My grandmother is 94.5 yrs olds. It’s one of the few, consistent facts she remembers. It’s become quite clear as of late that she has turned a corner in her life’s journey. When I call her, I’m never quite sure what type of response I will get, if any.
A couple of weeks ago, I called to receive her announcement, “I dumped all my medications.”
I hesitated a moment before I asked, “You did? How are you feeling?”
“I feel great,” she declared as she went on to tell me how all her previous discomforts had now vanished.
Later, after we hung up there were a flurry of calls and messages that she didn’t know about to confirm facts and safety. As far as I know, though, Gram is still off her meds but is being closely monitored and cared for in the facility where she lives. My grandmother, you see, has wanted to die since my grandfather passed away two decades ago.
But she has lingered here in this life and often she wonders why. Nearly every time I call her, she brings up her daughter, my mother.
“Did you hear your mother called me and she’s coming to visit me?”
This announcement followed the heals of the one about her medications. It took me a little longer to react, and now no one I have spoken with is sure if it is true. More than a week has now passed and as far as I know my mother hasn’t left the state where she and I both reside to travel 3,000 miles across the country to say goodbye to her mother before she passes.
My feelings are mixed, but what matters is how my grandmother feels. She’s waited 30 yrs, as she tells me know each time I call, for this moment, and it is enough in her mind that a long awaited connection of peace was been made. I don’t care if that call was real. I care that it has brought my grandmother the peace she has been waiting for.
Stories of the elderly or terminally ill lingering longer than expected in life are not uncommon. And, quite often it is because of a desire to mend relationships or to say goodbye to those that one holds dear. I am so glad my grandmother got the call she has been waiting three decades for. A call where her beloved daughter told her she wants to let go of their wounded history. Whether it was real or not doesn’t really matter because it has brought my grandmother the joy and peace she has been waiting for.
Last night, my grandmother brought me the gift of joy. And, after a very challenging year, it was just what I needed. Joy, in the dream, arrived in the form of a magical room I didn’t know existed in my “house.” When I crossed the threshold of the door, my body lost the pull of gravity and flew, guided by the unseen presence of my grandmother. Each stop in the room, yielded a gift of love and symbol of joy for the four members of my family.
Whether my grandmother’s spirit actually visited me in my dreams, doesn’t really matter. It is not uncommon though, to hear of such occurrences when souls are preparing to transition. Because I have had more than a couple “spectral” visitations that have been aptly timed, unexpected, and with synchronistic messages for loved ones, I’d like to believe this one was real. Real enough, at the very least, to bring the gift of joy. And, for that I am grateful.
It should come as no surprise to me that Sue would find a way to weave her wisdom into the realm of my dreams. She knew me better than most, and what better place to seed the journey than through the map of the subconscious.
Sue also knew I loved to study dreams. In my weekly journal correspondence I could not help including a dream or two as they always, inevitably, related to waking life experiences. That’s the way dreams work, even though they may appear random and irrational at first glance. There is always a lesson (and usually many) to uncover when one takes the time to delve into their symbolism. Mostly Sue made me uncover them for myself. It seems nothing has changed 🙂
Thankfully, as Sue well knew, I love symbolism. My mind is ever-searching out the meaning hidden below the surface of life. And, to be quite honest, I was surprised and a little dismayed that she hadn’t appeared sooner in the land of my dreams.
It was, alas, a mere cameo… about two weeks ago. I nearly missed her. She came and went so fast from the dream I could have doubted it was Sue if I didn’t know her better. And she uttered just one word: “Jabberwocky.”
You’ve got to be kidding!
No doubt she was chuckling a bit. Fair enough. I do like a good puzzle, and certainly this one was intended to draw me down the rabbit hole…
And as I usually do when messages are cryptic, I asked a few intuitive friends for their thoughts. Each one gave a different answer, but each answer had relevance. I read the poem, more than once, and pondered each possible meaning. Days passed and then another dream came to me. This one per my request.
“Could you give me a message,” I asked her before I fell asleep, “Something, anything, to let me know what you think I should do.”
Instead of “Wonderland,” I was brought to Oz. You, as a reader, no doubt will already be drawing the parallels between the two. Sue is undoubtedly clever. But this was not exactly the Oz of Dorothy’s dream, this was an Oz designed for me. The journey, rich and filled with symbols at every turn I took, took me into a different aspect of something I either had overcome, needed to overcome, or was in the process of overcoming.
When I finally reached “Oz,” I found myself atop a magnificent waterfall. It was a straight down vertical dive from the height of at least the Eiffel tower. A wonderful source of power…then the dream shifted one more time.
Suddenly I was at the bottom of the fall and the water had been replaced by sand (note the parallels to “The Wizard of Oz” movie, as a friend pointed out, and the “sands of time.” Up a ladder I began to climb while the sand poured through the rungs. Using, somehow, only my left hand while my right clutched a stack of books. I hauled those books all the way to the top of that darn latter. Then, looking down far below, I released them. As they scattered into a circular on the ground, a woman appeared and laid in the bare space in the middle one book, The Wizard of Oz, smiled and left. After she left everything else disappeared and I found myself gazing into a sky so vast and beautiful it felt like heaven. Shapes formed out of the clouds, the first and more prominent of which was a lion.
Thank you, Sue. I get it, I think. Mostly. Now to find that courage within. 🙏
I knew it was coming, but there was still resistance. Isn’t there always? The pull to keep those we love here with us fights against the letting go.
The news of her passing was brought through the soft waves of a song weaving through the space between dreaming and waking.
All is calm
All is bright”
It took the repeat of this refrain, over and over again, and me growing irritated by its interruption, before the dawn of realization broke. She is gone. Her soul released back into the union of light.
“All is calm. All is bright.”
Somehow she knew I needed to hear it from her, first. The delivery, perfect, as only she could create.
“All is calm. All is bright.”
I am holding onto those words as the hours pass into this first day without Sue in physical form. I am holding onto the memories that filter through the minutes to remind me of her love. Around my neck I wear one of her gifts, a symbol of the “Feathered Seer,” knowing there is a comfort that she has found reunion with the magic on the other side, and that already she has threaded it back to us.
“All is calm. All is bright.”
I need to hold onto those words, and so I do, because I am still not ready to think about the days ahead. And I know all of you who were graced by her presence will understand. For a tiny, “hobbit-sized,” woman, Sue had the capacity to hold an infinite amount of love in her arms. She was, and I know she knew this, an embodiment of the mother archetype many of us long for. How lucky I was to experience her unconditional love and grace, if only for a few years. How lucky I was to feel the embrace of her hug, knowing I was beloved in her eyes.
If you read my last post, Dream Guardians, you may have sensed that it was about love and partnerships (the clue was also in the hastag😉). I decided I would let it sit before I lended my own interpretation. Sometimes our dreams hold meaning for others too. To me, the dream spoke quite clearly in symbolism of insecurities I am attempting to unravel and come to terms with: How two people can love after growing together, then growing separately. That union of allowing individual space, while still supporting each other.
In symbolic terms, horses are often associated with strength, but also of freedom. They are wild animals who are often domesticated. On the magical side, they are thought to be one evolution away from unicorns. In the dream, it took a child (a representation of the inner child) to show me that the magic/life force/love was still there, it just needed to be fed. The inner child is that ever-wise voice of truth, even though we may often ignore/neglect him/her.
And so together, the child and I fed and watered those two wooden horses and saw life begin to return to their rigid forms…
Early this morning I woke from this dream:
I was at Laguna Beach in California with my family. The name is important, as names seem to be in our dreams. Laguna Beach is the place where my birthfather gave up the chase to find me and my sister when we were in hiding with the Hare Krishnas. After months of trying to follow the cryptic trail of our sitings from commune to commune, he took a break to surf the waves of Laguna beach and suffered some broken ribs. It was, you could say, his moment when he surrendered to the tides of life.
In my early morning dream, I was standing on a cliff facing the ocean. In one fleeting moment, a scene of pure magic unfolded before me. The tide had receded, and suddenly a world of wonderment was revealed. The light was soft and cast incredible shadows over the patterns of the ocean floor, which became undulating hills of sand. I grabbed the camera of my phone, knowing I had but moments to capture its splendor. I started to text the family, on a ridiculous band of fabric. An impossible feat. The scene was mine alone to capture.
And so I did what I could to take it in. I watched the unfolding of play and felt the pure joy it held. Would-be swimmers were now building endless castles in the sand, their spires reaching to the heights of mountains. How could it be, I wondered, knowing that within seconds the tide could take it all away…
Last night I found myself under an arbor of branches with a young girl. It was dusk, I believe, in this landscape of dreams. The colors were muted as though we were on the verge of darkness. The space, wrapped with the remains of two trees. Or, at least I thought they were remains…
When I tipped my head I could see the forms of the branches as they bent to create a natural roof that filtered in light. There were two. Guardians, I decided. Their heads close together, but not quite touching. I thought them beautiful, but also sad. As I studied them, I realized they were horses.
Lifeless, or so I thought. Their lips, mere inches away from union. The thought of love frozen in place before it could be realized filled me with melancholy.
“They are dead,” I declared as I reached up to stroke the wooden neck of one.
“No,” the young girl declared. “They are not dead. They are only in need of care.”
And as I listened to her child-wisdom, I saw that she was right. Ever so slightly, the two wooden horses began to move. I followed the girl to the place where food lay forgotten in the dust and helped fill their bowls with nourishment. Together, we brought our offerings to the pair of guardians.
“See,” the girl said. “They just needed our love.”
There are dreams that you wish you never woke from and those that leave you grateful for the exit from a nightmarish realm. I’m not sure one is more valuable than the other if you seek to learn from their teachings.
Our hidden, or not so hidden, terrors often take the form of nightmares. They can adopt fantastical and gruesome visages, leaving us breathless for want of air when we wake. Sometimes our voices scream us out of their grasp, and sometimes our words strangle our voice into silence. The voice, then, becomes our key to opening their mysteries.
Although it can be equally terrifying to journey through the dream realm, as it is to unravel its symbolism, it’s well-worth the effort. Even the seemingly nonsensical dreams can make sense if we are willing to look into why our minds chose to play their forms.
If you don’t tend to remember your dreams, there are techniques you can use to train your brain to recover them. One of which is simply telling yourself before you wander into sleep to remember what you have dreamt. When you do this, you may find you start to wake up after each dream. I tend to do that a lot, which can be both an inconvenience and a blessing.
Instead of transcribing my dreams after I wake from them, I’ll often spend some time mulling over a dream I have woken from before my mind succumbs to a new one. Although perhaps not has valuable in some ways as having a written log of the dream, this allows me to observe patterns, themes and symbols, as well as gage my emotional response.
Symbols in our dreams often reoccur over and over again. For example I quite often dream about water and stones, both of which hold a lot of interest for me in the literal sense, but also quite often teach me about where I am residing on an emotional level. I also dream quite often about bathrooms, and going to the bathroom, which inevitably leads me down the exploration of what I am holding onto or seeking to release, as well as personal struggles with exposure and privacy.
Themes, patterns, and symbols in dreams are important to notice if you want to learn from them. Equally important, I believe, is how you feel during and after you wake from your dreams. As well as how you felt before you fell into the dream. For example, I can go to bed feeling pretty good about the day I have experienced, only to find myself falling into a fitful dream world. When I wake, I feel significantly more unsettled than when I fell asleep. Unpleasant, yet revealing. When I examine the dream I find the clues to why. Although I had thought I was feeling emotionally balanced, there was a hidden aspect of my self that was calling to be revealed. What our dreams unearth for us are often opportunities for self-examination that can lead to both healing and release of the emotion tucked away inside of us.
Some people believe we can dream other people’s dreams and travel to other dimensions and realms. I tend to agree with these theories based upon my own experiences. If this is the case, and we feel we have dreamt a dream that is a bit “outside” of us, what does it mean? Perhaps we have traveled into a past of future life memory to retrieve valuable insight. Perhaps we have dreamt another person’s dream because our energies are too intimately intertwined. Or, perhaps we have traveled to another realm to learn something about “Life” on a larger scale.
Entire books, poems, inventions, and scientific discoveries have been gleamed from the realm of dreams. I find it nothing short of remarkable how our minds can form such complex and vivid scenes in the dream world which always, I believe, point to a deeper truth that begs to be explored.
Each dream, when examined, becomes a puzzle of the hidden, or not so hidden, self. Some, I admit, are so crazy at first glance that I cast them aside for later, hoping that their cryptic nature will reveal themselves overtime. For those of us who enjoy a good mystery, there’s no better place to explore than the world of our dreams.
At the moment, I’m still mulling over last night’s dreams, and dreams that I dreamt many nights ago. Through them I thread the lines that join symbols and take note of the patterns that are formed from them. Sometimes I chuckle at themes captured from TV shows or lines I have recently read, wondering why until the emotional symbolism is revealed. I marvel at fantastic forms and how far the mind can stretch reality until I realize that the limits are always self-imposed. Anything, absolutely anything, is possible in our dreams.
It was pure euphoria. I can only liken it to the ideal of heaven. In the dream I was in England, running in a field of white flowers. They were puffed out like dandelions gone to seed, each step lifted their tufted wishes into the wind. It felt like freedom, unbounded. The wild, untethered soul roaming in the landscape of home.
There were other dreams nestled around it. Equally vivd, and all weaving together in the complex mysterious way that dreams do. The crowded bus with black seats and no bathroom. “Wilder’s Barn” beside an earthen mound filled with rubble. The black bride in the white wedding dress who wove in and out of each scene. A perfect marriage of yin and yang without a groom. And there was me, again, now flying over Earth’s power lines. The return of euphoria as I followed the dragon of stones in my helicopter. Strange vivid dreams that seem in many ways impossible to decipher, but their imprint strikingly clear.
I imagine there are as many definitions of “heaven” as there are people, and I have no doubt I found mine in this network of dreams. When I left the field and the dragon lines, I lost it. The mundane and all its clutter surrounded me with its burden of worry and obligation. Other’s needs to be met and mine left not quite filled or released.
But, this is life, isn’t it? One can hardly escape the realm of “needs and obligations.” “Wilder’s Barn” is never quite open to the magic of the wild soul. It may open briefly, but the doors eventually close around us and we must, inevitably, return to the mundane.
It is said that true freedom in an inside job, but how many of us can say we really live inside of it? To be unaffected by life is not the norm. We may feel love and experience, in moments, euphoric joy, but we also feel fear, pain, suffering, angst and the entire spectrum of human emotions. That’s part of being human.
Yet what a gift it was to run in that simple field of flowers, alone and unencumbered by life. How exhilerating it was to fly above the land and trace the pattern of Earth’s power lines through the body of rocks. To be reminded that magic is always there, waiting to be felt, waiting to be freed. Waiting to be born. Even if just in the land of dreams.
It was dark in the room, as it often is during the daytime. My children, lapsed back into younger years, opened the seldom used front door to let the wild bird inside. It flew, or rather seemed to stumble, bumping along the floor for awhile until it settled under the couch into sleep. There it stayed for quite some time. I can’t tell you exactly how long, as dream time stretches and bends in funny ways. And soon enough the dream shifted, and my feathered seer disappeared.
I left the pileated woodpecker behind in the room we once referred to as our children’s playroom, but is now a library/game room, and found myself inside a museum. Well, that’s not entirely correct. If memory serves me, I was first outside. Once again, the light was muted as you often see in movies to build dramatic effect. Here the old blended with the new, again, and I found my eyes pulled to the stones. No surprise, really. That’s where the seer resides and reads the secrets held within.
I was excited. Sure that there had once been a circle in a place now built up by more modern hands. “See that one,” I pointed, “and that one!” The position, size, and alignment could not be accidental. And then it all began to fall apart. Suddenly I was inside the museum in need of a restroom. Here I found myself literally exposed. The bathroom was more an office than a cell, open to windowed rooms with people inside, and a wide open door where others walked by. And there I sat in the center with my pants down, exposed and worried about what others were seeing and perceiving. My sight pulled in angst to the world constructed around me while the inner spirit struggled to break free and wander back outside with the stones.
I am not surprised by the dream. When one ignores the first sign, another one will inevitably appear. About a week ago, I dreamt of another “play room.” This one was hidden inside my sister’s house. When I stepped inside this unexpected wonder, a child’s dream unfolded. Gradually I was draw to the vast windows where I stood in awe peering into the vast wilderness beyond. As in the dream last night, there were feathered beings. More than one. Young and downy, their colors muted into balls of fluff. Fledglings impossibly large, and birthed forth in autumn instead of spring. No, I thought, it could not be. They were so healthy and vibrant. Filled with the promise of life.
Before I woke completely into morning, I had another dream experience that has lingered with me. It is a brief recall. This time I found myself inside a vehicle with the radio turned on against my will, playing a recording of my voice. The first sounds were those of coughing, as though I was clearing my lungs of congestion. Then the coughing turned into a humming of sorts. “No,” I said embarrassed, “Don’t listen to that.” My voice on display, to my ears, echoed back to me dissonance as I resisted. Then strength grew into a sound that sung of freedom. It felt powerful and clear, now that all the gunk had cleared. “Take care,” the voice urged before it stopped. “Take care of you.”
I find myself now wondering, in the sometimes harsh light of day, how many of us are feeling the same way. This long year that has held fear and constriction for so many of us has, no doubt, left imprints on us. Perhaps, like me, you have used the pandemic and political turmoil as an excuse not to wander outside the confines of containment, and by containment I don’t mean those imposed to preserve health. Rather, I am referring to the free spirit that is a winged thing always yearning to fly. Always yearning to sing to the tune of inner truth. I must remind myself to play. To wander into magic, even if it involves outer restrictions. To let the feathered seer awaken once again and commune with the mysteries of life that return the wonder of the inner child.
Neglecting the soul is never a good thing, as I was reminded before I woke to this day. If we ignore its yearnings, a restlessness sets in. And sometimes, that restless turns to malaise.
Another night passes fitfully, laden with soiled laundry, much of which is not my own. Each night I slip into uneasy sleep only to find myself sorting soiled clothes of family and sometimes strangers in homes that I once lived in. Washing. Ever-washing to try to get them clean of the stains left behind.
There are always machines waiting to spin the soiled garments clean. Sometimes too many to the point of the absurd. Homes becoming laundromats to cleanse the filth of the outer layers worn to shield the inner. The symbolism does not escape me, yet the dreams continue and I must ask myself why I turn backwards, again, to release the stains of the past.
If you study the mysteries, you may be familiar with the symbolism of robes/clothing worn to cover up, or mask, the true self. We often hide what we don’t want others to see, but most importantly, what we don’t want to see ourselves. Yet what resides inside the layers needs no washing.
Stripping ourselves naked requires trust and vulnerability. And it requires faith and letting go.
Each night as I pour through the soiled garments, a stack of towels waits for me. Their surfaces colored with floral blooms, drawing my eyes to their tall stacks. Yet the towels will do nothing for the garments, and I have yet to strip bare and immerse myself in a body of water to find my own cleansing. To release and rebirth.
Instead, I travel back through past homes, even though they are no longer mine. Seeking belonging, no doubt, but also approval. Acceptance. Healing. “Heal me,” my mother begs, showing me a leg riddled with arthritis, her face grotesquely distorted, too big for life and thrust too close for comfort against mine. How can I say no? She is my mother after all. The one who birthed me in this lifetime.
Sometimes life seems more cruel than kind to the human mind that tries to find reason and logic. If I could collapse time it would be by thousands of years and not a mere lifetime of long months. I would go to the place of heather and stone and find the one who wears the feathered cloak and embrace home.
I know why I am sorting through these endless garments soiled by life each night, yet I cannot quite let go of them. “It’s time,” they tell me, and I want to shout back, “I am not ready to let go of her, though.”
“You will and you must. Just like the bird trapped inside your porch, you will release this tie to life. Just as you must release the others that hold you back.”
The wren appears in uncanny ways, surprising me with her visits in the daytime. “I will never be truly gone,” she reminds me, but I want to hold her. To cup her feathered body against my heart. Just once, before I let her go.
We sat in plastic chairs huddled around the flames my daughter had brought to life and talked about ghosts.
“What’s the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?”
I had four teenagers spellbound. Aware with each word I chose I could either feed their fear or help abate it. And what of my own?
Should I really tell them about ghosts?
The thought came and went. And came and went some more as I began the story about the woman in the two-hundred year-old dress seated at the piano with her daughter playing the keys of a past she could not let go of. But that was cheating, in a way. I had not seen her, only heard about her. So I told them how, before I knew better, I had evoked the spirit of another lost soul who wandered the hallways of my haunted school. Learning, in the process that he was a specter not to be feared, but to be pitied.
In turn they told me about their friends playing around with online videos to conjure spirits and enter into past lives.
“Didn’t you have an Ouija board,” my daughter asked as the mom inside of me came out to lecture about using care and caution, and how some things are better left alone and that’s why there are professionals…before I was cut off again.
But what’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?
I wasn’t willing to go as far as the demons I had battled while my body slept…so I told them about the hair puller yanking me awake in the middle of the night.
“Oh my god, I would have lost it!”
I watched my daughter’s best friend nervously scroll the phone in her hand.
Had I said too much?
I knew she was afraid. And, she knew she could tell me to stop talking, or walk away. Beside her bed back home I could see the half-empty bottle of “Ghost Be Gone” spray I had filled several times for her. You need to learn how to do this yourself…I had told her more than once, but she had wanted just the crutch of the spray.
Without fear can we learn empowerment?
While I told some of my ghost stories, I thought about my four-year-old son calling me awake in the voice of terror, shaking me from sleep in the middle of the night. My husband, telling me to let him learn courage as I held his trembling body in my arms. I thought about my son, a little older saying, “I see strange colors in my room at night,” when I was just learning how to process the truth of his words.
Now fifteen, he sat beside me, slightly removed from my daughter’s friends, but not unwelcome tucked into the shadows of our circle. “Can you feel them?” he asked before he told us the story of being alone in the house with the dog barking at nothing. The cat staring at the unseen. His body knowing what his eyes no longer see.
How could I not seize each moment with care, handling it as best I knew how to, knowing that I was once that child in the dark?
My daughter’s best friend dropped her phone on her lap. “My grandma is always with me, but I don’t like it.”
I weighed each word on my scale of truth, aware that my scale of truth was not the same as others. I was raised on the belief that there was no soul beyond the body, but I knew enough from her stories and her mother’s, that she was not.
What would you have wanted to know? The inner voice kept urging guidance. So I told her about the grandmother who sent me the scent of roses to remind me of the love she struggled to show me when I could see her with my eyes.
“Have you seen The Conjuring?” she asked me, tipping the scales back towards fear.
I wasn’t even sure I knew what the movie was about, but I could guess from the title, as I told her I avoided all movies and books that sensationally evoked the darkest side of humanity. I see no point to them, although I’m sure others will vehemently argue their value. I’ve never seen much value in glorifying violence and we all know the adage, “What we feed grows.” I made a vow to myself long ago to grow empowerment over fear in each child, teen, or adult who came to me for guidance.
“How many dead people have you talked to?” another friend asked.
I don’t keep track of numbers like this, and after I reminded them that I wasn’t a medium by profession, I decided to tell them about the visit from the desperate mother. She had been dead only a week or so, but she was already worried about the adult daughters she had left behind. Her human brain, I would later learn, had long lost the ability to coherently remind them of her love, so she had chose to visit me, a somewhat forgotten friend from her daughter’s childhood, before I feel into sleep, to relay what she hadn’t been able to say before she had passed. The story also had an element of mystery. A ring lost to her years of hoarding, stuffed away in a buried box, she needed them to find. Which they did.
While the teenagers wrapped themselves in the intrigue of the story’s mystery, I hoped the were also thinking about how ghosts need not be feared like the ones in their movies.
“I couldn’t live in a house that someone had died in,” someone eventually shared.
So I told them about the man who had died in my children’s first home, before me moved in. Perhaps they were expecting to hear a tale of fright, but instead they heard another tale of love.
“You have complete power over what you let in,” I told them as I started to come to the thesis of my narratives.
They didn’t believe me. At first. But I persisted, even though I could tell I was starting to lose their attention. They were here for ghost stories, after all, and my nudging daughter knew I had an abundance of them.
Instead, we talked about shields of energy and intention, followed by more examples than they cared to hear of how empowered they each were before we finally crawled into our respective beds well past midnight.
I had a feeling they’d sleep well, even though we had spent the night sharing ghost stories.
It was 10am before I heard the first stirrings of movement from the bedrooms downstairs. The cinnamon rolls on the stove had already cooled to room temperature. I lit the flame under the frying pan and began to crack eggs into a bowl to whip them into a scramble.
“Oh that smells good.”
“I’m so hungry.”
“I slept awesome!”
“Me too! Even though I dreamed about ghosts.”
“Yeah so did I! I can’t believe how well I slept.”
Inside I sighed relief. I knew the outcome could have been different, but I was also careful with the scale I had been balancing with each word I let forth from my mouth. There could have been angry texts from parents of scared kids, and any number of unhappy outcomes, but instead I had around me five hungry teenagers eager to go about their day empowered from their night of ghosts.
I had taken a risk when I chose to face fear instead of shoving it back into the darkness. Usually I play the quiet role of the host-mom, choosing to stay in the background, careful not to hover or impose. That night, though, I had been invited to enter the circle around the campfire to play the role of storyteller and I chose to take it. There’s something about campfires. Being out in the night air where the darkness is cut by the flame in the center evokes the desire to tell stories. But not just ordinary stories. The embers stir that which is hidden, calling it to come out and be seen. Heard.
As those five teenagers faced their ghostly fears of the ephemeral world that no longer scared me, my own fears had played through me. My children are at the age of transitioning away from the protection of the hearth fire and the maternal chords are frequently tugged inside of me. Earlier that day, before we gathered around the fire, I had watched from the shore as my daughter and my son struggled to start our boat. Part of me was hoping they wouldn’t be successful, but persistence on their part paid off as they slowly pulled away with friends on board to tube and ski for their first time without an adult on board.
“Stop taking pictures and help me in!” My brave, determined 16-yr-old daughter, who had learned to drive the boat this summer, six months after she got her license to drive a car, was showing me her anxiety about safely docking to unload. And she was showing me she still needed me, albeit with the irritation of a teenager, and so I put the camera down and caught the rope to pull her in.