The Dream

Kicked, stomped and crushed into the dust, my thoughts drift into a light soft nothingness.

Someone stops the crowd, reaches down to lift my broken body and carefully dusts me off. I am badly injured.

Unable to see this person I hear a soft whisper “Let me hold you until your breathing slows – until your heart calms – until you feel better. Let me hold you until you feel better.”

I am broken. It took many life times to shatter and now I am numb.

The mysterious person put their arms around me, and then turns and walks me a little way to a park bench. I am aware of a garden. A garden I can sense but not see, smell, touch or hear. Numb with grief and pain – I sit. I sit with an arm around my shoulders, gently and tenderly holding me.

Season after season, year after year, lifetime after lifetime – we sit.

Ever so slowly I begin to see colors and shapes. As time passes I see flowers, bushes, trees, the ground, and blue sky.

I become aware of stirrings of desire in my heart. I want to move around the garden. I want to touch it, smell it, feel it, and hear it.

Stiffly and slowly I stand. Still beside me gently holding my arm, someone stands with me.

I am healing. Everything is going to be okay.

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Angel Wing Salute

More black feathers. These three I could not ignore.

For a couple of days, black feathers strewn across my path were catching my attention. That day, along the path where I walk my dog, three very large black feathers were sticking straight out of the ground as if at attention. Dark thoughts entered my mind. Was someone I know going to die? Why three? Are they the dreaded black angel feathers? I tried to ignore superstitious thoughts filling my head. After all, a great number of crows were flying around the city. As a matter of fact, I had recently read a news article talking about all the crows in the area.

Caving to curiosity, I looked up black feathers on the internet. Some folks feel they are opposite white angel feathers and like me had dark thoughts of bad things happening. Several Angel sites said they are simply angel feathers – neither good nor bad. Angels getting your attention, sort of like an Angel wing wave. A sign of transition.

My mind wouldn’t stop wondering about the three feathers yet I noticed black feathers were no longer appearing. I felt strongly that they were a symbol of some event.

A month later, I received the news my father had died. Neither good nor bad. He had been very ill and wheelchair bound the last decade of his life. His children were not part of his estate planning and we did not get immediate news of his death until his funeral was over and his estate in the process of being disbursed. This was not a surprise.

We had never been close, he being military and a deadbeat dad. I call it how I see our history. My siblings and I made efforts over the years to communicate. He tried to respond. It simply wasn’t in him to correspond or talk with anyone who wasn’t a neighbor or nearby family. My father’s choices were not about me. It was not about me being rejected, inadequate or unlovable. He was a good military man, not a good family man. One-sided relationships are not relationships.

The only thing I could think of to mourn was the lack of a father figure during my childhood and teenage years. My life may have bypassed a few harsh lessons with guidance from a good man. Maybe. It didn’t happen. That said, too much time has gone by to mourn someone I never knew. I’m too old and crotchety to fantasize other outcomes.

For my part, I hope he saved the world during his military time. In the end, he received an Angel wing salute. Appropriate for the transition of a career Air Force man.

Lightning strike

An hour of fishing on the edge of the reservoir and not a single nibble. Boring … yawn. With a roaring boom, Zeus threw a bolt of lightning along the top of the water hitting the hillside just above our heads. Finding myself flattened to the ground, I lifted my face off the rocks and watched the cloud of dirt and rocks dissipate from the hillside roughly 30 feet below the parked car.

I was not the only one who dropped to the ground with hair follicles prickling and bone-deep fear overloading my senses.

My eyebrows felt attached to my hairline. Can lighting flash sideways? I knew it could travel along the ground. I also knew anything metal such as fences or pipes will provide a path. The ground was dry and there were no conduction channels. It wasn’t a streamer – also known as a baby bolt. I could not tell where it originated so it may have been a mere side splash although it looked and felt like a full arrow from the quiver of a grumpy Greek god. The clouds did not look like storm clouds, however the air did have a thick oppressive feel.

We didn’t stick around. We gathered our stuff and headed up the trail to the car fast. My nerves frayed as we came to the strike zone. Fear got the better of me and I froze. Getting my son to a safe place kept my head together and I managed to push through my terror and keep walking. We dumped the fishing gear in the trunk and drove home. I swear my hair felt wiry and stiff for months.

The Owl

I slammed on my brakes as the owl tried to fly through the windshield of my car pulling up and away at the last millisecond. Driving over a mountain pass in the wee hours of the night, I am swimming in thankfulness that I did not plunge down the side of the mountain in a swerve. After taking a couple of deep breaths to get my awestruck mind back to thinking and focusing on the road, I wondered if it were the owl of death or the owl of wisdom. An owl that large in this area could only be a great horned owl. Completely distracted from my troubled thoughts I pondered the size – the wingspan covered the windshield – and the meaning of its appearance at that time.

My owl encounters since that night include: burrow and barn owls on Antelope Island, Verreaux’s eagle-owls in Tarangire, Africa, and a small hand-made leather owl my grandfather gave me from the jewelry chest of my deceased Russian grandmother. The little leather owl now hangs over my writing desk.

Symbols of wisdom in the western world and symbols of death in the eastern world, they come to me in my dreams as whispers of wisdom. In my dreams they tell me about people – their pain and the path they are on. They tell me why people do what they do. It frightens me sometimes to discover the whispers are true and not just a dream.

Tracks in the snow

One dark snowy night, as friends and I snowshoe’d along the side of the mountain, I marveled at being first to put my tracks on the snow-covered trail. The air was thick and cold and the lights of the city below were a long way away. With snow still falling, we turned and headed back to the trailhead. Once again, falling snow had covered our tracks and the wonder of tramping across freshly fallen snow lightened my heart.

Then I spotted what I thought were massive dog prints crossing the trail. I wondered aloud at the hand-size paw print. My snowshoe buddies gathered around to look and one commented “that’s not a dog track, its cat.” No claw marks and two lobes on the heel pad indicate cat. My head whipped around as I searched the dark mountainside for the cougar. On the hurried trek back to the trailhead, we didn’t see any more signs of the big cat although I felt sure it watched us. We did spot the dinner plan – a small herd of deer huddled close to each other. I wondered if we frustrated the cougar by hiking through its hunt, or if it waited patiently watching us as we passed by, then went back to work.