About 14 years ago, this time of year, I was released from the hospital. Released, an odd word, as I didn’t feel ‘set free’ but more confined than ever; yet, released none the less to begin adjusting to a new way of life. Released into the reality of how everything in my life from the simplest of physical tasks to the most complex of spiritual thoughts, had changed. Ready or not for the change, as odd as it seemed, I was released.
A few weeks after coming home, Jeff took us on a San Diego getaway. While traveling there, we stopped in Bakersfield. I waited in the vehicle while everyone went into Arby’s to get an icy cold drink. It was early in the day but it was so very hot. Seeking relief from the stifling heat; I stuck my head out the window hoping for a breeze. I caught a glimpse of my face in the side mirror. “You look the same; kind of; maybe a bit worn.” I looked down at my amputated legs. “No, you don’t look the same all; you are changed.” A vehicle pulled up and parked near ours, breaking my thoughts.
Looking out, I watched a very large woman of about 350 or more pounds unfold herself from a very compact car. It seemed to take longer for her with all of her body parts to get out of her vehicle then it took me to get out of mine. Yet, with fascination and intrigue, I gawkingly watched.
I’m guessing because she couldn’t lean into it, the car door seemed to magically fling open on its own. Slowly, meticulously she un-wedged her core from in front of the steering wheel twisting, arching, wiggling about until facing herself towards the open door. Like some awkward dance partner, the compact car swayed along with her movements. Her robust hands reached out securing a hold onto her partner as she struggled to lift her legs outside of the car. Once both legs were out, I watched with an unusual sense of envy, as she placed her feet on the ground. She just sat there a few moments, catching her breath, before placing those thick, round hands of hers statically back on her dance partner so it could assist her large body up and out. Finally, she was released.
I continued watching, with more awe, at her unnatural gait. She wore shorts; she was short; her legs seemed to be made up of fleshy stacked rolls. I wondered if she felt the earth beneath her. I wanted her to feel it, the earth and each step; I wanted her to feel each step she struggled to take as it made contact with the ground beneath her. As I watched her walk away, I saw beautiful, so very beautiful, miraculous legs. “I’d take them Lord, those legs, yes I’d take those legs and knees and ankles and feet.”
Because this memory has played out in my head so many times before, it wasn’t unusual for me to recall it again this morning. But for some reason, some glorious reason, it made new sense, it had a fresh lesson.
There are times when I have more pain than normal and when it goes on for days and days, it zaps so very much from me, it becomes confining. Eventually it leaks from my physical self into my emotional and spiritual self; then whips around causing an ongoing cycle which can last for quite some time. This explains why, for a while now, my prayer and meditation time has been dull, uneventful, sort of disappointing, more task like. So, with the prompting of Pixie Campbell’s SouLodge, when I ventured to enter a new meditation last night I expected more of the same disappointment, I even allowed the Brothers Gremlin to taunt me. Soon, however, Deva Premal’s Shima Shima mantra hushed the brothers, eased the pain and I was released into the divine beyond. Free, within the beyond, I am the participant and the observer.
This journey took me to a camp fire of which I was dancing around. From the fire’s light I saw and felt my feet moving, dancing, celebrating upon and with the earth below. Little puffs of dust responded to the movement. I saw and felt each bone, muscle, sinew, every skin’s cell participate in their glorious, miraculous, beautiful ability to move.
My ankles were adorned with porcupine quill anklets. They were a gift from porcupine himself who came out of the forest to join me in the fire light dance. For a while it was only him and I but soon another came from the forest, mountain lion. This majestic beast joined in the dance. He beckoned me to climb onto his back. I held onto him, feeling, seeing his muscles, strength, power as he danced me around the fire. There, in the great beyond, we three, mountain lion, porcupine, and me were great dance partners.
This morning, my first thought was of the large woman being released from her compact car, with the assistance of her dance partner. Soon I began to think of my own dance partners.
v Mountain lion totem is protector, guardian, balance, energy, family, strength; he represents a link between self and Mother Earth, Father Sky, Great Spirit
v Porcupine totem is companionship, innocence, security, humility, trust, memory
While I may attempt, even after 14 years, to blame my lack for doing, seeking, expressing, growing, creating, dancing…my lack for being ‘set free’ in the face of inevitable change on the fact I don’t have my legs, the truth is I am the only one who confines myself. While physically they may be missing, my legs, knees, ankles, feet are miraculously beautiful. The unusual three have reminded me I can have one foot firmly placed in the earthly realm and one foot firmly place in the spiritual realm all the while feeling each and every step beneath me. I’m sure, during this my 49th year journey, they, the three, will have to remind me of this often and each time, in its oddity, I will again be released…wonderfully, sweetly, oddly released.