The Upside of Hate

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I got discouraged for a moment. Perhaps it was a long moment, but I didn’t count the seconds.  Fear resided inside the words I read, and festering with that fear was hatred. It has become easy to hate these days in a world that appears to be ripping into shreds of immorality. That’s what we’re shown on the surface where we linger with sensationalism. The media prefers to grasp the hand of the monster that lives both inside and outside of us, holding it like it never wants to let go.

I had been scrolling through Facebook, that skewed version of reality where the darker side of humanity is allowed to run amuck with gleeful abandon. A friend was bemoaning a poll forecasting possible results for the next presidential election here in the U.S. The screen was awash with red. I could have pulled myself into her fear, but I decided I’d be better served to let go the hand that would hold me into the netherworld.

I believe there’s an upside to hatred, if we choose to find it. At the core of hatred is an insidious fear that thrives in its deoxygenated environment. It’s a terrible existence. This choosing to “live” in hatred. The fear of the “other,” and the “unknown,” deprives us of life and the soul withers inside its troubled shell. But hatred tells a story, as does the fear behind it. It tells the story of a history that is ours, but one we don’t have to hold onto.

Hatred is a ruse to lure us backwards into the spiral of the abyss. We can stay stuck there, or we can dig through the ruins and discover why the tower keeps collapsing upon itself.  It is a vulnerable journey, which is why we often choose to linger with the discomfort of fear. It yells a power that has no basis in truth, yet we listen to its words thinking that if we heed them we will survive, forgetting about the countless others that will perish. Forgetting that we too will starve for want of light.

But if we listen, really listen past fear to its origins, we get ever-closer to the true self. The self that wants to be healed. The self that wants to be held. The self that desires love. And, our tower begins to crumble its mighty fortress. The walls that would contain collapse. Smoke billows and the fires rage, until the flames abate. It may take a long time to put them out, but herein lies the beauty of creation. The alchemy of self exists inside ourselves. Collectively and individually.

Beneath the angry red screen that tried predict more hatred across the land, I felt the pulse of the vein of life. Life searching to be reborn. It’s been a long time. A really, really long time, since we’ve known how to live in harmony with the life around us, and that inner life that is the self as a part of the whole. Perhaps we need to give ourselves a little more compassion. When we look at the vast and complex journey of our existence in human form, we see the struggle to survive, but also to thrive. And in the searching and breaking down, we can relearn how to balance upon the thread of light that is joy.

Humanity has reached the stage of existence marked by The Tower card in Tarot. Its number is 16 in the major arcana cycle. Balanced on one side by The Devil, and the other, by The Star, The Tower card is the epitome of upheaval. To get to the light of the star, that inner, true light of the self, the devil within and without must be reckoned with. As much as we may fear the devil outside of us, we must come to realize that he only exits because of what is inside. The chains, as the card reveals, are self-imposed. We can choose to live chained to fear, or we can break the fortress and let the light shine through.

Becoming, in essence, naked to the true self, is a vulnerable act. It takes trust, courage, and a surrender in the knowing that love is the truth of the self and of Life.  If we reduce The Tower card down to its integral parts, we arrive at card 1, The Magician and card 6, The Lovers, in the major arcana. The Magician possesses the alchemical magic of the self, The Lovers, of the union of the opposing energies; the yin and the yang that exist in the individual self, as well as the self searching for union with another. If we join the 1 to the 6, to complete the reduction, we arrive at the number 7. Card 7 in the Tarot tradition is The Chariot. Here we see the individual reigning over polarity. The yin energies sit one side of the chariot, the yang on the other. The sun and the moon are in balance both within and without. Over the breastplate of the figure that is self, is a square through which the light of the heart is shining through. The light of the star shines on the crown of the head.

 

The Chariot card is card 7, though. It precedes The Devil, The Tower, and The Star in the cycle of life represented in the Tarot. The choice to reign with the force of the ego or with the peace of inner light is still subject to personal will. The number 7 is that magical number that speaks of transformation. Everything is possible, and so there is the promise of union through alchemy.

This breaking down and collapsing that is so prevalent in our time often feels fueled by hatred and the ego’s need for self-preservation at all costs, but when we look closer, as symbolized in the card, we can also find the light of origin. Lightning strikes the crown of power from the top of the tower and opens the pathway to the divine self. Enlightenment can occur through the upheaval, if the self allows it.

Through the rubble of fear and hatred, there exists around us and within us, so many seeds of this light. Stories of courage and truth abound as voices gain strength with the conviction that love is the essence of life. Young women are stepping into the light of the divine feminine energy in a manner the world has not witnessed for a long time. They bring to us the promise of balance as they break fearlessly the barriers of fear. There is a feeling of warrior energy, a warrior energy fed by the light of truth. Their voices are strong and clear, and the are joined by many others, both male and female, in a dance of union.  It’s our choice, collectively, how to collapse the tower and find the balance of life, but it all begins with the self. The self that stays mired in fear, or breaks the fortress to find the light.

 

Greta Thunberg Standing on the Fulcrum of Fear & Love #IChooseLove

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

It has felt, for many months, or maybe even many years, as though we are collectively teetering on the fulcrum between fear and love. Some days there is a slight tipping toward love, on others I feel fear pushing its heavy weight into our hearts and there is a slipping towards an abyss that I care not to imagine. Yet, how can we not face our darkness? There are nights when I dream of the Earth caving in upon us, her mighty tongue lapping us back into her dying body.

Two days ago, I sat in a circle of 22 children and talked about love and fear. Although they were no older than 10 yrs. old, some of them already knew of the science behind our emotions. Before I pulled Dr. Emoto’s book The Secret Life of Water out of my bag, one child offered her scientific observations on two apples. One was spoken words of hate, the other words of love. There was an unease to her giggle when I asked her which one had decayed first. Although there is a knowing deep inside each of us, it is sometimes difficult to allow ourselves to understand the effects of our emotions.

We don’t always want to own our energy, or the fact that our energy is intricately woven with all life. If we talk love to water outside of us, it forms into a beautifully exquisite crystal. If we talk hate to water outside of us, the water separates into an ugly mass striving for cohesion. To me it resembles a bacteria smear on a petri dish. Each day it is fed fear, more toxic colonies grow.  It’s worth thinking about what the water inside of you is doing, as I discussed with the children while they gazed at the photos of proof.

Everything, in essence, is energy. Somehow, over the course of thousands of years, we have learned to crave density. We amass wealth in the form of condensed energy thinking it will bring us joy, but we should all know that the tighter the wrap, the more difficult it is for the light to get shine through.

The scientific proof is there, yet many of us care not to see it. Just like the scientific proof exists, and has for many decades, that our climate is indeed in a state of crisis. A crisis brought upon by our individual and collective choices to push the lever towards greed. We care not, for the most part, to see what is going on outside of us or inside of us through the lens of science and truth.

This morning, I decided to scroll through a few comments on Greta Thunberg’s Twitter feed. I have been thinking about this courageous and brilliant young woman a lot lately, and how she has chosen to weather our collective storm valiantly without fear of personal attacks. Of which there have been numerous. One needs only spend about thirty seconds on Twitter to see there are nearly equal tweets on the spectrum of fear/hate as there are on the spectrum of love/reference for this truth seeker and speaker. I found myself amazed, yet not really surprised, by how many people self-righteously send out the energy of hate towards a young woman whose only motivation is to save them, and in the process herself and the planet we all share. It’s mind boggling in its essence. Yet, it’s not. Some of us really like our fear and hate. It makes us feel powerful with all its lies and self-loathing so that we forget that we are harboring and feeding a cancerous mass inside of us.

It would be amusing how much we fear the truth if it were not so disturbing. I have realized, over these past several days while thinking of Greta and all the courageous youth who are standing and speaking up with her, that somehow, quite miraculously it seems, we have birthed new generations who do not hold onto fear the way most of us do. Perhaps it is because they have not yet lived long enough for fear’s weight to grow into a cancerous mass inside of them. I like to believe, though, that somehow they were born with an immunity to it.  That finally, we are moving toward the light as we push fear’s weight into the abyss from which it came. If I don’t believe it, the alternative is unimaginable.

 

Another Morning Has Broken: Grow the Light #GivePraise #Gratitude

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I woke with the lyrics of the hymn playing  inside of my head in the voice of Judy Collins, even though I grew up listening to Cat Stevens singing “Morning has Broken.” I have not heard the song in years, but there it was, singing inside a mind that refused to fall back to sleep. In my dream, I had been writing this blog post while the beauty of the song played on repeat.

Before I went to sleep last night, I watched most of the U.S. democratic presidential debates. “Are they still on?” my son asked when he came downstairs in preparation for bed. He had suggested we watch them, and together we had for about an hour.

“Yeah, I told him, but they haven’t even gotten to the environment yet.”

“Maybe it’s not on the agenda topics,” my husband replied.

Instead, the focus was on healthcare and gun control. Two topics I will not deny are essential to individual wellbeing. But, if we don’t tend to the home we all share, we won’t have individual selves to care for. Eventually, the morning light will not break into a new day on Earth.

16-yr. old  Greta Thunberg is now famous for telling us, “Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope, but I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”

The truth is, most of us are more concerned with our own houses, than the home we share. Neglecting to realize that our individual houses are irrelevant if we don’t take care of the planet. Simply put, our house will burn if we continue to ignore the fact that our collective home is literally on fire. Immense forests, the lungs of our Earth, are burning because of climate change. While the land burns, the waters are rising. In attempt to shake us awake, our home is self-destructing with our help.

I realized as I was waking this morning that the song playing on repeat through my dreams was not a song, literally, of mourning, but a hymn of praise to the new day. It is also, though, a praise for union and the truth that we are “born of one light.” The song is incredibly beautiful, and it is no wonder it has been sung by various artists throughout the years. It may have originated as a Christian hymn, but it has a universal appeal, as Cat Stevens, also known as Yusuf Islam, has shown us.

Although I don’t adhere to a religion, I believe that we are all birthed from the same light. A light that weaves through all life, including this living planet we call home. We have, collectively, over many years, but more so in the more recent past, worked more to break this light than to honor it and nurture it.

Science says we are creatures of habit. It can take an individual two weeks to a year to break an old habit and form a new one.  Sadly,  we have made a global habit of looking out more for the individual self than our selves as an integral part of the web-of-light/life that we are all a part of.

The other day, I watched a brief clip of Greta being interviewed by a morning show on a major network here in the U.S. She had just traveled to the states via a zero-emissions boat. As her visibly uncomfortable interviewers also pointed out, she has also walked to their studio.

It takes a fair amount of discomfort to welcome in a “new morning” in favor of the one we are used to greeting. It takes a stretching of the eyes and mind a little wider to really see what exists beyond our myopic field of perception. But, the rewards are infinite. Imagine, for a moment, a new morning breaking into day. Imagine your beautiful light weaving into the light around you. Imagine what you can bring to this new day.

Admittedly, most of us will not change all of our habits, and certainly not at once. I know I am not ready to give up travel by plane to sail across the ocean, but there are choices I can make in each moment to dim the light, or to grow it. Here are a few that we can all consider each morning after we wake:

  • Skip the K-cups or the Dunkins run and brew a cup of fair trade, organic coffee or tea. (If you really want that Dunkins or Starbucks, bring your own reusable mug.
  • Gather a full load of laundry before starting the washer, and use warm (not hot) or cold water to wash. The next time you buy detergent, choose one free of harsh chemicals and dyes in the most environmentally friendly packaging you can find. Just say no to those hard plastic containers! If your washer kicks the bucket and can’t be fixed, buy an energy efficient one. When your load is done, hang it outside in the sunshine and save some money by using free, fossil-free energy! If you must dry it in the dryer, use an eco setting and wool dryer balls in favor of toxic non-reusable dryer sheets.
  • Likewise, run your dishwasher only when it is full on the energy-saver setting with eco-friendly detergent in eco-friendly packaging.
  • Make the choice to eat low on the food chain, and finish what is on your plate. If you can’t eat it all, save it for another meal. Compost what you must discard. Grow what you can, or buy it locally and organic.
  • Water the lawn only if you really need to, and tend to it with organic lawn care. Better yet, grow more plants and trees that don’t require maintenance and nourish your body, wildlife, and the lungs of Earth in the process.
  • Carpool to work or school in the most low-emissions vehicle available. Or, better yet, walk or ride a bike when the weather permits it.
  • Skip the hair dryer, iron, and curler, even if it’s just only weekends.
  • Unplug appliances that are not in use.
  • Turn off lights and heat in unoccupied rooms. (And when they are in use, make sure your using the most eco-friendly options available to you).
  • Support local business and farmers who are working on, or using, sustainable practices for the planet.
  • Invest your money in the future rather than the immediate pleasure of instant gratification.
  • Teach your children that caring for their planet will ensure they have a planet to care for them.
  • If you want to add a child or a pet to your home, consider rescuing one from a life of poverty and homelessness.
  • Wear your clothes until you can wear them no more, then use them as rages, make something new out of them, or donate them to someone who can use them.
  • Buy local. Buy eco-friendly. Buy used. Buy only what you need. Use a reusable bag to put your purchases in.
  • Support zero-emissions energy sources whenever you are able to.
  • Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Turn down the water when you shower.
  • Skip the plastic whenever possible. Use refillable containers. Buy zero-waste products. Remember most of our waste is no longer recycled, and when it is, it takes large amounts of energy to do so.

And, most of all, breathe in the beauty of each morning. Breathe in joy and gratitude for the new day. Breathe in light and Breathe it back out. Imagine a new day where devastation is replaced with joy. Take at least one action each day to co-create another morning for all.

 

The Chalice & The Sun #yearning

I had been intending to write a blog post about some recent explorations I’ve had with the chalice as a symbol when I opened Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt this morning. There before me was a photograph of water in the shape of a chalice illuminated by the light of the sun. The title, “yearning.” I realized that perhaps I had just been provided with the image I needed to explore this ancient symbol in the way it has come to me recently…

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Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

Years ago, when I first began exploring Tarot, I bought myself the Rider-Wait deck. I  often shuffled the cards to find guidance for my life and writing journey. As frequently happens with Tarot, a card will repeatedly show itself. The Queen of Cups was that card for me.

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The Queen of Cups in the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

The archetype of The Queen sat before me on her throne contemplating a capped golden chalice in her hands bearing a cross at its top. The card is filled with archetypal symbolism, which is up to the individual to explore in relation to his or her own inner journey.

Now, when I look at the card, I rather fancy the queen shedding the crown she wears, removing the church-like dome of the chalice, and discarding her robes to dive into the waters of life before her until there is no separation. Becoming, if you will, the opened chalice, as in the photo above taken by Sue.

 

Like many, I find myself deeply troubled these days by what appears to be the masculine side of fear’s desire to hold a tighter reign over the divine feminine. We seem to be spiraling backwards (but not backwards enough) instead of forwards as we allow fear to take over. Here in The States we are seeing its struggle for dominance in the form of control over the female body. A struggle for dominance that stretches back thousands of years.

It is disturbing on many levels, for this is not a “war” driven only by men, but by women clouded by the dome of patriarchy that holds the reigns of indoctrinated spirituality premised upon fear and control. When the desire to control over-rides love and balance, Truth is lost.

A couple of weeks ago, my son went on a past-life journey facilitated by a dear friend of mine who is a trained regressionist. We were attempting to get to the root of his extreme sound sensitivities, and what unfolded was a detailed narration of a life as a Templar knight. I won’t tell you his story, as it is not mine to tell, but it feels significant to me to share part of the quest for the Holy Grail that came through. 

A story that was woven into the tapestry my son recalled hanging on the wall where, nearby, a golden goblet with decorative handles held the wine he drank. Of the nine pages of recording from the regression, two phrases haunt me the most, “trying to get the holy grail, but not the blood of Christ, but of someone else.” And later this, “the [priest] tells the story that’s written on the walls. The same story in the tapestry. It is the story of the holy grail, but it’s different. Like it has not been modified.”

“Modified”…

About a week after my son’s regression, I gave my friend a healing session in trade. As with my son’s regression, we had no idea where our journey would take us, but put our trust in the highest aspect of self that is a channel to the divine. I had not been consciously thinking about the chalice while I channeled the healing energies for my friend, but opened myself to receive whatever messages her higher self desired to bring through for her. In her recent history, my friend suffered a serious concussion from a car accident, and even more recently, had a hysterectomy. I was not surprised to see the healing energies travel to these two regions of her body, but I was not expecting to see the chalice.

Inlaid into the structure of her ethereal body, a golden chalice appeared before me, resembling more the “goblet” my son described from his regression than the one appearing on the tarot card. For, it had no cap. Nor was it ornately structured. Instead, the wide basin filled her womb, open to receive. Below, a long narrow stem ran the canal of birth, connecting to the base that opened into the place where life exits the womb. The handles, the fallopian tubes.

Before me, I saw the sacred vessel of the divine feminine fill with the light of the divine from above. Although her physical womb is now gone, she had not lost the essence of the chalice she bore inside of her. She had only to open the golden “womb” to receive the seeds of life giving light from above and allow them to fill her with their creative potential, grow it, and birth it into the world. 

The unbroken, uncapped womb that is the chalice.

And so I find myself gazing into Sue’s photograph and seeing the waters of life held within the womb of the ocean illuminated by the light of the sun. The light upon water create the form of a chalice-like image, with two open ends, in the continual cycle of life. Life not driven by fear or control, but by the light of  Love. 

I think a lot these days about what is happening to the female body is happening to the body of Mother Earth. My writing is taking me deep into her womb as I continue book two in my Warriors of Light visionary fiction series. My characters lead me into the chalice of Earth through broken lines humans have created. They draw me into mysteries that I have yet to discover, into an ancient past were once the vessel of Earth flowed free with the Light that is Life. A time when Earth’s children lived not to destroy her in ownership and greed, but to live as One in harmony. Balanced and fed by the Light within that is also without.  

And I find myself filled with a yearning to return.

 

 

 

 

 

#Threshold #WritePhoto #SueVincent #Poetry

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Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

You stand upon the threshold of self

when the eyes outside look inward

past the outer and all its beauty and decay

Light plays tricks with shadows until

they are explored through the pathways

of your own labyrinth, discovering you

are not a cave of darkness, hiding

You are light itself. One golden strand

without an end or a beginning weaves you whole

You

may begin outside, but you will always come back

to the center, pulsing the light that is you

through the body that would hold

Close your eyes and forget this shell

See the labyrinth of light inside

breathing into open space

forming tensile strands weaving

expansion into boundless essence

until there is no you held inside darkness

only joy, threading its golden breath

through all life

 

Written for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenge, “Threshold.” 

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The “I Need to Be Special” Syndrome Vs. Greta Thunberg’s “I Don’t Care About Being Popular” Approach to Life

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

It’s likely most of us suffer from it, to lesser or greater degrees. Soon after birth, the ego discovers its individuality and realizes that separation can be a threat to its survival. If I am not considered special, the ego decides, I may not be fed, taken care of, and loved. First the individual ego fears the rejection of his parents, then later learns to extend this fear into the wider world of siblings, teachers, coaches, peers, and employers. No one wants to be cast aside and forgotten.

So the ego searches for specialness. It decides, if I am attractive enough, I will be loved. If I am smarter than my peers, I will never fail. If I am fast enough, I will always win. And in that striving for specialness, angst sets in. What will happen if I  am no longer considered beautiful? Will I no longer be loved and cherished? What if someone smarter than me comes along? Will I be rejected? Overlooked in favor of another? What will happen if I lose this race? Will I no longer be a winner?

You cannot fault the individual ego who as a young child hears the words, “You are so cute” by his parents and translates this to, “I am cute, therefore I am loved and wanted.” Soon after birth, the child begins to learn the skills admired by her world, discovering in the process that accolades, hugs, and smiles accompany her feats of mental and physical acuity. She will likely hold onto these words and decide as an adolescent that the words “You’re smoking hot” translate to being worthy of love by another. If she doesn’t hear them, her self-worth may be severely questioned, as the insecure ego has learned to strive for specialness. And so this extends to all areas of life for each individual who grows in a world fixated on specialness. Each of us becoming, in the process, unconsciously obsessed with what separates us from each other, instead of what unites us.

We lose, in this process of striving for a specialness that separates us from each other, both inner and outer joy. Separation is the opposite to unity, and the constant striving for this separation from each other pulls us apart from what unites us. This encompasses the inner and outer unity, as there can never be contentment if there is a constant struggle for separation. Inner peace arrives only when the ego learns to exist in a state of balance with the body, mind, and heart-centered soul. It exists only when there is the realization that striving for the outer ideals created by the world around it are false ideals. That in fact no one individual can truly be more special than another. Instead, the individual must realize that this striving only creates separation. Separation from the true self.

I have been thinking about this pervasive syndrome of specialness obsession that many of us get pulled into early on it life. God knows I did.  My need to be accepted by my parents led me to swallow my words and emotions and bury my true identity. By the time I reached adolescence, I discovered that being different meant rejection by my peers, and so I struggled to stand out in more accepted ways. Although I won awards for academic and athletic excellence, as well as the affections of handsome boys who didn’t know my past, I existed inside a sea of inner turmoil. True connection with myself only became achievable later in my adult life after I began to let the outer ideals slip away.

Last week my son tried out for the school’s baseball team and didn’t make it. He took the rejection by the coach hard, at first. And, one of the comments he made was, “what will people think of me now?” He is in the eight grade. That stage in life when the ego is acutely fixated on identity. It is heartbreaking to hear these words come out of the mouth of your son, knowing the struggle for identity that he is going through. Yet, it is also an opportunity to teach and learn. To grow and overcome. To help discover that the perceived rejection of the outer is really just a superficial interpretation. The self secure in its identity will realize that there is no true rejection or separation.

Yet this process can take time. It can take much learning, or rather unlearning, to discover that the outer ideals so cherished by a culture premised upon ranking will eventually topple. It will create inner and outer wars, as we have seen over and over again. We are in the midst of this right now. Racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and religious discrimination have raised their fearful heads in a quest for dominance. On our thrones of leadership we have placed false demigods who thrive upon the ego’s “I am special” syndrome.

But, in the midst of the ego’s struggle with fear and supremacy, there are those shining voices of truth singing songs of unity. Some of them have not yet reached the age of adulthood. I am thinking in particular of Greta Thunberg, who at the age of 16 has been nominated for the Noble Peace Price.  When she was 15, Greta began protesting outside of Sweden’s parliament in an effort to inspire a more radical response to climate change. “I do not care about being popular,” she fearlessly declares when she speaks in front of a panel of rule makers. She lives through her heart supported by, and not ruled by, the strength of her ego. You cannot help but feel the power of her words. Never having, perhaps, caught the “I need to be special” syndrome, Greta shines in the light of a universal truth as she seeks to bring awareness to a global crisis that affects not just her, but all life on Earth. She speaks of unity and not division and has no care for whether she is liked. Yet, through doing this, she epitomizes true greatness.

During my conversations with my son over the weekend, we discussed the difference between striving for individual greatness driven by the ego’s quest for specialness vs. the larger calling of the soul ruled by the heart. Although he enjoys playing the sport of baseball, my son does not feel that a life centered around an ego-centric competition is for him. He has no intention of playing professional baseball. Instead, he realizes that he has his own unique strengths, which may lead him down a path that is not so much about letting the ego shine, but allowing the truth of the soul to shine. It gives me hope, just as it does seeing Greta standing sure and true in her convictions to inspire a better, cleaner world for us all.

 

 

The Blindfolded Girl in the Hallway

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Photo Credit: Pexels

It had been easy to plan. Perhaps too easy. My husband’s forwarding of the airfare deal had led to another trip across the pond that had been pulled together quickly and nearly effortlessly. I had two sets of gracious hosts, an almost absurdly inexpensive flight, and dates that fit the family’s schedule as perfectly as circumstances allowed. My feathered seer had appeared to me in dreams, visions ,and physical forms, and I felt I had to go. The pieces had seemingly fallen into place of their own will.

Perhaps too easily.

Life, I have learned, rarely unravels before us in the way we envision it. I had felt the shift. The silence in the weeks before my departure, but had tried to ignore it. The plan had changed, but I wasn’t sure how.

The inevitable test began during the flight to London. I was sandwich in the middle of the airplane, between two men, one much larger than the other. The armrests were taken and I knew I could easily succumb to the feeling of entrapment if I allowed it to cloud me in. There would be no slumber, not that I had planned on it. I rarely sleep on airplanes, even when the flights, like this one was, are overnighters. The large man to my right began to snore before the plane taxied down the runway, so loudly, heads turned from several rows away and looks of pity fell upon my face.

Yet, I was determined to make the best of it. I pulled my headphones out of my purse, plugged them into the seat in front of me, and scrolled through the dismal list of films. Two movies and one granola bar and yogurt later, we arrived at Gatwick. I, surprisingly alert.

The trip through customs was quicker than expected, and my train tickets easily purchased. My only mistake, not buying the combo tube ticket because the agent assured me I would get a better rate if I waited until I got to the station. Turns out it’s not so easy to get a ticket if you don’t already have one, or an Oyster card, of which I am now the proud owner.

After some minor scrambled confusion, I got my tube ticket, found the right terminal, and boarded the tube. My friend was waiting at the “meeting place,” and we set off to buy some provisions before we settled into her flat so she could get a few hours of work in, and I some sleep.

The bedroom was cool and welcoming. After I removed the layers of clothing that had enveloped me for the past night and previous day, changed into PJs, and brushed my teeth, I slipped under the duvet and closed my eyes.

And that’s when I saw her. The girl with a blindfold over her eyes. Standing in the hallway, beyond the closed doors. Waiting for me.

Part 1 in a series of posts to follow that will cover my most recent journey to England to study some of its ancient sites.