Monday, May 24, 2010

A Short Note About Transformation And A Short Break

Actual photo of actual coyote taken by my actual daughter. Yours truly was too busy picking my chin up off the ground to take an actual photo.

Just a note to let readers know I am going to be taking a short break to kind of catch my breath and catch up on some things I have been putting on hold. It seems multi tasking has not been my strong suit lately.

Until I return later this week, here's a thought to ponder. It seems to me the spiritual quest is not about disciplining the body and it's natural functions. It's about maturing emotionally. That means transcending one's fears and all the emotions associated with fear. Only then, when we start to work through our fears are we able to experience the fruits of love. First peace, then love, then joy.

I had the above thought yesterday while hiking in Bandelier National Monument. Bandelier is a Pueblo Indian Archaeological site, but I didn't travel to Bandelier for the ruins. Not this time anyway. I went because my daughter and I took this same hike last summer. It shocked me into finally admitting I was totally out of shape.

The first half of the hike is relatively benign with a gradual down hill drop of over 700 feet to a water fall. I did this half pretty easily and was feeling quite pleased with my fat out of shape self. Just as we turned around to start back we ran into a coyote on the same trail going in the opposite direction. We were so close we could easily have reached out and pet it. I've been around enough Natives to know coyote lessons are always at your expense. Hiking back became an exercise in survival. I got the message. It was past time I either got in shape or gave up delusions of hiking.

So I spent the last seven months working the fitness program I mentioned a while back. Yesterday was the test to see how far I had actually come. I had come a long long way. The hike was really easy both coming and going. Here's the magical part. I was about a quarter of a mile from the end and had completed the up hill climb when I stopped to take a photograph of a blossoming cactus. I was suddenly confronted with a huge monarch butterfly circling my face at eye level. I could have reached out and easily caught it. The butterfly represents transformation in Native lore. I simply laughed at the sheer joy of my hard work being recognized.

Transformation on any level is possible for those who don't let fear hold them back. The trick is confronting your current reality honestly and not letting fear dictate the outcome. This is precisely where the Church finds itself at this moment. It's a moment pregnant with transformational possibilities. So from me there will be a little silence, and a great deal of hope that the Church will choose transformation. That further coyote lessons won't be necessary.


  1. Colleen, I find myself in a similar situation these days of not being able to multi-task that well lately and being out of shape. I have a long list of things to do, new projects and ideas. It is a great time to take a break and be silent for a bit.

    I totally agree that "the spiritual quest is not about disciplining the body and it's natural functions. It's about maturing emotionally."

    I never completely consciously understood why I ever chose the name butterfly. It always represented to me a symbol of freedom, of which my true self had not truly been in all honesty. In my teens I wrote a poem and song and the words were "I thought I saw a butterfly to carry me away, but it was too far to tell, anyway it flew away."

    Transformation for me back then was very far away & not within my grasp. Your blog here has helped me to work on getting rid of fears. If I had let fears dictate my life in the last fifteen months or so, I would never have created all the music and would be pushing papers for pennies at some dead end job and we still would be broke. Even though I am still broke monetarily, my spirit is not broken and my dreams are not put on hold anymore and are alive and maturing. In this I still need to mature and now I can see better and can prepare to take the next step forward.

    Why I remember certain things is a mystery. It must have some significance in the depths of my soul for me to remember certain things and hear a message for my growth and maturity.

    Transformation does require transcending one's fears of changing the direction in their life for the better. If we let Jesus direct us we never have to worry or fear for the well being of our soul.

    Colleen, I love it when we get the signs in nature that reflect our spiritual transformation & an acknowledgement of it in nature. The butterfly wings I found were right about the time when I had made a real break into transformation of my life. The memories of such transformational visual signs are experiences of the supernatural and remain as a reminder of God's love for us.

  2. Colleen, I hope you enjoy your well earned rest!


  3. Colleen,
    I will miss your wonderful and informative blog while you are taking a bit of a break. I never miss reading your posts - just wanted you to know.

  4. The crew on break is increasing! ;)

    May yours be full of peace.

  5. Best wishes from the loyal opposition. Get some rest! And thanks for the good example re/exercise.

  6. Some years ago I was going through a great deal of difficulty at work. My supervisor, an alcoholic, was becoming unbearable.

    For about five years I had walked my dog through the same managed forest trail near my home. It was never a lonely walk because we would often see mountain bikers, hikers, horseback riders and fellow dog walkers. I came to think of these people as my forest friends.

    One day when the difficulty at work seemed almost unbearable I left early to walk the forest and try to think about what I might do. This particular day I saw a doe only a few feet off the trail... She stood stock still staring at me. My dog walked right by the deer, never noticing her presence. The next day I saw three deer at the head of the trail, four more further along. I told my wife. She accompanied me on the next walk. We saw several deer. It went this way for 30 days straight. I would see deer every day.

    One day while walking a woman appeared in front of me. She emerged from one of the side trails so suddenly that it was as though she materialized from thin air. We walked together for a bit.

    A bee buzzed beside her. She told me how bees had appeared to her when her son had been going through difficulty and that she had sought out a native elder to discover the meaning. I told her about my unusual sightings of the deer. She advised me to consult a particular book about native animal symbols. Then the lady disappeared down a side path. I had given her only my first name. An hour or so later I returned to the parking lot. There was a note under my windshield wiper from the bee lady. I was astounded because there were about 20 cars in the parking lot and mine did not have any unusual identifying features.

    The very next day my wife and I went into a small town for a bit of a day trip. We love books and spent some time in the used book store there. My wife found some items she liked but I preferred the sunshine streaming through the window. I was daydreaming and leaning up against a bookshelf waiting for her to check out when I looked at the title above my right hand, it was the book the bee lady had recommended!

    A few days later the bee lady appeared to me again. We talked about the significance of the deer. She said that they were a sign to be patient, gentle, and kind.

    Things were coming to a head in my conflict with my boss. On the morning we were to meet I drove to work along my usual route. At a particular T junction I stopped, as I have done so for almost 20 years. I looked to the left, then to the right. An enormous, majestic buck emerged from the woods and stared at me. (I've never seen a buck on my journey before or since.) Somehow my problem with my boss was resolved satisfactorily, without confrontation.

    A year or so passed and I didn't see any deer at all in the woods, although I did see the bee lady once and told her about my experience.

    One fine spring day, much like today, I was walking along a sandy part of the trail when my cellphone rang. I usually don't carry the phone because I want to get away from the world while in the forest. A good friend and colleague, who has never called my on my cell told me about the sudden death of the supervisor I had had so much conflict with for almost a decade.

    I closed the phone and looked behind me to see where my dog was. She was a few feet behind me completely oblivious to the fact that a doe was walking directly behind her. The doe looked at me and turned slowly into the forest. The dog didn't bark, or take chase. I doubled back to see where the doe had started to follow us. She'd been with me for the entire phone conversation.

    Thoughts Colleen?


  7. p2p your story sent chills up my spine. As soon as I read the first line about deer I knew why they were suddenly appearing in your life. Gentleness, kindness, finding alternatives to confrontation. I have surely been there.

    I had so many deer around my little house up in the mountains it was unreal. After awhile they would come up and eat out of my hand, and then a little while after that they would come up on the porch and make noise at the door.

    One day a Native friend of mine was over. He had spent five years with Army Rangers working Black Ops and gentleness wasn't his strong suit. We were sitting on the porch and he was ragging on me about spoiling all these does and fawns when a six point buck came around the corner of the house and stood at the foot of the steps. I had never had a buck come into the yard, and had never seen one this big.

    I told him the buck was his message, since he was disdainful of the does, and he should make an offering to the spirit of this buck. He walks down the steps and the buck just stands there waiting. My friend hand feeds the buck some apples and can not believe this is all happening.

    Finally he turns to me and says. "I could have taken my knife and just slit his throat like no tomorrow and he would have just there. I will never take the life of another deer. I will find a better way and I'm not coming up to your weird house ever again!"

    He did though, and continued to feed my deer. He finally believed that the old Native hunters really did call their animals to them and those animals freely gave lives for the sake of their "two footed" bretheren'.

    Native lore is really magical. When you begin to entertain the thought that the Holy Spirit could be giving you messages through nature, it makes life so much more alive and vibrant.

    I should warn you though that once you start down this path that book you bought becomes very important. I suspect it was "Animal Speak".

    PS, the bookstore thing will happen over and over again. Bookstores are pretty magical too. The Spirit will use any avenue to get one's attention.

  8. Fascinating conversation now. Someone tell me, what do squirrels represent? We've been feeding them some peanuts and now they come to the porch and the front door. One of them sits on a chair outside the door on the porch and listens to me practicing singing and playing the guitar, for a half hour. Another stands on the lawn listening too. They are quite the audience!!

  9. Thanks Colleen,

    I didn't buy the book but I did read the short section on the deer while waiting for my wife.

    Yes I do believe you have to be open to the spirit to benefit. After I saw the first deer I realized they'd probably been around me often but I hadn't seen them. For a time I would look for them, but now I don't like to force things.

    My mother-in-law is a beautiful 86 year old woman who attended a Catholic boarding school in her youth. She told me that the girls at the school all believed the Holy Spirit was really a feminine spirit. Apparently this was a hot topic of conversation among the Catholic teen girls of pre-Vatican 2. I've asked other women about this. Most say yes that's the way they think of the Holy Spirit too.


  10. Butterfly, squirrel is about preparing for the future, the balance between gathering and giving, and also the balance between work and play.

  11. Thanks Colleen. That is very helpful to me. That is the message I received from the squirrels watching me play the guitar & sing... a sort of preparation for me, the eyes of an audience watching me play. My husband even said to me that I could imagine that an audience were squirrels... so that I would not be so nervous..

    It has dawned on me moreso lately how the squirrels are a living extension of the oak trees. They truly depend on each other. They live in the trees, make their nests from the dried leaves, prune it in the process, bury its acorns for the future oaks to grow thereby ensuring their future home for their young. The squirrel and the oak trees work with each other. The oak provides a home and food for the squirrels, the squirrels plant the seeds for the future oak trees.

    Even the squirrels have time to play. When we first moved here I wrote a song about squirrels.

    I've got a lot of squirrels where I live
    I love to watch them playing around,
    they chase each other up & down tall oaks

    Anyway, I played it at a coffeehouse years ago at an open mic and two guys took it to mean something sexual... I was so annoyed I never played it again....

  12. Squirrels can get quite sexual in their play--especially the girls. Just an observation.