In preparation for Sissy's half-day camp in the morning, we discussed what she would like to take for a snack.
Sissy: All the other kids get to take JUNK FOOD! I am NOT taking anything that we have here!
Me: I'm not buying junk food. And I'm sure the kids don't take junk food to this particular camp.
Sissy (tearfully): Yes, they DO! They ALWAYS have junk food!
Dad: Well, we have some leftover Zebra Cakes from the camping trip...
Sissy: Okay! I'll take those!
Me: Okay, but don't advertise that you have a Zebra Cake because I am SO EMBARRASSED to be sending you with junk food for a snack.
Since it turned out that someone (Sissy) had eaten all but one of the Zebra Cakes so that there was only one to take but four days of camp, we are at the co-op looking for camp snacks that we can agree on that she can take for the rest of the week.
Sissy: Oooooh! Nectarines! I'll take those for my snack!
Me: Okay, what else do you want?
Sissy: That's it. Just the nectarines. All the other kids had just berries for their snack today.
Me: What?!? You told me that they ALL would have junk food!!
Sissy: Yeah. They all had berries, so I just looked at my Zebra Cake like I didn't know what it was and said, "What? What is this THING that my MOM sent?!!
This is the view from the window at the top of the stairs this evening. I have never seen clouds like this before, so I called Snacks from his bed as I often do when I see a glorious sky on my way up for the night. (For the record, I would call Sissy too, but she is typically first asleep and not easily awakened.)
We like to stand to together in awe and marvel out loud at what we see.
We stood on the street corner in the middle of the afternoon having a focused debate. I said I felt him pulling away again and that the past ten days I had had thoughts and feelings that were too reminiscent of "before" for my comfort. I said I didn't want to go back there ever again. He said he didn't know what I was talking about and that it must be my imagination.
And then he paused and I saw him squint to see who was in the car that drove past. "That was a guy from Monday night," he said. A man from the meeting that he had attended for the 12 years that we had deluded ourselves by believing that he was working a solid program of recovery when he, in fact, was not.
Our discussion ended abruptly and we turned to continue our walk. It was not lost on either of us that this man from a meeting that is held 30 minutes from our neighborhood drove by us on a weekday afternoon just when we were arguing about whether or not old behaviors were creeping back. The Universe didn't send us a man in a car from the Tuesday night meeting or the Thursday night meeting where he has gone for the past year to find the strength of recovery that has kept us together. No, the Universe sent us a messenger from our dark years.
She asked, "Have you ever thought of writing a book?"
I said it was funny that she should ask because I had given up on writing but yesterday, out of the blue, I had gotten a check in the mail for advertising from a blog that I had deleted five years ago. I had been wondering if it was a sign.
I told her I had given up my dream of being a writer after trying my hand at being a copywriter and a ghost writer, freelancing for small newspapers and pitching articles to magazines. I didn't like the politics and the rejection. I didn't like comparing myself to others and feeling I was always coming up short. I said I don't take criticism well.
She said that she liked hearing my stories. She said that if wrote down my stories the same way I tell them, she would definitely want to read my book. And I thought maybe that sounded good. Maybe that's what I could be: a storyteller.
I dove without hesitation from the beach into the river--the deep green water surrounding me, guiding me forth with purpose toward my destination. I swam toward the now-familiar stone archway and, once through, stood on the flat stone surface--my hair and clothing now completely dry as though I had never been in the water at all.
The lion stood waiting for me on the golden plain, just as before, and I asked him to perform a dismemberment for whatever he deemed needed healing in me, and then to rebuild me again. He turned away from me toward the horizon and together we watched a sudden and rapid gathering of dark clouds off in the distance. I realized then that the dismemberment I had requested would come in the form of a tornado, and not by creature or fire as I had predicted.
The clouds gathered power and speed and began to spin as we stood side by side and watched. I had the thought to be afraid but did not experience the fear in my body. I had been told that the dismemberment experience would be one of comfort and relief, and the lion stood near as my guide. Separate from my mind, my body knew to trust what I had been told.
I felt the wind approach and we stood and waited much longer than I had expected; the wind whipping through my hair and my clothes in a way that felt both ominous and exhilarating. I waited to be caught up into the tornado, to experience the breaking apart of my limbs, my body, but I did not. Instead, I felt the spinning and the darkness overtake me. The lion was no longer standing next to me. I had simply become the winds of the tornado. I had no body, no human form now; I was the dark gray spinning cloud.
I saw the lion again, standing where I had left him down on the golden plain under the clear blue sky, staring off into the horizon just as before. But I was not there standing next to him. Now the dark clouds were gone and I wondered what had become of me--I had no feeling, no form, no sense of my own existence except my thoughts.
And then I saw that I was there--on the plain, under the sky, next to the lion. I was in the shimmering particles of the air--I was the shimmering particles of air, floating and formless. My mind wondered how I would come to be re-membered; rebuilt.
On the horizon I saw clouds gathering again, but this time in deep colors of pink and purple. They began to spin. I imagined that I would experience the tornado in reverse this time, and would be deposited, whole and in human form, next the lion on the plain.
I became part of the magnificent, richly-colored clouds, but they did not turn gray-black as before. I did not understand and began to lose faith that I would not be re-membered at all, and so the clouds ceased their spinning. I felt fear begin to take over and my mind told me that I would not succeed and I believed my mind. And then I remembered that Spirit has taught me to trust and watch and wait to see what is going to happen instead of allowing my mind to try to think my way out of danger or uncertainty.
Trust became my mantra and as part of the rose-colored sky I felt a warmth in my face and my fingers began to tingle. I felt gentle sensations that told me that my human legs had returned. I was filled with relief, but still I did not see myself standing next to the lion. I asked him, "Why do I not see myself?" and he answered, "Because you are within me." It was time to go back.
I ran toward the stone archway as the lion. Through his eyes I saw the flat rock shelf that was the portal for my return. And then I was in the green water in my human form--my heart filled with gratitude--swimming. Swimming up from the bottom toward the light, until I collapsed on the beach, soaking wet and exhausted, cradled by Mother Earth.
Sometimes clues as to where my path is leading next come to me in unusual forms. We are standing in the uncomfortable darkness of uncertainty these past couple of months, so I am more open than ever to receiving Guidance however it wants to come to me.
Sometimes I have a very powerful and completely unexpected emotional response to a line in a book or song or meditation that causes a sudden welling up of tears of profound gratitude or deep sorrow that shows me what's to come next for me. Sometimes I am struck with a thought of absolute clarity like lightning out of nowhere in the middle of the sidewalk or the living room or the grocery store. Sometimes someone I am with will say something completely out of context or character and I have the undeniable sense that what they have just said was spoken not by him, but through him.
And sometimes messages come in the form of a $4.18 check...or something written in the sand just minutes before I arrive at the beach.