly. We then soaked our bodies and it was the most natural feeling. Mmmmm...water on skin, sun on face, crisp breeze on shoulders, the sounds of nature echoing around us. I wondered why it took me so long to be in this space but at the same time, I also honored the perfect timing of it all. And now I get it. I get the healing power of being fully nude in mother nature alone or among people you feel safe with. Like a friend said to me yesterday, it felt like a baptism and a coming home to an ancient part of me that wants to be heard and felt and seen and loved and held divine like a newborn is fresh from the womb and into our arms.
This photo was taken shortly after our time together in the tub. Her and I were on our knees, looking out the window, reading from a book of Buddhist quotes. My skin still moist, my dreads still dripping, the peace radiating from my heart. I wanted to take this photo to remember the complete surrender I felt in this moment. The connection to God and Goddess and all things living and breathing. One love surrounding me, within me.
When I looked at this image, I cried. Yes. THAT is how it felt. There it is. Baptism captured.