Tightrope and Tree Frog

In the early 90s, I was given a dream that never left me. As I think back on it now, I can see that it really was more of a ‘calling’. In the dream, a hand came through a window behind me, reached over my left shoulder and presented me with what looked like an invitation. That hand gave me a handwritten message in a simple unadorned white card with the fold at the top. When I flipped it open, on the upper half, the ornately written message read “God has chosen glorious resplendence for you”; the lower half read “for on the 24th day, you will know God!” In the fold at the center of the opened card, the message was illegible. The crease obscured the writing so that I could not see it; but I felt it. I’ve written about this dream in a story about Abiquiu New Mexico but my focus in this writing is on the portion about the message itself.

God has chosen Glorious Resplendence for You.

Glorious resplendence? – “who uses this language? C’mon”, I thought; “what’s this all about?” Know God?…”what does that even mean?” For many days after this dream, I believed it meant that I would die on the 24th of the month or in 24 days! For months and years, every time the number 24 rolled into my consciousness, I thought about this dream. But now, since it has been more than 24 years since the dream, I’ve come to believe it was not about dying – or at least not dying in the physical sense. Symbolically, 24 is a fascinating number and I urge you to review what has been written about it – one example to begin your exploration is cited here! [1]

Even more enigmatic than the legible portion, I was struck by the portion of the message in the fold that was not legible and could only be interpreted as a felt sense… Prepare Yourself. I wonder now if it was the only part of the message that was obscure because at the time, I was clueless about what it meant! Looking back, I think that two-word command launched me on the journey of my life.

You see, my life up to that point had been spent following all the rules and doing what I thought was expected of me by culture and heritage. I’d been raised Catholic and while its dogma was at times oppressive, I was enraptured by the chants and hymns, the stained glass and the mysticism. But the duality of sensing its mystery and growing up in the story of my small community was a lot like being served a mixed drink of cane-based alcohol and bitters –on the rocks!

So as I transitioned to adulthood, my focus was not so much on transcending the effects of this psychotropic elixir as it was to distance myself from it. At the same time, I walked a tightrope that was stayed between the sides of a deep canyon-walled abyss, attempting to keep my balance by crossing in the most exacting way I could. By this I mean, I married, became a home owner, birthed a child, and started a career; no one would know the schism I lived. These roles became the balance pole extensions I used to stabilize my walk across the chasm of realities below – or rather, within – me.

Tightrope walker over cityscape.

I left the church and eventually left my community, although the latter took longer for various reasons not the least of which were my beliefs and values associated with the concepts of loyalty, love and connection. To sum it up, it was complicated!

Yet, while the formal church was no longer a part of my life, the seeker in me continued to explore connections with a greater sense of myself through reading, uplifting music, creative endeavors, time in nature and occasional gatherings with like-minded souls. Through these undertakings the soles of my feet began to thicken and change shape to form toe pads that suctioned themselves around the tightrope cable. Like a tree frog, my feet held me in place. But after a while, the few toe pads I used to grip the cable weren’t sufficient and the weight of the pole itself began to feel like the weight of the world. I needed more and wider toe pads or I had to let go of the pole – or both!

Colorful frog hanging onto a stick.

It began with a name change. I had been given the name Kathleen at birth and remained so throughout elementary school. Only a small number of close relatives called me Kat. By the time I entered High School, one person decided to call me Kathy. It was not me! But I did not want to create a stir so I accepted it, even though all I could think of was that horrid doll named Chatty Cathy! After 40 years of being Kathy, I began telling everyone I was now to be called Kat. This seemingly simple change actually helped my toe pads grow!

That alone would not be enough; the balance pole continued to weigh on me but the prospect of releasing it was terrifying. Over the course of several years I allowed myself to release one extension at a time. It began in 2009, when I released the 37-year relationship with the love of my youth; doing so, represented the release of a significant part of my identity. Who was I if not a wife and partner? Releasing this primary extension of the balance pole happened quickly, but it was not painless or short lived; as with ending any long term relationship, the peripheral shadows stayed with me for some time.

Not long after, in the attempt to regain my balance, this significant shift inadvertently, perhaps not unexpectedly, precipitated a comparable release at the other end of the balance pole….my career. In 2010, after 26 years in leadership, policy and management roles in government, and after years of ignoring the signs of burnout, I walked away and the work of redefining how I spent my time earning a living began. I had loved my roles and had been quite successful. Who was I if not involved in a political discussion or managing a public project?

As I attempted to regain my equilibrium from the first two dropped extensions it became increasingly clear that the weight of owning and managing a large home on my own was more than I wanted to bear. So began the process of disconnecting THAT extension. Once again, I had put my heart and soul into my home – everything about it was an expression of who I thought I was but it too had to go! It took a few years but I sold my home on the eve of 2015. The process of selling my dream home took its toll. On the last days of ownership, I was looking for a land level that I had used in my landscape design business. I could not remember where I’d put it. In my searching frenzy, I slipped and fell, landing with the small of my back on the edge of a stair. Deeply bruised and in pain, I saw the irony of this occurrence. I was completely and totally ungrounded from the experience and in the search for my level, I was literally leveled!

Now I was holding only a very short piece of the balance pole; the weight was substantially relieved but it no longer functioned as it once had. I had loved being a mother. I’m sure I wasn’t as good at it as I’d wished but all in all, I think I did alright. Because mothering felt so good, I had difficulty letting go of this role. I knew that before letting this extension go, I needed to find a new way of relating to my son, who by now was an adult. I realized he needed an understanding adult female friend more than he did a mother….especially one whose identify was so vastly different now than the one who’d raised him.

All the while I was releasing my identity-extensions and re-calibrating my balance, the toe pads I had grown serendipitously began to multiply and deepen. In the process of rediscovering who I was as a single person without a career or a home of my own, the calling card I’d received in the dream about preparing myself to know God, manifested in ways I never expected. Each time I’d let go of a familiar self-defining role, the toe pads seemed to multiply or expand with a corresponding sense of self that had once been denied. By taking ownership in my name, by re-connecting with my creativity and by unfolding my natural ability to merge with nature, my shape shifting toe pads became a primary support.

Colorful frog on leaf.

As these toe pads grew, more mystery entered my world. You see, the part about being Catholic that I never released was its mysticism….its magic! In my youth, I read extensively about the saints and mystics and was captivated by the depth of their faith. Their stories gave my hope in times of deep despair. As my connection to nature deepened, I felt myself heal in ways I never expected.

I believe now that the preparation to know God I was urged to make was more about living than it was about dying. And so I share this writing about what it took for me to arrive at living my truth, and regaining my sovereignty, to suggest that in order to be free, we must be willing to let go. As I look back on the experiences of the past 9 years beginning in the fall of 2009, I’m realizing that it has taken me nearly a full decade to release the ways of being that no longer served me and to take control of my life. It is no surprise that 9 is the number of cycles ending.

Woman walking a tightrope over a mountain valley.

I’m now at the beginning of a new phase of life. I don’t have it all figured out, and likely never will. But I believe that with each piece of balance pole I released, for each of the identities I accumulated to hide from my own truth, I have been preparing to know God. I’m still crossing the chasm on the cable – but I’m now hands-free. The toe pads I’ve grown are strong! I also know that when, not if, I fall, these toe pads will hold me; and if for some reason they don’t, I trust without a doubt I will be caught.

Kat Beaudoin is a story teller, shamanic and reiki practitioner, and a sanctioned facilitator for Joanna Macy’s body of work known as The Work that Reconnects. She works primarily out of Zardus Art of Massage and Wellness Spa in Gardiner, Maine. Call her at 207-446-8099 for an individual appointment or view her current offerings.

1 http://sacredscribesangelnumbers.blogspot.com/2011/06/angel-number-24.html as one example.