Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Excavated emotions exhale
Brittle, broken breath
As they burst to the surface,
Fighting to find freedom from
Decades of determined delusions.
Like a somnambulant
Roused from soundest slumber,
I find myself struggling to stabilize
The stimulation of senses that startle
My sensitive, sluggish soul.
Echoes of ether-world events
Energize my eternal self,
Enchanting and enticing me,
Encouraging me to enter
The eddy of light and sound.
No resistance remains, as I relax
Into the palpable power of my psyche
And I soon sing with the spirits,
Sensing, sending and receiving
Their radiating energies.
Informed by intuition and instinct,
Intoned by the invisible angels,
Instilled by instantaneous recognition,
Knowledge of the Great Spirit engulfs me,
Invoking its power and inviting me in.
I am connected to the all-powerful,
I see the all-seeing,
I feel the ever-present,
I hear the ever-vocal,
And I know the all-knowing.
Finally, I am revealed.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
My Lessons From Lily Dale,
In Order To be Caught, You Must First Let Go.
August 23, 2015
The past six months have been very difficult.
I lost my way somewhere and became distracted by health challenges and the pressure to meet other people’s expectations regarding the direction my life should take.
I realized that my body language had become closed, shuttered, drawn-in, and that I was walking like a worn-out old woman.
That’s what I had become.
And then I returned to Lily Dale.
And initially I was disappointed by my experience. Last year, when I visited the Dale, I felt this rush of energy as I passed through the gates, experienced a rush of deep emotions releasing themselves after the healing service, and felt deeply in touch with parts of my soul that I had lost sight of for quite a long time.
I missed that this year. And I thought – mistakenly – that because I wasn’t feeling the HUGE sensations, I was missing something, or that I was not “getting it” this year.
Oh, how wrong I was.
This year, the transformation was much more subtle, but also much more substantive in nature. For this year, I stopped resisting.
The lesson that the Dale had for me this year was that in order to be caught, you must first let go. Think of a trapeze act. In order for the daring feats to be completed, the actors must be willing to let go of their hold and have deep trust and faith that their partner will be there to catch them. And then comes the roar of applause – AFTER the catch.
Last year, Lily Dale was preparing me for what was to come. I had to be opened to the idea that there was something more that I was missing. I had to be literally shocked into awareness, so my reactions were writ large in emotion and energy.
This year, the Dale knew I was ready.
This year, her messages were subtle, but powerful.
As we walked through the grounds on Friday afternoon, I kept catching brief glimpses of a pileated woodpecker in flight, just a flash of black, white, and red fleeting across the sky into the dense branches overhead. I was teased by their song and the sound of their drilling. And I was frustrated, for I really wanted to SEE them clearly.
And then in the evening workshop, John White brought a spirit message to me, saying “I see a crown of golden energy above your head,” recognized my multiple degrees and that academia had not been kind to me, but promised me that “things are going to get better, and soon.”
I smiled, but didn’t believe him. I was still closed off. It was even mirrored in my body language. I sat in the workshops, armed crossed in front of me, hunched in, looking like a cross old lady. In fact, one of my presenters called me on my body language, saying “your body language is all closed off, so I just open that your mind is more open.”
I spent much of Friday night reflecting, even in my sleep, as I breathed in the cool, crisp air and drank in the peaceful stillness that wafted through my open window. And I begged Lily Dale to shock me again, like it had last year.
I awoke early on Saturday morning, on a mission to get in a good walk of the grounds and take photographs to remember my visit. As I made my way to the lake, I passed another woman, who greeting me slowly and said “My, you’ve got purpose this morning! You’re walking fast!”
I laughed, and said “Yes, I’m on a mission this morning,” meaning my photography.
But I did have a deeper mission in store – the one of discovering the power of Lily Dale’s messages.
The lake was blanketed in a thick mist, rising from its surface, encasing it in a mystical cloud that shimmered with energy. It reminded me of the mythical village of Brigadoon that only emerges from the mist periodically, to share its magic briefly and then disappear back into the air.
I said a silent prayer of gratitude to the beauty and stillness of the mist-shrouded lake before turning back to the path to make my way into the woods.
And just as I turned, a pair of pileated woodpeckers swooped down to the tree not 50 feet in front of me, and began to engage in a titillating tango around the trunk. I stopped, not wanting to startle them, and raised my camera to my face. The pair circled and frolicked, dancing like children around a May pole, while I snapped photos. I held my breath, and did not move, not wanting to scare them away.
The pair entertained me for a good five minutes or so, imprinting on me a very strong vibration, before being startled into flight by another walker coming down the path.
And suddenly, I knew that Lily Dale had been sending me messages all along.
This was not the two-by-four of energy that had been necessary last year. This was a velvet touch of an idea, planting seeds in my soul that would be nurtured into growth long after I had physically left the grounds.
And I began to walk upright.
As I continued my walk, I spent time communing with the old growth trees, touching their trunks, feeling the power and life force that emanated from them, snapping photographs that resonate with their energy.
And when I finally left the Lily Dale grounds behind me, that energy that had seemed so calm, so reserved, during my stay, began to vibrate into life.
About halfway home, I noticed a Buck come out of the woods alongside the freeway a couple car lengths ahead of me. He stopped and watched the traffic passing by, until he saw my car. He seemed to stare right at me as I sped past, and as I looked in the rearview mirror, I saw him turn tail and head back into the shelter of the trees. It was as if he had been waiting for me.
So, pileated woodpeckers and a buck, each apparently with an important message to convey to me.
When I got home, I researched the totem meanings of each of these animals, anxious to see what they might be trying to tell me.
At the top of the informational page about woodpeckers was this quotation, “Keep hammering away at your current project. Success is at hand!” Immediately, it struck me that woodpeckers represent opportunity knocking. And since the pileated is about the largest woodpecker around, I figured that it must mean a pretty large opportunity.
And sure enough, when I opened my email, there was an invitation to accept a rather large project starting very soon. Opportunity truly was knocking, and I was quick to open the door.
But my time at Lily Dale this year also told me that there is a more foundational change that I am undergoing that transcends the mundane work world. So I kept reading about the woodpecker.
Another lesson of the woodpecker is that you should listen more clearly to subtle energies, because there is a message that only your intuition can interpret. The woodpecker’s tapping is also indicative of Earth’s heartbeat, bringing life to new projects and activities.
I remembered how disappointed I was that I missed the big clanging energies and messages of last year’s trip, and realized that the pair of pileated woodpeckers were telling me to pay attention and open up to the minute sensations, in order to make them feel large.
So what of my friend, the buck?
I have been struggling with the psychic aspect of my self lately, trying to balance being true to my self with the pressures of meeting outward expectations of behavior and beliefs. I have been closing myself off to my true self even as I said that I was going to explore it more.
And the buck calls us to use or develop our sensitivity at various levels in our lives, guiding us to refine our intuition and psychic abilities.
In other words, the buck was telling me to let go, so that I can be caught.
As I meditated on the lessons of my trip to Lily Dale, I concluded that the time is now for me to come into my true self and accept my gifts for what they are, letting go of the expectations and assumptions that have guided my life to date, and trusting that I will be safely caught by my Spirit Guides as they help me complete my predestined ‘routine’.
And by letting go, and not fretting over direction or purpose or expectations, I will be free to soar in the necessary direction to be
safely – and spectacularly – caught.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
A Pot Full Of Beans
I realized, as I stood and stirred the bubbling pot of baked beans that had been simmering on the stove for hours, that my emotions were mimicking its actions, as they threatened to burst through the surface after months of being supressed.
Absently, I moved my spoon through the thick mass of molasses-colored manna, as I let my mind wander freely over recent events.
“How did I get to this place?” I asked myself. “How could my life be so different from what I imagined it would be, just six short years ago?”
The molten mass of beans chose that moment to spit hot lava onto my hand, startling me back to reality.
I moved, quickly, to the sink, to thrust my burnt fingers beneath a rush of icy water, breathing fast and hard to fight the pain of the burn.
Once the throbbing had begun to subside, I returned to my post in front of the stovetop, picking up my spoon like a weapon and brandishing it before the still-tempermentally bubbling pot. This time, I gingerly pushed the beans from the bottom of the pot, being sure to move them away from my body to avoid a repeat performance.
As I let myself slide into reflection once again, a myriad of emotions began to make themselves felt, pushing against the restraints that had so carefully tied them down for so long.
Longing, regret, desire, sadness, melancholy, loneliness – each emotion thrust its head to the surface, as if it were a dolphin gasping for air before plunging back to the depths once more.
I realized that somewhere along the way, I got lazy and let go of the daily minding of my life. Somehow, overwhelmed by the many challenges that were thrown unexpectedly in my path, I forgot that the greatest challenge – and indeed, the most important one – was to take care of myself. In the chaotic jumble that became my new life, somehow my own person was lost in the shuffle. I struggled to take care of others, to be available to family and friends, while somehow scrambling to pull together enough money to pay my bills, and left my soul unattended by the wayside.
I realized that I had become someone I no longer recognized, allowing myself to be pushed around by the needs and desires of others, without standing up and recognizing what I truly needed to do for my own health.
I smiled, ironically, thinking of the rush of cold water I had just poured over my heated skin moments before. Life-giving, soul-feeding, energy-filled water, the source of my truest self. And yet, I pondered, when was the last time I had been to the lake? Or walked by the creek? Or just swam in a pool? For years, I had a weekly commitment to swimming that nourished me body and soul, building up the store of energy that was so quickly depleted when others came to suck it from the well of my nurturing. But now, while they still come, the well is not replenished, and I feel that it will soon run dry.
I pondered about the word regret, too, and corrected myself. I do not have regrets, for I am who I am precisely because of what has come before. Choices and circumstances all combined to create the individual that I have become, and I do not regret that. Perhaps, if I could redo my life, I might make some different selections along the way, but I don’t think of them as regrets.
Perhaps it’s the historian in me, who knows that we cannot change the past, making the great “what if” questions irrelevant.
A pop from the pot startles me back to attention. I stir more carefully now, as the beans are cooking down to a hearty, thick mass that smells of brown sugar and worchestershire sauce. My stomach growls, and I laugh and chastise it with the admonishment that dinner is still hours off.
And I think about how to be true to myself, to find the ways to create a whole being, while also juggling the needs and expectations of others. In the past, I have put those expectations first; I realize now that I must not sacrifice myself to satisfy those around me. There must be a balance; for I cannot help those around me if I am depleted myself.
The conservation of energy governs the universe, and I cannot continue to give out energy when I receive none in return. I must find the sources to replenish the well that others are pumping dry.
And so my mind turns to Lily Dale, and my impending trip there. A fellow visitor posted photos of the Dale to Facebook the other day, and as I flipped through the images, my entire body began to tingle with the energy I could see in the photos, making me even more anxious to make my pilgrimage there in a couple of weeks.
It’s time to free the abilities that have been stuffed down in hiding for most of my life. It’s time to recognize that I have powers that others might fear. And it’s time to bring home those longings and desires that I have left unfulfilled for far too long.
Like the pot of beans before me on the stove top, my abilities have been simmering, aging, and preparing themselves for just the right moment to be presented to the world. And I think that day is quickly drawing near.
Watch out world, here comes Christiana.
Friday, October 10, 2014
A Murder of Crows
Have you ever thought about how we choose to identify particular groups of birds? For example, we talk of a clutch of chicks and a brood of chickens, or a muster of peacocks and a brace of pheasants. We have a convocations of eagles, a parliament of owls, a richness of martens, a cast of falcons, and a crèche of penguins.
And don’t forget about the wing of plovers, fling of sandpipers, exaltation of larks, host of sparrows, gaggle of geese, watch of nightingales, bevy of swans, stand of flamingos, charm of hummingbirds, and bellowing of bullfinches.
We even get to the gulp of cormorants, kettle of vultures, murmeration of starlings, descent of woodpeckers, herd of wrens, and wake of buzzards.
Each of these, in turn, gives us a visual sense of the particular birds it describes.
And then, there is the murder of crows.
It sounds so ominous.
Nature has been trying to send me some not-so-subtle messages of late, including my Walk on the Beach, my Seasons of Life lesson, and my session with the Treetop Whispers.
She is not done yet.
Nature has been sending me crows. To be precise, she has been sending me a full murder of crows. Why couldn’t she have sent me a nice charm of hummingbirds instead?
After seeing this murder of crows repeatedly for about 2 months now, I hesitantly decided to do a little research and discover just what message they might be trying to convey to me, hoping that it was not just a premonition of death. And here’s what I discovered.
The crow is a spirit animal, or messenger, associated with life mysteries and magic. Native Americans view the crow as a totem and spirit guide that provides insight and means of supporting intentions.
Ok, so my crows represent life mysteries. I have plenty of those. But why is she sending me so many? Why a full murder, to be exact?
Throughout history, the crow has come to be associated with both positive and negative symbolic meanings, including life magic and the mystery of creation, the idea of destiny and personal transformation, alchemy (transforming elements into other elements), intelligence, higher perspective, being fearless or audacious, flexibility, adaptability, and trickery, manipulation, and mischievousness.
That’s quite a list.
Crows are also often associated with bad omens, death, or dark witchcraft, but also carries the power of prophetic insight and symbolizes the void or core of creation.
Now it’s getting interesting.
You see, I have been struggling with a lot lately, particularly in terms of the transformations that are currently taking place in my life. And the crow, which is black with tints of iridescent blue in the right light, is symbolic of the onset of creation, of the void, or what has not yet taken form yet. The crow carries the energy of life mysteries and the power for deep inner transformation.
Inner transformation. Precisely what I am struggling with at this very moment. So my crows are trying to help me with my chrysalization.
But it gets even better.
Crows often build their nests in very tall trees, providing them with better vision or perspective on their surroundings. As a totem, crows help to provide a position from which to see things from a higher perspective.
They provide the “big picture,” folks. And the crow is a protective spirit, too, able to raise the alarm when intruders or predators approach.
So, my crows are helping me transform, protecting me, and providing me better vision. What more could I ask?
Crows are also a lesson in fearlessness and determination. They encourage us to develop our personal power and speak our truths more loudly.
Wait, speak our truths? I just wrote about that yesterday…And now my crows are telling me to find my voice? Can that be right?
The crow, as custodian of ancient magical laws and wisdom, provides us with an instant flash of our authentic self. The crow sees our soul-self and in her call we hear the echoes within the body as we try to remember the language that she speaks. Crows bring the gifts of clairvoyance and change, while teaching the animal magic of shifting dimensions and mystical messages.
Our authentic self.
In other words, my recent repeated encounters with my murder of crows have been trying to show me to let go of the fear and resistance I have been experiencing, and to truly open myself up to the new transformation that is budding inside.
The crow represents the need to embrace our true identity, the Authentic Self, announcing that the time of change is here and now. She tells us that it is time to let go of the old self and all that is holding us back to enable us to step into our authentic power.
So in that sense, the crow is, perhaps, a harbinger of death, as she helps to usher out the old and midwives the birth of the new in its place. But with each “death” comes rebirth and regeneration. The crow represents the changes of life and death, and the changes in the cycles of life, just as I wrote about the Seasons of Life recently.
The murder of crows that has camped themselves out in my backyard are simply reinforcing the lessons that I have been taught recently: be patient, be aware and alert, and release resistance to showing my true self to the world. With the help of my murder of crows, the results are bound to be amazing.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
The treetops all whisper
In rustling tones
While water trips over
The glistening stones.
Alone in a pocket
Of natural bliss,
I sit in the sunshine,
And welcome its kiss.
While Fall’s cool embraces
Rush over my skin,
I feel a new tension,
That builds from within.
Unsure where it leads me,
I question the source
And wonder its meaning –
Fear, guilt, or remorse?
I sit in reflection
Poised over the creek,
Hoping so desperately
To find what I seek.
The future is hidden
Behind textured layers,
And I only hope that
It answers my prayers.
And though I so often
Feel lost and alone,
I just close my eyes and
I know I am home.
The struggle I’m facing
Is timeless and true,
And even in struggle
The answers ensue.
I sit in the stillness,
Alert and aware,
And listen to symbols
And signs that are there.
To focus and flourish
I must turn inside,
And unsheath my talents,
No longer to hide.
So much lies before me
I see it, and yet,
The pathway to reach it,
Is still to be set.
In the depths of my winter,
I struggle to find
The rest that will bring me
To places sublime.
I pray to the goddess,
To Nature, for aid,
Assist me in realizing
Real plans most well-laid.
Impatient and anxious,
It’s hard to reveal
The aspects I’ve always
Worked hard to conceal.
But now, as I enter
The Spring of my year,
I know that these talents
Are nothing to fear.
Though Nature has given
A few silent cues,
I’m hearing quite loudly
I’ve nothing to lose.
A Fall Embrace
The sun wraps around me
Like the embrace
Of a life-long friend.
The comfort it’s transmitting
Warms my spirit,
And promises never to end.
The heat of its touch curls
In delicate tendrils
To tickle me with delight.
Reaching recesses hidden,
Kept covered and darkened,
And well of out sight.
It intimately strokes
My cheek and my hair,
In a gentle reminder not to worry.
The peace its embrace provides
Sustains me now,
And prods me not to hurry.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
The Seasons of Life
I have been struggling of late. It’s silly, really. I’m finally making enough money that I don’t have to be worried about paying my bills, and I don’t have to spend hours on the computer scouring for jobs that I know aren’t there. I should be content.
And yet, I’m not.
I have had this progressively deepening sense of anxiety that all is not right with my world. And it has been wearing me down, stealing my sleep, sapping my energy and enthusiasm.
And I couldn’t figure it out.
Until this morning, when my cats – being the incorrigible troublemakers that they are – woke me before I was ready and forced me physically out of bed. And as I rose, I stepped to the window and saw the sun literally setting the tree line on fire with fall colors.
And then it hit me. Much like my Beach Walk a few weeks ago. Suddenly, I understood what I’ve been going through. It didn’t make me like it any better, but at least now it all was falling into place.
Life is a cycle of seasons. And I mean that far beyond the typical metaphor of birth, development, adulthood, and death.
As we grow in life, we repeatedly progress through necessary cycles, just as the earth does each year, that help us to experience proper regeneration and renewal.
Each cycle begins with a rebirth – Spring, if you will, that happens mostly out of sight of the naked eye. This is the season of regeneration, where the tender young shoots are nourished beneath the surface, sucking critical supplements from the soil that surrounds them. Each tender shoot has the potential to grow into something large and beautiful, if only the proper conditions are provided.
As the climate warms, the days lengthen, and the sun becomes more demanding, the cycle enters summer, the season of growth. Summer is when we see it all come to fruition. It is the season of production. We can visibly see the fruits grown and ripen before our eyes. Those tiny shoots that were all but invisible during Springtime, now present themselves with a flourish and a presence that is all but impossible to ignore. Not every shoot will live to see the Summer, but those that do will make their debut with a flourish.
And Summer, inevitably, transitions to Autumn, the season of harvest. It is in the Fall that we are able to reap the luscious fruits of our Summer growth. Autumn is a time of reward, when we can pack away the abundance of produce from the summer plants, storing it up to dole out in delicious reminders of our distant warmth as the mood hits us. Autumn is the season of fulfilment. Fall has always been my favorite season of all.
But as the days begin to shorten, and temperatures dip lower, the Autumn must inevitably bow to Winter. Oh how we dread Winter. It is the season of death, of decay, of cold and impersonal days. We huddle inside our homes during Winter, just praying that Spring will come swiftly, swooping in like swallows over a field before we succumb.
But Winter cannot be rushed, either.
For Winter is the season of rest. It is the time for us to replenish our depleted resources, to draw warmth from the hearth and huddle together in community. Though Winter seems dead on the outside, it is actually the root of all life. Before regrowth, there must be death to allow for regeneration. Winter, with its icy touch, reminds us of the good things that are to come if only we can be patient enough to let the seasons flow.
And so our lives move on, through the seasons, not just physically, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally as well. For every winter season, there is a corresponding Spring, Summer, and Autumn. We cannot rush the progression of the pattern, or the entire balance of the process is lost.
This is the lesson I gleaned from the sun-burnished leaves this morning. While I was highly cognizant of my recent “winter,” when I was searching for employment as well as mission and purpose in my life, I had neglected to understand that I must progress through the corresponding Spring and Summer before I can reap the rewards of Autumn. The seasons must not be rushed, or slighted, or their produce will be inferior.
A “hot house” tomato does not develop with the same succulent flavors as one that is kissed by months of summer sunshine in the backyard garden. So, too, must my shoots be given the proper time and sustenance to come to their full maturity before they may be harvested.
So, like my “Walk on the Beach,” nature is showing me the importance of patience lately. Our lives are a continuous cycle, and we must experience the full repetition of each cycle in order to provide ourselves the proper regeneration and move on. And, like the Doctor, each regeneration takes on a whole new face, changing with the cycles to best fit our current circumstances.
And so, I shall embrace the seasonal cycle of my life, paying closer attention to its changing needs as we move from one aspect to the next, instead of focusing on the Autumn harvest that must surely be looming large.
I shall not despair in the “winter of my discontent,” as Shakespeare wrote, but I shall embrace Winter’s transformative and restorative powers that will bring even brighter blooms in its wake.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Lake Erie Lessons
Trees bow majestically
As I wend my way in,
Leading me to the spot
That my journey should begin.
Whispers of memories
Carried on their limbs,
Remind me to listen to
Their sacred quiet hymns.
Waves lap against the shore,
As crickets chirp their song,
Plaintively chastising me
That I’ve been gone too long.
I hear cicadas buzz
Amidst the stunning calm,
Moth flits and lingers there,
Upon my open palm.
I begin to walk the beach,
And a dawning slowly breaks,
I now know the answers lie
Along this stately lake.
Slow down, appreciate
The sights along the way.
Don’t rush too quickly through,
Or you’ll never last the day.
A Walk on the Beach
As I spent some much-needed and long overdue time on the peninsula today, I had a serious epiphany: Life is like a walk on the beach.
Now, before you groan and tune out on me, let me explain.
My life has seen some drastic and unexpected changes over the past five years that often had me despairing over where I had gone wrong. It seemed that I had lost direction and purpose and was merely drifting aimlessly along, simply existing from one day to the next. I was
But today, it hit me: I have not been lost at all. My life was like this walk on the beach.
So many of us approach life like a marathon down the sand. Eyes on the prize, we concentrate all on energies on crossing that finish line on the distant horizon. We ignore or curse any distractions along the way that might slow down our progress, intent on the “getting there” and forgetting about the journey.
That’s where I was five years ago, focused on the end game. I measured success by the ultimate outcome – promotion, raises, evaluations- and had forgotten about the journey, which is not about the prizes, but rather is about ourselves.
Today, as I made my way down the beach, I had no end goal. That allowed me to stop and experience all that I found along the way. The metaphor really struck me when I began to find and collect shells. Now, many people do this, don’t get me wrong. But the shells that I was seeking out and harvesting were the tiniest, most perfect little turret shells, the ones that most people don’t even see a they crunch their way over the sand in search of the distant rainbow. And now, as I moved slowly down the sand, watching my steps, those dainty prizes literally ANNOUNCED themselves for me to find.
When we stop focusing on the finish line, and take time to examine the details of the journey, we find ourselves steeped in a world of wonder that makes us ask why were in such a hurry in the first place.
In life, the finish line is often out of sight, somewhere down the sand – perhaps miles away or maybe just around the next bend. When we blind ourselves to the journey and just push through to the end, we miss out on the small, miraculous events that could help sustain us for the long haul.
I could be bitter about losing my job, or about being “stuck” in a community where my job prospects are crippled, but instead, as I realized today, it has given me new sight. No longer chained to the process of impressing students and colleagues with my abilities in order to achieve tenure, I am free to investigate and develop the talents and interests I choose. Working from home, on my own schedule, allows me the flexibility and freedom to make the most of my journey, whether that means having lunch with a dear friend, being entertained by our menagerie of pets, baking a special pie for my husband, or taking the morning to rejuvenate at Presque Isle. These are the minute shells that I discover on my walk on the beach.
Though my finish line lies somewhere out of sight down the sand, it matters not how far, for my details will sustain me. It gives me time to appreciate sharing funny videos with my husband, or to chat about dreams with my best friend, or to take the weekend off to spend visiting with my parents.
On the beach, one encounters many possible paths. Some are solid, while others are comprised of shifting sand. Obstacles lie in the way, some large, some miniscule. We see both life and death at the shore’s edge, with the dividing line between them often murky. It is an ecosystem of existence where the elements must interact to be sustained. And sometimes, you must change direction in order to truly see what has been before you all along. It is the metaphor of life.
And by focusing on my journey, on my true self rather than on the goals, I have discovered that the opportunities for success are now presenting themselves to me freely. No longer desperate to get there NOW, my beach walk is revealing exciting new pathways to extend my journey.
I knew that I had stayed away from the water for far too long, but I had no idea how palpable the energy would be when I finally returned. As I entered the park, the car suddenly enveloped in the lush green canopy of trees, I immediately felt a rush of calming energy blanket me. My heart rate slowed, my breathing deepened, and I reached over to snap off the radio so that I could hear the songs of the crickets chirping through my open window.
It was a crisp Fall day, gleaming with golden sunshine radiating from an almost cloudless cerulean blue sky. Though I saw small groups of power walkers and the occasional cyclist as I made my way deeper onto the peninsula, nothing penetrated my growing sense of calm.
I turned off at my favorite spot, one of the Westward beaches near the Ranger station, and shut off the engine. I sat silently contemplating the sensations for a moment before exiting the car and hoisting my backpack of art and writing supplies to my shoulder.
I spied a weathered wooden picnic table perched somewhat precariously on the bank of the beach, providing a perfect panorama of the calm, undulating lake before me. I made my way towards the table and settled onto the warped bench.
The deep palette of blues from the late waters enhanced the creamy, chalky tones of the piles of stone that serve as breakwaters all along this side of the peninsula.
I chucked as an old joke ran through my head. “How do you know God is a Penn State fan?” “Why else would the sky be blue and white?”
As I sat probing the horizon, listening to the gentle lapping of the water against the beach, my calm deepened. I watched a plane as it banked over the water, growing from a tiny speck to loom large over my head as it ascended into the spotless sky on its journey to some unnamed destination. The rumble of the engines was the only man-made sound in my otherwise natural surroundings.
As the plane faded away, the song of the cicadas intensified, almost as if they had seen the plane as an intruder, threatening their territory. Their warning buzzes rose and fell for some moments, telegraphing a territorial message for all to hear.
Occasionally, a vehicle passed slowly on the park road that fronts the beach, but they vanished without disrupting the overall mood of the moment.
New sounds began to emerge from the peninsula: chirping crickets, singing out their song of hope to delay the frost; bird songs – I couldn’t tell from what species – trilled out from trembling tree branches. I heard the rattle and buzz of a beetle as it worked its way down the beach. And a vivid yellow moth approached, attracted by the purple cap on my water bottle. It alit on top of the container, pausing for a moment, almost as if to give me an opportunity to marvel at its beauty and grace.
My art supplies lay strewn about the tabletop, just waiting patiently for me to take them up and transcribe a fraction of the peninsula’s perfection to my pad. I sighed, wanting desperately to dive into drawing, yet so content to bask in the beauty of the moment that I could not open my sketchbook.
A gentle breeze kicked up, just as the rays of the sun were overheating my exposed skin. It was as if Mother Nature noticed that her rays were just a bit too harsh and turned on a fan to cool it down. Between the warmth of the sun and the deliciously cool stirrings of the air, I had no desire to move or act. I simply had to drink it all in.
As I surveyed the beach, my artist’s eye was drawn to several scenes, wondering if I could capture them on paper: the breakwater, rising out of the water in a stately manner, framed by the gentle trunk of a tree on the beach. A small sand dune, dotted with sea grass and twigs. The horizon, with its gentle dividing line that radiated pink and had a streak of puffy white clouds hovering directly overhead. So many options, and yet my sketchbook remained blank.
I closed my eyes and just listened for a moment, hoping to find inspiration. The warmth of the moment settled over me like a cloak, pushing out months of uncertainty and gloom.
Like my recent trip to Lily Dale, this morning’s venture to Presque Isle reaffirmed my need to pay attention to my inner self.
I started as a large spider descended upon me, falling from the tree branch above. This was the third spider – in gradually ascending size! – that had found me in the short time I had been sitting there. I gave a small shout and then laughed as I flicked it away. “Ok, already, Ellen. I know you’re thinking about me! You can stop sending me spiders!” I said to the air.
My friend Ellen and I have a very strong relationship that often manifests itself in unusual ways. Her totem is the spider, and when she is thinking deeply about me and can’t talk to me, I often see real spiders instead. Though I do not particularly care for spiders, I have learned to accept them as messengers from Ellen, and send them on their way.
As it approached lunchtime, more intrusions made their way into my idyll. More frequent, louder traffic traveled the macadam, and I saw more people ambling along the shoreline.
Not yet ready to be dragged back into the everyday world, I opened my sketchbook to see what would emerge.