Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Way of the Phoenix (Part 4)

I had never seen trees as tall as the ones that now surrounded me as I made my way out of the cavern.  They towered above me like skyscrapers.  Their trunks were straight and limbless until they reached beyond the mountainous entrance now behind me.  Their leaves spread open at the top of their height like canopies.

A path cut through the woods and I followed.  The fallen leaves crunched beneath my feet.  The sound of the birds was soothing, and their song erased the terror of the night.

As I rounded the bend I stepped out onto a beach. The lake was surrounded by hills of evergreen trees and the water opened up to the horizon.  The water was calm, except for a gentle lapping of the water at the shore.

Before me I saw a boat swaying with the waves. Inside the boat was an a-frame tent made of tree limbs and brush.  I climbed aboard and the boat, once tied to the shore, drifted out onto the water. The wind directed my journey on the lake.

The clouds above changed from fluffy white to slate. The sunlight faded to fire as it set on the horizon. A storm was growing just ahead as the wind gained momentum.  Lightning flashed and danced across the water. I curled up underneath the brushwood shelter to protect myself from the coming storm.

I was surrounded only by water now and the waves were growing and tossing the tiny vessel around. The thunder clapped and a flash of light struck the water around me and I was transported. The waterway became my means of travel to different locations without time or space boundaries.

The water transformed from lake to ocean . . . from ocean to river . . . from river to whirlpool . . . from whirlpool to waterspout.

It was on my tiny vessel that I traveled through the early stages of the transformation. But the wooden boat could not withstand the current and it splintered beneath me. I was battered by the waves and sank into the whirlpool. Visions of long ago places and forgotten faces flickered in my mind like an old movie reel.

As I saw the images like an outsider looking in, I felt both a sense of judgment for my own actions, and an overwhelming feeling of forgiveness for the actions of others. Looking back on my journey I realize that the process was taking me back to the places where I had lost fragments of myself. I gathered up my stones and returned to the cavern entrance.

I left this strange place . . . transformed in the way of the phoenix.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Way of the Phoenix (Part 3)

The warmth of the fire was a distant memory as I lay on the cold damp ground waiting for daylight to peek through the entrance of the cathedral cavern.  The darkness swallowed up the sounds of the comfort from the dripping water.  

I felt the days pass without a hint of sunlight.  Fear began to consume my thoughts as I became more and more aware that I was no longer alone in the cavern.  I could feel the eyes upon me as I lay on the ground hoping my friend would return.

Although the medicine man seemed a mystery to me, in my thoughts he had become my friend and I had come to realize that he had been present at the beginning to initiate me into the world that was before me. I knew I was not alone but I also knew my only guardian was long gone.

The beasts in the cavern seemed to be closing in on me, encircling me like prey.  I could see no way to defend myself and I was outnumbered.  I felt like a helpless wounded animal awaiting death, with vultures sitting perched in trees above me awaiting my fate.

My mind drifted in and out of lucidity. I could see the darkness moving -- plotting against me.  Any sense of safety I had felt when I first encountered the fire had left my mind and I knew it would not be long before the darkness would overtake me.

I was exhausted. Sleep was not something I needed to enjoy considering the company around me.  I drifted off into a dream of horror.  The creatures came out of the shadows and though the darkness did not allow me to see them at first, they were darker than the cavern and as they came closer I could see their form.

They were not “beasts” at all, but their outline was human-like. Stretched out from their backs I could see ravens’ wings, revealing the shine of their blades.  The weight of their dark forms covered me and all I could do was lay there and allow them to tear me down.  I could hear their cackles and screams echoed through the cathedral like a bone-chilling choir of evil.

I tried to awaken without success.  I was trapped inside the nightmare and no one came to answer my screams.  I drifted into unconsciousness and somehow the pain seemed to lessen. When morning came, I felt numb and I was unable to move my limbs.

I opened my eyes and saw sunlight for the first time through the mouth of the cave.  It revealed massive trees towering above the forest floor.  My eyes traced a path from chest to foot and I saw that although my clothes were shredded and filthy from the cavern floor, I was unharmed and alone once again.

Somehow I had survived the attack from the shadowy bird-men that had surrounded me for days.  As I lay there on the floor, slowly I was able to feel my limbs once again and I struggled to sit up.  I felt weak and worn from the night ritual that I had been through.  I stumbled to the entrance of the cavern and breathed in the dawn.  The song of the night was transformed to birds whistling and leaves rustling in the gentle breeze that kissed my cheek.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Way of the Phoenix (Part 2)

I could not see, but I knew that the room I had entered through the darkness was grand. It was cool and damp. In the darkness I heard the sound of a stone being struck by another stone.  The crack of flint echoed around me. I saw a spark and then another spark.  A flicker of light in the center of the room got my attention.

A fire began to smolder in the center of a circle of rock.  Behind the fire circle I could see the outline of a man.  He seemed large in stature, and appeared to be wrapped in a blanket of fur.  The headdress he was wearing covered his face in such a manner that all I could really see by the light of the fire were his eyes.  The shadow of the firelight cast darkness upon the furrows of his face.  He nodded his head, inviting me to come and sit by the fire.  As I made my way toward him, I could see the mystique in his eyes.  There was a magic within him, and a friendly comfort.

As I approached the medicine man, I could see a small pouch nestled in his lap.  The motion of his hand reaching into the pouch drew my attention to it.  I had not been aware of its existence before his reach. It was a simple pouch of tanned hide with a few tassels hanging at the bottom seam.  He pulled out a handful of something and threw it into the fire.  Whatever he kept stored in that pouch caused a reaction in the fire and it blazed higher and hotter, popping and crackling into a bonfire.

The newly kindled light revealed the room I was in to be a large cathedral cavern.  Behind my friend I could now see that he was sitting at the opening of the cave and elderly-looking trees towered above the entrance.  My surroundings were as magnificent as the man now standing before me clothed in pelts and feathers, his face still somewhat hidden by his animistic headdress.  He still had not spoken a word and I wondered what he would show me, and what purpose he had for me there.  He turned his back toward me and disappeared through the tree trunk fence into the darkness.

Hours passed as I waited for my friend to return.  The rhythmic sound of crackling embers drummed in my head.  The low howl of the wind encircling the ceiling hummed me into a relaxed reverie.  I could hear the drip of the water from the cavern ceiling into a puddle below adding character to the song of the wind.  The fire burned down to a slow sizzle.  The darkness grew colder as the fire burned out.  My guardian was gone and I was alone.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Way of the Phoenix (Part 1)

Some time ago, I became a seeker.  Well maybe I have always been a seeker, just without the realization of it.  You see, there have always been certain “things” I have been able to see, to hear and to even smell.  I remember having this gift even at a very, very young age.  

I never had an explanation as to why, and many times it felt less like a gift, and more like a curse.  Foreknowledge of certain events can cause a very heavyhearted and fearful soul.  I would often wonder to myself, “What am I to do with this?” What could be the purpose in having such knowledge revealed?

I say I became a seeker because I wanted answers. I wanted to know how it was that these things came about, and why it was that I could “see” things.  I wanted to know Who gave this gift to me, and what I was supposed to do with it.

I am still searching for answers.  I have walked down the wrong path while looking for answers.  I have collected and read many books while looking for answers.  Finally I stumbled upon the right path while looking for answers . . . God helped me get there, for I never would have found it on my own.  I believe HE has guided my footsteps . . . every one of them.

What I am about to tell you will likely conflict with some of your beliefs . . . I know because they conflicted with some of mine at first.  It has taken me a long time, and lots of struggling to make peace with that fact.  Actually, I guess I am still working on reconciling the tiny details within my being.  But my soul knows deep down that THIS is who I am, who I ALWAYS was, and who I am MEANT to be.  Finally coming to understand and accept who I am to be has taken many years of “fighting” within myself and “fighting” for myself just to get here.

Like many others, I have been told what I am supposed to believe.  Like many others, I have been told that the things I think I “see” cannot really be.  Like many others, I have been told that foreknowledge does not “happen” and that God does not work in this way. I am here now to say, “Yes, He does.”  God is Spirit, and He speaks to the spirit within us.  All we need to do is listen to Him, and make sure it is Him to Whom we are listening.

When you open yourself up to enlightened things, God will not be the only one trying to speak to you.  You must guard yourself against the dark side of spiritual things.  The dark side does exist, just as goodness does.  The closer you come to the Light, the harder the darkness will try to challenge you.  Keep your intentions pure, and for the greatest good.

I have known goodness . . . but I have also known darkness. Lots of dark things have happened in my life . . . forces have tried to act upon my soul in a negative way to pull me into the darkness.  I have been there in the darkness.  Once a soul goes into that dreadful place, it is difficult to return to the Light.  The further into darkness you wander, the easier it becomes to stay there.

What happened to me there resulted in fragmented pieces of myself – broken pieces – a shattered soul.  I was broken, I knew I was broken, and I desired more than anything else to reclaim those pieces of myself to become whole again. In my search, I have learned that in order to fully love and desire the Light, darkness is a place everyone must go.  This is how we are made . . . born into darkness with an instinct to do evil – by grace we are given a desire to seek the Light of God, Who is Spirit.

I set out on a journey through the darkness to find the Light – and to find my shattered pieces . . .

I set out on my journey alone. This is not advisable - You see, I went by the way of the phoenix. Come, sit by the fire . . . let me explain . . .

Recommended Reading:

"Dark Night of the Soul" by St. John of the Cross (Free copy available for download at Christian Classics Ethereal Library)