You Have to Ask

Andrea Chilcoteby Andrea Chilcote

I was standing on a ledge just wide enough to clear the length of my feet. It had those wrought iron bars you might find around a window box, and they stopped midpoint between my ankles and knees.

Perched many stories high with my back against the brick of the building, I cautiously looked down to the right, then to the left. There was only a thin strip of concrete on either side of my perch, and nothing to hold onto. No windows to escape into. I held my breath as I realized there was no way down.

Back to center, I straightened my head and thought hard. There was vague realization in the recesses of my consciousness: “This isn’t really happening. It’s just a dream.” Yet I couldn’t force my mind to wake.

“Pray!” The thought came to me clearly and just as I formed the words, “please help me,” my tiny platform began to descend. It was as if it had suddenly attached itself to a hydraulic lift and I was descending rapidly, feet firmly planted.

I hit the ground with a soft thud, exhaled and whispered “Thank you.” And then added: “A little slower next time, but really, thank you.”

Ask and you shall receive.

I can recite the verse, yet one difficult day (or year) can cause me to lose faith. And it seems that just about the time I begin to doubt, I get a powerful reminder. With my waking mind out of the way, I’m able to connect with the part of me that knows I’m always safe.

Several years ago I had a different but vivid dream that confirmed the same. I wrote about it in my post What Is Your Anchor? The lesson then and still today is to confront my fears, but not allow them to consume me. One of those simple messages, but not one that’s always easy to hear.

My belief is that the part of me that creates these dreams is the part I can and should trust. My waking mind is useful, but it sure can cloud the truth. In my dream state, I assessed a dangerous situation, saw that my human capability was of no use, and called upon the superpowers.

Let’s see if I can remember that lesson over the next few days. How about you?

Safety Latch

Safety Latch-01

Have you ever had an experience that left you feeling unsafe in an environment that you count on for security? I did, early this week.

Early on a hot and unusually humid Monday morning, Arthur and I took the dogs for a walk. Neither of us really wanted to be out in the August desert after having spent the last 10 days in idyllic coastal California climate. Yet we made an obligatory trek down our road, uneventful until we were three driveways from returning home.

Arthur was ahead of me with Whisper, our large Malamute. I was connected to both Huskies by trekking lines, bringing up the rear, when I noticed the yips and screams of a coyote pack. It’s a common sound, and spotting a relatively close coyote or two is not unexpected. But something felt – and sounded – different on this morning.

Looking ahead, I saw one, two…then six coyotes cross the road, very close. Arthur slowed in front of me, and the dogs began to get agitated, pulling in their harnesses. The coyotes began to race back and forth, yet the noise was coming from my left. Looking to my side, I saw several more running among the scrub bushes. There were perhaps 20 total.

Arthur held Whisper’s leash tightly, and straddled her for extra strength. It was all I could do to stabilize my body enough to hold onto Kairos and Heather, but somehow I managed to do that and fish my pepper spray out of my pack. I removed the orange safety latch from the container, and quickly realized I was unsure how to operate it. I put it into my pocket, and took out my phone.

By now, the coyote packs had joined and were closer, several of them fighting in the driveway to our left. Our dogs were beside themselves, tethered to us, their guardians. I felt as if we had parachuted into a wild animal park.

Hands free due to my wonderful trekking belt, I dialed a neighbor. He answered. In a panicked voice I explained the situation, and almost instantly he was walking down the road, carrying what looked like a large oar. The minute he appeared, another neighbor pulled out of his driveway on his way to work, scattering the coyotes. Arthur and I took a breath, and the dogs calmed.

Adrenaline flowing, muscles strained, and exhausted, we walked home quietly. I went straight to work. But I could not shake the unease. Once I had time to really assess what I was feeling, it became clear. My beloved home felt unsafe. While I know well the hazards of desert hiking, could we not walk our dogs down our road without threat?

As the following day unfolded, the lesson revealed itself to me. The meeting was coincidental, nothing more. The coyotes’ hunt location had nothing to do with our walk. The situation presented itself as a lesson to me. When my “safety” latch was removed, I didn’t know how to operate. I let my fear take over, and I know our dogs felt it.

Feeling is what launches energy into creation. We don’t have the luxury of succumbing to a feeling of fear. I know I have the ability to maintain presence and a sense of protection. It is indeed the only thing that will keep me safe. Neither locks on my doors nor pepper spray in my pockets work without the resonance itself. (Oh, and of course I need to learn how to operate the thing!)

What fears can you transform by shifting your feelings and thoughts? What safety latches are preventing you from examining the source of the fears that are overshadowing enjoyment of the things you love?

This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!


Each Moment May Come

by Andrea Chilcote

The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. This summer, followers of this blog will enjoy bi-weekly archived posts that have appeared on The Spirited Woman but never before on this site. 

I think I may be on to something.

Last week I wrote of my commitment to remain present in the moment and look only ahead. I am officially finished looking back over my life and analyzing small things and large, because doing so usually involves some form of regret, guilt or fear of recreating what I had never intended in the first place. Oh, perhaps it’s harmless and can even be helpful to look back over times of great accomplishment. But let’s be honest. Past successes are not usually the things we spend time obsessing over, and there can be danger in wistfully reminiscing about good times long gone.

So back to my big Aha. This new commitment to diligently managing my thoughts has led to a re-emergence of a twenty or so year pursuit, my quest to learn where we go when we die.

My first memory of research into the matter was in 1991. I made a trip to the public library and came home with a load of books on everything from Hinduism and reincarnation, to accounts of Near Death Experiences. I was fascinated by Raymond Moody’s classic true stories of NDEs and still find them captivating, just having finished Mary C. Neal M.D.’s To Heaven and Back and Proof of Heaven,  Eben Alexander III M.D.’s  riveting account.  

While raised in a Christian tradition, it’s concept of heaven and hell never resonated with me. And, no one I read about who came back after near death spoke of hell. They spoke of only love and light.

During my early searching period, I saw a film that very closely depicted my belief system. “What Dreams May Come,” starring Robin Williams, was about as close as it gets to defining what I believed happens when we die. So one day several months ago, I rented the movie and watched it again.

Somehow, I had forgotten about the “hell” scene. Briefly, the main character Chris, played by Williams, died tragically. Following a deep depression brought on her husband’s and children’s’ accidental deaths (for which she blamed herself), his wife and soul mate Annie committed suicide. In the movie, Chris went to heaven and Annie to hell. Of course, Hollywood uses drama to sell movies, and in fact in the movie Annie got a “do over,” because the great love she shared with Chris prevailed. Still, I could not abide this portrayal. What was this hell to which she went and nearly remained?

I asked my friend to watch the 1998 movie and tell me what I had missed. She did, and caught a simple line that made all the difference. It helped me understand, in a powerful way, why looking back is the fuel of suffering, plain and simple.

“Good people end up in hell because they can’t forgive themselves.” Chris’ “tour guide” in heaven offered this piece of wisdom in an effort to explain that Annie’s profound feelings of guilt were what kept her stuck there.

Aha! Hell is where we go here on earth when we can’t forgive ourselves. I don’t know about you, but guilt and regret feel very hellish.

I love the fact that the movie ends with Chris and Annie being reborn into a new life together. What if we too could have a “do over?”

We can. Each and every moment.