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Walking Through The Valley of the Shadow of Death – July 2002

Walking Through The Valley of the Shadow of Death
By Sandy Sela-Smith, Ph.D.

In spite of the world situation after September of 2001, the presumed threats that seemed to be under every rock and around every corner, despite the political responses that held the potential to change our lives more than crashing planes or anthrax, I felt good. I felt good in spite of the fact that my feet had begun to hurt again, as they had a couple of times before when I was working through significant life issues that had to do with moving forward in my life. I’d been seeing two body therapists to help me relieve the pain in my feet and I changed my diet as a result of a blood test given by a naturopath. The results indicated that my eating habits were compromising my immune system, and likely were a contributing factor to the painful experience when I walked. All of this considered, I still felt more calm and confident than ever before as I embraced what I knew was the truth, that I was eternally safe no matter what might happen in the outer world.

The months of work prior to and following the completion of my dissertation and graduation in June of 2001 seemed to have caused a departure of the aching sense of despair that had been under every breath for so many years of my life. Life was falling into place in a way that felt supporting of me. I had just been hired to be an adjunct professor at Saybrook Graduate School, and for the first time in a dozen years I had a savings account; my practice was growing and was a rewarding part of my life. My life was blessed with good friends, my health was improving, and the internal work I had been doing had resulted in not only my releasing long held and deeply buried beliefs that were unhealthy, but also the work resulted in my losing a considerable amount of weigh. Then without any warning, something dark and painful came back that I couldn’t explain. In mid November, I wrote my friend David an E-mail message telling him:

I am not sure what is going on…maybe its not important…but it is a strange and interesting dip in my sense of-of I don’t even know what. I had a good body therapy session this morning. The therapist worked with my feet and lower leg muscles to relieve the pain I have felt for some time now when I walk. He showed me how I walk favoring the outer edges instead of the balls of my feet. He gently twisted my feet the way they should be to support my body, and showed me how my legs would align if I could hold my feet in that position. My feet held straight would cause my knees to shift, which in turn would cause a change in my hips and back relieving the back pain I have lived with as long as I can remember.

As he held my feet in position, I could feel the rightness of his explanation. He pointed out that my left side leads and is more “strongly” out of alignment. This matches what I know about my left side taking charge after concluding that the right side was not strong enough to support or protect me…(the subtle arrogance of the feminine side revealed). I took the therapist’s direction and have been shifting my walking…I think its going to be work, but will be fine. I will be able to use bicycling in the development of my inner leg muscles as they connect to the balls of my feet.

I mentioned to the body therapist that a blood-specialist did a live-blood exam and advised me that I should not eat white flower, white sugar, or white rice. I asked if the problem was with just white flower or any kind of wheat. The therapist did a muscle test, which
showed that any wheat product is not good for me; wheat depletes my immune system. I hadn’t put it together until that moment that but every time I had a sandwich, cereal, or any other wheat product, I would become exhausted and feel like I need to go to sleep.

A short time before I found out that I couldn’t eat red meat, a bit later I was advised not to eat dairy products because they were making my lymph system sluggish, and with this new discovery the other most common part of my diet was being eliminated. I have always felt discomfort when eating fruits and vegetables so I haven’t had them in my diet to any degree. No red meat, no dairy, no wheat, nothing with sugar! It seems like there is almost nothing left; I can eat the foods that cause great discomfort but the things I like make me sick-I feel like I am being trapped between a rock and a hard place.

So when I arrived home after the appointment, I decided to finish the two remaining pieces of a loaf of wheat bread before stopping my intake of wheat. I made a cheese sandwich, and drank a glass of milk. Of course, I got tired, and went to sleep.

I dreamed I was in some place that seemed like it was my family of origin’s home, but very different. I was trying to listen to someone on the phone; I listened carefully and discovered it was my former professor. He wanted to know if I had written to another professor at Saybrook who teaches Shamanism. He seemed really disappointed in me for not having communicated with her. I told him that I intended to do so; that I had made a note to myself to write her and put the note in the stack of papers that are important to get to, but not now, and that I had left it unfinished. He seemed to think I should do something; somehow my communicating with her would help him with something he needed.

In the dream, my father was doing something that seemed to disturb my ability to talk and my sister was watching something on television and the sound was distracting me from my phone conversation as well. I asked her to be quiet, and attempted to plug my ears to keep from taking in all the disturbing sounds in the house that were keeping me from hearing my professor’s voice.
While trying to shut out the sounds, I accidentally dropped the phone and it crashed to the floor. When it fell, it was like a phone from the 1950s, a dial phone, made of metal, so it was very heavy and crashed loudly. When I retrieved it, I could hear my professor talking to someone else on another line, something that normally I should not have been able to hear. Dropping the phone seemed to allow me to hear more. And then I noticed that I could also see the two talking, though I don’t know how I could have since they were not there in person, but I could not reconnect with my professor.

I woke from the dream feeling like I actually had been having a conversation with the man who had been so significant in my graduate work…and felt this huge sense of emptiness in having lost the connection. Then I felt as if I had lost connection with everyone in the dream, my sister as well as the rest of my family, and a wave of realization surged through me that I had disconnected from everyone in the world. It was an excruciatingly painful feeling. Somehow I knew something and knowing it caused me to be disconnected. I wanted to cry, but there were no tears. I wanted to talk with someone but I didn’t know who to talk to.

When I tried to create a mental image of what I have been experiencing so that I could explain it to you, I saw myself in a space ship passing over a very deep hole with raw edges. When I passed over it, I felt a horrible aching feeling that lasted for the few minutes I was over the deep hole. Though I am no longer directly over it now and the excruciating pain is gone, I have been left with a sense of strange emptiness. Though I moved farther away from it, I am aware that someplace close, there is this very deep hole that contains huge pain. I wanted to tell you-though I don’t know what it is that I want to tell you. It is just a very interesting dip!
Namaste, Sandy

Writing to David helped a little, but as the day wore on, the sense emptiness associated with the deep hole was so powerful that I called Anne, my friend in Seattle who has often helped me uncover the meanings behind deeply buried feelings. I wanted to see if we could talk, but she was not available until the next morning. I was disappointed that I couldn’t work with it then, but also knew that even if my connection to the deep-hole-feeling were to dissipate by the next morning, the hole would still be there and I could find it again.

Knowing that my outer world is a reflection of my inner state of affairs, I had planned for some time to clean off my 10 X 24-foot deck to help make shifts possible inside. I had abandoned the deck a couple of years before when a former roommate had used it as her place to smoke and it really needed attention. I decided I would do the clean up that evening since I couldn’t talk to Anne. But I couldn’t bring myself to begin the chore.

The deck that was accessible through both the living room and master bedroom was the major reason I had leased the apartment. It provided the most wonderful place to sit in the evening and connect with nature. Gigantic flowering Oleander bushes, nearly two stories high, grew outside on the lawn 15 feet from my second floor apartment, and beyond the bushes, were more trees. In the distance was a small lake and golf course. It didn’t matter that there was an apartment building in the background; the trees filled the space of the foreground enough to prevent the presence of the apartments from disrupting my connection with the beauty of outdoors.

For the years before the deck became my roommate’s smoking place, I kept my 6-foot sliding doors open for almost six months. In the late fall, all through the winter, and into early spring, my apartment was filled with the feeling of the outdoors, and I slept with the cool night air carrying in the fragrance of flowering plants into my dreams. I had over 40 plants and several trees on the deck. I had planned to build a fountain to have the sounds of rippling water help me to let go of tensions and stress from the day and sing me to sleep at night.

When the deck became the place for smoking, I didn’t want to go out there any more, and I stopped opening the doors because the smell of smoke that seemed to linger beyond the smoking covered the freshness of the outdoors. I literally withdrew my energy from the deck and the plants. Over time, the plants became sick and attracted little white spiders that killed almost every one of them. Even after my roommate moved out, I didn’t reclaim the space or take care of the remaining plants. Two trees and a couple of hardy cactus survived after all the others died, but I didn’t water them. Every now and then I would look out at the surviving plants and know I should go out and take care of them, but an inner struggle always ended in favor of abandonment until everything finally died.
With the coming of fall, and my life coming together in such a beautiful way, I decided to clean up the deck. I had garnered a cart, put it out on the deck, and planned to get rid of all the dead things to start over. The feeling that I had not been able to shake all day had overpowered me and I didn’t use the evening in deck reclamation. That night, I had another dream that seemed to add another dimension to what was happening in the strange space I’d been in.

I dreamed that I was in some school where I was expected to teach, but was not sure where I was supposed to be. A woman handed me a baby. I held the little one against my right shoulder and the infant vomited on me. I had to give a lecture and had nothing to change into, so I went to a dorm laundry to wash my jacket. While I was there getting my clothes washed, someone approached me with a petition and wanted me to sign it but I could not spell my name correctly.

In the dream, I knew I had changed my name. In waking life three years before, I had changed my name from San Dra Smith to Sandy Sela-Smith. The purpose of the name change was to close the split in my first name and to add Sela, which was a spiritual name I had been given during a shamanic journey. In waking life I had also just become “Dr.” a title I was getting used to. However, in the dream, I didn’t know how to write my name properly. I tried to sign it several times and ended up signing the petition as Dr. San Dry Smith. In the dream I knew that wasn’t right.

As the dream unfolded, I went to several classes searching for the place I was supposed to teach. I found an open space with a couple of couches and chairs forming a circle where five young women were waiting for me to instruct them. I sat down in a chair and began explaining metaphysical principles regarding energy and taught the women how to become aware of their energy fields in connection with Spirit and with the Earth.

One of the women who sat in front of me and to my left told me she believed that connecting her energy to the Earth was dangerous because the Earth was filled with polluted energy. If she connected with it, she would bring polluted energy into herself. She said she would connect her energy with Source, but not to the Earth. She was adamant about her refusal; she got up and left the class. I followed her into another class to try to explain, but she would not listen and I became distracted by something else that was going on, but I can’t remember what that was.

I went back to my dorm room and realized that my dog Jenny had ruined the bed sheets. While in heat she had bled all over them when she apparently had attempted to wash them clean, but only spread the stains further. I woke feeling very dizzy from the effects of the dream and reconnected with the strange feelings from the day before.

After a couple of rings, Anne answered the phone. I told her about my two dreams and the feeling of strangeness that seemed to have taken over my life the day before. I added that I had been having difficulty walking for a number of weeks because my feet hurt so badly. Just putting my feet on the floor when I woke in the morning was so painful I had to support myself by holding on to my bed and dresser until the pain would subside enough to let me walk. I told her what the body therapist explained to me about walking on the balls of my feet, and that all during the time he was working with my feet, I had flashes of memories I had worked with years before.

The memories that came flooding in had to do with being literally dragged to places when I was a child where wretchedly wicked things happened to others and to me. On more than one occasion, I dug in my heels and tried to resist being pulled forward by shifting my weight to the outer edges of my feet and the outside muscles in my legs as I pulled back in resistance to what was happening, but to no avail. Somehow, all that was happening seemed to be connected to my resistance to moving forward in my current life, but I told Anne, I was confused as to how all this fit, but that I knew it did.

Anne took a moment to sense my energy and quietly began our phone session with a comment that seemed so out of place since the only things I had told her were about the dreams and my sore feet. She said that what she was getting had to do with the concept of death. She hesitated and then told me that she was not sure how all of this would come together, but that somehow it was related to wanting death and not wanting death, not wanting to die but believing that dying was preferable to living.

Anne always began previous sessions with a strong sense that she was connected to my energy and was confident about her interpretation of what was going on, but this time she acknowledged that she was having trouble. She looked at my body energy in her mind’s eye and said she saw physical defendedness in the form of what looked to her like the formation of an exoskeleton. I had created this energy skeleton on the outside of me as a way to protect the inner softness in lieu of death. She had no idea why she was seeing what seemed so disconnected from the information I had given her.

As a child I had not wanted death, but it felt as if a part of me had to die to avoid what was happening, and that part of me dropped into a pit. The pit, the deep hole that I felt when I woke from the dream, contained the sinking feeling that if I were to get too close to it I would fall in and there would be no way out. I seemed to be bringing this into my conscious awareness to find a way to heal it. The sinking feeling was what I must have felt like when I was a child. As Anne and I talked about the pit, I felt tears well up as if they were rising out of the deepest place within and they filled my eyes. Anne reminded me that the physical wants to live, but when living is intolerable, we search for a way to cope.

Splitting from my awareness of wholeness was my way to live. The result was a feeling that wholeness died. In the present, I have been going through the process of reclaiming my wholeness by reconnecting with any part of myself that was defined outside of me; anything that had become separate from wholeness had to be healed.

Anne suggested that what I was working with parts of myself that were connected to a theme of death, a theme that had been very powerful especially when I was raised in an atmosphere that believed so strongly in death. When I was a little child, to let my body live, I had to die to some truths that my spirit knew, including my wholeness, my beauty, and goodness. This was an adaptation that seemed to be the solution that would let me live, but I would have to let it go of truth-and the letting go would seem like death. She let out a sigh and said, “This is a big one!” and suggested that I may be working with this for quite a while-but immediately made a self-correcting statement, and said, “It may go quickly.” I explained to Anne that I knew that everything that had been happening was all connected to this deep hole and that I wanted to bring truth where there had been only darkness and pain.

My childhood had taught me that the Earth was polluted, contaminated, and like in the dream, I believed that the Earth and the beings of Earth had vomited on me. Even though I had worked through the memories, I needed to work with the residue that had remained in my body. When Anne commented that “If you see the Earth as dead, ugly, and polluted, you don’t have to feel bad that you can’t see the beauty,” a deep painful cry exploded inside me acknowledging the truth of her statement. I was trying to find a way to live in the world of the dead without being dead. My solution was to stop seeing the wholeness of life, and in doing that it felt as if a part of life died.

Death carries with it the false concept of oblivion, decay, finality, no more, emptiness, finished, and there is no corollary in Spirit. The withdrawal of Spirit from the physical is real, but the concept of the death of life is not real. Though the physical form changes, that is not where life is. There is an endless evolving changing life that moves from one level to the next, from one physical form to the next. Anne suggested that it would be equivalent to someone going from grade school to junior high and having everyone mourn the ending of the grade school disregarding the child who has matured beyond grade school. The child is not the level he or she is on…the level is just the form that contains the child for a time and the child moves on.

Who I am, is that which fills and animates the material body…but I am not the material body though I am in it. Even my feelings, thoughts, and understandings are not of the body, they are carried by the body. These were not new thoughts, but I was feeling them in a new way Anne reflected to me that I am in the space of reclaiming my life and bringing back that part of me that has been caught up in the illusions of life/death struggles and beliefs in pain and suffering, all based on death. It is true that my childhood years were engulfed with the wickedness of adults who were acting out their beliefs in death. While Anne was speaking, I kept seeing flashes of an event that happened when I was about seven, something that is still difficult to talk about that had to do with a basement of terror.

I found out much later that the basement room where terrible things happened was in a building that had been an orphanage prior to World War II. It had been transformed into a military logistics center during the war and apparently later had fallen into the hands of people who were truly evil.

The first time I was in the basement I was six years old. The details of the story are not important here, but the story ended with a man being murdered. On a later occasion, I had been taken to this basement room where there were two small wooden chairs with straps on them. I was strapped into one chair and a little boy was strapped into the other. The brown belt straps held me tightly against the chair at my chest, waist, and across my lap. Other straps held my arms and wrists against the arms of the chair and my legs and ankles were strapped to keep my legs from moving. A strap with wires connected to it was wrapped around my head.

I was frozen in terror until the first of the electric shocks raced through my body. With the first jolt, everything in me wanted to leap out of the chair but I couldn’t free myself from the straps. I was told that I could stop the shocks by telling them to shock the boy instead, but if I remained quiet, I would continue to be shocked. I don’t know how long I remained silent, but I suspect that I must have made some kind of sound before passing out, because I have carried a deeply buried guilt all of my life that I caused the boy to die. There were other incidents that took place in that room, which were ghastly inhuman, incidents that would likely not be believed by anyone who did not suffer such atrocities.

The incident that seemed to have been connected with all that was happening with my feet and the deep pit was related to two women who were forcing me to walk toward the basement door. One had taken a hold of my wrists, squeezed them tightly together, and began pulling me toward the door and the stairs that led to the horrible basement room. Only terrible things that led to the death from viciously inhuman torture happened there and I was being dragged there once again. Everything in my body resisted, but a seven-year-old body is not strong enough to withstand the pulling and forcing of adults who inflicted pain and death on innocents. They were wickedly sick people who were seeking power over death by being in control of it, by taking those they overpowered to the edge between life and death, and bringing them back, but sometimes pushing them over.

My spirit didn’t want to get lost in the concept of death, but my physical response was that I didn’t want to die. This was a huge contrast that was extremely painful and felt like I was falling into a deep hole that returned to me as the sinking feeling in the dream where I lost connection and was left with emptiness the following day. The choice that I believed I had to make when I was not yet eight years old was that either I would die or someone else would. As I spoke of that particular event I began to cry from the depths of my heart.

Anne asked me what that kind of death meant to me. I thought between the tears and told her it meant huge pain so excruciating that death was welcomed; it meant the ending of possibilities of what a life that had just begun might have been. A deep painful sigh emerged when I told Anne that I believed the persecutors had the power to intervene in the flow of life and make death happen at the wrong time. And then I spoke as if it were in the present saying ” What they are doing is so wrong. They are attacking vulnerability and I have to say good-bye to my own.”

I knew that as Spirit, I had come to live spiritual truth, but I was compelled to participate in the opposite of spiritual truth that caused death to seem true. Those vicious people believed that to have power over death was the way to experience life and so they controlled the life and death of innocent people.

When I was confronted with their definition of life, I believed that to physically survive I had to deny my spiritual knowing that I was connected to Spirit because what I was experiencing felt void of spirit. I felt like I had to deny my goodness because I was immersed in reeking wickedness, and I had to deny my spiritual understanding that there is no death because death was right there in front of me. To not physically participate would mean I would die. It was difficult to talk about this without feeling the ache of decades of unexpressed tears for making a choice to live that felt like it was a choice to die.

Anne pointed out to me that what came about from this experience was a life-long journey back to truth, to align with truth, to heal and to bring light to others. I came here to teach. I always knew that-and in a moment of explosive awareness, I knew that to communicate the truth, I had to fully understand the vibration of not believing the truth.

When I have a dream that seems very real, I can tell myself it was just a dream, yet I can allow myself to learn from it. Spirit in me sees the physical/material world as an opportunity to learn, to experience what life in physical form offers, and to expand as a result of the experience just like it was a dream and Spirit in me learns from it. The physical is the path to greater understanding. After we learn from a dream, the dream fades but understanding persists, so too after we learn from a life and at the end of the life Spirit withdraws from the physical form, but understanding remains.

To identify life with the form into which life enters is to miss life. From this perspective, there is no death, as the lower level mind perceives it. I was immersed in false belief in death in the midst of people who were so afraid of death, so afraid that they could only demonstrate death and then feel that they had gained power over it by inflicting it on others. When they demonstrated death they believed they could “feel life.” In this false belief, they disconnected from life and from the truth that life is not in the physical, it is in the understanding. Life flows in the flow, life is not the physical form-the physical form only holds life for a time.

It felt as if a major shift had happened inside me, yet a mournful sadness came over me. I told Anne that it was so sad for all those they tortured and destroyed that they didn’t understand what life was and as a result caused life to leave so many physical forms. My heart felt so heavy for the loss. I felt sadness for believing that I had to choose, and that I had chosen to live without connection to life. When my spirit chose to live in the physical, I had to embrace death.

To the “me” of the past, the little girl clinging to life, living meant to die to Spirit, to disconnect from the flow of life-to experience a split between my life as a physical being and my spiritual being and I felt trapped. In trying to stay connected to life and push death away, I lost connection to Spirit and felt dead. I felt that by being with the wicked people I had become wicked and spent my whole life trying to escape being one of them.

As I acknowledged what I had believed, it felt as if a lightening bolt of awareness struck me and I nearly shouted out that what I didn’t know as a child was that there was no death. If they had “killed” the physical, I would still be alive. The whole point is that there is no death to spirit, to life, to the “me” that flows in life. The very thing that caused the split in my sense of self was a non-issue. I told Anne that I needed to create a new definition of life that included both physical and spiritual being.

I thought for a while, and wrote that life is the experience of all that being in physical form offers in the discovery and expansion of awareness of truth. I read it to Anne and asked her what she thought of it. She paused for a moment and told me what seemed to be missing from my definition was feeling…something that would include the joy of experiencing life. I began to laugh in astonished amazement and told Anne that I couldn’t believe I had left out feeling. The importance of feeling was the whole point of my doctoral dissertation as well as my master’s thesis. I had developed a research model and had proposed that feeling be accepted as a legitimate source of knowledge in human research. I told Anne that I was astounded that it was missing in my definition, especially because I had just been hired as a professor and would be teaching this principle to students.

Then Anne began to laugh. She said “Of course! It would make perfect sense that this would be coming up for you now. You are stepping into demonstrating with integrity what you have been talking about, so you must bring into consciousness anything that you hold that is in opposition to your truth.” I agreed that a part of me had been living without a sense of joy in my life, something that is an essential component of life lived in the physical that is consciously connected to spirit. This feeling that compelled me to call Anne was my soul’s desire to live spiritual truth in all parts of me before I could teach by demonstration. By going through what I went through, both as a child experiencing the trauma and as an adult experiencing the pit and then freeing the part of my self that was trapped in the pit of false beliefs, I could know how people get dragged down. And I could know how to help them find their way out because I found my way out. My life experience taught me how to understand the vibration of the lie as well as the vibration of the truth, but I couldn’t have known the whole truth without knowing the lie.

Anne asked me how my child-self was doing, the one who learned to walk on the sides of her feet as she touched the Earth by trying to avoid connecting with it. I knew that the child finally understood that there was purpose for her resistance, her struggle, her splitting, and the resulting experience of physical life separated from spirit and joy. She had nothing to be ashamed of for having been dragged into believing in death. She was not bad to have become caught in the belief of death; she had to believe the lie in order to recognize the lie and to eventually grow into the place of being able to know and to teach the truth from embodied experience.

I was silent for a few moments as tears welled up in my eyes. After a long pause, I felt as if I was the child as I confessed to Anne that in spite of the good that had come out of all this, having gone through all of that horror had been really, really hard.

I began to reflect on my dreams and recalled the petition that I was to sign where I had left out my spiritual name Sela and returned to the split in my first name. The dream provided a message that believing in death, I left out my spiritual knowing that there is no death and by removing my connection to Spirit and the truth of eternal life, I split myself as in San Dry, which was not and never had been my name. But it was a metaphor, my left side was named San, which means without and the right side was dry, without flow.

The young woman in my dream who refused to connect to the Earth was my young soul who believed that the physical was ruined and dead and that connection with it was dangerous. Even in my waking life, I lived the metaphor of death by abandoning the deck that at one time was the residence of life experience and I watched it die when I withdrew my life from it.

I asked Anne what she thought about the idea of my re-entering the same childhood experience that had led to being dragged into the basement, to the splitting, and to being captured by the false belief regarding life and death. However, this time I could go through it from a more consciously aligned space. Anne thought it might be something worth looking at but then suggested that now that I’ve become conscious of the true meaning of life and have released the false belief in death, I wouldn’t have to draw this kind of experience around death and separation from Spirit to me again. I knew she was speaking the truth.

I requested that Anne look at my energy field after having made this discovery to see what it looked like. I felt as if I had healed the black hole and felt confident that all was well. But Anne surprised me by saying that she saw one small place inside me that still held fear. I was not even aware that it was there. She read it as a fear that “they” could make it happen to me because they were more powerful.

Somewhere inside, I was still holding on to a belief that bad was more powerful than good and that the unwanted was more powerful than the wanted. She sensed that I still feared being vulnerable. I needed to defend, to protect, to be cautious, to be wary of the bad. “This,” she suggested, “puts a stopper on joy.”

I finally knew she had touched something that was true, but not until she mentioned the stopper on joy. When she said those words, I felt a surge of sadness mixed with fear. I realized that I still believed that joy would bring in the “bad” guys. On so many occasions in the past, I had thought about allowing all of that I am to be unleashed and to flow without reservation. But always I seemed to pull back, to withdraw my energy from feeling the full flow of life sensing that somehow it was not safe.

I flashed on the first major trauma of my childhood when I was four. My child-self was playing in the forest outside my family home making paths in the rich soil, paths that led to magical places. I was so engrossed in my play that I did not respond to a call to come home. Instead, I continued to play with the Earth. My father, angry that I had not come home, came after me and in his anger, he raped me. That was the beginning of years of horrendous abuse. I concluded that I was raped because I was joyfully playing with the Earth and that my joy drew him and his destruction to me.
As I looked more closely, for the first time I saw that I had challenged his power to call me away from the forest, away from my play with nature, by exerting my own power to decide that I would continue to do what I wanted to do. Because joy seemed so missing in my home, I had assumed that when I found joy in my play with the Earth, that the Earth was the source of joy.

My subtle stubbornness in resisting the call home was a challenge to his authority to direct my life and take away my joy. I was angry that he was trying to take me away from joy. My father could not handle a challenge to his authority and needed to challenge any anger directed toward him with greater anger. He was up to the challenge; I was not.

After the brutal rape, I concluded that when I played with the source of joy, I was profoundly hurt. Therefore, if I detached from joy by detaching from playing with the Earth, I would not draw the hurt or the anger to me. What my child self did not know was my anger, not my joy, was what drew his anger. My need to exert power drew his need to become more powerful. He expressed that power and control in the only way he knew how. I didn’t know that opening to experiencing life was the source of joy and I could experience joy in feeling life within me and interacting with life anywhere including interactions with the Earth or interacting with the experience of returning home after being called.

It is not necessary to get invested in the good feelings related to play with the Earth-instead I can enjoy playing with the Earth when I play with it, being with people when I am with them, sitting in quiet meditation when I am meditating. And when it is time for me to withdraw from this physical form I can enjoy being fully in the presence of the One Spirit, I can enjoy playing with the stars or with other realities or returning to the Earth in another physical form. In any form, I remain connected to life in all ways of being wherever the flow of life leads me.

For the first time, I truly understood in all parts of my being what the rest of me had known for years, that I am eternal, that I have nothing to fear in the illusion of death, that I can never be disconnected from life because I am life. I drew to me what I needed to learn this truth-including a childhood that was really, really hard. And my painful walk through the valley of the shadow of death finally made sense. I thanked Anne for being willing to walk with me to the edge of the pit and reflect to me what she was experiencing, while I entered the to find the pain buried deep within.

As I reflected on the time spent with Anne and the events that precipitated our conversation, I realized that another significant piece of the puzzle that had fallen into place was the blood test that gave me information about my immune system related to my eating habits. For years, red meat was a major part of my diet, but after becoming deathly sick, a few weeks earlier, I learned that my body could no longer eat it. I had also let go of drinking soft drinks, my substitute for water because drinking water had been hard for me for many reasons. The carbonation had given a sense of liveliness and freshness that was difficult to give up and the caffeine had kept me awake over seven years of graduate school. But in reality the soft drinks with their carbonation and caffeine were stimulants, giving the sensation of life but were in fact imitations of life that were robbing my body of its ability to support authentic life.

I had avoided eating the things that were good for me because they felt bad and I had eaten the things that were bad for me because they felt good. When I received another blow to my sense of what was my source of life by being told that wheat was bad for me, I experienced an overwhelming feeling that what I counted on to keep me alive was doing the opposite. It was another metaphor revealing the confusions regarding the meaning of life and death.

In a way, it had felt like I had graduated from a lower to a higher way of knowing, sort of like going from grade school to junior high-I had finally integrated a truth that I could feel in my body. I knew I had been resisting moving forward in my professional life, and had feared that if I were fully immersed in my work and enjoying it, being a public figure could draw damaging people to me. It seemed that I was dealing with the issues that had been a part of that resistance and had finally discovered the core problem, my rejection of joy and disconnection from the Earth to avoid death.

Afterward, I checked the Internet to see if there were any messages-I smiled with joyful glee to see a message from Saybrook telling me that my diploma for my Ph.D. had just arrived and would be forwarded on to me. A document honoring my graduation couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. Two days later, I found out that I had been hired by another University as an adjunct professor. In another message that same day, I was informed that an article I had written about the significance of feeling as a source of knowledge in human science had been read by the editor and sent out for peer review before publication in a well-respected professional psychology journal. The article was perhaps the most controversial I had ever written and had the potential to draw to me significant and passionate challenge by others who had reputations for slashing and trashing those who were in opposition.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot, I have begun to clean off the deck and as of this writing have decided that I will select plants to fill the space that seemed dead for so long. And I will be looking for a water fountain as a reminder of the goodness of allowing life to flow. It is interesting what can happen when a decision to allow healing for a disconnected part of self is finally made!

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