Setting the Stage
In 1995-96, I spent a year taking care of my 84 year old father after he had a series of debilitating strokes. He was paralyzed at first on the left side and lost his speech, but never his mind. Over the course of the year, he learned to walk and talk anew, with my help 3-4 days a week. It was an amazing year for me – I think the best of my life.
My father and I had been somewhat estranged for most of my adult life. He had never understood (or approved of) my decison in my twenties to divorce or go to law school. As late as 1988, when I was 42 and joined my husband in California where he had taken a very good job, Daddy had said “I don’t understand why she has to go out to California.”
But as I helped him regain his speech and walking, fixed his meals, watched baseball with him (he was a big Braves fan), helped him with crossword puzzles, and listened with him to his favorite music and books on tape, we became very close. Then of course over the last few months when he started to go down again, managing the three other caretakers we needed for him, I felt like I was somewhat living his dying process with him. I was with him at the end and as his body withered, I could feel myself going with him, into his pillow, into death.
I don’t know how many others have experienced something similar at the loss of a close one, but I feel like I lived my father’s death with him – and then I came back, but was forever changed by the experience. (I still feel that ability to be in more than one place at a time, to get outside my body and let my mind take me wherever I want to go, not bound by space and time, to go completely through something, and be on the other side. The first time I described it to a friend in the first weeks after my father’s death was as the ability to feel that I was on the other side of a wall, that I had gone through the wall, at the same time that I was there on the other side talking with her.)
For some time after Daddy’s death, I felt very close to the spirit world. I had a vivid visit from my father the night he died. Over the next several years, I took a further hiatus from practicing law and delved into a more mystical world. I joined with some women friends, most of whom are artists, in weekly dream sharings and interpretation.
For that period of time I felt that I was thinking in spirals, not in the logical, square boxes of a lawyer. I had more vivid dreams and messages that began to appear to me in the weekly Friends’ meeting we had been attending for years.
In a one hour-long Quaker meditation at a Friend’s yurt, in a hollow in a field by a sparkling stream, I was taken on the first of several spritual journeys. Three spiritual guides gradually materialized, first two, then slowly the third. They led me to the shallow river/creek, the sun glistening on it, heading from the yurt. The first one was an East Indian male (like Ghandi, in a white sheet-like garment) and the second, an American Indian male (like a Chief Seattle). The third I could barely visualize at first, an East European-looking woman, somewhat large, older, wrapped in pale yellow robes. I’ve always thought of her as a sibyl hence my screename, but I still can’t see her face. (One of my dream-interpreter friends has told me that of course I can’t see her face, because she is really me.)
They always (when they appear) take me to a mountaintop outside a cave in an area that when I look at a map draws me right to it, somewhere in far northeastern Turkey, or where the continents come together. (It could be where Mt Ararat is in northeastern Turkey, or it could be closer to old Armenia, Georgia, Iraq or Kurdistan). Around the campfire were sitting the guides and a few others similarly dressed, but not identifiable.
The first time these guides appeared to me, about ten years ago, in 1997, they showed me the Manhattan skyline and said “This Will Not Last”. Then they whisked me to ancient sites I had seen in pictures, like Machu Pichu and Tikkal, and said “This is what happens to what man creates”. Then they took me back to the circle of elders sitting around the campfire, in front of the cave opening in the mountains, and said “This is what will survive.”
This was the first of several journeys with these guides and messages received, mostly a decade ago, but very important to my psyche and way of thinking about the world today. For a while I kept receiving messages, the first of which was “Buy a Boat.” The visual for this was seeing my ridgetop in middle Tennessee surrounded by water. Looking southward, only the peaks of mountaintops, the Cumberland Plateau and Walden’s Ridge, including Signal Mountain where my son and grandchildren are, were visible. The boat was something like a wooden rowboat. (I have to confess that I’ve not purchased one yet, but think I will when the time seems right).
The second message was “Save the Seed.” The visual for this was an explosion of seeds into a sunny blue sky as I opened my garden gate. I had been saving some garden seeds already at that time, mostly flowers (marigolds and zinnias), but now do so fairly religiously, and when I buy new seeds, looking for openpollinated and heirloom varieties, like my favorite Brandywine tomatoes.
Over the course of several months, I received ten or twelve other messages. And for a while was writing them down in a small yellow notebook, that I seem to have misplaced. For these last seven or eight years, since about 1999-2000, I have been litigating again and so have been out of my spiral way of thinking.
One big win on a civil rights/welfare case in 2001 and a large attorney fee award, but then a huge loss on an environmental (pro bono) case by a Bush(W) appointee judge – and I’m ready to go back to gardening, saving seeds and thinking in spirals. Now if I could just find that yellow notebook . . .
Buy a Boat. Save the Seed.
by cumberland sibyl