She walks in beauty

Posted by on 07.28.07 | 1 Comment
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The following story, passed on to me by a dear friend, Curielle, who lives in western Colorado, where the mountains meet the canyons and buttes, reminded me of this poem by Sophia de mello Breyner, a well-loved Portuguese poet.

I’m Listening

I’m listening yet I don’t know

if what I hear is silence

or God

I’m listening but I can’t tell

if I hear the plain of emptiness echoing

or a keen consciousness that

At the bounds of the universe

deciphers and watches me

I only know I walk like someone

beheld beloved and known

and because of this

I put into my every movement

solemnity and risk.

Here’s the story Curielle wrote:

While finishing up a graduate program with the University of Denver, I’ve been privileged to be part of many profound connections. This story is about two classmates Carolyn and Amy and their connection. Our classmates include people from all over the four corners region (Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah).

As Carolyn recently began to think about graduation, and what it would ultimately mean to share the two years of learning with this small group of people, it became her goal to find a special and meaningful gift for each member of her cohort of classmates.

Amy, a young Navajo woman, had become a special friend during their time in school, and Carolyn hoped that she might be able to give her something symbolic and enduring for all they learned and shared together. Carolyn spoke to her husband about her search for small, yet meaningful gifts for each of her classmates. Eagle feathers are very important to the Navajo people, and because her husband is a falconer, she also shared how special it would be if they could somehow get an eagle’s feather for Amy.

One week during the Spring of 2007, Amy was having a particularly difficult time with life and school and family. She was discouraged and overwhelmed and struggling under the weight of the challenges of grad school and providing for her immediate and extended family. Her inner resources were at the breaking point and she was losing her vision and hope for what she believed was her way and path. Shame kept Amy from sharing her challenges with her friends, including Carolyn.

At the same time that Amy was struggling to manage gracefully in the midst of the hurdles, Carolyn’s husband went fishing along the Roaring Fork River. As a falconer, Tom has an eye for what is happening in the sky…always looking for a bird of prey in a stoop for game, or enjoying the thermals. He had put away his gear and was getting ready to head out when he looked up and saw a Golden Eagle just near him, flying along the river’s edge. And then he noticed…she had just dropped a feather…and it was floating down towards the river’s edge. The feather landed on some nearby Rabbit’s Brush and he promptly gathered it, having no doubt that it was a gift supplied for Amy.

Upon returning home, Tom delivered the feather to Carolyn, telling her the story. She knew that this was not to wait for graduation, and prayed for guidance on how to present this special gift to Amy. Without knowledge of Navajo tradition, she wanted to be sure to honor the gift and meaning with appropriate ceremony. So with prayer and guidance from above, she carefully packaged the feather and prepared for the ceremony that coming Friday.

Amy was unaware of the coming ceremony until the Friday night of classes, and was a bundle of nerves when she realized that it was just for her. So with all classmates in attendance, outside their classroom near the edge of the Animas River, Carolyn invited the anxious Amy to join in the presentation they had for her. Carolyn asked Amy to start the ceremony with a Navajo prayer. Carolyn told the story of Amy’s feather, and how Spirit had told her that this was a gift to remind Any of her way, her path…the one that was for her alone created by Spirit beyond where the eyes can see, and then presented it to her wrapped in crimson velvet. Amy wept and wept, and shared that there were no words. She stated that she now knew why her grandfather always brought his one special, ratty old feather to ceremony when he had so many beautiful ones to choose from…because she now had a special one of her own. And so, with the gift of the eagle, Amy once again found her way. She walks in it today.

If this story has moved you, and you are a member of the Virtual Tea House community and already signed in, you can send Curielle a private email through the site email system by clicking on her name above. If you’re not already a member, please consider becoming one!



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