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Under the Mayday Tree
By James Grace
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2013 James Grace
All rights reserved.
STUCK IN A SNOWBANK
My awakened journey started on December 28, 2009, after five or six months of very serious marital problems with my wife of, at that time, 19 years. I was at my wits' end over what was going on. I had spent countless hours reading and thinking about what could possibly be wrong with my wife and how I was going to fix her. I woke up early for work just as I had many mornings before and headed out to the car, which was parked in the back garage. To my amazement, I discovered that it had snowed close to a foot overnight and everything was covered in a thick, fluffy white blanket. I backed out of the garage and headed down the alley. I had to travel for approximately a quarter mile to the end of the alley where I would have to enter the traffic. I knew it was important to keep the momentum of the car up to avoid becoming stuck. Getting stuck in this weather would cause a serious issue for me.
As I approached the end of the alley, I noticed that a grader had pushed a large amount of snow up at the entrance to the road. It was obvious some additional speed would be required to exit the alley. I hit the gas, adding a little extra juice just to ensure that I would not have a stuck situation to deal with. In a heartbeat—and to my total surprise—the car hit the snowbank and stopped, high centred right in the middle of the pile as if that were exactly where it was supposed to be. I stepped out of the car in my leather dress shoes and leather overcoat to survey the situation. Obviously, I would not be driving out of this one alone, and no one seemed to be interested in stopping to help. Normally, getting stuck and then having people drive by would have driven me off the deep end. Didn't they know I had to work and was going to be late? That morning though, I was calm and accepting of my situation. I started the walk back to my garage to retrieve proper clothing and the tools I would require to rescue my vehicle. After changing into insulated coveralls, winter boots, a toque and gloves, I grabbed two shovels and headed back to the scene of the crime. I rolled the window down a little bit, turned the music up and began to shovel. To my surprise, when I tried to move the car a couple of times after I felt I had moved enough snow, it would not budge. I decided I needed to completely clear the path to the road in order to rescue my Impala and proceeded to do so before trying to move the car again. About an hour later, I placed my shovels in the trunk and climbed into the car to head home to change and drop off the shovels. As I headed down the road toward my driveway, I was quite proud of how I had handled the whole situation—no swearing or yelling and no anger toward the countless drivers and passersby who decided to keep going instead of help. I wondered what that was all about. I hit the gas to clear the snow pile at the base of my driveway. To my astonishment, there I was stuck again and worse now than I had been previously. Already an hour late for work, I decided to step inside to call my boss and let him know I was having a snow morning.
I returned to the driveway and started shoveling again. Now sweaty and tired, I felt a presence and a purpose for my morning. I was being taught a lesson, a lesson in patience and perseverance. It was not clear at the time why this lesson was being offered, but it was clear that it was. As I shoveled well into my second hour, still grateful for the lesson, my neighbor Luke approached. I had not really known Luke before this day, even though he had lived three doors down for the past four years. He walked up and said, "Hey, neighbor, can I help you get out?"
I looked at him and replied, "No, thanks. I think I am supposed to do this myself."
He turned to walk away, and I stopped him. I thanked him for the offer and explained to Luke that I thought he was an extremely nice guy. He looked deep into my eyes and thanked me for that. I was not sure where that came from, but it felt good. I finished shoveling, put the shovels away and had a shower. Once that was done, I called my boss and finished my snow day contemplating what I had just witnessed. That was what I considered to be my first day of consciousness, when I had my first glimpse of awareness and took my first conscious step toward fulfilling my inner purpose. I still had no idea what had happened, but I now had an overwhelming sense of needing to understand it. This was the start of countless hours of conversation and tea shared under the Mayday tree with my now dearest friend Luke. It all started that snowy morning. Numerous lessons were offered to me that morning at exactly that time in exactly that spot, which ones I learned, if any, was completely up to me.
It is clear to me that we are provided with opportunities and lessons exactly at the appropriate time for each of us and in exactly the right amounts for us to process. Having said that, I feel the Great Spirit is always gauging our progress by including a little extra just to see if we pick it up. One message I picked up that morning was patience and perseverance would pay off in the end, but the best message I received that morning—and one I came to realize later—was about being in the moment. By not worrying about anything but the task at hand, I was able to enjoy each second as it was offered by the Spirit and accept each second for what it was. If I had allowed the future in, with such thoughts as I am going to be late for work, How long will this take? Traffic is going to be brutal by the time I get out, or the past, with those thoughts, Last time this happened, I hurt my back; It took hours to get out of something not this bad last time! my ego would have made sure to wind me up with anger and fear. By staying in the moment, I was able to operate from my core, my soul, and experience those moments as perfectly as I possibly could. I read a great quote that said, "Don't look back in anger or forward in fear; just look around in awareness." This, I believe, is the open door to finding our inner purpose. Think about it. What else does any one of us have except for this second? The past is a memory of seconds already lived, and the future is expectations, hopes and dreams of seconds not yet experienced. The reality is that our past can be good memories and our future bright if and only if we live each second as it is offered as perfectly as we possibly can with grace and graciousness. In order to live these seconds perfectly, we must be in the present, the right now. We must be in love with right now and fight to stay with it. We must ensure we tell only truths and act with the utmost integrity, as well as operate with love for ourselves and all the beings we share this adventure with. When we can love the second we are in, only then will the past and future become beautiful and take care of themselves.
EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON
I believe there is no such thing as a coincidence or chance encounter. If something is happening, it is happening because it was supposed to, you have attracted it, or maybe you asked or prayed for it and you just don't remember. Anything is possible, so please don't discount anything. Sometimes, what is happening is as plain as the nose on your face; other times, it as subtle as a word missed in a sentence. There are no ordinary moments; each one is significant and beautiful, and each one is full of opportunity. Through grace and acceptance, we are given opportunities for growth. All we have to do is listen and pay attention; then, as the opportunities are afforded, we at least have the chance to grow from them.
A short time after I spent the day shoveling and learning about everything those minutes offered, my life would change forever. January 1, 2010, is the day I found out my wife of almost 20 years had a boyfriend. She had been with him for approximately five months. The substance of their relationship was explained to me on the phone by the drunken boyfriend. He had recently had a fight with my wife and decided the best thing for him to do to keep her was to try to horrify me with the sordid details. Once I was able to sort out that morning in my head, I explained that I was going to his house to straighten it out. My wife, Marie, agreed that I had to go, so out the door I went to resolve the situation. Luke lived three doors down, and I stopped in to ask if he would come with me to ensure I had backup, someone who might be able to help me not lose control. After explaining the situation to him—please keep in mind that I had only met him three days earlier while shoveling—he replied that we might be going to this guy's house but definitely not until we had had tea together and discussed the situation. We drank a couple of cups of tea and talked. It became very clear that I was not going to this guy's house ... Luke probably saved my life. What if he hadn't been there? What if I hadn't stopped? What if he hadn't offered to help with the car? It makes no real difference because he was, I did and he had. It was not because of chance or luck but because it was supposed to happen that way, because it was the Spirit's intent for me to begin paying attention. The opportunity was being afforded to me because the Great Spirit loved me and had decided it was time. All it could provide was the opportunity; the rest was up to me, and so began the most intense few months of my life—intense and immensely rewarding. January brought lots of tears and many hours spent trying to figure things out. How could she have done this? How was I going to survive? What had I done to deserve this?
We spent the month of January trying to resolve for each other what had happened and how we were going to deal with it. I told her almost immediately that I had forgiven her and that I would do whatever I had to do to get through this. She explained that she had made a terrible mistake in looking outside our marriage for love, as all the love she would ever need was right there. She vowed she would spend the rest of her life making up for it. We even travelled to Mexico around the end of January to see if we could reconnect and move on. What neither one of us understood at the time was that for the time being, our paths through our individual journeys had separated and as it was intended from the beginning, we had to journey connected in our hearts but separated in our physical forms.
Then, February 11, she left a note under my pillow saying she had gone to get the dry cleaning. She never came back. She was gone from my life. I had no idea where she had gone or whom she was with. I had read every book I could find on what might be wrong with her. I had cried and begged for her to come back so I could be happy again. Nothing was working. What was going to happen to me and the kids? How was I going to go on? What was I supposed to do? She had these answers, and my future was in her hands. How could she do this to me? Hold on—how could she possibly have this much control over me? How could my future and happiness possibly lie with anyone else? Then I realized there was someone else inside me asking questions. Someone else was involved and really vested in how I was going to handle this situation. It was obvious that this someone else truly mattered and the well-being of this other person was of great importance—but who was it?
THE ASLEEP YEARS
At that moment, I could see her gorgeous, 17-year-old figure as I peeked at her through the curtains of my childhood home. This angel was standing on my front porch with her mother talking about attending a hair-dressing school my parents had run for a number of years. I wish I could remember the exact date, but I can't. If only I had realized the significance of that moment, I could have committed it to memory. I stood there awestruck for several moments after she had left with a feeling in my stomach and heart that could not be compared to anything I had ever felt before.
At that time in my life, I had just graduated and my father, through his hard work and an unwritten company policy, had landed me a job in the oil sands that paid an indecent wage and provided anything I thought my heart desired. For a young man who had just been voted by his graduating peers most likely to develop liver problems and one of the most eligible bachelors in his grad year, things were great. My plan had been to attend university and get a degree in biology. I wanted to become a marine biologist and figure out how to help marine animals, specifically the manatee, survive in a world that was becoming less friendly for most of God's creatures. One year, while I was working as a summer student to save money for university, I agreed to a full-time position in the oil sands and quit school.
Just as was intended from the beginning, our paths crossed again when she started to attend my parents' school. Eventually, I gathered the courage to ask her out. "How about a movie?" I asked her.
She said, "How about a country bar?"
That was it. I was hooked. I knew this was the girl for me! After a very fast three weeks, I proposed by sticking a ring inside a fillet of fish, and with the declaration of our love for one another, the date was set. Unfortunately for both of us, my reasons for proposing—and I suspect her reasons for agreeing—were self-serving. They were caused by many years, lifetimes perhaps, of programming and, in her case and possibly mine, abuse. This is what all of us were supposed to do: get an education, get a job, move out, get married, have kids ... It was not that easy though. As the months of our engagement went on, we both struggled with our roles, and conflict arose with one another and—in retrospect, I understand—from within. In my case, I was still a child who wanted to party, get drunk and impress everyone with crazy stunts I could only execute while extremely intoxicated. In her case, she was trying to live the life she was never afforded because of her very unfortunate circumstances growing up.
On the long weekend in May 1989, I got a phone call from friends who were partying at a lake lot some six hours away. They wanted to know if I was coming. I ran down the hallway of our trailer right past Marie and asked our roommate Geoff if he wanted to go party in Lloyd. He agreed, and we threw a spare pair of pants and underwear in the trunk and proceeded to remove the roof of my car. I jumped into the driver's seat and slipped the car into gear. It was then I heard her voice. "Jim?" She hesitated. "Can I come too?"
I responded with, "Have you got any cash?" already knowing the answer.
She responded, "No."
I said, "See you Monday," and squealed away, leaving her standing alone on the front porch. This second in time would eventually educate me on how hard it was to forgive ourselves for some things and how important it was to come to terms and seek the forgiveness from ourselves first and then others involved.
Needless to say, when I got home, Marie had moved out and into a spare bedroom at the home of one of her closest friends and her boyfriend. I had convinced myself that it was for the best, as I preferred to party and perform stunts anyhow. Somehow, though, every weekend, I would end up at Marie's. I would sneak into her bedroom for lovemaking and intimacy, each morning telling her it was wrong and should never happen again. She would agree, and I would be off to start another week of the same self-destructive behaviour that had become my life. Then one day, after the couple she had been living with broke up, Marie disappeared from my life. She moved in with a lady named Millie. Millie had become close to Marie through work and cared about her deeply. She recognized how poorly I was treating her and she was treating herself. She allowed Marie to move in but forbad her contact with me. She would eventually screen calls and advise Marie on how she should deal with my egocentric self. Marie became comfortable without me and had even started to consider dating again. It was the space Millie provided that allowed me to see how much Marie meant to me and Marie to see her true value. On an especially dark evening late that summer, I walked into a video rental store to pick up a movie, and as intended, I walked right into Marie's life again. She agreed to a date, and some conversation later, we were back together.
On Friday, July 13, 1990, after a month of marriage counseling offered by the Catholic Church that ended with our priest expressing his belief that our marriage would not last a year, we were married. Marie's family was horrified and mine ecstatic. I was slightly intoxicated while giving my vows and could hardly wait for the party. Marie was wondering why her mom was so angry about the wedding and why she had to shop for a gown alone. She also wondered why there would be no horse-drawn carriage for our Western-themed wedding and why the bridesmaid was not suitably dressed but was also anxious for the party. I found out several years later about most of the issues on that day, and then several years after that, I realized the rest when I started looking inside at my true self. It seems to me now, with the benefit of a little perspective, that all the answers to all the questions were available inside of me and if I had just endeavoured to shut up and listen, I may have been able to hear what I was most definitely being told.
Excerpted from Under the Mayday Tree by James Grace. Copyright © 2013 James Grace. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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Table of Contents
Stuck in a Snowbank.................... 1
Everything Happens for a Reason.................... 5
The Asleep Years.................... 8
Angels among Us.................... 22
Asleep with Marie.................... 47
Shut Up and Listen.................... 52
Déjà Vu.................... 62
Crawling to Walking.................... 70
The Arctic—Deh Cho Valley.................... 73
It's Crowded in Here.................... 81
Growing Pains (The Poisonous Dart).................... 84
Walking the Road Together (The Long and Winding Road).................... 88
Great Spirit.................... 92
The End.................... 100