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Love, Thy Will Be Done: Tales of Awakening A Wild Heart, Vol 2

A PERFECT LIFE: Perils and Pearls

I've spent much of my adult life trying to succeed, and to be outstanding. I've wanted to measure up professionally, socially, romantically, financially, artistically, as a homemaker and gardener -in pretty much every role I've ever defined as meaningful for myself. I have even been spiritually ambitious, wanting to achieve a kind of perfection in my ability to love unconditionally. One might ask, then, where did this idea of being a perfect star come from? Of wanting to be bigger than 'ordinary' life itself?

I remember as a child the sense of being small, inadequate, alone inside where "I" lived, rather invisible in a fundamental way to others. Simultaneously, I still can feel the sense I've carried all my life that I am actually Big, meant for some Important Thing or destiny. Perhaps somehow, in my development, indeed in my very human-ness, those two things got confused with trying to be perfect, or appear perfect to others as a means to either salvation from my lonesomeness, or to fulfill my purpose here on planet earth. Either way, I've spent a lot of hours in my sixty-one year old lifetime grappling with feelings of not measuring up -to nearly impossible standards. I even spent time at the edges of suicidal depressions, in abysmal angst over the discrepancy between who I seemed to be -and wanted to Be.

Looking for answers to why I feel this pressure to perform, to be outstanding in every way, to excel in every role and field of endeavor, I am reminded of so many painful digs. I think of all the failures in romantic relationships, and my struggle to trust intimacy at large. I recall therapy sessions in which physical memories of shutting down during sexual perpetration by males surfaced, and the agonizing journey to redeeming my seemingly sullied feminine innocence.

But, were the sexual wounds the cause of my distrust of men, of closeness, of my own beauty? Was it the strained relationship I had with Daddy who, like me, was highly sensitive and became an emotionally restrained, self styled loner at home who "preferred" his "own company," reading in solitude in the evenings after work so much of the time? Or was it the anxious relationship I often entered into with Mommy as she bustled about in tireless pursuit of care-taking others? Could I blame my failure to sustain closeness on my relationship with my parents? Or on being rivals with my sister to win the approval of our guardians, and trying to out perform my classmates from kindergarten through grad school (and beyond)? To prove to God that I was really Good? I tried so hard to win loving approval, and so often, it seemed fell short, remaining hidden inside where "I" lived, feeling life was a impossible mountain to climb.

Was I "myth-taken"? It seemed that as long as I kept trying to get perfect, and recognized as such, I might someday Win Their Love, Approval and Protection: With my personal grail then earned, could I then relax, enjoy and just be me?

Over time, in hot pursuit of Reasons to explain my relentless pursuit of stardom, I have definitely found many correlations within family dynamics Remember the joke that went around a few years ago that the terms "family" and "dysfunction" are redundant? But certainly my family was not wholly dysfunctional: my parents and my sister provided me with a lot of loving direction, care, friendship and protection. So, then, do I fix my failures to ever be married, to have a home of my own and money commensurate with the professional skills I have, my past "stress" induced illnesses, as well as my spiritual failure to feel blessed every day in measure with the Good Things God provides me -do I assign these failures to my own innate inadequacy? Who's to blame?!

Imagine my relief in discovering, over time, as I age, that affixing blame is not necessary, and is even counterproductive to well beingness. I'm opting for more personal compassion and fewer conditions on loving me -and others. If the question arises, who's to blame for my perceived failures, I now realize "failure" is first a perception, and work from there. I can focus on growing, learning, rather than a desperate attempt to redeem my worth.

"Success" too, then, is a perception first. We could say that loyalty to my past patterns of trying to Win Love-ability was a way of succeeding in trying to get close enough to significant others, even God, to win their favor, and save my own behind. In keeping alive the myth that the grail of personal perfection was necessary to survival, I succeeded in keeping hope alive that I could be OK one day. All this came, though, at a terrific cost to my sense of well being, my real life.

It is certainly true that I developed habits of trying to emulate parents and teachers who tried to be perfect, too, and to appear faultless. Without doubt, I continue to run past programming to be the best in everything It's true that having a "highly sensitive" nervous system made me different from most around me -and still contributes to my sense of being unknowable -alone, and sometimes, to even feeling I have any value at all. But the moral of my story is that I've learned to bear witness to what I perceive, and that "failure" and it's opposite, complimentary pole of "success" are up to me to define now.

My agonizing journey at failing to become perfect enough to succeed in winning redemption, and a chance to relax and just be myself , is morphing into a focus on, happily discovering a life of blessing. All my perceived failures and successes of the past are bringing me to the present moment, to the possibility of living it much more fully.

My story ends with compassion for our journey, and a sense of adventure within its mystery. My story begins, each day, anew, as I discover that within the seeds of past conditioning, is a harvest of understanding to bring to light to a world weary of seeing failures, and blaming at every turn.

These days, I feel closer to all that Is. To the childhood sense of here to be Big, I know that loving Big is the best intention I can set. I am now a success at allowing my life to unfold, more naturally, one day at a time. And where I fail to do so, I am creating a new habit of noticing, gathering myself, and moving along with more grace and zest..

Life is becoming quite -perfect.


Bono was making the rounds of television news programs on a well publicized crusade to end world hunger. The rock star- turned activist was setting an unprecedented example, rallying a change of heart and consciousness, donations and money to feed the starving. Watching filmed clips during one such interview, I was seized by haunting stick figure images of African mothers and children. How awful to be so hungry, and worse, to be a mother unable to relieve her child from suffering or death.

My mulling continued unbidden well into the next evening. Gaunt, morbid images of bloated, starving babies mingled and bled together with chaotic ruminations about my own personal sufferings, past and present. I lay stretched out on my back, on the floor of my living room, my arms straight out, in a kind of self styled crucifixion pose.

Into my reverie stole an unexpected masculine Voice: "Be the food, even as ye are fed, for I Am that which Breathes you and fills you [ with song."]

The Voice sang clear and pure into my depths, into my hunger for renewal: "A mother's love is food to a starving child, God's manna is nourishment for her child, and for herself. Be as mother and as child, and be fed, too."

The energy was so very sweet. I savored the sounds, as It continued: "Your songs to those dying of loneliness are manna as well."

This Being had intimate knowledge of me, of my new musical healing work with aging, sick and dying persons. Coming from a northeasterly direction, I felt Him as a vast heart light, beautiful, tender, wild and free. His energy was potent soul food, manna offered with no strings: It was Jesus. It had been a long time since the last such visit. An ocean of unworthiness swelled within me. I felt strangely ashamed, and grieved, small and insignificant. I began to weep.

"Accept the beauty and radiance of your being as being the same as me," He said. "You do not yet trust the Radiance that made you, that gives us both our being. In time, you'll Know all that is, is Love, sustenance. Become an unencumbered heart, exist beyond, outside of duality, in unconditioned Love, and Know what Is, what you Are."

Ripples of electric-magnetic current moved through me, centering as a mini orgasm in my solar plexus, then waving upwards to my heart center. My hands moved instinctively to cover my heart, as a personal teaching of years past came to mind: "Beauty is the name you (humans) give to the perception of the radiant essence of whatever you behold. When you cannot perceive that essence, you call it 'ugly' and suffer that perception."

Indeed. I allowed the marvelous light and kindness to wash over me, head to toe, teasing more openings and clearings in the wake.

How I long to know love, to offer myself to the world wholly, withholding nothing In the same breath, how ironic that my longing to experience perfect oneness with my own divinity is itself a product of my human sense of being disconnected. My longing is its own source of suffering. As if from a bottomless dig, tears of both despair and hope welled up, one extraordinarily weary, the other endlessly tireless.

Lying there I continued to breathe consciously, invoking simultaneously depths and expansions. I was using a circular breathing pattern, one taught to me by a student of Sondra Ray, the originator of a process called Rebirthing. This way of breathing requires of me a continual mindfulness, since it rests on inhaling and exhaling without permitting the usual pause or still place at the end of either.

With each rebirthing breath, I surrendered more completely into whatever I might find hidden, buried or just tucked beneath my surfaces, the necessary residuals of leading a busy life.

Moved by the beauty of this Sacred Heart/Christ energy, I felt so hungry for a wise, loving touch, for someone there beside me who could touch me fully open. And there are so many in our world who need a kind touch, in need of quality time and attention to their wounds. Images of all the aging, sick and dying people I meet at work tumbled about in my mind, and knew myself to be one of them, too.

A memory softly stole over me, a powerful dream I had years ago. As a newly risen angel, all fragile wings and heart, no longer an egoic 'self,' I flew down to a world of persons in need, touching them with the most obliging hands....

"Touch only with love, " spoke another Voice, matter of fact, sure of Itself, with exquisite tenderness. "Touch only with love," She said again. " Those in need of touch are among the poorest of the poor." It was Mother Teresa, my great mentor of loving touch.

I began to weep again, a mush of gratitude and relief, disbelief and heartache. The uneasy, painful part seemed to emanate from a sense of inadequacy: How on earth could I reach all of these persons in need, let alone to touch them with the quality of saintly kindness and mercy they each deserve?

A paradox lodged in me: As a hands-on healer, I have experienced having great power to touch some people back to life. At the same time, I personally have no power at all: it is God coming through me. What am I then? Show me Mother:

"You are the instrument, even as am I. Each of us are the hands of God in the world. If you like, we can touch them together, you and I."

Another wave of unworthiness blanched through me, arching my spine, lifting my body off the pile of blankets I'd laid out to cushion the rebirthing session, setting me back down with a bit of a thud. All this was quite familiar to me, after fifteen years of inner, energy travels. Didn't I come into my tantric awakenings in just this manner way back then?

Rushes of kundalini cascaded through me, my poor body still reaching to be ever more refined, opened, vulnerable, powerfully present! I turned my head back to the right, towards the initial light that had come to redeem me, calling it back. In moments, I was again in its Presence, so beautiful, so easy, so everything I want to be. Bearing -baring- witness to my self, again, my ugliness rose to the surface. " You mistake my beauty for your ugliness," said my inner Jesus Voice, "and yet if that grace were not within you, you could not perceive it in me. Namaste."

Divinity in me sees the divinity in you. It takes one to know one. We are each other in disguise, often a "distressing disguise," as Mother Teresa loves to remind us.

I drank deeply of this teaching, this reprieve from worldly struggles. I was being fed, watered,

bathed in loving kindness and blessed wisdom. Now I would be better able to be living food for

others. "Will you feed me?" I had ventured. "Will you be fed," was the Reply.

A word idea appeared in my mind's eye: absolution. My inner thesaurus shuffled through synonyms: understanding, reckoning, for-give-ness, acceptance of the way things are with faith that God Is all that is. Absolutely.

Into this streaming of consciousness, a voice of my own inner Self intoned a gratitude for Jesus and Mother T, of all ancestral benefactors who come when my heart calls. Silently it prayed, "I honor you who have come before me, who are like unto me, who come to me and are as me and who teach me, that I as we may open others, be manna to others..."

More teaching about the nature of absolution and forgiveness was beckoning, wanting to take shape through me. I re-entered the circular breathing pattern. I heard, "All is forgiven, all is forgiveness, all is for giving," from a Voice which felt like Jesus and Mother Teresa combined. "Arrogance, hubris -you'll find these shadows opposite the pole of shameful unworthiness, all forms of God in Its distressing disguise, a continuum of impoverished living."

Both superior and inferior postures were an exercise in scarcity consciousness, blocking experience of the divine, and of real wealth. If I mistook the material world itself for the source of my well being, looking to "me" or to things outside myself to make me feel secure, I would be as a poor person, whether or not I had material wealth.

I had been grappling on my own spiritual path with the concept of true wealth for some time, prompted in part by the bumps in the road of redefining my work and livelihood late in mid life. Here, now, I was being asked to consider how the complexity of my sense of unworthiness might simply be a function of scarcity consciousness: Yet I am rich in the presence of Love. If I know how Precious I Am, I am free to bestow my gifts of Love without restraint or limitation....

"You are moving into The Gap," said the Voice, "found in between the worldly experience of lack and the divine experience of wholeness and grace. As your heart opens deeply enough, you experience the gap between what you could be as a fully awakened Being, and the human side of the sins--the harm done through ignorance of your own divine nature. Conscious willingness to feel the joy and the pain, to listen with your whole being, gives rise to the capacity to share your self wholly, to be a light, a toucher, a feeder to those around you. In facing the dark of unconsciousness, the light of Truth is seen."

As my manna journey moved to a close, I was given a task to help me in everyday life. I would tally up the receipts of my grocery purchases for the past month, and tithe ten percent of it towards feeding the hungry this month, and in all months to follow. It seemed a good idea, to share a basic necessity, and to be reminded each time, of the safety and abundance of lovingkindness to offer our hungry humanity, those out there who are also me, even as we are all also Jesuses and Mother Teresas in the making.

Food for thought for a long time to come.


It was a warmish spring day, hinting of summer just round the bend. The sun lit the afternoon sky gently. The scent of mimosa drifted through the neighborhood park.

The breezes were welcoming both Kris and me. I had brought my precious, wobbly doggie companion to one of our favorite nearby places to stroll, a park with a large duck and goose pond. This was our first such outing in more than two months, and I was nervous about it. Since her partial stroke, "Kris'l" was considerably weaker than before. Her weak hind end, hip displasia and arthritic right back leg were slowing her down considerably; she would be defenseless under surprise attack. The thought of some other dog running unattended, loosed on us , even in play, was threatening.

More threatening, though, was the thought of losing our shared joy of outings together. So I had brought my best friend, aging bones and all to the park, the one that seemed safest to try out.

We moseyed around the water, Kristol stumbling about, but happy to be sniffing trees for squirrels and meandering amidst the "duckies" and "goosets." I had an incurable habit of speaking baby-talk to her. Paws became "footsets" or even "pootsets." An occasional sparrow brought "widdo birdie, honey," purrs of "Ristol-la-la-la" following as we went.

Kristol was an innocent, fearing nothing: I was cautious, hugely protective, watching for trouble everywhere. Thus we made our tentative way along the perimeter of the park.

`The weather was lovely, I had to confess. I sighed with relief as a swift breeze came up unannounced, momentarily carrying me and my attention away from the park, the birds - and my ward.

An unearthly sound called me back from momentary reverie. There, about twenty yards from Kristol was a boy, perhaps about ten or eleven years old. He had espied my big, furry "doggus," and his eyes were newly glued on her. Another excited yell came from him as he began to make his way towards Kris, who heard nothing, her stroke having made her nearly deaf.

Rattled momentarily, I reconsidered: maybe he was OK, wouldn't really be a problem. I didn't want to be overly protective, or should I say, any more over protective than I already was being. But how to know for sure?

My instincts were on alert . Running away wouldn't be an option. Nor could I pick her up and carry her away from the kid back to my car if things got out of hand. I began to freeze into place, as the boy came closer. Something was weird about him. He was walking funny, not normal, kind of swaggering a little. I could see his eyes, locked in on Kristol, arms outreached towards his target. I held my breath, as he reached us, long thin arms eager to make contact with my stiff, old buddy. Dammit. The kid was drooling, too.

My instinct to breathe won over the next instant. I took in a deep breath and consciously, stationed myself, hovering over Kristol, preparing to do whatever was needed to protect her from this strange, afflicted child as he positioned himself with glee over Kristol, slowly lowering delicate arms down towards her bowed spine. The boy had black hair and sensitive, long fingers. I held my breath again, fascinated in spite of myself.

I was totally unprepared for what happened next. With utmost care and uncanny precision, the boy laid hands on my animal, drooling as he began to lower his mouth towards her back, her weakness. Ohmygod: was he going to bite her?? Dammit. He was drooling all over her beautiful fur. Kris was tolerating the touch, with her own kind of allowingness she often extended to the children who took delight in her. Trusting. Totally trusting.

I couldn't move. As if hypnotized, I watched as the boy planted the sweetest kiss I ever saw onto the spine of my creature. Two more times, again, lowering his mouth, kissing her along her spine!

I myself was in the habit of kissing her along her spine, an act of utter devotion and pure, unadulterated adoration. And now, here was a child, an abnormal, strange, unspeaking, slobbering child teaching me about unconditional love, unconditioned communion, unquestioning connection, and innate power to heal. I was hugely humbled.

Uninvited tears streamed down my face as I witnessed and silently thanked my mentor, this child of god, only in the next instant to wipe them away embarrassedly as a dark haired woman, Latina approached. The child's mother spoke no English, and offered no words. Together we watched the ritual for another minute or so, until I became aware than Kristol was tiring from standing there.

Attached to animal, the boy protested as Kristol struggled to walk away. I gestured to the woman, and understanding, she gathered the boy up in her arms, and onto her back, piggyback style. The boy was bereft, hollering his frustration. I felt guilty -on two counts, for him, and for my sweet companion. Their needs no longer seemed to coincide.

As we walked away, back to our car, away from the mother and her olive skinned, deep dark-eyed son, my tears returned. A suspended moment in time, a teaching for my life. A kiss I would never forget.

THE BUTTERFLY:A Lesson in Faith

Butterflies have always brought me a special joy, and when I'm down, a sense of hopefulness that things will improve. When I moved into my present house which had a terribly neglected back yard, I set to work to green it up, planting flowers and shrubs, pruning trees and watering everything. When the first butterflies appeared, gracing my new garden, I felt my body relax at last: I could be at home here.

Looking often to my garden and its beauty to cheer me when I'm down, butterflies continue to bring me reason to hope. Recently, I received the news that my contract would not be renewed with a local community college program due to funding considerations. I felt a rush of sadness and fear at the thought that a sizeable chunk of my present income would be lopped off. Also, being an instructor in the program who has received four years worth of sterling testimonials from her students, I couldn't help but feel personally betrayed by the distant hiring powers that be, cast off like a shoe fallen out of favor with a fickle owner. Bursting into tears, I instinctively headed for my garden.

From the patio, the warm autumn sun laid his hand on my shoulders, lighting up the patch of salvia in his wake, teasing several blue blossoms out for a sunning. Through the blur of fresh tears I spied a lovely golden orange butterfly about six feet away, stretched out fully against the greenery, motionless, resting. My first thought was how beautiful it was. Next, that I too was a kind of butterfly, one that had succeeded in doing its cocooning and emerging into the world at large. Somehow I would be OK, I was 'out,' I'd made it. I half heartedly began to make wings with my arms, as if I could fly -kind of a spontaneous gesture of interspecies communication.

But as is so often the case, fear and sadness is not so easily put to rest, and thoughts of "How could this have happened to me?" and "What am I going to do now?!" came rushing in on the heels of my pretty I-Am-Butterfly metaphor. My eyes closed for another round of feeling sorry for myself, arms dropping limply to my sides. When I opened my eyes moments later, looking back to the spot where my butterfly had alighted, it was no longer there. It had split, flown the coop. Now I really felt abandoned.

Spinning around in a kind of self styled dance -I often do "body prayer" -freely expressive dance on my patio in the garden -I tried to give expression to my hurt. Dancing with my back to the salvia patch, then forward and facing it again I was surprised to see a butterfly visitor -the same one? Another? -laying across the salvia much closer to me now. Fascinated, I noticed that it seemed to be missing a piece of its left wing. Near the bottom, it looked like a bite had been taken out of it. Feeling sorry for both of us now, innocent victims of circumstance, my eyes filled with tears again.

In a flash, the butterfly took flight, darting around in front of me showing me in no uncertain terms how very strong and capable it was of flying anywhere it darn pleased! It was a crazy, marvelous show of daring and dash and elegant power, and I couldn't help but smile and know that once again, a Messenger from the gods had come to give me hope. Better than hope, to renew my Faith in Life. Yes, I am like that butterfly. Yes, even with a piece of me missing, even with all I have endured, I am sturdy and able to fly, able to take myself wherever I need or want to go -even enjoying the heck out of the dance. And so it can be, again and again as I am reminded that Life is inherently Safe, and that I am free to revel in it. And share my stories.

RED SANDALS: A Conspiracy of Improbabilities

I'm discovering as I get older (get old?!), that my life can be guided by the synchronicities that come with the turf. By paying close attention to the chance encounters, those elements of surprising coincidence that appear when I least expect them, I am learning to detect "messages" from Spirit about how to live my life more fully.

-- And with less hassle. Indeed, what the Sanscrit language reveals as "the conspiracy of improbabilities" is all the evidence I need that Something Bigger than me exists, and that I may as well lean into It as I go along my more or less merry way. More relaxed, I can then use each incidence of synchronicity to realign with my best intentions for my life, feeling into specific occasions for more specific guidance. In this way, I can keep more on track of both my Dreams, and the means to help them come true.

How I came by my new pair of red sandals is one of those incidences of the conspiracy of unlikelihoods unfolding in the ordinary course of my day.

It was a Tuesday, a day I often have free of any obligations. Following a need to get rid of some things in my home I wasn't really using, I'd begun with closet cleaning. So many boxes with shoes I hang on to but never wear, don't even really remember that I own: surely I could part with one or two at least?

Opening one of the boxes on the top shelf, I discovered a pair of comfortable sandals I had totally forgotten about. Originally summer white, I had spray painted them light gold a year later, then packed them away in winter. Sadly, having forgotten all about them, I'd purchased another pair of gold sandals just this summer. Sighing, I thought maybe I could take the old pair and dye them red; I didn't currently own a pair of red shoes.

Anticipating my happy red sandals soon to be an easy reality, I jumped into my car and rode a few blocks away to the shoe repair man. He had several colors of red to chose from, but the cost to remove the old color and apply a new one was about fifteen dollars -more than I wanted to pay, and a little more time than I wanted to invest. Oh well. Maybe I would repeat what I did when the shoes were white: buy a can of paint, cover the soles with tape, and spray away. That would cost between three and five dollars, and probably be a bit simpler. Simple was important to me; I'd been pretty busy lately.

For another couple of weeks, the old gold sandals sat waiting in my closet. "You will soon be red," I thought, not knowing exactly when I would do the task, but very sure I would soon have bright red shoes to put on. That certainly was my intention.

What I could not foresee was the way in which I was to have red shoes, neither the means by which nor the ease with which it would happen.

Sundays I often facilitate sing-alongs at assisted living and senior living communities. It was just such a Sunday, a sunny summer's late afternoon, and I realized that few blocks away one of the big department stores was having a big sale. Although I seldom go to malls any more and had nothing in particular I felt a need to buy, I simply followed a whim (maybe an instinct?!) and went.

Entering the store, I immediately began scanning: I wondered what I might find? I had come in near the shoe department, and quickly saw evidence that early bird shoppers had picked over all the merchandise. Shoes lay in disorder all around: what a mess. Still, something inside pulled me along the isles, looking for something attractive in my size. "Good luck, " I thought to myself, willing to pan for gold. -Or red?!

Minutes later, I was struck dumb. Miraculous, impossible, completely improbable but laying face up in an opened box was a pair of candy apple red sandals, the only pair left, exactly in my size. Even more incredible, they were exactly the same style of sandal as my old golden ones!

-And they were on sale for five dollars, just the edge of what I'd envisioned paying. I rode home half stunned, humbled about what had just happened. A small, perfectly crafted miracle had just taken place in my life. Not the fact of it being about shoes, but the fact that this was so obviously not something I had orchestrated in any conscious way. Indeed, I could never have possibly come up with this solution, never in a billion years.

By the time I got home, I felt a calm peacefulness glowing in the center of my being. Surely now the 'gig' was to Intend even more wondrous things with more certainty they will manifest. Dream, commit, act on behalf of those dear dreams and values in all the conscious ways that I can -and then let go. Know that the "Universe" and I are One, and that the means for manifestation is being devised by an vast Intelligence that loves me. Little me.

Astonishing. And I have the red sandals to prove it and remind me every time I wear them. It's probably time to give the old, gold ones away. But first, I'll take a good photo of them to help illustrate my perfect story of a perfectly wonderful demonstration of what is Possible for anyone willing to have a desire, commitment to it, the willingness to open to miracles, and a sense of humor. Thinking back over my unconscious steps, I realized that ease and simplicity of transforming the gold to red was big on my list. How marvelous that I had so little work to do to have this success.

"I am alert to the conspiracy of improbabilities." Thank heavens.

THE MIDWIFE:Angel of Change

"Show me the way beyond death." I must have said these words scores of times over the past three months, invoking Spirit via a Native prayer I like very much. I hadn't realized then that I was calling in the means by which I would be further shown how, summoning both new and novel confrontations with dying and with what lies beyond appearances.

The first opportunity came on the eve of my new house mate Tom's move in. His girlfriend Sandy - a colleague and friend of mine, came with him, asking if I'd heard the news: a mutual colleague, Robert, a fellow tantra yoga practitioner, had slipped and fallen, hit his head in an accident, and was at present unconscious. Members of our tantric spiritual family were set to pray this night together at an appointed time -minutes from now. I agreed to set the altar for the three of us to pray.

While Tom held ground, Sandy and I opened ourselves to receive Guidance and offer what we might towards our colleague's fate as he hovered in the place between the worlds. In my own meditation, I saw a most wondrous site: several angelic beings encircling Robert, "running energies," creating a vortex of amazing Light for our friend who was lying in the center of the circle receiving the grace. I beheld the awesome vision, the total presence of love, radiance and peace. There was no fear in me, nor within my perception of Robert laying physically unconscious in 'real time' while simultaneously appearing to me to be fully Conscious. I marveled at the beauty of his soul -and of all our souls.

I was surprised to learn the next morning of Robert's death. My friends and I had interpreted the beauty of what we'd witnessed as 'proof' of his probable recovery, when in fact, it was his passing over we had partaken in.

A few days later, another friend called. Panicking, Carole told me that once again, her beloved aging dog Haiku had collapsed to the floor, unable to get up. The last time it happened, we had done a remote healing over the phone. I directed her hands over her companion animal while channeling energy and messages, feeling the presence of my own dearly departed Kristol Dog attending our efforts. Haiku had gotten up again, rather remarkably: could it happen again now, my friend pleaded?

Knowing that these things are not up to me, or her, but between the dog and his Maker, I agreed to Look and to offer healing for her friend, as he might be willing to receive. Having just participated in Robert's passing over a few days before in the midst of great prayer for his survival, I surrendered the 'outcome' to Creator as I shared the Guidance coming in about the doggy with us. He seemed to be utterly accepting of his condition; I felt no resistance. He was aware of his dear human companion's grief and fear for him and for their relationship though, and wished it could be easier for her.

As I communicated what I was seeing, hearing and feeling, some of my own unshed, incomplete grief over Kris' final hours came up, too, for healing. I was shown again, how the "suffering" was pretty much a human proclivity, borne out of fear, doubt, belief in separation from God/Love. Tears on both ends of the phone washed us cleaner, for our four footed friends ONLY had love for us, to the point where any question of even needing forgiveness was unnecessary, as far as they were concerned.

Perfect love, grace was all I could find as I attended this healing. Hours later I received a phone call that Carole had taken her precious Haiku to the emergency vet, and upon being counseled that there was nothing to be done to save him, had agreed to euthanasia, a heart wrenching decision to make about her fourteen year old devoted pal.

I would soon become aware that I had been actually summoning "the way beyond death." At Carole's behest, I went to her home the following day to do some prayer work with her. She was experiencing a total cut off from connection with her companion. "What is in my way of being able to see Haiku and know he's OK," she asked me, with agonizing tear stains on her face.

I looked. Near her right shoulder I saw a dark, hooked figure -a grim reaper. Simultaneously, a black slab block appeared in front of her.

"I am only grim, if you see me that way," said the Figure. "Humanity tends to fear me," he said, "but look closer and you will find I am related to the Angel of Death - a close cousin."

I peered at Him, and indeed, understood that I was seeing a common symbol of a much more vast presence. "I belong to that Which attends the transitions between what you think of as life, and what you think of as death. I attend the withering, the dying, the changing of all things on your earth, as they make the Change -even a leaf," said my Guide.

My attention shifted to the blackened mass in between Carole and me - a mass of fear. "The darkness that blocks you is your fear, and all fear is of loss. The greatest loss you can perceive is loss of life, of living. Yet even that is only 'grim' if you deem it to be true."

I thanked the Reaper. This was a very valuable teaching. I hoped that Carole, too, would find it useful, as the suggestion came for her to honor the mutual adoration she shares with Haiku, by ceasing to give so much of her energy to fears. I vowed to do the same, in honor of Kristol.

A week passed. This morning, in my moving meditation, the Reaper reappeared. "Are you enjoying reaping the fears you've been sowing?" he asked. "As Reaper, I observe and tend what has been sown. Sow with love -or not, it is your option."

For several days, I had been consternating over my diet, sluggish digestion, low energy. My body didn't seem to be suited for life on planet earth. I felt unrested, agitated, unsafe. I couldn't seem to make decisions, or have any fun.

"See what happens when you aren't trusting your gut," said my Witness. "Literally, you make yourself sick. Look again at the talk-sick thoughts you've been entertaining, fears about possible losses, actions of over protecting, micro managing?"

Reaper was right. I listened with all my mustered presence now, and saw the hood fall back over his shoulders, revealing a radiant smile. How beautiful! "Now you see me in my joyous aspect," said my Benefactor. "I am about the Love that attends ALL changes. You may also consider me the Midwife -a more feminine guise. I attend the shifts: from dying to being reborn, or from unconscious to conscious, or just from the ordinary 'oys' of life, towards the 'joys.' This is the work that I am here to mentor you in."

Indeed. I was overcome with humility, with gladness, with sweet pain of recognizing how off track (tract?) I had gotten again. As usual, my body was red lighting the dilemma, my gastro-intestinal tract an accurate, internal metaphor. I was unable to digest all the talk-sins.

Being shown the way beyond death, beyond the fear that attends our earthly lives, this dimension is an amazing grace. I had met with an archetype that not only was a personal Guide in my own time of changes, but that has timeless meaning for all sentient beings. From Grim Reaper, to Sower of thoughts and actions, to Beautiful Angel who attends all changes, midwiving where called upon, where Help is needed.

I vowed to embrace the fullness of these insights, this movement within me, to rest and trust more profoundly in my Nature, and offer my own earthly, spiritual midwiving services more freely.

May we all know that Life is precious and safe to Be living. May we all face our grim fears and experience the hood pulled back, revealing a shining, Angelic face of Loving kindness and wisdom.

SMALL THINGS:A very short story

It had been a hard week. An achy muscle in my back, pulled while pruning a backyard tree, had been wearing down my enthusiasm, along with rowdy neighbors and their booming "homey" music going on late at night.

While I was definitely out of sorts, I was not without the option to try calming myself with a moving dance meditation, an option I'd been exercising fairly regularly over the past month. At this particular time of need, it was nearly twilight, one of my favorite times to invoke sacred sensibilities.

With the softening sunlight hitting the blue flower salvia patch in my garden, and shimmering golden pinks glowing through the tops of the mulberry tree, it was quite lovely. I chose music to match the setting: deep, gentle, soothing, powerful harp and viola, letting music pour like honey onto the patio from a boom box perched on my bedroom window sill.

Body prayer -the art of dancing into awareness from the inside out - has become one of my favorite ways to center, calm and open myself. I began my meditation, using an invocation borrowed from Inca shamanism. Moving in a circular fashion, summoning guidance from four directions, I moved my body organically to the music. This evening, however, I was moving with some discomfort, the pain in my back testing my resolve, challenging my desire to shift into a more loving state.

Now facing north, I turned to speak with the "winds" of that direction. My arms rose and fell, spiraling with the music, the treetops and the setting sun. In this native medicine tradition, north is the place of Hummingbird; I thought to myself that it had been perhaps several days since I had seen a hummingbird in my garden, and certainly not at this hour -nearly seven-thirty in the evening.

Hands moving, inscribing arcs in the sky, I called to Hummingbird, and the Grandmothers and Grandfathers, the Ancient Ones to be here, acknowledging their many gifts of wisdom, "whispering" to me "in the wind."

As the words left my lips, a single hummingbird appeared, flying near, then perching on a power line above me, due north. Immediately recognizing the synchronicity; I was touched with blessing. Tears rose and shone in my eyes as my heart opened more deeply. What a sweet gift to acknowledge that I was not alone, knowledge arriving in this small creature's not so small appearance. "May I remember to look for beauty in small things," I whispered out loud.

Instantly, a teeny, teeny gnat -a black dot with nearly imperceptible wings alighted on my shirt, near my heart, the smallest creature ever. It looked at me, I looked it. There we remained for a minute, maybe two, just taking each other in. It wasn't going anywhere, not budging even when I attempted to shoo it with a shake of my blouse.

"Can you find the beauty in me, in this moment, " it seemed to ask. "Am I small enough? Do you see that you just summoned me?"

Yes, yes, another synchronicity -two in a row. So perfect. How could I not notice, not marvel at the invisible power of Life, Great Spirit, Goddess to fulfill my prayers for healing?! And to do it in a way impossible for me to have orchestrated.

I finished my dancing meditation with many thank you's, letting stillness fill the air, the space. As the CD played its final musical notes, I stood quietly with the soft breeze on my cheek. The Old Ones were here, and bidding me well for the evening. I smiled, remembering again that things always are Well in truth, it's just that I momentarily lose touch. Again and again.

My back feeling a bit relieved, my heart and spirit light, I went inside to write this story to share it with you, with all my Relations, that you too, may remember and Know all is Blessing.


The Department of Water and Power had become the enemy. A dark-skinned fellow had shown up on my door stoop telling me the trees in my backyard had to be trimmed away from power lines. Finding my gate locked, he requested immediate entry.

I stood there uneasily as my mind automatically opened images it had filed away for just such an occasion, images of strange men over the years coming onto my home turf whacking the daylights out of "my trees." Whether by landlord decree or city departments, my experience had been that doing the job left my dear trees denuded, their heads and arms cut off, broken semblages of former glory. To say nothing of trampled pansies or veggies unable to defend themselves from heavily booted and footed "landscaping artists" installing new, unexpected pathways through my gardens.

I stalled: "You'll have to make an appointment with me," I said, trying to look bigger than I felt. The fellow, Hispanic, thirty-something with very large dark eyes, nodded as he handed me an official order to make an appointment within ten days.

A week passed. Each day, my backyard seemed dearer. How very much my tree friends meant to me. I would circle the old westside paper mulberry as if in ritual, gazing up into the tall, leafy umbrella that provides cool shade for the family room and oxygen for my Los Angeles lungs. Power lines ran along her entire leafy circumference - the ones the DWP was talking about? Or those partnering with my two enormous bottle brush trees that the hummingbirds visit each day? That the doves, blue jays and robins sing to me from, and crows perch in to watch over their young?

I wanted to protect our environment, resolving to climb the mulberry and prune away any "offending" branches that I could reach myself, trimming with love and appreciation in hopes that our ancient mulberry friend might be spared -and chard and beets shaded in the heat of the day from frying sunlight by the long, sweet branches. I was kind of old to go hanging in a tree, but Duty was calling.

I hung in for nearly ninety minutes. Lowered myself back down carefully onto the top rung of my ladder, I reached terra firm with great relief that I hadn't broken my neck. There remained a couple of serious branches leaning on power lines, way out of my reach. The three large branches that I'd tied up together with rope away from the lines smiled hopefully back at me. I prayed that my efforts would spare the tree -and me from an industrious DWP onslaught.

Another day passed with me nursing the sore muscles around my left shoulder and arm pulled by my monkeying in the treetops. The deadline was approaching: could I escape by not calling back? I sighed an ethical sigh, took a deep breath and dialed the number on the notice card I'd saved.

The supervisor answered: "Call and speak with the trimmer directly to set the date. I'll give you his number. You'll have a couple of days advance warning."

I left a message on the trimmer's service, buying a little more time. When he reached me a few days later; I said Friday was my only free day to be home to open the gate , I was told that the crew only worked Monday through Thursday, and he was booked until next week. Another stay of execution: would he forget to call me back? Would "the Universe" disappear the ordeal altogether?

Sleeping soundly the following Wednesday morning, I was awakened by the door bell. "DWP to trim your trees, m'am," said a short, light skinned Latino fellow.

"You were supposed to call me first and make an appointment," I stammered, buying time.

"Oh...." muttered the trimmer. "But we are here now," he reasoned, unsuspecting of my misgivings about that very fact. "How long will it take?" I ventured cautiously. "Need to see the trees first," he replied flatly.

OK, time for surgery. As we approached the sweeping arch of the mulberry, I began a plea for mercy. "Don't need to do this one," he said matter-of-factly, moving on to consider how to trim the bottle brush.

Spared the mulberry, I brightened, even as a second Latino came through the gate to help with the job. We watched as the first hoisted himself into my thirty-five foot bottle brush and began lopping away with a very long pruning device. The dreaded time was here: might as well go back inside.

From my bedroom window overlooking the garden, I sat in full view, hidden by sunlighting, scrutinizing them, worrying, waiting for a screw up to prove my suspicions right. Was I actually hoping for a mishap, or for a job well done? What was my real intention, here?!

As the question began to come to consciousness, the workman on the ground collecting the branches tossed down by the trimmer, moved into my salvia patch. Aha! Gotcha!

I rushed outside, startling the worker, my plants struggling for recovery under his feet. "No, por favor," I said, ushering him out of the salvia, collecting the thick brush gathering there and moving it too onto less tender ground.

"Oh, sorry!" he said, as I patted him on the back, surprised by the tender act that came out of me from some more deeply summoned and kinder place. "Very sorry!" he exclaimed, standing consciously now out of my carefully tended salvia patch.

I returned to my sentinel seat on my bed, watching at the window still bewildered by the fact that I had made a new sort of response to the potential damage that could have been done, and to my own negative expectations. Something was dawning on me: a real desire to have my yard unharmed, to win this round, would require a matching intention: that no harm be done at all, not to the trees or salvia plants, and not to the workmen either....

A new capability was striving to take root in me,( as I wrestled to contain, to integrate it. ) Clearly past pain had led me to anticipate a current disaster, treat the DWP as the enemy, and myself as a likely victim. But if I really wanted -intended- a sweet outcome, I couldn't hope to catch the men in the act of despoiling or want to be "right" about them being unreliable and insensitive. A peaceful, sacred outcome would require me to make an empowered choice to Be free of victimization and angst, and be response-able to that result.

I watched the two men finish the first tree, and the grounds keeper point out to his tree climber partner that there was another bottle brush tree to prune. I held my breath for an instant, the old fear looming that surely now the damages I had been expecting would be coming. Something in me said, "Breathe, just breathe and keep your heart and mind open."

It took effort to focus consciously, but I wanted to keep my Intent on a happy ending for this story-in-the-making. I smiled to see the groundsman stepping carefully over my alyssum plants, and placing the tumbling branches on a mowed grass plot that could take the weight. He left twice to put the piled branches in the truck, and breathing through my worry, observed that the pruner from his treetop perch, miraculously seemed to be sending the branches down without damaging anything growing nearby.

Finishing, the two trimmers packed up and left my yard. Easing out from my hiding place, I toured my yard; no damage had been done. I had turned a corner in my experience, and in my life as a woman bent on peaceful solutions to life's challenges.

Clearly, if my deepest intent had been to find fault and be failed again, I would have behaved differently, rushing out in righteous indignation to scold the offending workman standing in my salvia like a fool. But wouldn't I have been just as foolish forfeiting a happy ending to my own story?

Today, the pruner was back working next door. When I thanked him for doing such a good job, for cooperating with me, his dark eyes shone: "It was my pleasure," he beamed with pride.

How sweet life can be when I Intend it to be -sweeter. When I make room for good things from people, even those I fear by being respectful, I make room for them to respond in kind. By standing up for what I value -trees and other living things, consciousness and loving kindness- with my heart open, ready and able to Connect, what I value is preserved, augmented. I truly become an "instrument" of Peace.


Throughout my life, periodically, I seem to get troubled about my purpose here on earth. It may start as a vague restlessness, a sense of dissatisfaction with the way my life is going. Restlessness may be spurred by indulging feelings of loneliness, or thinking I "should" be more financially well off or better known for my works. Yet when I look beneath the uneasiness, mulling over my sense of meaning and purpose belies the deeper question of how I might be even more fully here, fully engaged with living -and serving others in joy and gratitude.

Holidays often trigger for me a kind of restlessness, since I am not married, and have no immediate family nearby. Being a self-styled loner, someone who is contemplative by nature and who enjoys solitude, I find myself periodically rather lonesome, always a bit of a surprise for me when it arrives, yet obviously a result of my penchant for freedom from commitments apart from my work schedule,

Memorial Day weekend this year was lonely for me, and yet I couldn't seem to persuade myself to pull anything together with friends. My desire was to share a sense of 'sacred space" with others, and friends' family barbeques just weren't an easy choice for me. I didn't have confidence that I would be able to share peace and depth within a decidedly secular arena. Probably my loss, I admitted to myself as a day alone unfolded. Nevertheless, I was singularly unmotivated to attend any Memorial Day events, all the while contemplating my "meaning" in this Life we all share, and knowing it is about serving others through love, kindness, play, creating beauty and sacred 'sense-ability."

Driving to the market, mulling my experience of lack regarding satisfying social companionship, I ran up against a realization: I have little sense of purpose outside of my work. which regularly affords me deep, satisfying communion with other people. My work is closely aligned with my dedication to my spiritual growth, which extends to my home and garden tending. All of these undertakings relate to my love of and need for sacred space-making, and seem to be deeply related to my sense of usefulness. Outside of the deep satisfaction I experience in tending people, plants and home space, and my own psyche, I seem purposeless. . I don't really have a meaningful social life. I don't remember how to be useful there.

Returning home from marketing, I recall the story of how I discovered how much store I put on being useful. It was nearly twelve years ago, and my first official vision quest. As were many such spiritual endeavors, this one was prompted by the impending loss of a lover relationship, and by growth that was needed to not be traumatized by it, as was my tendency. I chose the island of Maui, a place I had never been to, and the place my lover loved most on planet earth. It was a delicate choice, to go there for nine days, but the warrior in me liked the challenge. I made a ceremonial art work -the first of many that would be born to meet such occasions -dared my personal demons to show themselves to me, and vowed in prayer not to be defeated by them.

Maui was a paradise, but it seemed that it was not meant for me to be happy there. It rained daily, was coolish, and I suffered much loneliness. Expecting a "vision," I became agitated when none came. The river of insights could not be pushed, no matter how much I wrote in my journal, or tried to smile at the clouds.

Eight days had passed: no miracles of transformation. I was still a lovesick middle aged woman, away from her comfortable house, stuck on a beautiful island by her lonesome. My two friends who lived on the island both knew my "ex," and they sympathized with me, but sympathy wasn't getting me what I had prayed for. Nor was demanding a vision, or feeling sorry for myself, or trying to pretend I was feeling OK when it seemed my life, my future happiness was on the line. Tomorrow morning my plane back to the states would pull into the airport: what was I to do?

Being a physically active woman, I had walked to a park that I felt an affinity for. The rain had stopped, at least for a while. I had been journaling, keeping record of the whole trip. I entered a question onto a blank line, "What is the bottom line, God? I am so lonely, so adrift, scared I can't survive with such emotional pain, won't achieve my purpose, -won't discover my purpose!"

I had asked -demanded that my fears clarify themselves to me, that I may look them in the face and prevail. Now I was pacing around a picnic table, sad, upset, confused -and yet deeply knowing there was some reason I had come all this way, and that my time was running out. With a deep sigh, I paced, listening for an Answer. There just had to be one.

When the need is great enough, and where a sense of powerlessness can give way to surrender, an answer can be Heard. "You are more afraid of loneliness that anything," said my inner Voice. "Your demon is the fear of emotional engulfment, being overwhelmed by the sorrow and longing you can conjur when you think you are all alone." Yes! How true: the "demons" I dared to show themselves had appeared all right: I was miserably lonesome, and afraid I would always suffer in this way. That somehow, unrequited love would follow me all the days of my poor life.

"What's your bottom line for surviving this experience, this fear?" asked my Guide.

I walked around the park, pondering. What if I did encounter a fate of being unpartnered all my life, of being essentially alone. How could I survive, since survival was the bottom line?

The answer came, as a flood of recognition: I needed to know that I could be useful every day. That in some way, I could make a difference to someone or some creature, or a plant -to help them stay alive, to thrive. If I could do that, I could survive the depth of my emotional anguish. Better, I might even relieve it. The bare bones of my life thus revealed, I went home to California. My quest for a vision had been fulfilled. Had been there awaiting my full enough attention.

It's twelve years later, and once again, I find myself facing the demon of loneliness, albeit a much kinder and softer one these days. A few days vacation from my work, being away from the kinds of activities that help me know how deeply I matter to others -seem to have thrown me off balance. The usual fare of entertaining myself with solitary art projects, reading or writing, tending the garden weren't working. My hunger was for a kindred spirit, free to be with me today. "Everybody" seemed to be out of town, or with family get togethers: holidays are like that.

What I am learning is how very much satisfaction in living comes to me as I experience sacred space: being kind, helpful, sharing playful, creative activity, making Beauty where none had seemed to be there before. I loved being used well, experiencing how life is served as I share my gifts of love, passion, wildishness with a world that needs just what I have to offer. When I am blue, I need to be useful. That may start with my own psyche, with waking up to remember that loving action is the balm. Serving my Self is always the answer to what ails, and since my Self is related to all that is, any act of lovingkindness will do to begin the shift back to feeling alive and blessed.

I am alive. I am blessed. I am useful, my life has meaning, and my purpose is to keep waking up to finding all the ways to be in Love.


Next on my list of residents to visit in the nursing home was a woman named "Lillian." I'd arrived early to make my rounds. The activities director had made a list of those persons she thought would especially benefit from my musical healing songs. Lillian was in room 312 in bed "C" in the subacute ward, but when I entered her room, beds "A" and "B" were vacant. Bed "C" was by the window, but the curtain was drawn, hiding the view of the world outdoors. The room was dim.

Although nothing especially had been said about Lillian to me beforehand, I could tell she was dying. A veritable bag of bones, she sat bent down in her wheel chair beside her bed. A nasty looking mess of freshly vomited food lay in a puddle on the bedding, spilling beside her lunch tray. I quickly looked away and back to the sick old woman before me: "Would you like for me to sing a special song for you?" I inquired. She nodded a wisp of approval, eyes cast down, hopelessly attached to a face and neck unable to rise to the occasion.

"I'll be loving you, Always"....I began, crooning gently, "with a love that's true, Always." Lillian clucked an approval, mouthing the word "Always" each time we came around to it.

"Days may not be fair, Always....but that's when I'll be there, Always..I swayed rhythmically back and forth as I sang to Lillian, doing my best to bathe her in soothing sounds, giving her a "sound bath." I was standing quite close beside her chair, but as I was standing up, I towered above her, and our eyes were not meeting.

I hunkered down, in front of her now, catching her eyes for the final refrain: "Not for just an hour, not for just a day, not for just a year -but Always."

We stared curiously at one another, eyeballs to eyeballs. Lillian's were huge, rather vacant, dark with secret stories she had no way to tell me about. Against the severe hollows of her cheeks, her eyes seemed rather ghastly to behold.

I started another song -one that just popped up from somewhere inside of me. "Let me call you Sweetheart," I sang hopefully, searching for Lillian inside those bug eyes, "I'm in love with you..."

I adjusted my gaze so that I could take in her whole face and head. Thick white hairs launched recklessly out of her chin, and tufts of gray hair broke out all over the top of her head. This was a woman who had aged hard, with rough, raggedy edges. Fascinated, I sang on through my observations: "Let me hear you whisper that you love me, too."

Lillian craned her head, turning her eyes, bulging sockets and all, and seemed to find me there, crouched before her with my guitar on my knees, singing this love song to her, to us, both of us.

"Keep the love light burning, in your eyes so blue..."

Shivers ran along my spine, as always happens when I am taking in Something Bigger than myself. Here I was, singing a love song to a hag - an archetypal hag. But "hag" comes from the Greek word for "sacred grove," for "holy."

"Let me call you Sweetheart..." I shivered again, as I understood somewhere deep inside of me -- in a place only the music Knew, that with Lillian's silent help, I was singing for myself as well. We both had become Crone: ancient song, timeless text. In one breath the Scorned and Forgotten One arose between us, and in the next, the Wise Woman. What a strange and wondrous duet, this song of honoring, of remembering, of singing over the bones, refleshing us each back to life, even as She, singing from within me, also sat before me, in the guise of Lillian, wasting away, dying.

My Song continued to come and I could do nothing but serve its purposes until, mysteriously as it had begun, I arrived at its end , and to my time with Lillian: "I'm in love with you..." My voice trailed off into silence.

I patted Lillian's hand, thanked her and left to make my rounds. "I'll be back in two weeks," I told her, not knowing if she understood, or heard me, or what. Yet certain our souls had touched each other in a fashion that I surely would always carry with me.

Two weeks later on Monday morning, I came to make my rounds. Reporting in to the activity director's office, as I always do, I asked if she had any particular instructions for my visit that day. There was difficult news for me: Lillian had died a few days before. We observed a moment of silence, words too cumbersome and awkward to try.

In memoriam, Lillian's astonishing, frightful, beautiful face, her high, frail cheekbones and those enormous eyes are forever impressed upon me. Through them I was able to Witness the visage of the Crone, to see my own Ancient face. We sang of Life, and we sang of Death, and knew that Love was all we had. And was all we needed.

"Let me call you Sweetheart, I'm in love with You."

"Lillian" was featured in the Whole Life Times (date), and scheduled for publication in a collection of stories "Sisters Singing" in 2007. It's excerpted from a book manuscript of essays by the author entitled, Iron Jane: Tales of Awakening A Wild Heart.

"BLANKIE" :A Coyote Tale

It was another double down day. Whatever the reason -- "stress," working too long and hard again, hormones out of whack -- the fact was, I was an emotional wreck. Attempts to rise above it all were failing; I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Nurture was calling.

I hadn't been out in Nature for several days. That alone can make me very out of sorts. I got into my car not knowing exactly where I wanted to go, but somewhere close. Dealing with L.A. traffic was definitely not on my wish list.

There was about an hour of daylight left to work with as I pulled onto Wells Street heading east. Wells runs for three, four, maybe five miles and leads to several trail heads in the Valley. I seemed to be headed for Corbin Canyon, which I call "Kristol's Canyon," since my beloved doggy's bones lay buried there. Somewhere. A coyote had robbed the grave I'd so carefully constructed a year or so ago.

I parked and reluctantly got out of my car. Hard memories were returning: her final hours, dying in the back seat, my terrible guilt and grief as I struggled to get her heavy, bloated body out of the car. I remembered how I tripped over the blanket I had her wrapped in as I stumbled in the dark full moon light at 3 a.m. Then, trying to cover her over with brush until I could get back the next morning and bury her properly.

Coming to Kristol's Canyon is hard, but I always go when I feel guided to do so.

It was dusk. The place was overgrown with very dry brush, browned and yellowed from the unseasonable heat. Not very inviting. I walked over to the grave site, and noted that the altar offerings I'd laid there many months ago remained, untampered with. I read my memorial poem and looked at Kris' very faded pictures glued on it: she looked so peaceful, so serene, content with life. I smiled, letting a tear trickle down my cheek, too.

Remembering that it would be dark before long, I set out for the nearby trail. A turquoise shape caught my eye. Moving closer, I saw that it was the Native blanket that I had buried Kristol in. It had been her favorite one -- her "blankie." What was left of it after several seasonal beatings lay here, torn, full of stickers and twigs. I reached down and picked it up, considering whether to take a small piece as a souvenir. No, I decided. Probably best not to. I sighed broadly, and very much alone, started up the trail.

A few birds were singing. The air smelled pretty good. Maybe I would luck out and see a coyote -always very special for me, since the Trickster is one of my teachers in this life.

I ruminated as I walked along, knowing how much I was needing this alone time, yet resisting feeling heartache and confusion about what directions to take for my life. Questions about where to live, what livelihood to claim and commit to, how to free up time just to Be -and to renew my social life, all this was up.

"If only I could have a sign," I murmured. It sounded puny, so I mustered more volume: "If only I could have a sign!" That things would be OK. If only I could talk things over with Kris, my special angel girl.

I began to pay closer attention, both to be aware if a "sign" should appear, and because the poison oak along the trail was getting thicker as I approached its end. I really didn't need a case of p.o. to add to my troubles. Stepping very carefully, I passed the three oaks that mark the coming of the trail's end. What was that? On the ground? Something turquoise?

I reached down and freed the thing from the debris it was stuck on: it was a small swatch of Kristol's blankie! How on earth did it get a mile or more up this road?? Here at the end?

"With you to the end," I heard in the breeze. "To the very end."

My sign was a Coyote message, with a play on words. Coyote likes to play with me. This time the medicine was gentle, soft and easy to hear: I never am all alone. I am loved, and watched over. I sighed in relief, and offered my thanks, my great thanks for this sign, and tucked the swatch safely in my pocket.

Feeling lighter, a song rose up out of me: "Day by Day," from the play Godspell. "Oh dear God, three things I pray: to see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly, day by day..."

It was getting dark. I picked up my pace. Approaching a small creek crossing, I saw something ahead: A coyote! A big one, with a white tip on its tail! "Oh," I called out," Oh, please wait for me!" But the animal, after eyeing me clearly for a moment, had taken off down the canyon hillside.

Oh well. I hurried on back to my car, making sure as I pulled the keys out of my pocket that the swatch was still there. I wanted it close to me, for reassurance.

I drove back home, stopping for gas, lost in thought again. Arriving back at my house, I closed the garage door, went inside to begin to cook my dinner.

About an hour later, I remembered that I had the piece of sacred blanket in my pocket: I wanted to add it to an altar where I'd placed a prayer candle a couple of days ago.

My pocket was empty. The swatch was gone! Oh no, I thought, oh no. I went back out and looked around the car: had I dropped it? Just as my heart was readying to sink to the pavement, I heard the Voice of Coyote say, "Nothing to hold on to."

I nodded in recognition, that the second, harder Message meant that I would need to have Faith in this period of changes, of dissolutions and letting go. I could not hold on to a piece of blanket, no matter how precious it might have seemed: the Power I sought lay only in my faith, my willingness to keep going, keep Listening, keep growing. Keep on keeping on. I sighed again, and went in to eat my dinner before it got cold.


My life has been blessed by more than one vigilant guardian angel; I've hit some pretty rough spots along the great Road. It's a small miracle that I am alive, and I'm grateful to my angelic benefactors, who seldom bear any resemblance to the smooth, shiny and untarnished angels reflected in gift shops. Although mine are often gnarly and rough hewn, they shine no less brilliantly, like my Labor Day weekend angels.

Girlfriends had begged me not to go camping alone, or to at least pack some pepper spray. They were adamant: a woman, especially one my age, should not go camping alone in the wilderness, and certainly not without some nasty protection. I simply said, "It's not my way."

I hadn't undertaken a solo wilderness quest in nearly five years, since returning to Los Angeles. I was starving for quietude to Listen to hawks, to be serenaded by a million crickets. I was hungry for the kind of soulful communion that only wilderness provides me.

It was a sorry fact that my four "free" days for traveling coincided with Labor Day weekend, not the most opportune time to go be alone anywhere in Nature. I was about ready to call the whole thing off. "Forget about finding any place quiet on a holiday weekend -or free of L.A. traffic," said state park and forest services. Then a ranger up in the San Bernadino mountains at "Lytle Creek" said she one of their nineteen "yellow post sites" might offer some respite. While these sites were undeveloped -no potties, water or picnic tables, and were accessible off a "dirt road," I opted to have her fax me maps. I would gladly trade a shower and toilet for an uncluttered skyline, and sagebrush growing unadulterated by people trampling around a campground.

Although I had apprehensions -strange places, travel time, traffic - I plucked up courage and set out Thursday afternoon, hoping to outwit the throngs of weekend campers, and score a couple of days all to myself. One hour and thirty seven minutes later, I arrived at Lytle Creek Station.

When I exited the car, I knew I'd made the right choice. Pungent sage stalks clustered all along the road. The air smelled wonderful. A refreshing high desert wind took a cooling edge off the high 90s heat. Inside the ranger station, I bought my adventure pass and promised "Patsy" to return Saturday to pay for another, if I stayed an extra day. "Stop at our developed campgrounds first and see if you like it," she advised. "If not, just stay on the main road until the pavement ends, then take the dirt road until you come to the yellow post sites."

Apple White campground was already packed with families, dogs and Rvs, so I headed for the "dirt" road:What was this? Rocks -everywhere! And thick grey dust kicking up all around. I slowed to about two miles per hour. Neither I nor my thirteen year old Probe had bargained on this.

I drove nervously past the Lytle Creek "firing range," gunfire crackling, punctuating the continual crunching of rocks beneath my wheels. As much as I longed to reach campground, I also hoped it was far away from any men with guns. From my car window, countless shards of glass shone in reflected sunlight, scattered in a million pieces all over the desert floor. My hair bristled.

Forty endless minutes passed, and still no signs pointing to the yellow post sites: was I on the right road? It would be dark soon enough. Better pull off road and set up a temporary camp. Hearing the sound of gunshot in the distance, I wanted to be well hidden from the road. I chose a spot will tallish brush, hoping it would provide shelter from the hot morning sun as well. It was 6 p.m. Three hours had disappeared since arriving at Lytle Creek. I unfolded my beach chair and ravished a salad.

Settling in, from my hiding place I watched an occasional SUV head loudly up the road, then come back down full speed. Wanting some exercise, I took a little exploratory walk up the road, returning alongside the setting sun. I began to relax a bit into the cool darkening, even though I couldn't get the Coleman lantern going: perhaps because it had sat for five years unused? No matter, I had two flashlights along, one in my tent, one next to my chair.

Night came, filling my world with the songs of crickets and mysterious night birds. Under the enormous inky, star studded heavens, I could see forever. I craned my neck looking upwards. Mars was bold and red, bearing down on me from the left of my sky. He was so very close to earth, just one day past his closest ever.

My neck was beginning to hurt. Lying down would be nicer, but not on my ground mat. I didn't know what else might be crawling in the night sand, and didn't really want to find out. I got into my tent and stretched out, finding myself uneasy under Mars' steady watch through my mesh window. A nearby owl provided relief, his rhythmical "whoo-whoo" soloing against a soothing backdrop cricket choruses singing in rounds, taking turns , closer then farther away. It was only 9 o'clock; I dozed off.

I awoke suddenly, startled, then remembering where I was. Mars had moved clockwise, still peering through the tent roof. It was 3 a.m. I yawned and wondered what his business was with me. Little did I suspect that all my plans were about to change with morning.

Waking with the sun already heating up at 7 a.m., I got into my car and rode about a quarter of the mile up the road, scouting for a better campsite. Walking about, I found surprising yellow bursts of delicate desert flowers, even a lone pine tree here and there. This spot had a good feel. I got back in old Betsy; I heard a tiny click sound, but the engine wouldn't turn over. Nada. She wasn't starting. Omigod.

I got out of the car, paced for five incredibly long minutes, then got back inside and tried again. To my enormous relief, the car started up.

I drove back to my tent, backing in this time, facing the main road just in case I might need a jump start from somebody. Hopeful and fearful at the same time, I turned off the engine, sat there, and fearing the worst, tried to start it again. Over and over, not a sound, not even a click. I was alone and stranded.

I would have to come out from behind the protective bushes and shrubs. I would have to expose myself to seek help. And that help would have to come, most likely, from the element I most feared: the "yahoos" who love to shoot the hell out of bottles in the desert, practice taking aim and firing, hitting, smashing. I was going to need an angel, for sure. Maybe two.

I sighed and pulled my faded chair over to my car to wait. Would anyone else be driving this road on Labor Day weekend? Would I be safe? Starve? Die of dehydration in the heat? I struggled to manage my imaginings.

Two hours dragged by. At last: the sound of crunching rocks and a cloud of dust meant someone was arriving. I crossed my fingers and went out into the road, flagging down a helpful young couple. Our efforts to jumpstart Bets back to life failed, so I welcomed their offer to drive back down the road to the shooting range and get someone to call for help. They returned a half hour later with the news that a ranger would be coming in about an hour.

One hour passed, then three, four, no ranger. A couple of other vehicles had roared past me, paying no attention. One gave me bad vibes, and I hid behind some bushes, hoping they'd pass. Sigh. I really was in a fix.

I mustered both courage and trust and took a deep breath. However, it was afternoon already. To relieve my anxiety and to give myself something useful to do, I constructed a "Help Me" sign using a discarded stereo speaker, a big stick, rocks, cardboard and colored art pens I had in my trunk. Time to be creative, resourceful.

A slower moving car was approaching. I ran out, waving my hands wildly, seeing another young couple. "Why doncha go on down to the gun range," said the tired, and not so friendly looking fellow. His girlfriend with pock marked, pimply skin added, "it's only about a half mile down the road."

I set out carrying a large sun umbrella -little match for the gusty winds, a pint of water. My wraparound shades were keeping the dust out of my eyes, still I prayed it was only a half mile down this godforsaken road. I mulled: could I find trustworthy help from gunslingers? The kinds of people I associated with harming innocent, living things? Like me? It was time to Surrender.

What happened over the next few hours and three days was wondrous. A parade of people -the kind normally I don't talk to, run across or consort with -came to my rescue. "Bonnie" who owned the firing range rounded up "Alberto," a sweet young Latino laborer on the premises, and sent us back in her van to try to get my battery going. "Why don't you carry a gun," Al asked, telling me that dead bodies have turned up in this area. "It's just not my way," I said, sparking an exchange about my shamanic medicine path, my adopted Buddhist ways of invoking harmlessness. He listened respectfully, and then went to find "Dale," a front toothless, skinny older man who came with a bigger truck and a big chain, and diagnosing the trouble as "the starter ain't happ'nin," the two men pushed and pulled my car over rocks and sand, into the main road. "You'll have to get in and roll 'er on down the mountain a piece," offered Dale, "'til you get to the firing site. You'll be OK. Just pull up the emergency brake if you need to stop or slow it down 'til you git there."

With both men watching out for me as best they could from their respective vehicles, I climbed into my car and set it rolling down that horrible road, wondering if it would ever run again.

Well it did, and I'm writing this tale because of a host of angels in disguises came to my assistance. "God works in mysterious ways," Bonnie said right off. Jaime was all heart, and Dale, half Cherokee told me his formula for peace of mind, puffing away on his cigarettes: "Respect everbody, try not to never harm nobody, and you will not be afraid of nothin', and you will be at peace." His speckled blue eyes were about the most peaceful thing I'd seen, and our two hours together, the cold water he gave me to drink instead of a coke, unforgettable -although I must admit, I was very nervous about maybe have to spend the night alone on that mountain range with a strange man whose wife had died ten years ago, leaving him "real lonely," as Bonnie had described. Reading my worry as another woman might, however, she took me aside as she was leaving for the evening to tell me that she'd put her life in Dale's hands more than once, and that "a nicer human being" couldn't be found. I certainly hoped so.

I opted for a tow as soon as possible. The two tow truck guys, also Hispanics, drove me from my vulnerable spot Somewhere in Lytle Creek to another place Somewhere in Fontana where I and my car would be dropped off. Always nervous to be alone with male strangers, it was time to stretch my faith again and trust them with my life, my body, my money, my car, a reliable destination. The driver "Jesus" spoke of how much he loved his job: "helping people in trouble" gave him a really good feeling. His partner spoke no English. We three rode in the truck, speaking of the benefits of caring about others, arriving 7 p.m. Friday night at Michael's repair shop. Jesus said he'd give me a break on the cost, only $90 to tow, instead of the $95 quote. The other firm we'd called wanted up to $300 for a holiday tow...

Michael called his employee "Jeannie" to come get me, and take me to a motel. While waiting, he told me proudly of how he built his business with integrity, treating people "right," and being "honest" and not charging sometimes. I wondered if I would be a beneficiary.

Jeannie arrived and when she heard my tale said, "God always has a reason for everything. You just don't always know what right away." Minutes later, we had discovered we both were artists and poets, and she was reciting me lovely verses about having a good attitude and being happy for what we have. I suspected another angel in disguise.

By the time my car was fixed, about 12:30 the next afternoon, I had promised to go home with Jeannie to see her "arts." While I was incredibly tired and famished for a little greenery -my Fontana experience while kind, was paved everywhere with cement, low income housing and litter, I couldn't say "no" to my new friend. Stopping off first to see her boyfriend, I caught myself becoming impatient and focused instead on how marvelous it must be to have "time" to help strangers out, even all day. I wanted more of that sense of freedom for my own life.

Jeannie's house, shared with a brother and nephew, looked a lot like the repair shop, right down to the tires in the livingroom: guy stuff. Her own room was another story, saturated with her wondrous works of art, painted talismans, bright paper story collages and her rock collections (we both see 'faces' in everything) and her unabashed enthusiasm. I marveled at her patience, too, tracking down a map for me of her favorite spot, "Sapphire Canyon," via a borrowed computer with equally borrowed internet access. Putting my Nature needs first, she was giving up favored time to be cavorting with her "sex god" boyfriend, and their impending holiday trip to Mexico.

While her map efforts did get me to that canyon, it was another dirt road up a big hill, in the heat of the day, and I didn't want to risk putting ole Betsy -or me - through it. To opt for more than six personal angels in less than three days might be pushing my luck.

I plucked a bunch of sage from Sapphire Canyon's mouth, found a decent green spot off the highway to hike a bit, and drove home in one piece. While I am still recuperating from the exertion, and tired a bit around the gills, I Know I was given a startling Angel Lesson: angels come in all sorts of forms, seldom in those guises we most anticipate, and always when we need them most. I may be a little crazy to go off alone, at my age, with an old car, into the wilderness in some strange place -but it's my way. Thank goodness, to have such ample demonstration that angels attend our passage all along that Way.

Some of my Labor day angels would be called, "trailer trash" in proper society, yet I see that sometimes the highest good comes in the lowliest places. I know if I forget, I will be Reminded. Angels are everywhere. (2625 words)

Published in Awareness Magazine, Nov-Dec 2004

Marcia Singer, MSW, CHT heads The Foundation For Intimacy and is a frequent contributer to New Thought publications. She holds a master's in Clinical Social Work from U.C. Berkeley and is a master Hypnotherapist (ABH#H1743). She is a contemporary Shamanic healer and artist, and available for sessions, day Quests, classes. (877)-ART-WILD lovearts@att.net


Seeing my neighbor mowing his yard as I was leaving for work, I cursed him under my breath in spite of myself. Being a "spiritual" woman, I wanted to be less hateful and judgmental of him. Yet just two weeks ago, he'd run over a kitten with his truck, backing out of his driveway, in spite of the fact that my roommate had tried to warn him earlier that the youngster was resting under the wheels. She bore witness to the fatal accident, and I had taken to muttering epithets under my breath every time I saw him for his seeming unconcerned and uncaring attitude. His English isn't very good, but we'd decided he was hopelessly careless

To make matters more complicated, his family had abandoned the cat's mother, who had taken up residence at our house. While we'd become attached to our new, outdoor lap cat, feeding her and cooing to her, the combination of allergies to cat dander, a hefty pet deposit required by our landlord, lack of time and funds to devote to a pet, made us unacceptable permanent time kitty moms. We had been trying for three weeks to find her a suitable adoption -with no help from the neighbors.

On this particular morning I was rushing to make a 'gig' at a retirement facility. I now had a habit of making sure the cat was away from my wheels as I back out of the driveway. When I had gone only about a block, a squirrel rushed out into the street. My heart skipped a beat as I narrowly missed hitting it. Damn that was close! Angry at being so startled, I guessed my general irritability so far this morning was a sure sign of needing lots more nurture and downtime. I sighed as I turned down a major street taking me to the freeway.

The traffic was several lanes thick and moving pretty slowly, giving me an opportunity to rehearse my opening song. In the middle of my second run through, to my dismay, I see another squirrel hop off the curb into the street. It tries to maneuver through the lanes to my right and is heading right for my Probe. Unable to slam on my brakes without causing a rear ending accident, I can do nothing but feel and hear a thud as my wheels connect with the now limp body of that little wild creature.

I was stunned. One hand hugged my chest as my heart pounded. Ohmigod, ohmigod, I whispered over and over, trying to focus on turning onto the freeway ramp, and into Sherman Oaks to my job. I noticed that my Observing Self was doing her job of providing me an opportunity to detach from the emotional drama to ask a single question: how could this possibly bring me any blessing? You see, it is my practice to seek a gift of healing or understanding -a teaching -from everything that really upsets me - even if I don't always get one right away.

I talked out loud to the squirrel about my pain that it died in this manner, and wondered that I was in some way chosen to deliver the fatal blows. Immediately I heard the word, "Forgiveness."

Involuntarily I nodded my head up and down, as tears came. I understood. I was to forgive myself -and, I was to forgive my neighbor. I was not to stand in judgement, but submit to a greater Authority, even as I deeply acknowledged how much I value -and should value - life. Life in its gentle aspects, its fierce aspects, its wild, unruly and ever mysterious aspects.

I went to my gig with the seniors, and I told them my story. A perfect tale for our "Happy Medicine" hour together. It was well received, and others shared similar tales of sorrow, loss, forgiving and restitutions.

It was the beginning of a splendid new day.


My friend Amy's mother was dying. I had only known Amy a few months, and it coincided with her role as primary care giver for her mom, Elise, who was also her best friend. Needless to say, it was a difficult time for Amy, who went over to her mother's house -the house Amy had grown up in- every day to check on her condition, and be near her one remaining parent. Much of our conversation together, Amy and me, revolved around her process of letting go, becoming "an orphan," the grief and the blessings of close relations, and the task of redefining her life after two years of caregiving. After a lifetime of being someone's child, being on her own seemed a monumental challenge for my friend.

Part of the reason Amy and I had become friends quickly was that our fathers had both died of cancer, and our mothers had succombed to Lou Gherig's disease (ALS). Additionally, we shared some growing pains around having had critical fathers, perfectionistic moms -moms who, by the way, both were accomplished pianists. Our parents also had been big supporters of "the arts," and lives that centered around family. Another sync was that we had been estranged from our only sibling: she a brother, me, a sister. We both had some issues about our womanly bodies, especially now that we were in our 50s and transiting midlife, and both liked being in circles of close women friends. Further, we both were hungry for a lover relationship -one that would become the love of our lives, while dreading dating. To make it even more interesting , Amy and I were both Leos astrologically, as well as being counselors and artists by profession. From the base of these many commonalities, our friendship was founded. As Elise approached the end of her lifeline, Amy asked: would I like to come and meet her mother? It didn't seem to bother Amy at all that her mom was hooked up to a respirator, heavily medicated with pain killers, and seldom conscious these days. She wanted me to meet her beloved parent and friend, and I said yes, I would come over.

I had no idea what to expect - or what I would do. But I did sense that the meeting would be meaningful to me, even auspicious. I still had a lot of orphan feelings myself since my own parents had departed planet Earth together, five weeks apart, eight years ago. The night before my rendevous, I prayed, inviting my Teachers in to guide me along the lonely path of my singular life, and asking my own parents to perhaps speak to me from The Other Side.

Amy's family was well enough off, and her mother's home was elegantly decorated. Marble flooring greeting my first steps into the house, where a nurse and housekeeper bustled about. Amy's brother also was visiting that afternoon. There was a mixture of pride, celebration and sadness about the house, in these rooms, as they prepared for Elise's departure.

Amy took me on a tour of the home, showing me the room she grew up in, the lovely garden, the art she took pride in, and finally in to meet the grand dame herself. Elise, eyes sealed under the influence of morphine, appeared to be unconscious, yet simultaneously aware of her daughter's loving hands as they caressed her weary brow and then cupped themselves over her own thin, unmoving ones. Amy kissed her wisp of a mother, and said, "Mother, I want you to meet my friend, Marcia."

"Thank you for including me in your special circle," I offered, a bit self conscious, but rising to the occasion. An impulse grabbed me to reach out and hold her feet lightly; I gave over to it, feeling better as I offered my gift of touch. Feeling that Elise was comforted in some way by it, in turn, comforted me.

Elise remained with eyes closed, breathing loudly through a machine since her tracheotomy. Her mouth was wide open, head arched back against the pillow.

"What do you pick up, anything?" Amy inquired, knowing that as a psychic sensitive I read things about people, about the Soul through their bodies.

My hand lightly scanned over Elise, her shoulders revealing some of the burdons she had carried by trying to achieve a perfect appearance -not unlike her daughter. I saw a past life in Rome, wife of a wealthy statesman, Elise dressed all in white silky robes, puttering about her house with an atrium and many servants, preparing a feast for an entourage of dignitaries, replete with musicians and dancers.

"Sounds like my mother all right," quipped Amy.

I touched Elise's hands. They showed me volumes of loving and worried touches raising her kids, many meals prepared in her spacious, well stocked kitchen, and nights of lovemaking with her husband: both the familiar sweetness of older age, and the awkward fumbling of inexperienced youngsters. Amy seemed alternately interested in my musings and distracted by how her mother might be receiving them, flustering me a little in spite of the fact that I only read through my heart's mind, and had done hundreds of readings. However, this was the first dying person I had read....

I stood quiet now, at the foot of the bed, not quite knowing what to do next. In the next minute, Amy's cell phone went off, and a call that she needed to take took her out of the room. "Will you be OK here alone with Mom?" she asked me.

Certainly, I replied, feeling relieved as Amy left the room; I was no longer being potentially scrutinized, nor fussed over. I sat down in a large stuffed chair near the foot of the bed. I quietly closed my eyes, taking in Elise, her space, her impending departure. Somewhere deep in me, my own inner Voice prompted me to ask Elise for her blessing. Not knowing where that would take me, I began by standing up at the foot of the dying octogenarian's bed and taking a deep breath. With my eyes closed, I listened for a message, for I had asked Elise to bless me with her wisdom.

Instantly a scene appeared in my mind's eye. I saw Elise as a beautiful, sensual young woman performing a softly undulating dance, moving to invisible music and rhythms only she could hear. An elegant robe, dark ruby red, even purplish was loosely draped about her. Her feet seemed to melt into the bottom of the cloak; indeed, she appeared to be a human flower, arising from a hidden stem, swaying to the sounds of her very own music.

As I watched, entranced, the robe fell to the ground in a soft, velvety letting go, and I understood that Elise was showing me the dropping away of the fabric of her earthly life, as her Spirit danced before me, ever new, young at heart, showing me the passion for Living fully -through a sensuous, womanly Beauty.

"Never miss a chance to dance -for Love," she Said, to me, clearly, as I listened with my whole body. "This is my wisdom, my gift, my blessing to you, that you asked me for," whispered my benefactor, surrogate mother, Elise.

"Never miss a chance to dance -for Love."

I promised to do better, a tear leaving my eye in gratitude and grace. I vowed to make my life a chance and a dance for love.