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Eagle Summer

    Dedicated to Jane Mullikin for all she does to inspire others through her work on the Web.

    A little more than a year after a broken friendship, I was still feeling brokenhearted about it. As an infant I lived the first three months of my life in a foster home. I spent another month in another one before being adopted. Even though I grew up in a stable, loving home, it wasn�t until I was 17 that I finally believed my family was here to stay. Coming home from school one day, I looked at our house and decided that if my parents and brother hadn�t already packed up and left, they probably weren�t going to.

    Adults I had innocently and completely loved when I was an infant suddenly disappeared, and I lived all of my childhood and most of my adolescence convinced it was going to happen again.

    Leaving� has never been an easy thing for me.

    Yet, I was the one who had to leave this friendship. I explained why I had to go, and then I left in the way I learned leaving happens. My departure was sudden and finite. The exit was easy. There was no question that I had to go. It was the days after that were hard.

    On a late summer afternoon I was on my way back to my van after a doctor�s appointment when I got the sudden urge to go down to the ocean. I had plans to meet friends and I didn�t want to cancel, but at the same time I wanted to sit alone by the water and just feel the sun on my face. I decided to do both. I let my friends know I would be late and went down to the park.

    I looked over the ocean to the mountains on the other side and thought about the grief that had been following me around since I ended the friendship. I felt the heartache of wanting to go back when I knew I could not; of wanting to say something when there was nothing to say; of wanting to correct mistakes that could not be corrected; of wanting this friendship to be possible when it wasn�t.

    Going through the parking lot on the way back, I turned my head up toward the sky. It was as if an invisible hand lifted my chin and a silent voice said, �Look.� Just in front of me, so close I could see his individual tail feathers, a bald eagle was soaring. Eagles are a rare sight in my area. In all the many times I had come down to the water, I had never once seen one there. I was transfixed.

    It was circling. Just circling. Again and again and again, flying round and round and round, its rhythm hypnotic, its presence radiating effortless power and absolute command. I was full of wonder. What was it doing? Where was it going? Why was it there? Mystery separated us, but I had the feeling we had been joined in that moment by a holy force that had something to say to me. God loves metaphors.

    Thoughts started cascading through my mind as I watched. The friend I had lost loved to fly. It always seemed to me that flying set his spirit soaring. I had felt for a long time that I was going around in circles. I knew that in the First Nations culture, the eagle is a symbol of friendship. This eagle was not perched in a tree. It was not just flying. Effortlessly, it was soaring.

    I felt certain there was a revelation in there for me somewhere.

    I kept wondering why, if the message had something to do with being free to let go of the past and soar, did the bearer of the message keep going around in circles. And then I suddenly realized something. I had been so mesmerized that I hadn�t noticed it had flown miles. It had become a black speck over the mountains, disappearing and reappearing as it dipped in and out of patches of thin cloud. Even though the notion of moving on could now be added to everything already swirling around in my head, the free to soar revelation just didn�t seem right.

    As I drove away from the park I felt exasperated. I felt I had been told something but I didn�t get it. I felt I was supposed to do something, but what? Maybe I was supposed to go back. Maybe there was something I was supposed to say. Maybe there was a way I was supposed to fix things. Or maybe not. Maybe I was supposed to do nothing, say nothing.

    Out of sheer frustration, I gave up. �I�m confused! I don�t know what you want!� I blurted out. At the light I took a right turn to go up the hill. My eyes went like a magnet to the license plate on the truck I had been following. I so seldom read license plates you could almost say I never do. �DN DEAL� it said. I started to laugh. I laughed and laughed and LAUGHED! �Well okay,� I said. �I guess I can�t argue with that!�

    Even though I couldn�t pretend not to understand (could it have been any more clear?) I still struggled with the regret of loss. Then one day I was thinking about my experience with the eagle and the revelation came to me. In my self-absorbed state I had thought that whatever the Universe was trying to communicate to me was all about me. I made the mistake of leaving the Spirit that was there in that encounter out of the equation. When I made it the centre of attention instead of me, I heard what it had to say. Thinking of the eagle flying high through the wisps of cloud, I could almost see it looking back at me and beckoning. �I know you feel like you are going in circles. I know you feel like you�re not getting anywhere. I know you feel like you don�t know where you�re going. I DO know where I�m going. Follow ME!�

    That one hit the mark.

    I�m a stubborn human whose spirit is currently under development. I still have many days where my choice is to get mired in the mind�s struggles. But when the choice is to focus on following that powerful, soaring eagle, life suddenly gets a whole lot easier, a whole lot clearer, and a whole lot better.

    To eagles.

    � January, 2004, Sally Scott, M.A., R.C.C.


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