Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dreaming of the other side

Last night I dreamt of my friend who was killed in a car accident about two weeks ago.  I met Anita Jackson through Craigslist almost 2 years ago when I decided to move to the South Bay.  She was looking for a roommate and a nanny to help with childcare while she was taking classes at the local community college to finish her degree.  We clicked pretty quickly--I'm an herbalist and she was into making soaps and super excited about herbal medicine.  We bonded over alternative medicine, spirituality, and her beautiful daughter Tara.  It was hard not to be excited about Tara--she was such a sweet baby.  She often slept through the night and when she got upset she was pretty easy to calm down.

I remember the first day that I took care of Tara.  Anita went to class and little Tara and I went for a hike in the ravine nearby.  I would learn how much Tara loved hiking in the woods and how she would spend the first 2/3 of the walk excited at all the plants and animals around her and the last 1/3 sound asleep in the Baby Bjorn.  When we got back from the hike (and back into cell range), I received a slew of text messages from Anita asking how Tara was doing.  I texted her back but they didn't go through (I think Mercury was retrograde) and Anita arrived home after class near panic.  She calmed down quickly when she learned everything was ok.  Anita then told me that day was the first day she had left Tara with someone who wasn't family.  She loved her daughter something fierce.  It makes my heart hurt to know that Tara will not grow up knowing from experience the ferocity of her mothers love for her. 

I learned of Anita's death through Facebook, which I have to say, is one of the worst ways to learn about someone's death. It was about a year ago that I learned of another friend's passing through social networking.  It's just terrible to be sitting at your computer alone and learn that someone who was in your life is now dead.  We as a culture need to develop some agreements about how to hold death in the context of social networking.  Because hearing this kind of news outside of the context of relationship is extraordinarily painful.  But on the other hand, in the case of Anita, I'm not in relationship with other people in her life and so there's a good chance that I would not have known of her passing otherwise.

Except perhaps the dreamworld.  I've been dreaming a lot.  It's an intention that I've been holding in my spiritual practice--to deepen my relationship with the dreaming world and other realms.  Last night I dreamt I was in a forest with many other people that I did not know.  It was autumn and there were large trees and dried leaves on the ground.  They crunched as I walked.  The weather was chilly, but I didn't feel cold.  We were camped out and we were helping Anita move into a new home in the woods.  Anita seemed like she was doing well.  She was happy about her new place and pleased with all the company.  Her smile was sweet and gentle as she watched her friends moving her stuff. 

I woke up with a familiar feeling.  There's a certain texture I experience when I dream about people who have crossed.  The dream often has a thickness to it that clings to the air when I wake up.  The place itself--that autumn forest is often where I dream people who have crossed over.  The sound of the leaves crunching beneath my feet is usually an element I remember.  It's distinctly different than when I dream about someone who has passed--you know the dreams where you're eating banannas or watching a tree grow out of a car.  The dreams in the forest--they're the ones that I wake up feeling like the person is still there with me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I have a new found belief that we all go to a cold forest when we die as a result of the dreams.  I do believe that the forest is the way that I understand the energy of crossing over.  As a pagan, I believe that the late fall, Samhain as my Celtic ancestors called the holiday, is the time when the line between the living and the dead is the thinnest.  It's the time when we can reach out to the other side and they can reach us.  So it makes sense that this is how I the energy between life and death comes through to me in the dream world.

And so last night, in some reality, I saw Anita again.  She was in a good place.  She wasn't overjoyed.  She wasn't trying to convey a message to me to pass on to others.  She was simply moving into her new home and smiling, enjoying the company of the people there with her.  I'm not exactly sure why but there is something about knowing that, that brings me comfort.  And so I honor the dream, I honor the memory of my friend, and I share with you.

Anita and Tara

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ode to a Fly

Today I watched a fly give itself a bath. Just like a cat. He took a moment from his travels to enjoy a moment upon the page of the book that I was reading. I admired his green and blue shimmer mid sentence as he cocked his head to look at me. After some sort of assessment that I wasn't going to try to kill him, he proceeded to extend his little fly mouth to his long legs and clean behind his head—or perhaps his ears. He was very thorough in his cleaning, extending his mouth to his legs repeatedly to get every little nook and cranny. He then proceeded to clean his backside with his back legs, brushing off dust and particles since his mouth would not reach his back legs.

Then he really blew me away. He took each wing between his back legs and cleaned them off by running them through his legs. It was amazing to see how far back he could reach with his legs. I looked out the window of the DC metro car that I was riding at the landscape of Arlington National Cemetery whirring by and marveled at that fact that amidst the speed at which we were traveling and amidst the madness that is DC rush hour, this little fly took a moment to land upon my book and give himself a bath.

“But flies are disgusting creatures!”, you exclaim. “Why didn't you kill it?” my parents asked as I told them when I arrived home. Flies have a bad reputation. They're known for spreading disease and indicating uncleanliness wherever they go. But here was this sweet little fly giving himself a bath just like a cat. Perhaps they are known as unclean because of where they end up. Flies are like the garbage men of the animal kingdom. Did you know that maggots were once used to clean out infected abscesses on humans? Flies do the dirty work—they work with the trash that we humans would like to forget about. They find worth in what has been discarded. And apparently they don't forget to clean themselves off afterward.

This little fly landed upon the pages of my book and reminded me that only humans get sucked up into the madness that is the rat race and rush hour. Zooming from here to there as quickly as possible, it's easy to loose sight of the wonder around us when we live in the city. No matter how solid you are in your spiritual practice or self care regiments, it's hard not to get sucked up into the madness that is city life. 

It's easy to forget to dust ourselves off when we engage in challenging work with others that we may be taking home with us. As a healer, I am learning the value of taking the time to ground and come back to center when working with others. To me this looks like taking a moment to burn a cleansing plant to clear the energy. Sometimes it looks like feeling my feet on the ground once again and sending my roots down to reconnect with the earth and my center. Other times it looks like literally washing my hands with soap and water if the work that I have been doing involves physical touch. I offer this to you and ask how do you clean yourself off when you have been engaging in work or activities where you may have picked up someones energy? 

So I say thank you to the fly. Thank you for seeing the value in what the rest of us see as trash. Thank you for helping me remember to appreciate the dirty work. Thank you for taking the time to clean yourself off helping me to remember to energetically dust myself off whenever I'm working with intensity. Thank you for showing me that even when everyone else is caught up in the madness there is always time to stop and take a min for self care.