Saturday, September 7, 2013

A different direction: a different perspective

I've been walking almost every morning for the last two weeks or so, and I've been walking basically the same path each morning:  I walk away from home along the main road that goes through the condo plan and come back along the myriad sidewalks that crisscross the grounds.  This morning, for some reason, I decided to change direction and I walked away from home using the sidewalks and came back along the road.  What a difference it made!

I saw things I hadn't seen before, and yet I know, most of what I saw for the first time, has always been there.  I saw a beautiful rose garden in front of one of the condos that I hadn't noticed before.  Beautiful pink, red and white blossoms intermingling, as the branches of the individual bushes grew together in the small space. Initially when I stopped to admire it, I thought I was walking on a sidewalk that I hadn't walked before, but when I looked around, I realized it was one of the sidewalks I always walked.  How had I not seen this rose garden before?

I saw a bright red bird feeder hanging on the branch of a small tree, directly above a couple of garden statues that I'd noticed the very first time I walked, because they were rather eye-catching:  a large blue ceramic bird sitting next to a gigantic blue and brown egg, even larger than the bird.  But I'd never noticed the bird feeder hanging right above them.  I was sure it was a new addition, and decided to take a closer look.  However, it was evident from the dust and dirt that was on it that it had been there for quite some time.  As I continued walking, wondering how I could have missed seeing it, I glanced back over my shoulder and realized that coming from the direction I usually walked, it was hidden by other branches of the tree.  If I hadn't changed direction, I might never have seen it.

I saw several very large and intricate spider webs that I hadn't 
noticed before, and although I know that spiders can weave their webs pretty quickly, from the amount of debris in these webs, it seemed evident to me that they had each been there quite a while.  Coming from a different direction, the sunlight was hitting them in a way that showcased them and allowed me to notice them. (By the way, energetically speaking, when you see a spider web, especially with the spider in it, it's a message to be aware of what you are doing in your life, as your actions today weave the pattern for your future. No spiders in the webs I saw this morning.)

There's a farm that borders the condo plan.  I think the land that is now the plan was once part of the farm and was sold off, because to get to the driveway to the farmhouse, the owner has to drive through the middle of the plan, and I noticed this morning, because I was seeing his mailbox from a different direction, that his house number was changed to fit with the numbering of the condos in the plan.  And also for the first time, I saw outbuildings for the farm that I hadn't noticed before.   

Funny how something so simple as a change in direction, a different perspective, allowed me to see things that I hadn't seen before.   It's just like what happens when we begin to live our lives from a spiritual perspective rather than just the physical one.  Just like the spider webs were showcased for me when I saw the sun shining on them from a different angle, when I look at my life from a spiritual perspective, I'm able to see things differently too.  It helps me view the circumstances from a broader perspective, a different angle. Where I used to think "Why me?"  or "What did I do to deserve this?" or "Poor me!", I'm much more likely now to think "What am I supposed to learn from this?  What is this experience here to teach me?"  "What opportunity is available to me through this experience?" Doing that makes it virtually impossible to feel like I'm a victim, and gives me an opportunity to choose how I respond to the current situation, rather than feeling like I have no choice.

It was looking back over my shoulder at the bird feeder that helped me see that the reason I didn't see it before was because, walking in my usual direction, it was obscured from view by the tree branches.  Looking back made the difference.  Just like looking back at my life has made a profound difference in how I view myself and all the others who have been a part of my journey, and all the experiences we have shared along that path.  There were so many times when I was younger, and caught up in  the middle of something, that I couldn't see anything positive about what I was going through at all.  My view was obscured by all the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that were running amuck within me.  Now, distanced from all of that and looking back, I can see the blessings, gifts and opportunities that came to me as a result of those experiences.  But I can only see it looking back. 

Walking in the opposite direction this morning really didn't teach me anything new.  I know that looking at things from a different perspective is helpful and can be very eye-opening/mind-opening.  But it was certainly a powerful reminder, especially during this time of change and transition, to be more aware of everything that is going on around me, everything I do, everything I see, and to make an extra effort to view things from more than one perspective, so that I don't miss out on any of the blessings, gifts and opportunities that God is sending my way.        


Monday, September 2, 2013

Message from a caterpillar

As I walked this morning, I saw two caterpillars.  The first caught my eye in a rather spectacular way, as it was suspended in the air in front of me, directly in line with my intended path.  When I first  spotted it, it appeared to be wriggling around rather chaotically, as if struggling to save itself, however, as I got closer and stopped to watch it, I could see its movements were purposeful and were enabling it to move slowly upward on a filament that was invisible to me, but was obviously very apparent to the caterpillar.

I watched it for several moments, marveling at its strength and continued striving to pull itself higher. The tree branch to which its filament was attached was at least fifteen feet above us, so it had a very long climb ahead.   Feeling empathy for it because of the arduousness of its impending climb, I decided to move it and save it the grueling journey, so I moved my hand in the air about a foot above it, catching the filament I couldn't see on my hand, and gently moving the caterpillar to a tree branch on the side of the driveway, not even thinking as I did so, that I had just diverted it from its original destination. 

I watched it settle itself on the branch and turned to continue  my walk, feeling I had done a good deed, when I heard this quiet voice in my head ask, "Did you really help?"  "What do you mean?" I asked.  "Of course I helped.  It would have taken forever for it to get to the top of that filament, if it had made it at all.  (I had seen a cardinal swoop toward it as I walked up to it. I think my approach diverted it from its intended target.)  And think of the energy and effort it would take for that little caterpillar to climb that high!  It would have exhausted itself.  Of course I  helped it."  (And of course, this conversation was all in my head, but this is often how I hear God, and how we converse; how I often receive the Guidance that directs my life.)

But as I continued walking, I couldn't help but think about that question:  did I help?  Or did my actions keep that caterpillar from getting the experiences it needed to be prepared for what was to come?

As I've thought about all the glitches that have occurred during this move, I've often thought that each of them has served a purpose in some way, even if I haven't stopped to analyze each and every one of them at the time they happened to determine what that purpose might be. (And perhaps the purpose is in the culmination of all of them together, and not in each and every one separately.)  

I have this deep down feeling they've been happening purposefully to prepare me for what's ahead.  And I don't mean they're preparing me for more glitches.  I think they're helping me to recognize and strengthen the skills and abilities that I have, develop others that perhaps I'm not aware of, and to show me that I have the resources I need, whether within myself, or by asking for help from others (being able to ask for help is not something I do easily, so having experiences that give me the opportunity to do so, will make it easier for me to consider asking for help as an option to solve a problem, rather than viewing it as a weakness in myself), that will assist me in the days and weeks ahead as I continue to walk this path. 

Caught up in the moment when each of the glitches happens, it's much harder to consider that there is purpose in the happening.  But as I look back, I can see they have served me.  I am stronger and more resilient, much more likely to go with the flow than to  get angry or frustrated as each new glitch appears.  Often now I just laugh and shake my head. (Depends on the nature of the glitch, of course!)  And as I think about it, it was the looking back on my life in the early 90's and seeing how each thing lead to another, and that they had all connected to get me where I was that day when I was 
considering my life and wondering how I'd managed to make it that far, that brought me to the beginning of my belief that there had to
be 'something' that was guiding and supporting me, even if I couldn't see it, just like that filament, invisible to me, that was supporting that caterpillar.   

As I walked, I wondered, who would I be, where I would be, if somehow, someway, all along this journey, a Divine hand had appeared and removed all of the glitches, just like I moved that caterpillar to what I thought was a safer, better place than suspended in mid-air.  Would I have been able to leave Holy Family when the Blessed Mother told me I needed to? (Would I even have believed what I was seeing/hearing?)  Would I have been strong enough to do the healing work I needed to do with my mom during those last four years of her life as I was working to  
build my Reiki practice?  Would I have had the courage to drive to Alaska, just because that small voice in my head said, "You need to drive to Alaska?"  Would I have been able to close my office, leave all my friends and the wonderful community of people that supported me in Pittsburgh, and move to Nashville?  There is no way to know for sure, but somehow I doubt it.

There's an old song that has a line in it that says, "I thank God for unanswered prayers."  How often do we pray and ask God to take away whatever problem or illness or stress we are experiencing, thinking we'd be so much better off if it would just all go away, whatever it is.  And when it doesn't happen, certain that we're now worse off because we still have to deal with it, we get angry, or assume God isn't listening, or doesn't care, or perhaps, doesn't even exist.  And yet, who would we be if our prayers had been answered?  Would we be able to do the things we are currently doing?  Would we be where we are now?  I wonder what difference I have made in that caterpillar's journey because I 'saved' it from that long and difficult climb. 

As I continued walking, I did eventually see a second caterpillar, but its appearance was as unspectacular as the first one's was amazing. I happened to glance down as I was walking, and it was simply crawling slowly along the asphalt.  However, the 
appearance of that second caterpillar (In my experience, God often sends the messengers in multiples to insure that we recognize they are messengers.) made me think that I needed to look up caterpillar as totem when I got back home and see if there was any particular message I was supposed to derive from my encounters with them today.  Imagine my surprise when I looked it up and read: "Preparation for upcoming change: transformation."  I guess that little voice in my head knew what it was talking about, when it asked the question: "Did you really help?"  Next time I see a caterpillar suspended in mid-air, or anywhere else for that matter, I think I'll send Reiki to its journey but leave it just where it is!