Unequivocally, the twenty-fourth year of my life stands out as the most challenging and transformative year I have experienced in my thirty six years on this Earth. My dreams during that time were often filled with abstract imagery amidst the familiar landscapes of my distant past. There was something comforting in the way random symbols would appear and awaken my mind to some particular insight / awareness of my life, my experience, my inner truth.
It often seemed that my childhood home, with its surrounding acreage, that was once my playground was fused to my memory as an old friend who had lovingly left a lasting impression on my soul through its comforting kindness and unyielding support. In my dreams I felt it held messages for me, perhaps only reminders of that which had supported my growth amongst natural things. Or, perhaps at times the messages were preparing me for things to come and in so doing also unveiling those stronger parts of me that could face any challenge.
The street that I grew up on was a string of neighboring three acre plots that were only partially separated by fencing, usually along the front near the road and down each side to a comfortable point. Trees were plentiful, though mostly on the back side of properties at a distance from each house. In fact, in the area just around our house, there were very few trees; a twin pair of magnolia trees and a mimosa could be found along the fence at the front of the yard and a few tall pines scattered around to one side, but other than that most of the trees on our land took up the back two acres which we called “the woods.” And there, amongst the variety of oak and pine, paths had been made for riding our bikes through.
There had never been a maple tree in the yard where I grew up, and certainly not one that had peaceful, knowing eyes to open upon every leaf. Eyes that sensed my presence and my need, eyes that could look straight into me and reveal the truths that lay there hidden. But this is exactly what appeared to me in one particular dream. In this dream I found myself walking out the front screen door of my house and around one side toward the back. I came to meet this beautifully serene maple tree sitting alone along the far side of my house just as the wind was really starting to pick up with rains that were drawing a flood. As I looked out across the wooded flat land that stretched beyond the back side of our home and joined with that of other homes at either side, I could see the water rising fast and rushing toward me. As I felt the flood overtaking me, I was not afraid. I was, in fact, calm…even, at peace. Though, there was something inside me that knew and understood something that could only be recognized as the sort of sadness that comes along with the ending of one cycle in life and the beginning of another.
The maple leaves were vibrantly colored and seemed rather large to me. Its presence there drew my mind in, calling me to pay attention. My awareness of time passing began to fall away as the eye on each leaf opened to see me. Words could not be heard in the message offered by the tree but an intention of that message could be felt intuitively. The eyes of these leaves wanted me to see. And though I could not be sure of the particular message, I did understand. I was able to somehow see the message in my mind’s eye. I was aware of me, of my meaning and my strength, of my connections to the past and the support that still existed for my spiritual development. Most of all I was aware of a long journey that still lay ahead of me; where lessons would have to be learned and obstacles overcome. But I felt comforted by the deep knowing that I felt in that moment - that I had and would always have all that I needed to carry me along this journey.
That particular dream stayed with me, and it flashed often before my mind as I lived out the days and weeks that followed. For quite some time before having the dream I had been experiencing some rough emotional challenges, which in itself was not all that unusual in my life experience. But this particular point in time had found me isolated and reactionary as well. I had suffered a long battle with depression, made some self-defeating and limiting mistakes, pushed every person that cared about me away, and I had found myself alone and in despair, seeking to find a way out. I considered suicide. I considered signing myself in to a mental health facility. I considered a number of things as I carelessly stumbled through my own existence, putting myself in dangerous situations. The dream helped me see beyond, just enough to recognize the light in my own life. It inspired me to find wellness through renewing my connections with nature and with a higher Source. It guided me in a direction that kept my thoughts and my activities busy with gaining new knowledge about my own spiritual existence and in seeking new outlets for authentic self expression.
I made the decision to improve myself on multiple levels and to continue my education. At that point my decision to continue education took me deep into Metaphysical subjects, because this is where I found my inspiration and my courage to face the challenges present in my own life. The dream played a significant role in turning things around for me. I began to participate in nature connecting activities with an online class which had me feeling more balanced and even positive after a while. I learned how to keep my balance through meditation techniques and journaling, among other things.
Just as I had found my footing and climbed up out of the sinkhole I felt I had in many ways put myself in, I understood why the period of months leading up to this point had been such a rollercoaster of emotions. I learned that I was pregnant, four months in fact. I had never been pregnant so I didn’t know my own body in that condition. I happened to be visiting my family at my childhood home, literally a thousand miles away from where I lived at the time, when I learned of my pregnancy. Immediately, I knew that something was wrong so I went to the hospital. A few hours later, during the examination, I miscarried. That night, as I experienced the ongoing physical pain that carried over from losing the baby along with the guilt and confusion that had me spiraling back down into the emotional pit I had desperately sought to be free from, I moaned and cried for hours. No one could console me or get me through. The hours just had to pass.
The next day, my husband led me out into the woods behind the house where he had set up a couple of lounge chairs for us. He gave me something to calm my nerves and ease the pain. As I lay there, staring out across the wooded path toward the back side of my childhood home, I felt numb. Everything appeared quite unreal to me. The windows on the back of the house that once provided me a view of the woods from my bedroom seemed like cut-outs in a doll's house. The trees along the path between us and those windows seemed to me as if they were made from plastic. Even the wind felt artificial. I was completely disconnected from my own perception of reality, far worse than I had ever been before. Another day passed before the family dispersed into each our own direction in heading back to our own places of residence.
Over the next couple of weeks I found myself turning toward those things which I had learned to help heal myself emotionally and spiritually before experiencing the miscarriage. I came to understand the message of that dream on a more conscious level. The flood was symbolic of my own drowning in emotion, the rain my tears, the tree my strength, the eyes my own knowing of what I was capable of overcoming. The dream had helped prepare me for the struggle that was coming by inspiring me to find ways of healing myself and by showing me how much I had already been able to overcome. As I continued the practices of meditation and connection seeking that I had learned, and as I continued to grow through self awareness and study, I did find my balance again. And though I have often referred to my twenty-fourth year as the worst of my life, in many ways it could be considered the best because it's when I came to truly know myself and it revealed to me my path in life. I am thankful for what that year taught me about myself and for the person it led me to become.