The women this is about asked me to print their actual names. To say they gained courage from their firewalk workshop experience is a major understatement.
About three weeks before my October firewalk, I received this email:
Hello, My name is Pamela.
A while ago, my daughter Cheyenne read an article about your classes. She seemed very interested and we visited your web site and saw that you have an upcoming session. I was wondering about your scholarship. My daughter and I are both living in a shelter for women. Cheyenne has experienced a lot of trauma in her life and I am in awe of her constant and steady determination and compassion for others. She is a beautiful 16-year-old artist in a very difficult situation. I think this might be a good healing experience for her. If you could e-mail me back to let me know that would be wonderful.
Thank you for your time, Pamela
I was intrigued. I decided that I could accept a 16-year-old walker with a parent present, didn’t care that they did not have money, and loved the idea of being able to support their healing by offering a firewalk. I emailed back that they should come and pay only what they felt comfortable paying. According to Pamela, Cheyenne could not stop talking about it. They asked if they could bring the grandparents along just to watch and I said only if they come to the whole workshop. The grandparents did not come.
So the day of the workshop arrives, and Pamela and Cheyenne arrive a half hour early. An assistant who signs them in comes to me to tell me Pamela says I okayed them paying $10 for her daughter’s admission. I send back word that $10 is fine, but both she and her daughter are in the workshop — and she can choose whether or not to firewalk or do any of the other exercises. The two of them sit quietly in their seats as the workshop beginning approaches. They join in the workshop. Pamela keeps her coat on and does not say much. A short way into the workshop, there is a big hug exchange around the room. Pamela and Cheyenne are really tentative with their hugs. Cheyenne takes on the remaining exercises with a growing sense of enthusiasm. Pamela holds back more. She is often last to take her turn. She declines to do the trust fall. Nobody pressures her, or even mentions it.
Both of them walked through the fire. Cheyenne walked fairly quickly when given the opportunity. In fact she walked several times, often with both hands above her head, with fingers raised in peace signs. Pamela waited until most of the group had walked. And then she walked. Simply, without drama. Across the coals. With no burns.
Afterword, when people were saying what they experienced, Pamela said she was not yet ready to share. Cheyenne just crowed and thanked everyone around her. But what was really striking was what they wrote. After I run a firewalk, after I clean up, I get to go home and read what participants wrote as comments, feedback and testimonials. It is the cherry on top of my evening. I love leading firewalks.
Pamela wrote as a testimonial, “Indescribable, almost euphoric…life changing.” Not bad, I thought. Then I saw she had written a letter to me in a sealed envelope.
I wanted to say this to the group, but this experience was sooo personal for me. When I first contacted you I thought this would be a good experience for my daughter. I never thought about how much I needed this until it was over.
I left a very abusive relationship after 21 years. Some physical and much verbal abuse. One of the things he would say to me was that I would burn, he hoped I would burn, he threatened to burn our house down. I realized tonight that I can walk through fire and not get burned. I have a feeling that things are going to get better very soon. That I will be on the other side of this struggle, with a home, much love, and hope for the future.
I can see myself there
Wow. The abuser’s threat rendered hollow—no burning. Instead, hope.
And then there is 16-year-old Cheyenne. Her testimonial read,
A life-changing experience. I suggest it for anyone who suffers abuse or any other kind of suffering. People have forgotten what it is like to trust and love. This event will make you feel powerful, at peace, and more outgoing to strangers.
Thank you so much for this chance to remember how it should always be!
Believe it or not, this gets better. Pam sent a sweet thank you email. After a few days I decided to email back to ask permission to share her letter, with names changed, to point a way for people in similar need of the firewalk experience. She granted it (ultimately requesting names not be changed) and added the following:
…I am looking at my experience from a whole different point of view. Instead of living in fear, I choose to be brave and use what I have learned to help other people. Doing so may also help with our own healing process.
I want to share with you something Cheyenne wrote a few days after the firewalk, (she has given her permission) She writes…
When I fell,
I was caught by strangers.
When I was afraid,
I “broke” through my silence.
When I was the main target,
I devoured the arrow with my throat.
When I forgot love,
I got a room full of hugs.
When I could hear you screaming inside my head,
I walked through the hot coals with peace signs in the air.
Nothing can get to me.
I am unstoppable—I am a firewalker.
I write this with tears of joy. I am soo proud of this beautiful, brave young woman. Thank you soo much for this experience.
I am proud of both of you, Pam and Cheyenne! Congratulations, firewalkers!