The Land Between

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

The transition of a man's perception through aboriginal spiritual guidance.

Submitted: December 24, 2017

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Submitted: December 24, 2017



On a autumn eve I was traveling along Highway #35 heading into Norland, Ontario. Norland  is known as the Land In-between. It has a rich history to the local yet to the rest of the world it's just a small town that you pass as you head north or south on highway 35. A couple of small businesses, a cafe, a restaurant and gas station makes up main street. Scattered houses set back from the highway makes it seem like no body lives there. I happened upon this little town as I was driving home from northern Ontario. For many hours I had been traveling south as the day's sun fell from the sky. The truck's fuel tank was getting low and I noticed how hungry I was getting. The grumbling in my stomach started to drown out the radio. The neon gas station sign illuminated against the darkening skies making it appear like a beacon for the hungry weary traveler with empty gas tanks. I veered the truck into the parking lot and parked it to the side of the building. Over to the end of the lot was a chip truck that sold hamburgers and hot dogs. I got out of the truck and strolled over to the window. There were two women working inside. One cooking and the other taking orders.

"Good evening sir, what can I get you?", she asked.
She was young with a bubbly attitude. Her long chestnut hair was tied back with a black ribbon and her voluptuous upper body was contained by a white t-shirt.
"Can I get a burger with fries?"
"You bet", she replied, "anything to drink?"
"I'll have a Coke as well"
"You want cheese on that burger?"
"No thanks", I said.
"That comes to six bucks", she said.
I handed her a 10 dollar bill and she gave me my change. I tossed 2 dollars into the tip jar.
"Thanks", she exclaimed with a smile, "it'll be ready in a couple of minutes".

I thanked her and stepped to the side of the truck. The sun now appeared to be getting lost behind the thick of trees. A memory stirred to life as I stood there. An echoing voice of a teacher from long ago.
"Don't forget", she had said.
She had been teaching the virtues of stopping your life once in a while to reflect. I thought it ironic that it would that lesson I thought about as I stopped here today. I chuckled to myself and smiled.
"Your order's ready sir", I heard from behind.
I turned back to the truck and took my meal from the woman.

I walked over to some picnic tables and sat down to enjoy my meal. The sounds coming from the highway seemed to dissipate as I ate. Nature came alive as I could hear the chirping of birds. Over to one end I could hear the rustling of leaves as some animal foraged for food. As I peered into the thickness of the woods I noticed something. Off in the distance was a man looking back at me. He was far off but it was obvious he was looking at me. It was unnerving to have been viewed in this way. I continued to eat my hamburger while staring back at him. Inside my mind was racing but I maintained my composure. I wouldn't want anybody to think that they've rattled me in any way. I took another bite and watched as he took a step towards me, then another. He slowly made his way to the edge of the woods. As he did I could see him more clearly. He was a native man wearing a large black hat with a feather sticking out to one side. He appeared to be old with long grey hair that rolled off his shoulders and down his back. He wore a jean-type of shirt with a vest. There was some sort of ivory colored beads hanging around his neck that had feathers mounted to it. Our eye contact never broke even as he stepped out of the woods. I took another bite and watched as he closed his eyes and looked towards the skies. He took a deep breath through his nostrils and exhaled. It was like he was testing to air. He raised his arms towards the skies and smiled. It appeared he was happy to be released from the woods. After a brief moment he opened his eyes and walked towards the table. His sturdy steps seemed effortless. When he reached the table he stood looking at my meal.

"The burgers ain't so great", he finally said. "But the fries are best in the area".
I sat there and took a big bite of my hamburger.
"No accounting for taste", he added while watching me.
He sat across from me uninvited. After a second he looked up the road, then down the road. It was then that I noticed the sound of traffic had disappeared. There were no more vehicles traveling up or down the highway.
He turned to me and looked me in the eye.
"Reflecting is good for the soul, and it helps to develop foresight".
"What do you want old man?", I questioned.
"It is not my choice", he said. "but that of Father Spirit".
He went on to explain.

"Spiritual people are connected to something greater, something that moves them beyond the restrictions of the mind. They cross over to the spirit land where Father Spirit instructs and guides them. Some of us have a stronger connect to the Father Spirit and some do not. In my tribe I have the strongest connection of all. He guides me and instructed me to seek you out". The old man took a french-fry from the dish and bit into it.
"And why would he do that?", I questioned.
"Oh I have no idea", he said.
"He tells you to seek me out and doesn't say why?"
"He never does"
"So you've done this before then?"
"I'm a messenger", he said.
"And just why would I believe anything a crazy old man such as yourself would have to say?"
"The question is always the same", he said, "yet the answer is always different". The old man smiled and shook his head. Each time he came across a situation with the white man it was always the same question, "Why me?"
"You're just a dumb ignorant white man", he said. "You stand on the prairies and cannot see the sky. You bask in the glory of your own creation yet cannot see that it is tainted. You toxify the land that you eat from and blame your God for the sickness that incurs. Then plead to Him to remove that sickness. And now you call me crazy? Who's crazier now I ask?".
As he spoke I could feel my anger boiling up from within. The back of my neck grew hotter and the hairs became electrified.
"Don't worry", he said. "there's nothing to be lost".
He stood up and turned away. I watched him as he crossed the parking lot. When he was halfway he stopped and turned back.
"It's yours' to give up if you choose", he said.

He continued crossing the parking lot. In my mind I was bitter at the insult the old man gave yet there was something that peeked my interest in all of this. At the time it as difficult to put a finger on it. Whether it was intrigue as to what he had proposed or a desire to prove that all white men are not the same I could not tell. Looking back now I can say that it was a little of both. I got up and followed the old man into the woods.
"There's nothing to be lost", I said in my mind.

The spirits of the woods are all around us. They move silently when needed, and whisper their thoughts as you pass them by. They hold the memories of ancient times and speak of wisdom to children. From the seedlings they first saw the growth of this land and nurtured it. Helped to develop it as nature intended. The grass grew and the buffaloes came. The eagle soared and the fish swam. Children grew strong and spirits rose from the soil as the sun warmed all it touched. For centuries the people of this land lived this way. A perfect hormonal life.

The Spirit of the woods speak softly upon the breeze.... 

Whisper the days my child for darkness approaches, fear moves the land beneath your feet and death nears, hold true your thoughts and steady the hand for there is honor in a righteous death. Breathe the air that holds us spirits and not take in the toxic white mist that chokes the lungs. 

I followed the old man into the woods trying to keep up with his pace. He moved throughout the trees and shrubs with ease. The darkening skies casts shadows within the woods making it appear darker than it really was. From the corner of my eyes I could see them moving. Shifting shapes forming images of men and women peering from the dark. Seeking to protect what is theirs, what was inherent. Little white circles of light for eyes showing the spirit of their creator. Flashing points in time suspended forever in the woods. Forever in time.

My heart skipped a beat for never has my mind experienced anything like this. Within transition is fear that awaits the soul. Pumps life into a new awareness of being. I wasn't just crossing over the land, I was crossing over into another world that I never knew existed. Adrenalin started pumping through my brain and with it sweat. I forced myself not to let the trembling feeling I felt inside out. I clenched my hands into fists and swung my arms with added force. My foot steps may have come down with a little more force than necessary. The crunching of twigs I could hear beneath my feet and then somewhere over a distance a crow started to caw adding to the intensity of the moment. Beads of sweat trickled down my back as my heart pounded. And then as fast as this happened it all stopped. From the top of the ridge I could see a small settlement. Structures and people moving around the ground. Smoke rising into the air from a small fire. The smell of burnt wood filled the nostrils and brought my senses back to the moment. I looked back to see if the shadows had followed us. All I could see was a darken forest. There was no movement, no circle of lights moving around. Just the odd flash from a firefly.
As we stood at the top of the ridge the old man spoke.

"Transition isn't easy for any of us", he said.
"Did I imagine what I saw back there?", I asked.
"No one can imagine what they see, only experience what they know".
He slowly took a step forward.
"So what you're saying is that its' all in my head?", I asked.
"Not all, just part", he replied. "You needed to extract what blinds you in order to fully see what's around you".

As we entered the settlement the people looked upon us. Their look told me I was not welcomed here. I was an outsider in a closed community. Long frowns on the face of the men that sat by the fire hinted towards a sadness. Maybe I was a reminder of how they got to this point in their lives, I really couldn't say. There was a totem pole that stood erected 30 feet in the air. It faced towards the east. The only carving I could recognize was the eagle that was at the top of the pole and only because from it came wings that stretched out to the sides of it. The other images carved into the pole appeared too distorted to recognize. It could have been a bear or a wolf of maybe a coyote? As monumental as it appeared I could only guess as to it's definition. 

We crossed the grounds towards the long house and entered it. Inside it was dark and all I could see was some figures sitting around a small fire at the other end. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could see that the walls of the long house held wood carvings, skins of animals and hunting weapons. I could also see that there were women sitting up against the walls crafting by hand. The stranger walked to the men of the circle and stood a moment waiting for their acknowledgement. They appeared to be dismayed with him. One of them finally looked up to him and spoke in a language I didn't understand. After some words the old man spoke to them and whatever he said was enough to make the men get up and walk out of the long house. He then sat next to the fire and motioned me to do the same.

"I don't think they like me", I said.
"It's not you they don't like", he replied, "it's what you represent".
"And what might that be?"
"A cancer of such".
"I don't get it", I said.
"And that's the point", he said.

The old man stirred the coals of the fire then added another log to it. A new light emerged as it caught flame. He then took out a pouch that was hanging around his neck and opened it up. From it he took a pinch of its' content and tossed it on the flames. A plume of smoke erupted from the flames into the air. The smell of sage filled the room along with a scent I couldn't identify. It had a calming effect. After a moment I didn't think about the people outside or the look of the men that left the fire for us. I became content just to look at the old man across from the flames. I got a sense that he was about to tell a story of some kind. The deep lines in his face were more noticeable or may have been the shadows thrown from the flames I couldn't tell. Whatever it was it made him appear scared. My mind started to wonder within his face. Deep scares left behind from a society that didn't belong here. Each one represented a death of some kind. Death of tradition, a death of an animal, death of a way of living. All of this death was unreasonable, unjustifiable.

"They just call us savages when they first appeared", he said, "we know who the savages really are".
I could feel a strange sensation around my skin. Like an aura was forming all around me. It was like I was being protected, or maybe I was being contained?
"As I said earlier, the Father Spirit directed me to you", said the old man.
"He chose you, he wants you to see something beyond your sight".
The old man took another pinch from the pouch and tossed it on the fire. The flames erupted again only this time it was larger.
"This journey you're about to take will lead you to the depths of your mind. What you'll find I do not know. You will see the wolf, the bear and the eagle. All represent something in your life. Something within your being. They will help you find the core of darkness you carry. They will protect you along the way".

The dark shadows on the walls slowly danced back and forth. Then they took shape. I could see them as an image of men dancing around. Dancing in celebration. They danced around a fire, a large fire. Circling one way, then back around. From outside the longhouse I could hear the pounding of drums. The chanting from men and women calling out. I could feel the vibrations from the ground as they pounded their feet against it. I could feel them, I could feel their souls. Loud pitch screams pierced the night and the next thing I knew I was all alone in the woods. Silence, dead silence all around me. I had made the transition. 

The Story of The Wolf

It appeared to be a fall day for none of the trees had any leaves. They lay about the ground brownish-grey and contorted. As I stepped forward they rustled and crunched under foot. The graying skies above indicated that it too was in transition. The changing from summer to winter and soon everything would be dead or hibernating. Ahead was a ridge which I thought would give me a viewpoint. I climbed to the top and found the old man sitting cross-legged with his eyes closed.

"What are you doing here?", I questioned.
"I don't know it's your vision", he replied.
I stood a moment pondering.
"What direction shall I take old man?", I asked him.
He pointed in the direction I was heading and said nothing.
"Are you coming?", I asked.
"I can't. I'm fixated here".
"You can't move?", I asked.
"This is where you placed me in your vision, this is where I must stay".
"Anything else you want to tell me?", I asked smartly.
"Ya, good luck", he said with a smirk.

The rustling of the leaves beneath my feet was a sheer indication of my dismay with the old man. For some reason he irked me. Got under my skin. The other side of the ridge slopped downward towards a valley which made it easier to walk. I could see over the treetops for miles. All the leafless branches reaching towards the skies. All dead, all waiting for the return of spring. Mocking the old man I said to them all, "ya, good luck".
As I descended into the valley of trees I couldn't see beyond 10 feet. They had become so thick I feared that if I turned around I'd bump into one. Walking through them meant zig-zaging. No wonder why people get lost in these kinds of woods. Left, right, left, right, you had no sense of how many lefts to how many rights you've taken.

Just ahead was a ridge and on top of it was a wolf. It froze me in my tracks. The eyes of the wolf were deep and penetrating. I could feel them piercing me. Until a person has come face to face with one you have no idea just how overpowering their presence is. Fear arose from within my being. My heart started pounding so hard I could hear it in my eardrums. My throat tightened and it was hard to swallow.
"You want to kill me", I muttered.

The wolf stood in front of me not moving. It's eyes still upon me. My palms were starting to get clammy. This beast wanted me. It wanted to consume me. It wanted to exhaust my being. I could feel it. My mind started to swirl. "How am I going to get out of this one?", I questioned myself. "Will you be able to get out of this one?", an answer came back.
The wolf started panting. It seemed like it was getting ready to attack. Saliva seeped from it's mouth and its' fangs looked like they could tare through anything.

I turned and started running. It was all I could think of doing. Try to put distance between me and the wolf. If I moved through the trees I may have a chance of getting away from it. I could hear the crunching of dead leaves as I zig-zag through the forest. The faster I ran the louder it got. My muscles started to burn and my breathing became labored. I stumbled and fell to the ground. I pushed myself back up and continued to stumble as I ran. Panic entered my being. "I'm going to die, I'm going to die", a voice cried out from within.

I thought I could hear the wolf behind me although I didn't want to turn around to find out. I just kept moving forward as quickly as possible.
The first blow came to the back of my neck. I fell forward and hit the ground. I could taste dirt and feel the leaves around my face. I opened my eyes and rolled onto my back. I looked up to the skies. The trees looked like they were piercing through it. I couldn't hear or see they wolf. The warmth I felt at the back of my neck told me I was bleeding. I reached back with my hand and felt the moistness there. I looked at my hand to see just how bad it was. It appeared that it wasn't as bad as I first feared. The blood was minimal. I sat up and looked around to see that the wolf was still there. It was sanding 20 feet away.

"You're still breathing", I though to myself.
"What are you running from", a voice said. It was coming from behind me. It was the old man.
"There's a fucking big wolf trying to kill me", I said. "Look!", I added.
"No", he said. "What are you running from".
"Death", I said.
"I don't want to die", I sarcastically said.
"Mortality is inevitable", he replied.
"I don't want to die just yet"
"Oh, maybe later?" he said nonchalantly.
The old man irritated me. I just don't think he understand why I don't want to die.
The wolf just stood the looking me down, waiting for my next move.

"Death is only transition", he said. "These dead leaves will bring nutrients to the soil which in turn will provide the forest with growth. The animals will find shelter and food here and life begins again. Our bodies and our souls are provided by the Father Spirit to protect the land and nurture it's residents. Once the vessel falls to the land the spirit is rewarded with freedom. Father Spirit calls us home where peace and serenity awaits. So I ask you why again what are you running from?"
I sat silent a moment to think about it. My eyes drifted from the wolf to the dead leaves on the ground. I started to thinking about everything. A flashing second in a person life goes by and within it an entire lifetime of experience. It complies to a single word.

"Fear", I said.
"It's a start", he said. "Now look up to what you were really running from".
I looked to see that what I was running from, what I was trying to escape from was myself. The wolf had disappear and I was looking at myself.
"Your real fear isn't death, it's the essence of yourself. What you represent to yourself".
"Why?", I questioned.
"Now that is the question", he said.
I never saw the old man during this whole experience. All along his voice was only in my head.
The conversation and conclusion was construed by myself. I lead myself here.
"Why do I fear what I represent?"
The image of myself turned away and walked into the forest. It slowly faded away and I was left sitting there by myself. I looked down and closed my eyes. I felt an internal conflict arise. I hate who I am, I hate what I represent. I hate what I've become.
"To resolve conflict a person must be able to identify the root of it's source", a voice came from within.
"I've hid behind ignorance", I finally said to myself. "or at least tried to".
"You've no longer have that option", the voice replied.

A sadness emerged from within. Loss of time and foolishness of life, wastefulness. I could finally see that I failed myself. I missed what was right in front of me all this time. The opportunity to tend to others, to tend to those who suffered. I had become so engulfed in attaining a station in life that I blinded myself to those in need. I stepped on the weak and pushed away love all to receive nothing. I chased what I was told to chase which brought a soulless vessel here today. Everything you chased, everything you've obtained was a projection of an illusion brought on from a society that feeds off it's self. It takes yet never really gives back. Produces waste that it cannot use. Causes sickness and sells cures for profit. Exploits the poor of other nations for the greed of others. Tells you what you want and where to purchase it. We're suppose to be a society of progression, not a society of destructive greed. I saw what I hated and had enough of it.

The crackling from the fire brought me back to where I really was. I could smell the smoke and scent of basil in the air. I took a deep breath and opened my eyes. The old man was sitting across from me smiling.
He understood everything that I had experienced, as if he was there himself.
"The wolf is a guide, it helps you to find your fears only. It is up to you confront them. Once you do then the healing can begin".

The old man started chanting. First in a low voice that was rhythmic and soothing. I could feel relief within. A calming sense of being complete. I found myself rocking back and forth ever so slowly. My eyes felt relaxed and the warmth of the fire seeped into my flesh. My breathing became slow and deep. I watched the old man on the other side of the flames. His chanting became a little quicker as did my rocking. I became mesmerized by him in such a relaxing way. I became so willing to be at peace everything that it surprised me when he tossed a fist full of feathers across the fire at me. It blinded me for a second and when I opened my eyes I was laying on my back in total darkness. The old man, the fire, and the long house were gone. I was in complete darkness. The next vision had started.

The Story Of The Bear

Looking back now I can see how the transition while in a vision is blinding. A person moves from one point to another without realizing there's something that transpires. It becomes a forgotten dash. A moment in time missing. Back then all I remember was going from the longhouse to being within the vision. As time passed little pieces started to reveal themselves to create a picture. A story started to develop from the images.
In the middle of nowhere the strangest things happen. Surrealism exists within a realistic plane.

I'm a traveling salesman or so I tell myself. In actuality I sell hope, dreams and visions contained in a bottle. I call it the elixir of Grand Design. It's an alcohol base with a dash of morphine designed to numb the body and free the mind. Easy enough to make and easier to sell. My wagon contains cases of the clear liquid. My customers are everywhere, even out here in the middle of nowhere. It's a warm summer's day as the wagon being pulled by a horse makes it's way up the hill. The rays of the sun sink deep into the body and brings out the gold in the sweeping wheat. The blue skies above brings tranquility to the mind. A person could easily get lost out here. 

Ahead I see a figure on a horse. I know this figure. He's called Tall Oak, or that would be the translation from his language to mine. Tall Oak appears as a statute on the plains. Sitting on top of his steed and holding a spear in one hand Tall Oak looked striking. The wind slightly blowing his long hair back. His bronze body partially cover by a breastplate and a feather in his hair made the whole image appear appealing yet intimidating. Tall Oak was a representative of his tribe.

"Good day Tall Oak", I said with a smile.
"Greetings", he said back.
"Another warm day"
"And what may you be doing out this way?"
"You and you elixir are no longer welcomed"
Puzzled I asked "why?".
"Your elixir makes us sick"
"It doesn't make people sick Tall Oak. It helps them"
"No". he responded sternly.
"It has helped your people to see visions"
"It makes them sick"
"Never has anyone said that Tall Oak", I pleaded with him.
"Go sell it to the white people, you're not welcomed here anymore".
"I don't understand how it makes them sick?"

"When you first came you gave us many bottles. We drank them and felt something different inside. Then we made trade with you for more. We traded hides and weapons. Things that protected us and kept us warm. We also gave our spirit away. Most shameful act to our people. Our tradition of communicating with Father Spirit was diverted. Most of our young men believed that the elixir was Father Spirit and that they could feel him inside after drinking it. It made them feel powerful. But when there was no more elixir they fell ill. They felt cold because their spirit had left them. The elders believe Father Spirit was angry and came and took the spirits of our young men away. Your elixir weakens them, weakens our tribe. The elders want no part of you or the white man's way". Tall Oak finished. He was no longer friendly as he once was.
"Tall Oak", I said pleadingly.
"No", he said once again, "It will take many years to repair the damage done by you and the white man's way. No more".

Tall Oak had done talking. He turned away and rode off over the plains. I watched as his figure slowly diminished then disappeared. Tall Oak and his tribe were good customers. I had been trading goods for almost a year and now it had come to an end.
"Maybe it's time to head south", I said.

The vision had stopped. The wheat fields and blue skies faded away. I often wondered if this was really a vision or just a dream that I think belonged there. Maybe it's guilt carried forward? A weight carried for what our people did to the natives of this land? I could contemplate the past yet without action nothing changes. The second vision I had reveled the ignorance, greed and plain stupidity of our culture. It was so devastating to me as a human that it altered my being for the remainder of my life.

"Visions are like sequence", said the old man. "Bits and pieces of the past, present and future. Sometimes they are intertwined together and sometimes they're singular moments projected. It's like a old single fence post standing in a field. When you first see it you wonder why it's there. There's no reasoning for something like that to be there yet there it is. You may know why it is there and then again you may not know? The one thing for certain is that it is there".

It was cold and dark when I came through the second vision. I was laying on my back on a stone floor in complete darkness. I questioned, if this was a vision why was I blind to what was around me? I couldn't hear anything at first. Total silence and blinded by blackness. The only thing I knew is that I could feel the coolness of the stone beneath me. I tried to sit up and found that I couldn't. All I could do was roll over to my side then push myself up on my hands and feet. That's when I noticed something was different. My body didn't feel the same. I tried to speak but all that came out was a grunting sound. The mechanics of my body were different as well. I couldn't do things I normally could, like scratch my head. For some reason that was difficult. I started to move on my hands and feet searching for an exit. There had to be some way out of this darkness. It wasn't more than a few feet when I could hear the trickling of water. The darkness faded and I found an exit. I came to realize it was a cave that held me. As I continued to walk forward I looked down to my hands only to see that they had become paws. Large paws with large nails. The fur on them was black. My arms, my hands, my entire body felt powerful. It was a strength I've never had before. I felt like I was the king of the woods.

It must have been early spring for half the trees still had buds on them. The day had just begun and I could see the sun far off piercing through the trees bringing light to the floor of the forest. The crisp morning air held a scent and I could tell there were other animals close by. I recognized the scent of the coyote, deer and far off in the distance another bear. None of them were close by to cause me concern. I also felt an incredible hunger in my belly. It was like I hadn't eaten in months. I found the source of trickling water and drank plentifully from it. Afterwards I couldn't help but to paw it. That led to a delightfulness of fun that I've never felt before. So I plunged forward, all in splashing and jumping at the images projected off the water's surface. Such joyous pleasure from the simplest of things.

The hunger in my stomach reminded me that it was time to feed. I left the stream and made my way through the woods sniffing out food. I located an old log fallen last year. Underneath it were small insects I found appealing. I nibbled on them and when there were no more I easily tore into the log and found a host of them running around. Once I finished with them I moved on to a scent I picked up. There was something not too far away and I was aiming to find it.

Walking through the woods was easy in this state of being. Each step was firmly planted on the ground. There was no unsteadiness and the new shrub wasn't hindering in any way. The scent I picked up on was close and I zeroed in on it quickly. It was a carcass of an animal that died recently. I recognized it as a raccoon. Something has started to feed off of it then left. I smelt the scent of a coyote yet couldn't see one around. They don't stick around when I show up. I fed off the carcass and when it was done still felt like I could eat more. It takes days of nibbling to stop the hunger in my stomach and I just woke up. I needed more and in the woods there's plenty for all. Throughout the day I found an assortment of food to accommodate me. From dead animals to last year's fruits not yet eaten. All delicious to a starving bear.

As the light of the day diminished I made my was to a clearing. There was nothing in sight and I could not smell anything of danger. What I could smell was a scent of another bear. I slowly moved into the clearing to a tall tree that looked dead. I sniffed around and up the tree and located a scent belonging to a younger bear. The scent of another bear annoyed me so I urinated around the tree then rubbed my belly and back on the tree leaving my scent behind. It was also relieving to have a good back scratch as well.
There wasn't a breeze or any air movement but I picked up a strange scent. I kind of recognized it but wasn't sure. It was out of place for the woods. I sniffed the air again and then felt a terrible pain through my body as thunder resonated through the forest. I toppled over on the ground and couldn't move. The excruciating pain made me wanted to scream out but all I could do was pant heavily. I tried to understand what was going on. Why was I in so much pain? What had caused it? Why couldn't I move?

"Take the paws first", a voice said.
"This isn't my first bear", another voice returned.
"Ya well take the paws first".
"Look you didn't kill it"
"Don't matter, good as dead anyways".
"Good size paws, should catch a few bucks for em".
"Here, use this blade".
"Should we kill it first?"
"Don't waste the bullet, just hack em off".

I could feel the tear of flesh as the saw tore through it. It got worse as it hit the bone. I don't know what was worse, the pain of the saw as it hit the bone or the sound of your own bone being sawed through. I tried to understand why they were doing this? Why was I being hurt in such a way? I felt the removal of my paw. Electrifying pain shot through my entire body. Moisture from my eyes seeped out. Tears of pain.

"Careful there, we still want the skin"
"You want any meat?"
"Naw, he looks too gamy. Besides, they're better eating in the fall when they got all that fat on em".
"Taste better too".

What little blood that was left in my body continued to trickle out from where my paw used to be. I could see the human lift up my paw and shake it up and down, like he was waving goodbye. He laughed and then started to cut that one off. By the time he reached the bone I couldn't feel anything. I stopped bleeding as did my heart. My last vision here was of the other man slicing me open from my neck to my belly. I could see him using a blade to take the skin off of my flesh.

I vomited on the ground when I came through from the vision. I lunged forward on all fours like a dog and continued to vomit. The burger and fries didn't look too appealing now. When I could heave no more I still wanted to. The pain and disgust I was feeling was so immense I just couldn't get rid of it fast enough.
"I'm not cleaning that up", the old man said and chuckled.
"What was that?", I questioned as I sat back up.
"What did you see?", the old man asked.
I told him of my vision. How I became a bear and the things I did and how it all ended. He sat there solemnly taking it in, deep in thought by the looks of it. The lines of age on his face deepened in the shadows of the fire. When I had told him everything he spoke.
"The Father Spirit puts you in a place where you need to be".

He went on to explain.
"We are like children to the Father. Children that need guidance from time to time. Sometimes we are placed in a situation of his making. We are challenged to use our minds and experiences to resolve the situation. This reinforces who we are as individuals and where we stand in life. It re-positions us to where we are and not where we think we are. Your vision was from the past. Something that happened many years ago. It appears Father Spirit has given you a new perspective of your ancestors. It's the white man's way to take from the earth that which enriches his wallet. You felt what it means to be on the receiving end of the white man's greed and ignorance. The pain and suffering of the bear was so great that it left a spiritual imprint in the universe. The Father Spirit used that imprint to show you the devastating ways of your ancestors. What you choose to do with that information is your choice".

My head was pounding with pain. A pain I've never felt before. This was not an experience I wanted. I never killed an animal, never skinned one. Yet now I understood what it was like to be skinned and killed for profit. If I could vomit any more I would but I couldn't.
"This is more than my ancestors' actions isn't it?", I questioned.
"The Father Spirit is showing you something".
"It has relevance here doesn't it?".
"Of course, that is why Father Spirit has chosen you".

There wasn't any need to continue questioning the old man at this time. I started to understand that even in today's society everything has an adverse reaction. Even if we do not see it, or don't believe it's true it does. Our comfort is derived out of something else's pain. We kill more than just a bear to supply the demands of our society. We skin more than just the animal to provide our necessity of more. We take more than the paws of a bear to accommodate our Ego. We destroy and kill for what we call the progression of our society believing they will be no repercussions. Ignorant little fools we are for believing that. I just wanted to curl up away from everything and everybody. To hid away from my own shame.
The old man got up and grabbed a blanket off the wall. He came to me and wrapped the blanket around me then patted me on the shoulders.

"Keep warm, it helps", he said.
"I can't change everything", I said to him.
"Nor should you", he replied.
"I can only change who I am"
"And that's the greatest of all changes".

We sat a while by the fire not speaking. I could feel the warmth returning to my bones. I could smell a fragrance coming from the blanket. It was the smell of old smoke, tobacco and sage. The scent helped to clear my head and soon the pounding in my head subsided and my stomach felt better. In the silence of the room the crackling from the fire echoed in my mind. I felt small, like a child. It seemed like the entire universe had opened up for me and I could see everything for the first time. The wonderment of a child's mind had me and I was now enjoying it.
I looked up from the dancing flames of the fire and saw that the old man was studying me. He smiled and said, "Are you ready?"
Before I could answer there was a flash from the fire and I was away on my final vision.

The Story Of The Eagle

I was flying high above the forest green. The air was cool and clean and there wasn't a cloud in sight. I could see for many miles. The twisting of a river as it cut though the woods finding it's way to the grand ocean. Shimmering little diamonds as the trickling of water catches the sunlight. The up draft of wind pushing me even higher that it feels like I'll never touch the earth again. I close my eyes and sore to Father Spirit with the wind in my feathers. "I am eagle", I think to myself.
From this vantage point I see all. I can see down to the forest's floor. I can see a twig twisting from a branch, or a fish swinging up stream in the river. I see movement of animals as they search the forest for food. The rustling of leaves as the Father Spirit touches them or the scent of the north that's captured within the winds that move me.
From here I see all that is good.

The wind hold the voices of the past,
whispered prayers of hopeful souls,
long have they passed,
yet never forgotten,
I hear them, 
I hear them whisper upon the winds of humanity.

They say, 
Thrust upon no one that which was delivered to you,
on the fields of agony we bore the hole,
and died as Father Spirit rode next to us,
we stood our ground and won,
for the hole we bore is still.

Seek us out in your time of need,
and we shall embrace you,
feel us as we sweep the land,
for we are the wind in your hair,
stand tall and take what's needed,
wisdom can only be gained by facing the wind.

These are the voices etched into the winds that I hear as I fly high above the forest. I hear them clearly and understand their pleas. They don't want to change the world, they were content in the way it was. I glide higher into the skies and see a mist that seeps into the skies. A small stream of smoke that forms into a cloud. It starts to spread out flat high in the sky were I am. Undulating plume of white mist that now look like a rolling field. My eyes are keen and from this distance I see an image translate from the mist into a lone warrior riding his steed. Aggressively he rides towards me showing no fear. A voice I hear upon the wind speaks.
"This is how it was in the past. We rode upon the plains free as Father Spirit has meant for it to be".
The image of the warrior dissipates into the wind and his spirit if forever captured upon the breeze. Another image appears. A small group of people that appear to be Natives of this land are moving across the plains. Horses tow their minimal belongings as they walk next to them.
"Father Spirit guides them after the autumn harvest. They seek shelter from the coming winter. They head towards the mountain range where food is still available when the snow is deep. It has been this way for many centuries", the voice concludes.

The people in the image fade into the mountain range as they have reached their goal. The mist darkens the opposite side and from that darkness I see many people fighting with each other. A battle of thousands that appear to be in turmoil slowly moves towards the other side. A community of Natives appears to be watching the oncoming turmoil unconcerned yet with interest.
"See how they have no fear of the darkness that approaches them?", the wind whispers.
The dark plague slowly consumes the Natives. It devours them through battle and blood taking everything and leaving nothing. The blackness becomes chaotic and starts to consume itself. It feeds off itself until there is nothing left but a speck. Then it fades away to nothing.

I glide upon the breeze that holds me secure. I have no fear of falling from the skies. I am eagle. A golden ray of light shines from behind the cloudy mist. A golden beam that reflex what's to come. The wind whirls the mist around and from it the warrior from the first image appears as he did in the beginning. He rides without fear and with war paint defined. Admiration of his presence over-comes my mind. He has survived the black chaotic mass that destroyed itself. Behind him new people rise up from ground. His people, Father Spirit's people. They create a new civilization based on tradition. I can see them moving over the plains as they once did. They thrive in tradition and respect of the Spirit. Slowly these images fade away into the golden mist. I watch with hope and new conviction as it does and as the light diminishes I see one last image. It's an eagle flying high above the clouded mist. The golden rays fades away as does this image leaving a spiritual imprint within my soul.

The night is coming and I need a place to rest. I fly high above the forest's canopy with the voices of the wind in my ears. They speak ever so softly as look for my resting spot.
I leave the skies with conviction and head toward the forest with great speed. My wings spread as far as I can manage. I dive towards the earth gaining a speed I've never reached before. The wind in my ears now screaming as do those voices. I've picked my spot, my resting place awaits me. The ground below expands quickly as if it's about to engulf my entire existence. I have no fear. I pull up at the last moment and take hold of a tree branch. I tuck my wings under and hear the echo of those voices from the past slowly fade as the light.

I am eagle,
I am eagle,
I am eagle. 

Darkness descends over the land yet I have no fear. I've seen the past, I understand the present and know there's hope for the future. In the coming darkness no harm shall arrive to me for Father Spirit holds me in his graces. He protects his children of all form. He protects the land they live in. He offers guidance when sought. He is Father Spirit. I close my eyes to rest and when I next open them I am sitting across from the old man. I'm back in the longhouse. The fire has died down to ambers. The red gleaming glow reflects on his face. Those deep lines of age reflect the life he's lived. I can tell it has been a life that is long and hard. A life of endurance. I sense he's sad about something. He looks me in the eyes and I see into his soul for the first time. I see him for the first time. I now understand more about life than ever before.
"Winter is coming", he said.
"Yes it is", I replied.
The ambers of the fire were dying quickly and the light diminishing with it. I stood up and walked to the other side. I took the old blanket off me and wrapped it around the old man.
"Here, this will keep you warm", I said.
"Thank you", he replied.

I left him there as the light faded away to darkness. It was time for me to go. I exited the longhouse and found that the entire village had left. There was no one to be found. A small trickle of smoke from a fire pit rose into the morning air as the first beam of light broke the eastern horizon. It was a new day.


Many years have passed since I met the old man. The visions I had that night are as clear to me today as they were back then. I still travel through Norland Ontario and each time I do I wonder about him. I've stopped once and traveled back through the woods to the place where the longhouse and people where. There's was nothing there but a dilapidated old house. Weeds and small shrubs have grown over the land which tells me they never came back. I sometimes wonder if they were actually there in the first place?
I no longer live the way I used to. Since my visions I left the city. I quit my job and took residence not far from Norland. I located a small cabin in the woods where peace and serenity is a constant. I fearlessly travel throughout the woods searching for illegal traps and snares. I destroy the traps and when I come across an injured animal I tend it back to health then release it back to the wilds. Sometimes when I'm deep in the woods I swear I catch a glimpse of the old man between the trees. I think he's watching me. Maybe checking up on me to see if I'm alright? When I take a closer look he's never there. I wonder if it's just my imagination or did I just miss him?
In the season of fall I see the changing of the leaves. The maples are my favorite after they've changed. They go to a stunning gold before falling to the floor of the forest. They capture my attention for many hours a year. I get the feeling like I'm high above the forest gliding upon a northern breeze with the voices of the past singing to me.

"Can you see me?
Fly with me unbound and free,
feel me lift you up,
higher, higher to the father,
ever reaching towards skies,
we shall be together,
forever as children under his wings"


© Copyright 2018 Rhymis. All rights reserved.

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