Sunday, November 6, 2011

When A Soul Awakens: It Begins Not Without Worry

As I walked toward the stable, I noticed how quiet it was.  Literally, there were no noises, just the occasional bird chirping or tree leaves rustling from the wind.  No traffic, no television, and no phone.  I was completely disconnected from the world.  I thought to myself, "This is a place where you can really spend time with yourself."  I continued looking around, taking in the panoramic peace and healing of this new world I had entered.  Just being here would be enough.

I made eye contact with one of the horses.  It was only for a few seconds, and then the horse went back to chewing hay.  I was surprised, hurt even.  I thought the horses would know I needed healing, would know that's why I was there.  I was expecting a tender moment when a horse and I just stared at each other while reading each other's thoughts, mine being confused and negative and the horse's being peaceful and loving.  Why didn't the horse look at me longer?  Here I am at a horse therapy workshop, and the horses want nothing to do with me.  I had been here only a few minutes and, already, I was disappointed and worried that maybe I, as I had predicted long ago, just couldn't be healed, not even in a place like this.

I came back to reality as I was greeted by Sarah, one of the counselors.  I instantly felt a warmth about her; her face was so kind and relaxed.  She asked me if I found the place okay.  "The directions you gave were great.  And the drive alone is absolutely beautiful," I said.  "It gets you in the right mindset," she responded.  And I agreed with her, feeling a bit anxious for what experience would require this mindset.  Silence; worldly disconnect; thoughts flowing freely; experiencing change from the inside out -- What did I sign up for?  Sarah instructed me that I can "look but don't touch" in regards to the horses, and she said I would know why later on.  Please don't tell me I will be shoveling poop.

She led me through the stable, and I passed stall after stall of horses.  I knew I couldn't touch them, and I'm not sure I even wanted to.  I tried again to make lasting eye contact with each of the horses.  Nope.  Nope.  And, nope.  We reached the end of the stable where there was a comfortable-sized porch with large wooden chairs forming a circle.  The outside of the building was stone and had a built-in rock shelf on the wall, which held a plastic container of cookies and a plate of almonds that looked to be set out thoughtfully.  No one is going to feed you cookies and then make you shovel poop.

I was feeling less concerned about what I would have to do throughout the day and more amazed about where I would be throughout the day.  The stable was on the top of a hill -- so while on the porch, my eyes took me miles and miles into the distance, through trees and sky and beauty, all held lightly within nothing but space.  This exists every day.  Why had I been satisfied with just the drive?
Sarah then introduced me to Bernadette, a visiting counselor doing research for her own practice.  She was a towering lady with curly, wild hair.  She seemed hard, the "tough love" type.  Maybe poop was in my future.  Bernadette reminded me of my 12th grade chemistry teacher who definitely would have made you shovel poop, just because.  I shook the thought out of my mind.  Poop should be the least of my worries.  I was about to spend an entire day with myself, and do it while sitting in a circle surrounded by people, something I've never done from fear of being "found out" or crying hysterically in front of strangers.  But today was the day.  I placed myself dead center within my fears, and there was no turning back.

So, there was Sarah and Bernadette.  And then came Lynne.  It was like seeing an angel in a denim jacket.  "I'm Kris--tin", I said, in a way that meant "I'm the hurting girl with no money who you've been emailing with back and forth." "Hi, Kristin.  So glad to have you here," Lynne said, gracefully but in a normal kind of way that didn't uncover who I was and why I was there.  We both went to shake hands, but it seemed too informal.  Her and I had a bond; I felt as if she knew me.  So I hugged her, and told her how happy I was to be there.  And I meant it.  She handed me a green folder and instructed me not to touch the horses.  I gulped.  "Yes, Sarah told me."  "Have you met Bernadette?"  Gulp.  "Yes, Sarah introduced us."  She then instructed me to pick any seat and fill out the first few pages in the green folder.  "We're still waiting for the others to arrive", she said.  I felt worry rush through me.  Others?  How many others are there?  What will the others think of me?

I headed over to one of the reclining wooden chairs, and there was a man already seated.  I thought I was early.  I thought I would arrive first.  The man had a green folder and was writing intently.  He must be a patient.  I don't know why I thought of him as a patient; perhaps because that's how I view myself.  "This is Kevin," Sarah said.  Kevin looked up as we shook hands.  Why is he here? We looked at each other, really looked at each other, and squeezed hands, as if to acknowledge each other's assumed hurts.  I looked him over, searching for evidence of pain and sadness.  He looked worn, but he had a relaxed vibe.  I kept asking myself why he was here and what brought him here, and I wondered if he was asking the same about me.

The "others" arrived one by one -- three others in total, all women.  They looked non-judgmental, but I can never be too sure.  Again, more worry.  We all shook hands, and everyone had a seat and was going through the paperwork in the green folder.  It wasn't until several minutes had passed that I realized there were flies everywhere.  I was batting them away with one hand and writing with the other.  And there was a smell, a large animal smell, and everything that goes with that smell.  Any other day and I would be complaining and planning an escape from the bugs and stench.  But today, it didn't bother me.  I suppose half the reason was due to the fact that I was in a place where flies and odors are to be expected, and the other half was I just didn't care.  I had far more to think about and pay attention to than flies and animal smells.  There was beauty and peace all around me; everything else faded into the background. 

Lynne announced that the workshop was about to begin.  I looked at Kevin and gripped my seat.

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