He Sent Me Home to Paint

 

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[This post was published briefly months ago so may be familiar to my followers. It has been rewritten and edited]

There was sweetness in the sorrow I felt when my memory took me back to the day my first horse, Apolinaire, died. At the end of his recent visitation through Dollar,l my emotional balloon was stretched to full capacity. Knowing I needed  to release my tears, I was driven to walk the pasture paths that the horses have created through the wooded areas, revisiting the different places where Apolinaire and I had been together during the last four days of his life. Retracing our story together, I lingered at the very spot where many months ago he lay in exhaustion.

He had sent me home that day to paint.

To leave him in such a condition was difficult but I had been through this drill many times before with the other horses who were having acute or chronic physical issues, with miraculous results. Each time I had been guided to write, sketch, paint, to simply stand nearby and tune into nature, or to “please leave and let me work this out myself.” The malady magically disappeared time and time again.

Knowing his directive was not one to ignore, I left.

Once home, I painted with a restless spirit but with spiritual awareness, sensing that Apolinaire and I were most likely walking his death journey as companions. It was premature he told me that night and reminded me of the day years ago when he’d shared the way he was to die.

At that time, he had wandered away from the herd which was unlike him. He stepped over to another pasture and stood alone silently calling to me. I responded and stayed at a distance giving him space and dignity. Since it was late afternoon, the coastal fog had found its way inland and dimmed the light of day, creating an appropriate mood for what he was sharing. When he finished, I had thought his death was imminent, that he would likely disappear during the night. There was no distress. Sadness, yes, but most of all I felt a deeper closeness to him. He had trusted me with something intimate and sacred. But, the time for manifestation had not come.

Now, years later, I understood that it still was not time for Apolinaire to go, but an ominous feeling was pressing in. He was giving me continuous instructions as to my role in the partnership and in the process.

I was to hold space for him while he did his intercessory work which was very serious and challenging would make the difference in whether he was to live or die. For the most part, the magnitude of his cosmic work was not revealed.

I was to hold the belief he would recover as the other horses had done many times before. This time, however, my growth was in the believing. It was important even if there was never a manifestation of that belief. That one was tough for me. It didn’t make sense to me nor can I make sense of it now. All I know is that deep down there was a powerful freedom in it and there still is. I gave up attachment to results, and was free to hold space for his recovery and allow the Divine to flow. There was no more resistance to “believing” because it might not manifest since that was no longer a part of my formula. This is new to me and there is much more for me to discover about that practice.

Back home after putting away my paints and returning to the pasture, I quickly found my way to the spot where I had left him lying on the ground. My breath caught with new hope when I saw he was no longer there. There were indicators that reminded me of the “yellow brick road” that helped me find him tucked in the thicket, well away from where he had been lying. His eyes were brighter, there was new energy in him. I was encouraged.

As time went by, I continued to work on my painting and holding space for Apolinaire. Each time I returned, he showed improvement. My hopes were running high. Things seemed to be progressing.

On day 3, an acquaintance stopped by the pasture. I was not able to tell her that I was in an important process with Apolinaire. In fact I tried to hide it from her not wanting to talk about it. I surrendered to her arrival thinking maybe it was meant to be and might bring the ultimate healing. I completely forgot about my deal with Apolinaire. My only hope was that he would stay hidden.

Forgetting I was on a sacred mission with my horse, I lost my connection with Apolinaire that day as I followed my distraction. It can happen to me so easily. I suspect I am not alone in that tendency.

I had not spoken up which was a disservice to my guest, to Apolinaire in particular, and to myself. I lost the day with him. I lost my sense of confidence and holding space. I didn’t paint. Didn’t even think of it. From that day, he went downhill extremely fast and I forgot everything I’d been learning and went into crisis mode.

The next morning, he waited for me to arrive. When he turned and looked at me, I knew he was dying. My heart sank, and I gave up. In less than an hour, he was gone.

I had known it was a challenging task. I do not feel guilty nor that it was my fault as one might expect. We were on a treacherous journey together. I had known that.

My painting had brought continuous improvement for Apolinaire as it had done for the horses over the years. This time there was a bigger challenge. I became distracted and stopped painting. He went downhill. He died. It is sometimes a tough journey.

When he sent me home to paint, he sent me home to that other worldly place where the soul sighs with relief. There I find my joy and the peaceful pool of healing. There I am out of the way; the Divine is free to flow and the extraordinary follows.

Listening Intuitively, Seeing Beyond Appearances

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The following are vignettes, examples of listening intuitively and seeing beyond appearances with humans and animals.

CHILD
He was just a kid. …my son 35 years ago. We were getting ready to leave the house one morning to run some errands. At the last minute I wanted to iron the wrinkles out of something quickly. I don’t recall what.

At 8 years, he was old enough to know better, but knowing better was not on his radar screen during the following episode. As I was getting ready to iron, he grabbed the ironing board and gave it a good yank almost knocking the hot iron onto the floor. In my opinion at that moment, it was a purposeful and belligerent act coming out of nowhere. Immediately my ego mind kicked in obsessing about my son’s “act of violence.” I was a teacher after all and how could I have such an extremely disturbed child. I felt helpless. Punishment seemed futile, he was doomed, and destined, I was convinced, to become a ward of the public penal system with his own personal mug shot.

My mind was obviously working overtime without pay on this one. Condemning thoughts about my son and my failure as a mother were whirling out of control. This was fertile soil for a parent to perpetuate the violence by inflicting it back on the child. Anything to stop the behavior, and the embarrassment! But I, instead, was like a buzzing fly caught paralyzed in the sticky spider web of the mind.

I do not recall whether I even got to the scolding stage with my son. But what I do recall was a sudden “knowing” that pierced through the chaotic and internal noise and into my soul, and the absolute peaceful silence that ensued. The mind had been dismantled when the backstage curtains were pulled open. Intuitively I saw behind the stage set, behind the facade, beyond appearances. I then understood what prompted his behavior. It was the only way he knew how to communicate the emotion that had welled up inside of him taking us both by surprise.

I had a careless habit back then, and still do, of getting ready to leave the house numerous times always thinking of one more thing to do before leaving, or one more thing to take with me. That particular day way back in time, I had, I’m guessing,…maybe 5 false starts. Each time I had called to my son to get ready to go to the car.

Finally he’d had enough! Frustrated, he impulsively did what he could do to send that message to me. He shook the hell out of the ironing board the source of the final delay. Who wouldn’t be upset? Well, maybe my dog who considers me her personal snooze alarm. She simply lifts her head and puts it right back down again for more nap time until she knows it is the final call. At that time, she pulls her body up slowly, dipping it into an upside down arch as she takes her own sweet time in a oh-this-feels-so-good stretch, then ambles with a yawn somewhere in the direction of the car. That was not the way of my son. He’d had enough.

With this new understanding, my ego mind laid shriveled in a heap wrapped up like a mummy in its own spider web, and for me, and for my son, this became a teachable moment. His behavior wasn’t acceptable nor was mine, but his emotion was. After apologies, my goal was to listen, to honor his frustration, and to teach him how to express his feelings in a more constructive way. He would need to learn to trust that I would hear him, and I would need to earn his trust. I needed to listen intuitively and without defense.

ADULT
It was super bowl Sunday, back when our favorite team, the 49ers, were winning with Bill Walsh. We were excited and, thanks to my husband at that time, we had all kinds of delicious food spread out on the spacious kitchen counter. You would have thought the whole neighborhood had been invited…but actually, it was just for the two of us.

For some reason I had gone somewhere before the game started, and was to be home for kick off. The excitement and suspense was like walking on a high wire in a circus tent. And, somehow I tumbled off and was late for the kick off. I missed it! The disappointment was almost more than I could allow myself to feel. I was grappling with my own sense of loss and guilt about my screw up and little did I realize the impact on my spouse. He showed very little  emotion about it, at least not then.

At half time, he laid down on the sofa and “napped.” It was a “nap” that made me feel like straps had been wrapped around me and I couldn’t get my breath. My mind told me there was nothing wrong with his taking a nap at half time, what an obvious thing to do, but it was not normal for him during a football event and we had all kinds of food to devour. Most importantly, however, I was being locked out. This was not something I could bring to his attention unless I wanted to look like a fool. How could I take issue with a nap? How silly of me. But it was a nap that was loaded with venom, an aggressive nap.

Finding a way through my emotional struggle with his passive aggressive “nap” came the understanding that he was hurt because I had arrived home after the kick off. I had no idea my presence was that important to him especially after he had shown such minimal emotion when I arrived late. I was intrigued  by the possibility that he had felt so deeply. Based on that intuition, I accepted it and did not question him, but I brought up the fact I had been late, and then apologized for it acknowledging the importance of my having been there. His demeanor changed immediately. He instantly got over his nap and the rest of the day was redeemed. I never ever discussed it with him. He would not have admitted his emotion. But he did respond to my apology, and perked up with all kinds of conversation.

HORSE
I stopped by Glory’s stall a few days ago when I heard voices coming from his vicinity. Sure enough, his person was there with a friend. Glory was standing with his head near the stall gate with his fly mask on. For some reason not being able to interact with his eyes because of the mask, I unconsciously passed by him and engaged in conversation with his person and friend who were standing next to him.

While we talked, Glory repositioned himself behind his person who was facing in my direction. Finally he started nudging her rather roughly. Then, like a choreographed dance, the friend stepped up in a perfect rhythm and discreetly tried to calm him, while his person continued to stand with her back to him as if facing the audience in a Broadway show ready to deliver her potent line. Without missing a beat, the words floated out of her mouth and danced in the air around us. “He wants to see Beverly,” she said. That was me. I was surprised, but sure enough as she finished her statement, she stepped aside so Glory could find a way around her. He did, in perfect timing, and put his head over his wall near me and started licking my hand. You can imagine the joy I felt! But the joy was not just about his wanting to see me, but also that his person had listened intuitively…and acted on it. Glory will learn to deliver his messages of intent a little more gently.

I’m not suggesting that we over analyze every circumstance, but I am encouraging that we always remain open to listening intuitively, and seeing behind the scenes of appearances. I believe that listening intuitively would change our relationships. Go for it. Trust it. For my son, shaking the ironing board totally made sense once I intuited his frustration; my husband, who was unaware of my insight, responded instantly when I spoke to his disappointment which I assume he’d never acknowledged even to himself. And Glory, moved quickly to interact with me as his owner stepped out of his way. There is a metaphor in that.

Spiritual Acceptance and Physical Healing

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Magnificent Shaman Tal came to my attention today with the never-ending saga of sore feet that is often a reflection of what is going on in my life. He made it back slowly to the barn from his position in the pasture a long way away. I walked over to him and softly stroked his leg. As I touched him, a shiver rumbled through his body like gentle thunder. He turned his head toward me and in acknowledgement of what just happened, he wrapped himself around me in a hug. Something had happened. I knew it. A little later he greeted me with a bold and hefty nicker as I brought the hay. I always know he’s feeling better when he does this.

As he walked I did my habitual checking to see if he were really better, but something stopped me and held me in the “knowing” that healing had taken place no matter whether I could see a manifestation. With that spiritual acceptance within me, he suddenly walked a little more smoothly, and over the course of the evening showed significant improvement.

Inspired by this manifestation, I revisited the numerous other powerful moments when I knew a healing had taken place, but my doubts stood in the way of manifestation. I embraced each one as the remembrances washed over me.

Standing in Our Own S*** Collects Painful Rocks: Lesson From Shaman Tal

What, me?

On Tal’s road to recovery, he had a little set back today with his sensitive hooves. Or maybe it was not a set back at all but pageantry to get a point across to me. If so, it worked. Just before my fears had a chance to take hold, I had an intuition that I needed to clean Tal’s hooves. Sure enough, when he lifted each one, I found them impacted with his manure and a ton of rocks!

He’s been mirroring me lately by standing in his own manure even though there were plenty of clean places all around for his hooves. This is out of character for any of my horses. But I learned from Tal that I’ve been standing in my own muck for years without realizing it, and collecting painful rocks. All I felt were the continuous jagged and sharp edges that hurt, and didn’t notice the s*** that was drawing them and holding them in my life. For me it was imprinted patterns from an undealt-with childhood abuse. Just the revelation of that and my choice to step out of it, led me simultaneously to a beautiful and gentle experience of forgiveness. Standing now where there are plenty of clean places, I’m viewing life from a new perspective. No more s***, no more impacted rocks to painfully distract me from the life I intend to live.

As I left for the day, Shaman Tal and his buddy horse were massaging each other over the back fence, a synchronous reassurance that all was well. He was free of his own muck and has been freeing me of mine. I rather like the imagery he presented as I left, a picture of pure pleasure and delight. A breath of heaven!

Breaking the Rules: Mystical Moments

It’s been a tough time in my life. Today was one of the lowest. From the beginning I’d had a stressful morning and was late leaving for the barn. As I closed the door to my cabin and headed up the driveway to take care of the horses, I noticed that Heni, my Airedale and Australian Shepherd mix, was missing. After a few calls and no response, I couldn’t deal with it and went on to the barn knowing she would come back to the cabin at some point. I didn’t even have the energy to be upset.

Feeling dejected I went through the gate into the front paddock area of the barn with my head hanging down. Such a drama queen sometimes! I walked mindfully toward the barn and then stopped in my tracks. There was my dog, Heni, lying in the spring sunshine next to the barn like a miniature lioness regally “doing her job”. How she’d made it across the road and through the fence I have no idea.

I went into a brief internal conflict because in my mind, she had run away and I don’t look kindly on that, but the truth was it felt really good seeing her there. It was more than relief, it was something different. I felt strongly that she was right where she belonged. She was there on my behalf when I wasn’t functioning so well, and she was there, “at home”, taking care of her horses. I paused and let go of my authoritative side and enjoyed the bliss of the moment.

She’d decided to do what she needed to do at the risk of getting into trouble. As I work spiritually with the horses and with Heni, I’ve been learning to trust those moments when I get the home feeling even when they’ve stepped outside of my rules for them.

All day today I lingered in the joy of the moment that took me to the other world where life with our animals is not rigidly locked into “should” or “should nots”. A place that allows for manifestations that are extraordinary and transcendent.

We must be mindful that the new spiritual awareness we have been discussing is a balance between our rational and intuitive selves. We aren’t discarding our hard-won powers of rational discernment, rather, we are bringing them into balance with the higher part of our being. In this way we are entering a universe that provides a constant stream of little miracles to guide our way.

… Our full engagement of the synchronistic process brings us immediately to the next step in living the new spiritual awareness.
James Redfield, The Celestine Vision

Stepping Out of the Shadows


Troubled
Tal wasn’t doing well again. The whole story is for another time. His feet were uncomfortable and just as happened last year, I had come to a dead end not knowing what to do because both conventional and non-conventional efforts weren’t working once again. I checked in on him and reassured him, letting him know I was going for a walk which is the best time for me to hear what guidance is being offered. Gently stroking his face, I whispered that I would come back soon to be with him.

The Walk
I spent time taking in the beauty of the redwoods and the waving grasses, breathing the spring air, and feeling… well, not joy exactly, but feeling a sense that I was on track no matter how uncomfortable. I pondered my life, the difficult but solid decisions I’d been making recently, and the new changes taking place. I thought about my journey with Tal a year ago when my changes brought improvement in his condition.[Journey Into Surrender, Parts 1-7] I observed how in some ways the situation seemed the same again this year. However, in truth it was completely different because of what I now understood, and because of a growing inner confidence in my spiritual path.

When I finally headed back to the barn still not knowing what to do for Tal, I felt a heaviness encroaching and pushing away the quiet I had been feeling on my meditative walk. He seemed to be getting worse. I was losing the deep connection with him in the past couple of days. He had withdrawn into a cavern after some very joyful times in the last few weeks as we’ve traversed these new paths together through the laminitis dilemma. [Goofy Mariah: Divine Comedienne]

Not Knowing
I embraced my “not knowing” rather than fighting it. The feeling was relief. The new ways of responding to physical problems were surfacing in strength in me as traditional and alternative approaches were losing their foothold. For strange yet ultimately wonderful reasons they had become ineffective unless I was given specific guidance. These are the kinds of circumstances when many animals are put down, and in my fearful times I’d wondered about Tal. But he pressed on with me. He was my shaman teacher uncovering and honing gifts I didn’t know I had. Lessons over the years were beginning to merge with the ones I was learning of late.

The Message
I continued to walk to the barn in silence. Then the words came, “Do your art. Sit with Tal and draw him.” Friends of mine and those of you who have followed my blog know this mantra. This was not a new concept for me, just repetitive because I keep forgetting. 

Lessons From the Past
Years ago I was being prepared for this time in my life. I rescued a sick horse, Mano, who was never able to recover but the lessons I learned during that time keep coming like the waving grasses during this time when I’m finally ready to trust them. They are collected in my inner sacred place, recorded in an ancient book of wisdom with crinkled parchment curled on the edges and stained with age. The imprinted lessons glow in the warmth of heavenly candlelight inviting me to remember once again. This time it is with well-seasoned understandings.

When I was caring for Mano in those years gone by, I was getting a deep inkling that drawing him would somehow help his healing, I tried but the results weren’t instant enough for an immature self, nor was I as comfortable with drawing at that time, and it went by the wayside, filed somewhere in back chapters of that divine book of lessons.

Synchronicity
Arriving at the barn, I had my clear instructions. Grabbing my well worn barn stool, and my art tools, I sat down to draw Tal. He was very restless, moving his weight from one hoof to the next and kept turning to look at me. As I was sketching him, I was surprised by his next movement. He awkwardly maneuvered his body around and shuffled his way to be near me where his head could touch my shoulder. Such affection touched my spirit.

After doing a quick composite of him, I felt he wanted more contact from me so I laid aside my drawing, and spent time brushing him, cleaning his feet, and a lot of time combing his thick white tail. He grew quiet. Very quiet. I knew this was working.

During this interaction I had offered him a couple of homeopathic remedies which he usually takes, but today he told me that he didn’t want them because “you are my remedy” he had said.

So, quiet he became, and more relaxed. After a time of peaceful rest he decided to move out of the stall and eat some grass hay. Hope quickened within me. While slow at first, he began walking more effortlessly.

Throughout the day he continued to improve and when I returned to the barn in the early evening, he and Dollar were diligently massaging each other’s withers as they stood with the fence between them. I stopped in a hush, smiling all the way to my toes, not wanting to disturb this beautiful and long awaited interaction between Tal and his sometimes buddy, and sometimes rival. A significant indicator of Tal’s dramatic improvement.

Divine Flow
What made the difference in his dramatic improvement in one day? I’m not sure, I’m still learning. Perhaps it was all of it, going with the divine flow, and starting with the drawing for sure was important as per instructions, and certainly the mutual activation of love between us, and not to overlook the magic of touch in the grooming, and the tail combing.

Tal was right he didn’t need his homeopathic remedies that day. His remedy came in the new way that is unfolding with us here at the ranch as he teaches me and prods me to step out of the shadows of my self limitations and fears into the joy of life as it was meant to be lived.

Listening Intuitively

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This is why I like Anna, my farrier; and Tal does too. The other day she was giving him a routine hoof trim. This is no piece of cake for Tal even though, bless his heart, he tries hard to cooperate as he is able. But sometimes, through no fault of his own, his feet hurt. This particular time she was working on one hind foot which he, being a very large horse and of great strength, kept snatching out of her hand and planting firmly on the ground. He then would lift the hind foot on the opposite side. He did this several times. Logically, Anna was intending to finish the one she was working on before doing the one that kept paddling in the air aimlessly looking for her strong farrier hands.

But Anna listened intuitively and responded to Tal. And this is what won my heart. She decided to stop what she was doing and went to the opposite hoof he’d been lifting. As she started cleaning it with her pick, out popped a rock the size of half a walnut shell. Ouch! Tal had known this was the most important next step. His discomfort was alleviated in an instant. Anna was then able to go back to the hoof she’d been working on and finished the job with ease. Thanks, Tal for speaking, and Anna, for paying attention.

This incident reminded me of another time when Anna responded intuitively to Tal. Once again she was working on his hind feet. This time he’d had an injury to his right hip and was finding it difficult to put weight on one side. Finally he just walked away. Instead of getting annoyed, a common response of many humans, Anna stood still and quietly watched. I stood with her. Amazingly, Tal repositioned himself so that his front feet were downhill bearing more of the weight which took the pressure off of the injury in his rear end. Anna was then able to proceed with the trimming without further struggle.

After experiencing Tal’s directives and Anna’s receptive and intuitive responses, I have wondered how many times in situations like this that we interfere with what could be an easier and more delightful solution by becoming annoyed, and completely ignoring our intuitions. Though intuition can be subtle, challenging … and sometimes seemingly treacherous, I have found it ultimately to be a gift of joy.