My Journey of Questing

Debbie Tremel

Back during the years of reading Tom Brown’s books, before coming to the school, it was the Vision Quest that captured my heart. I was drawn to it, but sadly, never found the courage to go to the woods on my own to attempt one. I’m actually glad that it worked out that way. By the time I came to the school I was ready and signed up for the first Vision Quest Malcolm Ringwalt offered after my Philosophy I class.

I was so excited and terrified. I had no idea what to expect. I kept wondering what it would be like, if I could even do it. Would I be afraid? Would fasting be hard? Will I even understand anything from the experience? So many questions. And then the experience finally came. There is no amount of description that can be given—the moments of joy, of enlightenment, of fear, of discomfort, and all the out-and-out-boredom—nothing that can be said to someone who hasn’t Quested that can really prepare them.  But I guarantee, every person who has Quested shares a bond through this breathtakingly beautiful and dull experience, the sense of time, the sense of connection with the Earth and the Creator, the touch of Silence, the truly deep insight into our souls.

Vision Quest ceremonyNo, we don’t walk away from our Vision Quest whole and perfect, but we’ve started on an amazing journey. I went to my second Quest so excited from remembering the outcomes of my first Quest, that the first five minutes were a shock—the whole expanse of time, the endless moments, loomed before me like I’d already been out four days. And so that Quest was different.

And so has every other Quest since I started. I have done a Quest almost every year since I started. Some were completely alone. Some with one other person Questing, some as large as a 100-Person Quest. Each is unique because each time I was unique. My needs were unique, my perspectives unique, my spiritual growth influenced them and perhaps the Creator directed things differently. As I did more Quests, I moved from thinking the Quest might never end, to worrying that I was running out of time. Each moment is precious, even when boredom still grabs me at times; it’s what I can learn from it. The Quest has become a place of refuge, of sanctuary. Don’t get me wrong, I never enter a Quest without passion and commitment, but less drive. I do not need to control. I do not need to strive. I need to be open to the tides of the Quest.

And what have I gained from my time in the circle? I get teary even contemplating my gratitude for all I’ve gained from the Quest. I have grown, I have healed. I have been enlightened. I have been struck low. I have been forged. I have deeply connected with the Earth. I have heard the voice of the Great Mystery. I have been directed, and most of all, my life has meaning. I know my Vision, I glimpse my place in the Vision of the Creator. I see it unfolding and deepening every day. It’s what gives my life joy and purpose. It keeps me going when things are difficult. It drives my Faith.  It gives me hope in the face of devastation. It’s heightened my skills and made me more useful.  This did not happen in four days, it happened over repeated Quests over the years. Each time, new insights, new direction, new healing. I can see them all stringing together like harmonies in the grand symphony of my life. My life would not be anything like it is if I had never Quested. It makes me so sad to think what it would have been, and so very, very grateful that my life is as it is now. I wouldn’t trade a single hard, dirty, sweaty, freezing, hungry, itchy, painful, mundane, frightening, drenched, moment. It was all so worth it.

[Reprinted with permission from The Razor’s Edge, vol. 23, no. 1, Spring 2019]