Have you ever felt as if you thought that the path ahead was ever clear, not a bump, not a rock, not a barricade and then when driving along at a smooth 70 mph you come to an abrupt and sudden stop? Something comforting and yet a bit jarring, and your senses become disoriented and your path is now blurred by a fog that rolled in from out of nowhere… Yes, this Quest was one of getting lost and intrinsically being found. A “couple” who are good friends of mine, invited me to go with them on an adventure to Buckeye Hot Springs just north of Bridgeport, CA. It was meant to be a new experience taking a dip in the hot and healing waters that gifted the area… and what transpired was nothing short of serendipitous.
I met my friends and we drove together down through the Carson Valley… these were relatively new friends of mine and so the conversations were a bit hesitant during the beginning of the drive. But then we ventured onto a deep topic that inspired many stories to be shared. My one friend began to describe an intimate moment with his father who had unfortunately passed away . How this most valued spirit in his life, had journeyed through times when the present was all that had mattered and that the after-life was not truly existent in his mind. As my friend spoke I could hear the words of admiration of his dear father flow from his mouth as if they were saturated with love for this spirit. He spoke of the care that he and others devoted and rendered to help his father transition from this Earth. They helped him pass with sincerity and respect while encompassed by a shield of pure love. My friend disclosed that he felt that in the weeks that led up to the transition, his father, who was reticent about his beliefs that this earth is the final destination, began to have an evolution of thought on this very topic. My friend stated that it was quite clear that his father realized through various occurrences and enlightenment that indeed there is another journey, one much greater, that awaits… One that transcends this place and time… It was in that moment that I looked out and saw a very large golden eagle sitting in a lone tree on the side of the road as we passed by. An eagle, a bird that embodies the term, “spiritual journey”… I smiled…. Of course! And with that most profound story shared and a bit of silence that filled the gaps of contemplative thought, we continued on our adventure.
We made a turn at a sign that directed us to Buckeye Creek down a dirt and rocky road. The road was quite narrow and twisted and turned up the mountain face. Let me be clear, it is a very narrow one-lane road with a steep cliff on one side and barely a bit of shoulder that hugged the other… and as we climbed, I held my breath but maintained my faith in my friend’s driving ability to get us to the destination. Halfway up the mountain I dared to look out at the view and it was nothing short of awe-inspiring! The view led these green eyes to reach miles over a golden valley and then to the other direction, snowy peaks of mountains so high they seemed to touch the heavens. I began to relax and before I knew it we had arrived at the hot springs. A short hike was in store, so with the wind a bit brisk, a warm jacket was worn and we were off. One of my friends began to disclose to me a rather frightening chronic struggle in her life. The details were remarkable and her tenacity to overcome the issues that debilitated her days was nothing short of astounding. Others have walked in her shoes and not survived. Some afflicted with such a situation simply have chosen to allow themselves to be lost in the details and forget how to live. As she told of this story, you could hear the passion in every syllable, scientific description and detail being shared. Her eyes were fierce with determination that she would not give in and certainly refused to give up. The fire for living that emanated from her spirit could be felt from every fiber of her being… even the sound of the rushing creek that flowed through the canyon we traversed was muted by her energy. She would not allow this life challenge to take her spirit down… not even in the slightest sense. And as we continued to walk, the two friends were almost hard to disseminate from the other…. They had been married for many years and yet had the youthful outward love and affection for each other as if they had just met. It was endearing to watch and yet quite profound at certain moments in the conversation… With one facing life-threatening challenges, you could feel and sense the other’s emotion brewing from within while the story was told… reliving these moments. It was a gift to witness….priceless to see this level of love and devotion between two souls.
“Those who have never known the deep intimacy and the intense companionship of mutual love have missed the best thing that life has to give.”
The stories concluded and there we were creek-side, enjoying some lovely snacks that had been carefully chosen and packed by my friends. And as we sat, the topic of the after-life re-emerged. Our deep conversation was framed by the energy of the rushing creek, how it flowed with intensity and determination… a bird on a rock seemed to sing in delight at the conversation that had been broached. Not a doubt among us of the power that leads and guides us in our lives. The path that we take is all meant for a reason, even when there are moments when we wander to find ourselves, to become more grounded and focused. And with several moments of laughter and smiles to help with the serious stories that we shared, we sat together with not an ounce of remorse or regret. We reveled in the simple appreciation for the moments that this life has gifted us all… Some moments we wish to forget, several that conjure a laugh, but all how they have brought us to this point in our lives… a moment of understanding and perhaps better clarity for why it is that our paths had crossed.
We had finished and dusk had arrived and it was time to take a dip in the hot springs and watch the stars emerge… I had never been to a natural hot springs of this sort. I donned a bikini top and board shorts and stepped into the approx. 105 degree water. The first step felt like hot tub happiness and then as I settled into the water with the sandy bottom below, I looked up and there in the deep cool midnight sky the first star was seen… and yes, a wish was tossed up to the heavens in hopes that it would be honored. Time will tell…
There I sat with several others in the hot springs and a discussion with one man ensued. He was disheartened with the events he has seen in this lifetime. He was feeling pessimistic and sad that the world contained so much evil. He felt as if nothing was being done and nothing could be done to eradicate it. And there we sat discussing what could be done to change that and whether those ideas were even fruitful. Feeling his sense of loneliness and knowing a little of his journey, I then suggested to him that I felt he needed to invite more spirits into his life and that he seemed closed off from inviting others.. he paused and softly agreed. He had said how he felt a bit lost these days of late and that is what brought him to the hot springs. I advised him to open up and live a little… not get too focused on remaining alone and not take life too seriously… to be willing to allow others to go along his journey with him as I thought he had much to contribute to this world and those he might let in. He smiled, agreed and seemed to appreciate the sentiment. And there we sat, strangers under a sea of stars waiting to be wished on, and so with that, I released a wish for his spirit that he find what he is looking for. Again, time will tell.
The night had ended and we had to climb up steep rock terrain to get to the car. With bags in tow and the glow of lanterns to light the way in the darkness of night, all three of us made our way to the top. My friend had panicked a bit as he thought he had left the keys in his car. When we arrived at the car, he realized that in fact his keys had been lost. A deep sigh and a plan was formed to go back down the cliff side, retrace his steps and search for the lost keys. As we searched, through muddied grass, around rocks and boulders and sulfur streams, with a couple missteps, some falls and heavy sighs, I stopped for a moment and released a short prayer to the powers that be… “To the powers that be… his keys are lost and can’t be found, please oh please, bring them back around.” And within one minute I heard him call my name… “Michele!” I responded, “Yes!” He said, “I found them!” I whispered to the heavens, “Of course you did, Thank you!!!” What I hadn’t known at the time was that my friend too had an intervention of sorts from those not seen to help him with his search… And when I heard this, I thought, “Of course he did!”
It was on the way home that it was my turn to reveal a bit of myself that my friends knew nothing of. Details seemed to stream from my lips as if on auto-pilot with only one destination and that was to be shared with them. This was exceptionally hard to do in that I am quite private and they were intimate details of my life I never share or disclose with my new friends. And I could hear the silence fall like snowflakes in the forest as I spoke. Not a judgment made, but rather understanding rendered in the most sincere and loving way. And when I was done, and we had arrived at our destination, a moment of concern crossed my mind as I had lost track of where I had placed my keys to my vehicle. And I paused to center myself and focus and I remembered in an instant where they were placed carefully and securely in a zippered pocket, kept protected from being lost or removed. A smile emerged with a soft sigh and a general sense of relief fell over us all.
It was time to say “Goodbye” to my good friends. The road we had traveled this day was nothing like what I thought it would be. We traveled beyond this earthly place and yet we were earthbound spirits recollecting years, days and moments when we fought through difficult times and endured unforeseen obstacles as they were presented. And with each story we all shared, the fog had lifted and the vision became ever clear about one another’s journey as spirits. Clear as to why our paths had crossed, what we had to learn from each other, what more we wanted to know, and then still yet, more questions formed, waiting to be answered another day.
At some point along this life’s journey, we may find that: The road is not always paved, maybe made of dirt and rocks with twists and turns and precarious steep cliffs on one side and a snug shoulder on the other. Even then, there will be moments that must be surrendered to take in the glorious views from above, but the pauses maybe short in order to continue on our way.… this life we can be assured will have rushing creeks to flow with intensity and determination, and birds to sing our praises, with hot springs to soothe the soul and the stars to lend a way to place a wish, to cross paths with others lost and yet hold onto an undeniable faith, we all will be found.
We don’t let our challenges define who we are, but rather identify ourselves by the resilience we discover we possess in overcoming those challenges. And in the end, the one thing that sustains us all, is the love for another… friend, husband, wife, mother, father or other…
Having been gifted with the stories that encouraged, supported and guided the way to this shy girl revealing details of her life, to two new friends how they had gained her trust, lassoed her heart and strengthened her spirit.
“Important encounters are planned by the souls, long before the bodies see each other.” -Paulo Coelho
Wondering where this twisting road will take this shy girl next…