Several years ago, events in my life and the world at large started me on a journey away from organized religion and the accepted Judeo-Christian interpretations of the origin of creation. More and more, it seemed to me that the God that humankind had created in its own image was one huge contradiction. An all-powerful Entity which desires a personal relationship with each and every person, yet mandates that this relationship be based upon a slavish desire (on the human being’s part) to curry favor with It (to avoid being squashed like a bug?) A celestial Parent with limitless knowledge and capacity to heal the plagues of mankind, whom we are called upon to love and serve, even while It withholds or capriciously bestows incomplete bits of wisdom and inadequate doses of healing upon Its “children”? The Architect responsible for the creation of every wondrous atom of our incredible planet (not to mention the rest of the universe) who then hands it over to mankind and says, “Here. Do what you want with it?”
I don’t think so…
My most recent discovery in my journey away from traditional religion is an increased awareness of animals and their roles, not only in creation as a whole, but in my life specifically. Lately I’ve noticed that a particular animal will walk (or fly) with me for a stretch of time, and then…go away. Just as I begin to miss and mourn that comforting presence, I’ll realize a new animal has appeared beside me.
First, there were the eagles. While I grieved the deaths of my sister and my father, and puzzled out how I fit into the new dynamic of my family and my own life, it seemed that eagles were “my” animal. I encountered them so frequently and so closely that I eventually became convinced that the eagle must be my spirit guide. Or the essence of one of my departed loved ones returned to comfort and direct me. That conviction was so strong—and so consoling—that when the eagles stopped appearing, I felt sad and abandoned. I still scan the skies and the unleafed spring trees for them when I travel along the river, but if I see one, it is high up and far away. Not close and comforting as they once were.
Last summer, as the young songbirds in my back yard enchanted me with their new-to-life antics, I wondered if perhaps they had taken the eagles’ place. No doubt, they had something to teach this reluctantly aging soul about life renewing itself. But they, like the spring, were soon gone. Not a new spirit guide at all. Just a quick, important lesson.
Yesterday, I drove out to the ocean, down along Highway 30 which roughly follows the Columbia River. As has become my habit, I scanned the skies and the trees for, what I realize now is my former animal guide. All the way out, and all the way back, I looked. No eagles. But I did see…
A herd of elk.
And suddenly I realized that I have encountered elk with increasing frequency lately. On a road to a new beach, we came upon a herd browsing in a sandy scrub forest just off a golf course. Cresting the top of a pass a few miles from home, we were surprised by elk feeding in an open field. Last night, peering through the trees searching for eagles, I didn’t see a bird, but I did encounter a herd of elk grazing in a cow pasture. Elk. What does it mean?
So I googled. “Spirit Guides.” “Shamanism.” “Elk Spirit Guides.”
This was my favorite of what I came up with, from http://www.manataka.org/page236.html#Elk_
When Elk appears it often comes with a message to stand strong with pride and to use ones gifts to show others of its power.
Once again…what does it mean?
Applied to what’s going on in my life right now, it could very well be a sign from the Universe that I do indeed have the stamina and the strength to work as hard as I need to in order to keep that restaurant open. Not only open, but thriving and moving forward. A point which, incidentally, I have been particularly doubting lately. Too many hours, too much stress, too many challenges…perhaps the Universe is saying, “You can do this.”
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