Chapter One - Angels, a Dream, a Hike and more Angels
Once upon a time
there was a little girl,
when she was very small
what she knew.
One day, someone said,
You don’t know
what you know,
maybe. . . one day. . . when you’re big”
so she forgot.
One day when she was big
she knew she remembered
and she said, “I know that I know
what I know. . . Now!”
I awake from a deep sleep, looking around, feeling alert, yet curious. I see that I’m in the hospital. I wonder for a moment, and then remember how I got there. As I’m feeling my body, I’m checking if what I remember is correct. My body is broken. Did I have an accident? Oh my gosh, I fell off a cliff! Pausing, breathing I ask myself “Was it a dream?”
For a moment the memory seems foggy. No, it is real. The scenes flash in my mind, one by one. It was real. The shock of seeing my body lying in this bed and knowing I won’t be moving is comforted by a strange sense that I am not frightened or in pain. My mind is having a struggle with the reality or non-reality of this experience. Is this really happening to me? What is actually happening? I feel wonderful, yet I’m lying in a hospital bed, broken, but strangely, barely bruised.
I remember hiking . . . flying from a cliff to the rocks below . . . being rescued by some very nice people and flown in a helicopter . . . being in an emergency room . . . having surgery. And now I’m here.
Adjusting my eyes and my senses to the room, I realize I’m safe, well taken care of. I smell the essence of lavender. I see many beautiful fresh flowers. I see my ex-husband and some friends, smiling and surrounding me on all sides. I hear loving voices. People are so happy to see my eyes open and a smile appear on my face. I am loved. I feel strangely happy. I am alive . . . but what really happened?
When I awoke to the bright sun coming through my window that Saturday morning, I was reviewing a dream that nagged to be part of my consciousness. I was in an office building up about five stories high. I saw the translucent figures of angels in the clear of daylight. I turned and asked my co-workers in the office to come and look at what I was seeing. No one came. I thought to myself, “This must be just for me.”
There were seven angels standing (floating) shoulder to shoulder, beaming the most brilliant shimmering light, their faces beautifully content. There were five or six others apparently lying in a horizontal position at the feet of the seven standing. As I marveled at each angel looking at me with such intense love, I felt in my heart they were speaking to me. I did not know what they were saying. I just felt something curiously special and wonderful touching me.
As I ate a leisurely breakfast, I glanced outside beyond the glass doors of my living room, to the garden that I recently replanted. The garden was calling me to come outside and water. After I finished eating I walked outside and reached for the garden hose. I have a goddess statue gracefully sitting amidst the regal purple iris, native cholla and prickly pear cactus, aloe, and delicate miniature roses. Today as I watered, I playfully make an arc with the water and noticed there was rainbow light, just above the garden.
Was it the water today? Was it the garden today? Why, after years of watering, is it that today I see a rainbow over my garden? I watched the colors of the rainbow brighten and soften, glistening and dancing with the water. The feeling of love for nature is moving through my body, and I am so happy I have scheduled a hike for this perfect day with friends.
We meet precisely at 1 pm. at the trailhead. Karon, a long time friend with a beautiful smile, a tiny yet strong frame, and being from Dallas, Texas, has a delightful southern drawl. We had met in our Chiropractor’s office. Every week we had an appointment at the same time, so we sat next to each other and became friends.
Today Karon proclaims she is in training for a rigorous hike up one of the largest mountains in red rock country, and she plans to accomplish this in five hours. (I heard that the best hikers in the area take 8 hours!) She is determined and goes after whatever she desires with much enthusiasm and dedication. Through my long-term life coaching work with Karon, we developed a high level of communication and trust between us. We have worked out many of her life concerns together. We decide that after the hike we will stop for some food and talk about insights revealed through this experience. Little did we know that what was to come would alter our lives forever.
Another friend, Bob, would join us on our hike. He is an acquaintance. He hikes regularly and has hiked most of the mountains in the area. His delightful intellect and witty humor are wonderfully welcome to complete our synchronistic trio. He and Karon are meeting today for the first time because they share a love of the land, and me. Spending the afternoon with friends on the land is a unifying as well as humbling experience because of the deeper connection we share. Karon and Bob were to become bonded by the end of this day.
It is a beautiful sunny day, delightfully warm, the spring season approaching. Hiking with friends is common for each of us, and having the weather be so perfect, is a bonus. In talking before we set out on this adventure, we chose unanimously to do this hike in complete silence. None of us had done a silent hike before, especially on what might be considered difficult terrain, but we were game. Our rules included hand signaling each other if we needed assistance or anything else, and of course, warnings if there was danger. We agreed to keep our attention on our feet, the land, the beauty of the area, and whatever may be going on in our minds and body’s to have a total experience.
The beginning of this hike is an easy fifteen-minute walk on level land. Among the forest and the varied brush there is a sinkhole, a phenomenon of nature where the land cracks wide open to reveal fresh earth. Its opening is about 20 feet across and 25–30 feet down. This happened so long ago that trees of cypress and pine are fully grown down deep inside the sinkhole. It seems the earth split there some thousand years ago and the winds of nature used the seeds of the trees of the flat land above to repair itself.
A few yards ahead as we walk, we approach the seven pools. They are natural waterfalls. When the snow melts off from the winter season and trickles down the mountainside, it dribbles into each of these ponds carved naturally into the side of the sloping mountain. Many tourists in the area are fond of taking pictures of these two sites, as this trail is also a heavily traveled jeep tour locale. Walking another twenty minutes we come to areas where the boulders are so huge they are like land floors. Many people sunbathe from this spot and take pictures of the mountains that surround this trail of beauty. Beyond this is where the challenge of the hike begins.
We leave the flatland to begin a 30% uphill grade. Although the trails are clearly marked, the paths are narrow. There are small pebbles, shale, and slippery rocks on the mountainside, along the way. The trees are close together, and because the land is steep here, our awareness and full attention keeps us steadily focused on the ground. My former husband, Stan, found this pristine spot. We hiked here many times to improve our hiking skills. I also have taken many people on this hike to challenge them and offer them an adventure in nature. Today I feel sure-footed and gleefully wandering as my sense of myself on the mountain is confident. Karon and Bob seem to be thoroughly enjoying the hike as well. We periodically stop to drink water, and glance at each other’s eyes to see if a signal of need or warning was present, or to proceed. We communicate care for each other in subtle and very obvious nuances of body language.
After about thirty minutes of climbing uphill, the mountain becomes more rugged and requires even more mindfulness of our footing on the land. Entering the magnificence of the mountain where rocks from some thirty million years ago have fallen and worn away from wind, snow, and rain, is a mighty adventure. Centuries ago Native American Indians made their homes here, raised children and hunted for food from these very caves and forest through which we are walking. This is where animals of many breeds roam freely on the land. It is also a mass of forest and trees providing oxygen for thousands of people.
People come to these sites to be in the presence of Godly nature as it is—raw, complete, perfect—and they come to challenge themselves with the terrain. I come for a combination of both. To me a day of physical activity and loving the land, plants and animals is accomplishment. I feel some of nature’s love rubs off on my mundane everyday life, and it makes my world brighter.
The difficulty of the hike does not keep us from being awed by the appearance of an opening in the mountain. It is hollowed out from cave dwellers and years of wind roaring though its mouth. Climbing up to enter this cave requires strength and agility. Bob, Karon, and I all have different strengths and abilities in our bodies. To make it up the huge first boulder to enter the cave, I use my knees, and then I lift myself with my strong arms. Bob takes a step with his long legs and reaches the next level in one leap. Karon turns and uses her behind and fit legs to bring her body up the four-foot step to accept the cave’s invitation of walking on higher ground. We pause to absorb the feelings of accomplishment as we stand quietly, and look at the awesome beauty of Mother Natures’ carvings inside the cave . . . how the wind has artfully drawn many layers of iron, magnesium, and zinc into a picture-like form. We agree it looks like a womb to us (if you could see inside one!). I think to myself, “how fitting for me, because when I have accomplished a hike like this, I often feel like a new person.”
Walking further, we come to a precipice, spanned by a twelve-inch wide ledge, with a layered drop off of 35 to 50 feet. This ledge is just wide enough for our feet. It is breathtakingly beautiful. To enjoy the view, I am still as I am keenly aware I could fall with the slightest misstep. There is nothing to hold on to but my own self-centered grounded energy. As we walk this tiny ledged passage, to my right is the mountain’s wall—about 70 feet high—and below, nothing but rocks, shale, dirt, cactus, and trees. Some people cross this path on their hands and knees, as it probably is the safest way. The fear level within begins to rise as we inch our way across the ledge. Although it is only about 20 feet long, it is God’s way of reminding me that every moment counts here.
When on the other side of this ledge we look into each other’s eyes, nonverbally connecting with relief. I see enthusiasm, mixed with fear, and a sort of confidence in my friends, that I also feel. I am happy about their comfort level on the trail, knowing that the upcoming terrain would be more demanding of their strength. The next part of the hike seemed to propel and even inspire movement as graceful as trained athletes over these humungous boulders with large troughs between them. Nothing seems to get in the way of having more energy to accomplish this difficult terrain. In fact, something seems to inspire an attitude in us of empowerment.
We climb several higher peaks, coming to the most difficult one of all. We literally etch our footsteps into the mountain’s side, and reach the mesa. With a feeling of exhilaration we take in the magnificence of the mesa. We are clearly seeing at least one hundred miles in each direction. We view the scenery of ages in the past, sensing the history—forest and blue skies—we breathe pure, clean fresh air. These mountains are known to be over three hundred and thirty million years old. It is documented that the ocean has come and gone from this area at least three times. Many times people find fossilized seashells on the land as proof, as well as arrowheads, and even artifacts of Native American ruins. It is rich with history, lore, and vibrant energy.
Karon, Bob, and I find a comfortable spot to rest, drink water, and have a snack. Still in silence, our senses seem to heighten, with acute attention paid to the area’s energy having a quality of aliveness. We did not know we would have the opportunity to learn about ourselves in a new way today. Being in silence in such a magnificent area, moving the physical body in this way, allows us to have an understanding of what it must be like to be and live like the animals. That sense animals live by—that feeling of instinct, a knowing where to find food, and when to leave an area as the seasons change—protects them from being preyed upon by larger animals, or even allows them to surrender to be preyed upon. Nesting happens by an inner harmony that animals are born with and survive on. I wonder if this instinct could be imbedded within me, and if so, I yearn to know more about it.
Having grown up in the 60’s in southern California— also having raised my family there—when I moved to the small town of Sedona, Arizona—filled with friendly people, mountains, and seasons—it was a strange and new environment for me, and I welcomed the change. It meant a side of me I hadn’t known was being birthed, and my awareness was intensified this day. Today I feel even more aware of my surroundings and realize how most of my life I have made material things so important. Today I was watching and learning . . . something very new.
After about an hour meditating, and eating a snack on the mesa, we signal to each other we are ready for the climb down the mountain. Bob became the leader, the gentleman, the White Knight. Having figured out how to maneuver the terrain, he is able to lend a hand without being asked or taking away from our own enjoyment of the experience in silence. Bob’s grounded strength provides a safer stepping ground for both Karon and me. Neither of us had planned on or expected Bob’s assistance, yet since he was taking the lead, it was a more relaxed descent down the mountain. He, lending a hand if needed, provides an uncompromising concern for our safety, and assures us of having a continued good experience on this outing.
By the time we reached the crag’s 25 foot long, skinny, 12 inch width ledge, any fear of making it safely across turned into a mystical kind of magic in the air. The three of us had a combined harmony, staying together yet acting independently for whatever needs each of our bodies required. Bob was way ahead as Karon and I were entering the precipice, the ledge. Karon was behind me, and my confidence soared. I could maneuver this ledge the way I had come up, by using the wall of the mountain as support for my back and sidestepping along its path. Whenever I looked down I felt the fear of the past, but quickly it turned into a presence of internal power, knowing my feet were planted firmly in every step. At three feet into the ledge I had my arms at an angle at my side and my back and hands flat against the wall of the mountain, moving sideways, looking out over the forest. Since my body was so flexible, when I reached the rock that protruded from the mountain’s wall, all I needed to do was move slightly in my midsection/rib area, very slowly, to make room for it, and I would be past it. As my body made this slight rib movement, I felt my body shifting in a way that was different than I anticipated. I quickly looked down to see my right foot sliding off the ledge. I was falling. I thought, “I will use my ability to turn and grab onto the ledge.” As I turned, my eyes wide open, I saw my fingers scratching to hold the dirt and my nails tearing as they tried to grab for the rock’s ledge I had just been standing on. My body, still turning, began a flight with the angels, as in my dream the night before. For me, the agreement for silence that day was over! I was screaming! Strangely, I also felt a sense of safety, a ‘knowing’ about what to do. I was not afraid. I was completely conscious. I saw the sky, then, my body turned upside down, seeing the dirt again. About that time I heard Bob’s ominous voice say, “We’re here, we’re here!” This comforted me momentarily, while my body made a complete 360 degree turn and I bounced off a rock. While I felt my body falling, I did not have any sensation of pain or fear as I bounced off each rock. It was as if I was flying and completely safe. Like a dream that is so real, I completed the next tossing of my body, and landed on the rocks below, on my back, feeling as if I was being laid down inside God’s huge hands. The wind knocked out of my lungs, I was aware of needing to begin taking in air. However, there was another plan taking precedence over my instinctive desire to be in control.
Photography by Jannah Riemer.
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