|Publisher:||Axis Mundi Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.51(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.37(d)|
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Your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers.
I had no idea that within 24 hours I would be struggling for life, surrendering to death, and rising with a stranger, and all because of the letter.
Looking back, it's easy to see the series of supposedly random events which brought me to that first 24 hours. Though it was also very clear the events I experienced were all part of a grand design that even the craziest of minds would have found difficulty dreaming up.
So this may sound crazy, but then again, reality often is – especially in a life such as mine. But this is a story of a journey, my journey, and this is my personal invitation for you to join me. You'll need an open mind and if you happen to find this a challenge, just trust me, as sometimes I felt the same way. By the time you've finished reading, you'll have your own opinions for sure.
Due to failing health during the winter of 2009, I made the decision to visit my daughter in Calgary, and I extended the visit in order to take a few days to travel into the mountains for some alone time. I had been feeling extremely disillusioned with my universe, very disconnected with my inner-self and with my God, and so my prescription to be alone in nature seemed the perfect solution.
With the loan of my daughter's car, packed and ready, I made my way out along the #1 Highway towards Banff, with no real time restriction and no definite destination. The big, blue, Alberta sky collaborated with the sun to give the impression of a balmy summer's day, but outside the snappy air froze the hairs up my nose and forced me to bundle on more clothing, something I disliked. Along the highway, I passed familiar peaks, recalling native stories of lost loves and Chinook winds and it wasn't long before the city was a forgotten past life, miles behind me.
Fresh snow had fallen the night before and though the thought had crossed my mind that maybe it was a little too late in the day for a walk in the mountains, I turned off the highway and about 10 miles into the valley, I found a familiar parking area and stopped the car. I started along a path I had taken many times before and as always was looking forward to bumping into the odd cross-country skier or day hiker.
It seemed bizarre to me that one could encounter a stranger on a footpath, in the middle of nowhere, and get into conversation quite easily without being perceived as forward or weird, and also without feeling threatened. Yet that same stranger one could meet on the streets in one's hometown and avoid acknowledging them altogether, why is this?
This day I encountered no one. There were footprints in the snow of a coyote or maybe a wolf. Either way, this animal was to be my only encounter, and being curious, I followed. I've never feared coyotes or wolves, so fifteen minutes or so into my walk, I had the determination to find my potential new acquaintance, whose prints ran over a hill to my left.
The snow was deep and dry and I felt like a child playing in powdered icing sugar, sinking up to my knees and laughing all the way to the top of an incline. The view at the top was breathtaking. For as far as I could see, a white blanket lay stretched over mother earth while she slept her dormant sleep, and it seemed as if the undulating breath of a snow goddess had danced into the curves and valleys of her hibernating form.
As I looked to the left towards a line of dense forest, I could see something moving, and sure enough, the prints leading over to the trees were those of my lone animal. I followed his calling card for some 45 minutes until I drew close to the remnants of an old native sweat lodge. I stopped and stared at the one set of prints where the animal had entered, noticing nothing to indicate he had left. I waited a moment. All was quiet. Anticipation punched at my heart. What was I going to do once I faced him?
Slowly I entered the lodge and looked around, expecting to come face to face with my playmate, but there was nothing. I sat down on a large rock, totally confused. Outside, the howl of an animal pierced the silence and looking out of the entrance, I watched as my coyote disappeared into the forest.
It was an ominous shiver that danced through my body that late afternoon, a shiver, which, had I heeded, would have halted any further pursuit. Instead, I disregarded my initial instincts, it was all so thoroughly stimulating, you see. He was calling me, taunting me to follow, and I did.
Like an owner pursuing her runaway dog, I ran into the trees, and like my life so far, I took notice of nothing but the adventure ahead. As I entered the wooded area, he was waiting, crouching low, and looking directly at me. I slowly approached, then he rose and ran, and so did I ... after him.
After quite some time of playing 'catch the coyote', I stopped and sat on a fallen log and took stock of my situation. It was then I realized the foolishness of my actions. I could see a steady fall of snow had covered everything, and to top it all off, I had lost my bearings, as well as, obviously, my mind.
Looking around I could see this foolish chase must have taken far longer than I thought, or was it just getting darker earlier than I had anticipated?
My elusive friend was now long gone, leaving me in the company of shadows bent on casting a different landscape. Though I wasn't afraid of the dark, the ensuing night, like my lost coyote friend, had started to play hide and seek with me and I was getting colder and a sick sense that something, not my coyote friend, was out there, waiting, just added to the chill.
By now the sun had disappeared over some cold, uninviting peak, the snow I was sitting on was feeling uncomfortably wet, and as night started to lay her blanket over the earth in preparation for sleep, I quickly started to catch hold of the hem of fear.
I've no idea how long I wandered about trying to find my way back but it wasn't long before the beauty I had viewed earlier became the bleak backdrop for my own survival show, and even though I kept repeating out loud, "This is not happening to me," my attempts to stave off impending waves of panic were futile.
Finally, I had to face facts; all was not good, I mean, really not good. The sweat I'd built up had turned to cold shivers and as panic began to take up permanent residence, I began to play over in my head some of the survival shows I'd watched on television.
Still believing I wasn't far from my starting point, I began shouting, loud and hard, hoping someone would hear me, that maybe, just maybe, there would be a lone hiker or a late skier nearby, homeward bound. Then I remembered my cell phone.
Scrambling into my small backpack, I breathed out a string of thank yous to the god of cell phones, entered the number for my son, and pressed send. Nothing. I pressed send again and again but with the same response. The battery was dead. What now?
Any remaining remnants of composure quickly lost the fight against the force of my fear, and now, pushed to my limit, I decided to take the spiritual route. Calmly, at first, I started calling on the names of spirits, of angels, of anyone who might be out there who might help. Nothing! No sudden flash of insight, no guiding light, no guide at all, animal or otherwise.
Then my fear and desperation quickly turned into anger, and that anger I directed at God. This Supreme Being, the one I had faithfully followed for years, was supposed to be aware of everything, and I felt sure IT was aware of my dilemma now. So what was the bloody designer of the Universe doing? Where was the epitome of so-called love now, when I needed it the most?
Giving up I began to cry, and as months of frustration, vulgarities and undecipherable sounds spewed out of my mouth making little sense, I swore this big Kahuna was not having me dance the dance a moment longer. I screeched into the darkness, "You can take your bloody spiritual path and shove it, and shove it where your sun don't shine."
Finally, I ceased the verbal abuse and accepted I was going to have to stay out all night in this bleak wilderness. So, settling by a circle of old trees, I broke some branches, placed a portion on the snow and sat down, then pulled the remainder over me, and there I stayed, shivering.
My belief was that I had a better chance of conserving energy 'till I was found by staying put in my primitive bed, rather than continuing my disoriented scurry, getting nowhere. So, after sitting for some time, bellowing the odd holler, I lay my head down on the firs for a few moments rest. While I recalled how dangerous it was to sleep in the snow, by now I was so utterly exhausted, I didn't care. Though I was determined to stay awake until the sun rose, I closed my eyes, and in my false reverie, fell asleep.
Somewhere in the depths of this sleep, a comforting hand rested on my body, and though death also seemed to be beckoning me with her seductive lullaby, the familiar energy of this touch drew me back to life. Feeling disoriented and unable to gather my thoughts, I opened my eyes to see a dark figure of a man looking down on me and I could only stare at his face and sob. Someone had found me, now I was safe!
His gentle hand on my arm motioned me to stay put, and with little resistance, I did. He knelt beside me, placing something soft over and around my worn out body, securing me in a cocoon of caring, and I just accepted that it would be morning when he would lead me to civilization and safety.
Feeling perfectly safe, and for the first time in many hours wonderfully warm, I slipped into the sleep of a baby rocked in the arms of its mother, softly comforted in the warmth of a down blanket, and I was happy to fall back into this comfortable world of peace – utter peace. For now, a distant, gentle caress seemed to convey all was as it should be and a distant, gentle voice resounded through me. "You are safe."
How long I slept, I've no idea, but a warm breeze tenderly touched my closed eyelids, and I awoke. Gathering my thoughts, and myself, I rose and gazed around the still darkness, expecting to see my Good Samaritan nearby, but there was no one, so I waited silently, just staring.
What I noticed made little sense, for the bed I'd slept in, with the few branches I'd placed under and over me, was still the same; there was no soft covering to keep me warm, and obviously, no stranger.
Everything you can imagine is real.
— Pablo Picasso
Night was still loitering and a chill ran through my warm body, confirming the heat which had kept me so comforted during my rest. I strained my eyes in a pathetic attempt to pierce the darkness, hoping to see something, anything, any clue, that would explain what had happened, but there was only silence.
The area around me looked the same, trees and more trees, snow white, sky dark, shadows grey, me lost. Where had he gone, my Samaritan? Or more to the point, was he ever here? I hadn't been prepared for any of this, not from the physical, the mental nor emotional standpoint, and God knows, my spiritual point of view had gone out the window and was on a hike in some far off land.
It wasn't a sound nor a movement that caught my attention, but I knew something or someone was very close by, watching me.
Holding my breath in an attempt to hear better served nothing. The longer I held my breath, the louder my heart thumped and the less I could think. I couldn't focus, I had absolutely no idea what to do, and it was a mixture of resignation and seething resentment that spawned my whisper, "I give up, God, I bloody well give up. You go on and feed your endless ego. You just please yourself, because you win." And not caring any more, I let go. Instantly, I was enveloped in an overwhelming calm.
Suspended in this surreal stillness, I slowly lifted my head and looked around, and there, standing by a huge tree was my Good Samaritan. He turned away and casually motioned me to follow him and in my relief, without question, I picked myself up and followed.
We walked for a while, neither of us speaking, for me it was shock, for him I have no idea, but then my mind started racing through all that had transpired since our first encounter. The contrast in my circumstances from earlier in the night had automatically put me in a calmer place, and then I had a sudden thought and stopped. In all this crazy making ... where was he taking me? He continued on, and I stood still.
Further ahead he stopped and turned, then said, "You are being invited on a journey into reality," and he beckoned me to come forward and walk beside him. As I approached, I stumbled on a raised tree root, and in an instant, he was by my side, steadying me. His reaction was so incredibly quick that my reaction was one of shock, but gathering myself quickly, I assured him I'd had a good dose of reality and a further journey was not necessary. To be taken to my car was my only request and I certainly didn't want to consider any extension to my last 'so many hours'.
He moved in closer to me and whispered, "But my dear, you requested this, it is all because of the letter you wrote."
There seemed to be a hint of humor in his voice and as if the situation I had gotten myself into wasn't enough, my mind was now racing, trying to recall any letters I'd written and to whom. With a warm smile, he assured me all would be explained once we reached the cabin, and this cabin was to be our first destination.
To bring some clarity here, I'm quite used to strange happenings. Over time, my life had been saved on more than one occasion by miraculous means, and somehow, at the oddest times, people had turned up in unexpected places to assist me. However, I was sure my newfound friend's reference to a letter I had apparently written was a mistake. I also felt sure it would be sorted out once we reached this cabin he was referring to.
We approached a modest hut, climbed the wooden steps and entered through the main doorway into a cozy, rustic living area. My host showed me to a seat, poured a cup of steaming tea, motioning me to help myself to the food already prepared on a small table. If I had entertained the thought of being totally confused by all that had transpired so far, I was wrong. Confusion now hit a record high on my Richter scale, for it seemed, though I don't know how, that I'd been expected.
Attempting to collate some of the crazy thoughts bumping about in my head, I'd decided to ask his name, when he said, "It is Raj."
As he tied back his long, dark hair, I caught a glimpse of a smile. He stopped what he was doing and turned to me.
In an attempt to distract myself I diverted my attention back to the room, and what I noticed was puzzling. Although the hut was well lit and warm, there were no light fixtures and no visible source for the warmth. I was acutely aware he was observing me so I faced him again, and then, as if lifting thoughts from my head, he explained.
"The power for the light, heat, and the food you see is supplied by a force, a power which supplies all in the Universe. It is the Divine, God, the Great Spirit or whatever name you wish to bestow upon it. It is Truth.
"Our worlds are the effect of our own consciousness and when our individual consciousness is one with the truth, truth is manifest in our worlds. Humanity fumbles in the dark, so to speak, only catching glimpses, manifesting in part, until relative truth is taken up by the light of absolute truth. Truth, my dear, truly sets you free. Man has brought through the mind makeshift things, imperfect things, and this will continue until humanity wakes up and reunites with Source."
There was some resistance in me to the word God, because of my life of late, and this rescuer of mine, with his fashion being that of a darker version of the generically accepted Jesus, also reared some resistance and questions. But he had captivated me in a strange way. He had stopped his talking and was now smiling at me.
Since being picked up by my Samaritan, I had been feeling inordinately calm and safe, not something one would have expected considering the events of the past 24 hours and though I had quite a few questions, for now I was content to sit in the warmth and eat.
He motioned for me to continue eating and as I did, he looked to the door and excused himself. When he returned, he entered with two very interesting people and introduced me to Nada and Francis.
Nada rested her cerulean eyes on mine and smiled and as she moved gracefully past, it was as though a butterfly had entered the room. However, what struck me the most were her features, which were in perfect symmetry. So strange, when something is perfect it screams out that perfection.
Francis I knew. Don't ask me how, but as he approached me and took my hands in his, this peaceful, gentle man, knew me far better than I knew myself and when he gently held my obvious stare into the softness of his violet eyes, I felt dipped in the fullness of total acceptance.
Excerpted from "The Master, The Lover, and Me"
Copyright © 2016 Denise McDermott-King.
Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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