God, Me and Redwoods

DSC_9682I woke up feeling like the day ahead would be a good one. I was excited about taking a day trip to Muir Woods with John. After breakfast I headed upstairs to shower. As I looked down at my feet, my toenails looked blue and I started to think, “What is wrong with me? Is it something bad? I don’t want to go to the doctors. I hate going to the doctors. Am I feeling ok?” As these fearful thoughts started washing over me, the anxiety starts to build.

I try to talk myself out of the fear by telling myself I am just cold. I am fine…STOP worrying. I can’t allow these feelings to dictate the remainder of my day.

As I get myself together and prepare to leave, the feelings of fear and anxiety linger. Still, I think there is hope. We are going to spend an afternoon with the towering redwoods. Nature is calming and peaceful.

We arrived after a long drive. If you haven’t been to the park before, you need to arrive early just to get a parking spot. That was not the case. My fear and anxiety slowed me down so we did not arrive until the late morning. Parking spaces were hard to come by so John dropped me off while he found a spot.

We eventually met up and we found our way to the beginning of the trail, our Nikon cameras hanging from our necks. We encountered these massive redwood trees that lined either side of the walkway like great guardians of the forest. Standing beside one of these towering trees made the world seem bigger beyond imagination and I was just a tiny part of it all.

DSC_9656As we moved forward through the park we came upon a stair case that lead to a stunning view, or so we were told. We decided to forge ahead. I was determined to quiet the fear and anxiety that was still occupying so much of my being. With each step upward, I tried to distract myself from my fear by focusing on the beauty around me. I paused for a few moments to take pictures of tiny little red mushrooms. They reminded me of a place where fairies would live. I took another step but each one was a challenge because I was hyper aware of every twinge and ache in my body.

I am afraid of heights and the path seemed to get more narrow the further we went. It was uneven and there were no railings to prevent a person from falling down the side if they misstepped. I made every effort not to allow this to add to the already looming feelings within me. I was cold and the tension in my jaw and the fluttering feelings in my stomach made my heart race. Despite it all, I kept moving.

With each person that passed us on their way down I asked, “ Are we close to the top yet?” They would tell me no. My wonderful and understanding husband gave me an out: he said we could turn around before we reached the top. I felt relieved and took him up on the offer. The hike down was just as challenging as the hike up.

When we reached the bottom, our journey took us further in to the forest. We only went as far as the second bridge and turned back. “Turkey’s in the straw after all.” That is what we say when our dog Milkbone is home alone. We took a few more photos and stopped at the gift shop where we spent more than we planned. We each picked out a box made from redwood and I found a Bigfoot carved out of redwood. John loves and fears Bigfoot at the same time.

We arrived home exhausted. We both had headaches and were quite dirty from hiking through the woods. For me, this day was only the first of many challenging days that followed.

Besides having nightmares, I was waking up in the middle of the night half out of my footie pajamas and feeling like someone was standing over me. I was having waves of panic.

I had moments of feeling good despite a constant feeling of being out of balance. Out of no where, panic would rise up and blind side me as if I was standing in the ocean and waves were hitting me from behind and knocking me over.

I felt like Eeyore: sad, alone and absolutely useless. I felt as if I was just wasting my life away. I couldn’t shake off these feelings.

My body was constricting and the tension in my jaw was unbearable. I was not able to leave the house or be around other people. I wanted to hide. I felt like I was Wily Coyote, the heaviness at the top of my head felt like an anvil was dropped on me.

I felt as if I was stuck – as if I could not move forward. Then there was this energy that was pulling me forward or maybe it was my own desire to pull myself out of this tornado of uncertainty. Nothing was soothing or comforting. I couldn’t figure out what was standing in my way. Was I standing in my own way? Did I have negative energy in my space that needed to be cleared? Was the earth energy changing and I could feel it? I didn’t know.

After an exhausting week of few highs and many lows, it was Sunday and time for church. I attend 8:30 mass every Sunday at St. Joseph’s Parish in Pinole, CA.  When I got out of bed that morning, I felt really good. Wow, I haven’t felt like this all week! What changed? Who knows! I was ready to stay positive and go to church (and then Costco).

John came with me but sat in the car as he worked on his blog. I got in there and the usual happened. The procession in, the introductory rites, liturgy, first reading, Responsorial Psalm second reading, alleluia, Gospel, and the moment I was struck by: the Homily.

Fr. John Direen spoke about the readings that morning. The transfiguration of Jesus. The reading, in a nut shell, speaks about Jesus being on a mountain with two of his disciples. The disciples see Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah, who came long before him. The disciples offered to set up tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. They were trying to avoid Jesus’ fate of the cross.

The skies got grey and stormy and this great voice spoke to the disciples from Heaven as Moses and Elijah disappeared. The disciples were afraid. God spoke to them telling them to not be afraid because Jesus’ purpose was to reach the cross.

The point Fr. John was making about the readings is that we are in Lent and we are all in our own transfiguration. By fasting through Lent and giving up the things we love, like foods that we love and may not be good for us, we are transforming. We take those things that do not serve us anymore and release them so we can move forward like Jesus.

It hit me: last week was my higher self knowing I had to let go of fears, anger, hurt and all those things so I could be who I am suppose to be. Once this happened then it was time for me to move forward.

I feel as if I have been holding myself back by focusing too much of my energy on those things that I have no control over or can not change. As soon as I am able to “let go and let God”, then I will be able to fulfill my purpose on this earth.

It was like the past week made perfect sense to me. All the struggles of the week were making sense. It’s like a light bulb went off in my head. God answered my prayers when I was ready for the answer. Last week was His way of preparing me so I could understand what he was saying to me.

Even though I have made these connections for myself I am still learning how to have self love and self compassion. How to truly let go of the limiting thoughts, beliefs and programming. It is hard work but work I am willing to do.

God is good! God is grand!

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