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The darkness settles all around me as the moon begins to rise higher into the sky. I am not frightened of the dark or even the shadows that seem to shift around me. All I can hear is the soft echoes of each breath I take slowly in and out.
No birds are calling in the distance, no crickets are singing and the wind is at rest. The leaves on the trees lie silent in wait of the breeze without even the slightest tremble.
Though it is dark, the light of the moon dances off the pebbles that form the narrow path beneath my feet. I cannot see where this path is leading me as it curves slightly to the north around a line of trees that block my view. I feel no fear as I step forward one foot in front of the other.
Somewhere deep within me is the feeling that I have taken this path before. I pause for a moment in wonder to examine my surroundings further. It is so dark that I cannot be sure so I continue onward in the hope that something will tell me I am on the right path that I am not going in circles.
Gradually I feel as though the path is becoming narrower but I must continue. I know that until I can find an opening in which the light of the moon is bright enough to see clearly, what surrounds me I cannot turn back.
Somewhere in the night, I hear the sound of a cricket sing, then the sound of an owl screeching from a distance. I know that there is life out there and that I am not alone. I walk onward listening to the sound of the pebbles grinding into the dirt that lay below and I know that somewhere someone is doing exactly what I am doing at this very moment.
Something inside of them is driving them onward though they may have no idea what it is. A calling from somewhere in their soul makes them long to search though they may not know what they are looking for or how they will recognize it if they see it. They just keep walking knowing that if they are meant to find it, they will.
Clearing my mind of distracting thoughts and the numerous steps I have taken I realize that I have come to a clearing. It is unfamiliar to me, yet, somehow it feels so safe and peaceful. The smell of meadow grasses lingers in the damp night air along with the smell of fresh cedar. I can smell the cedar but I cannot see the cedar trees. I can barely make out the scent of patchouli and honeysuckle as a soft breeze brushes gently over me.
The sky is clear above me and the moon is now brighter than it was when I started out. The black of the night sky is painted with sparkling light and soft smudges so far out in the universe that I can barely see them. Though the moon is only a crescent I can make out the entire circle of the moon because it is so bright.
I pause to rest for a moment in the clearing and enjoy the view. I can see the plants glowing with life and brilliant color even in the darkness. If only I could paint it, the way I see it. If only I could describe in detail the tiny leaves that line each plant or the softness of the petals on the wildflowers as I brush my hand across them. If others could only taste the sweetness that lingers in the air or smell the grass through the words that I write then maybe they could truly experience the beauty of nature the way that I see it and feel it.
A rustling in the tall grasses catches my attention and startles me for a moment as I am unsure whether what lurks within is dangerous or not. I do not move for fear of startling it or bringing unwanted attention to myself. Then a small fawn steps out and I know that nearby must be its mother though her steps are so peaceful I have not heard her.
The fawn shows no fear as it comes to get a closer look at me. I sit quietly observing the way the small fawn lifts each leg so gracefully and ever so gently, as it steps even closer to me. Tiny spots remain on its side and hindquarter and in the moonlight; the spots seem to glow like small reflectors. He is close enough that I can hear him breathe but I do not move. I simply stay still waiting and wondering what he will do next.
As the small fawn tilts its head to a clover patch near my left hand, I remain watching it slowly take a bite of its sweet treat and wondering if it realizes that I am there. Then it turns to me as it chews and looks at me as if it is waiting for me to take a bite. Slowly I lift my hand from the grass and pick a small bunch of clover to offer him. He does not run but he does not take it right away. He moves in a little closer and looks as though he is unsure of me, then slowly he lowers his mouth to my hand, never taking his eye off me, and gently he eats a small portion out of my hand.
He stops chewing at the sound of the grass rustling then he quickly darts off to meet up with his mother as she steps out into the clearing. She pauses only for a moment to look at me, then turns with her child, and disappears again into the darkness.
I feel so peaceful here but I know that I must continue onward as my heart tells me that this is not where I am to stay. I inhale one last time the scent of the meadow grass and honeysuckle before leaving the beauty and light of the clearing then step softly back onto the tiny path.
The crickets are singing loudly now and in the distance, I can hear the sound of a family of frogs singing. Every now and then as a soft breeze waves through the trees I can hear the sound of water trickling and I know without seeing it that there must be a small creek nearby.
For a moment, I notice what appears to be a person ahead of me on the path, not to far in front of me but there. As I get closer, I think to myself it must have been a shadow cast from a tree but somehow I do not feel alone. I feel as though someone is there with me. I decided to call out softly to see if anyone would answer, “Hello is anyone there?” There was no answer but again I saw the shadow figure and this time it was closer and standing very still. I could see now that this was not the shadow of a tree, there was someone there with me, but I could not see who it was.
I tried to get a closer look but it seemed as though the closer I got the more translucent the figure became. I tried to call out, to see if they were okay, if they were lost or needed help and still they did not respond. Then in a moment, the figure was gone, as quickly as it appeared, it vanished into the night.
I thought maybe it was just shadows and my eyes playing tricks on my because of the darkness so I continued onward alone. After a few steps, I realized that again the night had fallen silent. It was so quiet that when I stopped walking I could almost hear the sound of my own heart beating.
It seemed strange to me that all of the sounds I was hearing were now completely silent. Then I felt the touch of a hand upon my shoulder. I turned and no one was there. I thought for a moment that maybe I had spooked myself, as I felt startled by the touch, but then I felt it on my hand. I saw nothing but suddenly I felt so safe. I felt as though someone was there all along, guiding me.
The touch was soft and warm, not cold or disturbing and the light from the moon seemed brighter again on the path. Then I heard the soft sound of a familiar voice saying, “Do you remember when we used to walk together late in the night?” My heart filled with overwhelming emotion at the sound of this voice. I knew him and I asked, “Is it really you? How are you here with me? Am I dead?”
The voice responded peacefully, “I have always been with you but you were too distracted to see me or hear me. You allowed the light to shine in your life but you did not see it? All of the distractions around you clouded your faith. It is not enough to believe in the afterlife or even to talk about it but you must be clear in order to channel its energy and willing to allow the energy to flow through you. It is a gift from God, just as each of us is a gift from God. We must all see it within before we can see it without.”
Tears flooded my eyes and for a moment, I could see him, physically, just as I had always known him. He really was there with me. I knew the words he spoke to me were true, not only because of the miracle I was experiencing but because I had known it all along. I just wanted so much to be able to have him with me again that I felt he would never be there.
He told me, “You have talked to me, you have felt my presence, and you have seen me in your dreams. Why did you doubt that it was real? Why did you think to yourself that maybe it was just you wishing for me? Do you doubt God’s power? You say that you do not, yet you do not believe that he could allow us to be close to those that we loved in life in the afterlife. Too many people lack the faith that it is possible, so they cannot see or hear what is going on around them all the time. There will come a time when they too will see what I am showing you.”
I wanted so much to remain in that one spot and talk with him forever. I wanted to listen to the sound of his voice, to see him in the light of the moon with the smile on his face but he urged me to continue onward and reminded me that he is with me. He said, “You know that I would not leave completely. You felt me before when I wasn’t physically there, why would now be any different?”
As I thought about the words he said to me, all I could say in response was, “I love you, I have always loved you and that will never change.” No other words or questions formed within me. I could not think of anything that I wanted to know or that he had not covered. I wanted to stay but I knew that I needed to move forward so I asked only one thing, “Will you be back often?”
He responded, “I am always looking in on you and yes, I will be back often. You will see me, now that you are not looking with your eyes, and you will hear me, now that you are not listening with your ears. Remember, love is love, and a spiritual connection lasts for all eternity. Listen with your spirit, see with your spirit, feel with your spirit, and those that are connected to you in spirit will always remain with you. You can call on us when you need us and just as you feel us or hear us, we hear and feel you.”
With the blink of an eye, I could no longer see him and as the tears flowed like a river from my eyes I realized that what he said to me, I had always known, but somehow I had not believed it for myself. Then I heard him say, “Yes, now you truly see!”
Suddenly the darkness faded and the moon was dipping lower into the horizon. Surrounding the tiny path on both sides was magenta and turquoise colored flowers dancing in and out of white, lavender, blue, orange, red, and yellow flowers. The colors were brighter than I had ever seen them before. Small dewdrops graced the petals and leaves of the flowers. The trees were the deepest shades of green mixed with the pretty pink or white blossoms that graced their branches.
The sky was ablaze with shades of orange and crimson as the sun quickly grew larger and brought more and more light to my path. The pebbles beneath my feet were various sizes, shapes, and colors and they sparkled in the sunlight like diamonds on plush green carpet. For the first time in my life, I am seeing everything from within and it is more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.