(Angel-Girl at 5 Years Old)
On a stormy Saturday afternoon, Angel-Girl appears at my study door and announces with the anticipated joy only a five year old can have, "Daddy, I'm ready to go visiting!"
I look over and see she is dressed head-to-foot in bright yellow rain gear. Her rain hat, coat, and galoshes are all yellow, and she looks like a character in a Norman Rockwell painting! Three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, we go on a hike and talk to the Plant, Rock, and Tree-People and the Old Ones. She calls it "visiting," a word I like very much and one she picked up from her warrior mother, Shyheart, who was from the Midwest. I've always thought this kind of "visiting" represents the community-feeling you still find in the more rural parts of the country.
When my daughter was three years old and we began these "visits," I made a deep vow that no matter what was going on I would keep to our schedule of hikes together. My favorite author, Andrew Vachss says, "A father is not a father by blood or what he says, only by what he does" - and nothing will make me break this vow - nothing. This is the Warrior Code.
I peer out the window to check the weather and see it's literally coming down in a curtain of rain! I say to her, "It's still raining pretty hard, baby, maybe we should hold off until it clears a little."
"I know, Daddy, but the Raindrop-People yelled in through my window at me. They want to know when we are coming out to play with them. They're waiting! They like it when we play with them." My daughter is very serious; she feels the heart of everything, even the rain. I can hear the real concern in her voice.
"They're waiting?" I chuckle.
"Yup, that's what they said," she confirms with conviction.
I think a moment. "So if they are waiting that means it will keep raining until we play with them?"
"That's pretty much the deal," she quips.
"What!" I exclaim in shock. "What's our rule about using my parent-ickiness against me?" This line, "That's pretty much the deal," is one I use on her when I have to be firm about something. She refers to it as the "parent-ickiness." She's so smart, she remembers everything I say.
"Oh, sorry, I forgot," she says, trying to suppress a giggle.
"Uh huh," I try not to smile but I just can't help myself.
"What they want is important too, Daddy."
"Yes, it is my Angel - yes it is," I say reassuring her.
"You taught me to listen to everybody," she reminds me graciously, no hint of attitude.
I nod, smiling, so grateful that somehow, someway, I was lucky enough to feel the importance of really listening to the world and everything in it, even the Raindrop-People. The Holy Men, my teachers and brothers, awakened this in me.
She reaches down behind the door and suddenly holds my blue raincoat in her arms, "I brought your special Blue-Marmot-Bear coat, Daddy." This is a secret code of ours: blue is my soul color, Marmot is my favorite outerwear, and bear equals "cozy," as in teddy bear. She knows that since it doesn't rain a great deal here in our Magic Kingdom of Sedona, I jump at any chance to wear this coat. I am great believer in colors being able to heal people or simply make you feel good.
I was lucky enough to spend some time with Dr. Hazel Parcells, considered one of the grandmothers of naturopathic medicine. She lived to be 106, so I figured she knew some stuff! Periodically, she would be raided by the FDA, and she always used to say to me, "Greg, they can take everything away from me, but I can still heal people with colors." There is an old joke in the alternative medicine community, "If your doctor has been paid a visit by the FDA, you are probably in the right place!"
Looking at my special rain coat, I say, "I don't get to wear that enough, do I?"
"No, Daddy, I know how important blue is to you. Like yellow with me!" She spreads her arms out to show me her yellowness. "The Yellow-Flower-People like it when I'm the same color as them! It makes them feel happy."
She just naturally understands how to honor the Mother Earth. In my shamanic teaching, a core principle is non-verbal communication as she has embodied. It can be as simple as breathing in sync with a tree or using hand gestures to convey your feelings. This silent language can be very powerful and has a way of bypassing our thinking. Sometimes words can't hold all we want to say.
"Excellent idea, Angel-Girl! Okay! Let's go visit with the Raindrop-People!"
By the time I get my rain boots on, she is already out the back door, running between the yellow flowers, jumping in the puddles, and laughing. I step outside and hear her shout to the sky with the raindrops splashing gently over her little face, "I greet you Raindrop-People, I am my Daddy's daughter, Angel-Girl! I am Angel-Girl, your friend."
She is the vision of her mother Shyheart in this moment. I can remember her mother running out in the rain many times to do exactly the same thing. I would laugh and run out with her and we would dance under the raindrops, knowing all was well in the world. As I watch Angel-Girl, I feel my heart start to break again for the thousandth time since my wife's death. I quickly get it under control, so my daughter doesn't see.
I miss my Shyheart so much in instances like this, I feel like I can't get a breath. But at the same time I feel deeply blessed to have a daughter that feels nature so deeply. So grateful be able to witness these special times. I sometimes feel caught between these two worlds. One of gratitude, one of sadness. Both pulling at me. The sadness bringing me closer to my late wife in some strange way.
Shyheart was the truest and bravest warrior I have known. She survived a severely abusive childhood that might have caused many to travel a road of self-destruction. When she was killed in the car accident, we had been together nine years. A true soulmate. She knew my heart like no other woman I had ever been with. I had been lucky to be in relationships with strong, centered women but Shyheart gave me something I had never felt: a deep acknowledgment of who I am and especially what I do for a living. She just got me. I didn't know this was missing in those previous relationships. And I have brought this encouragement into my practice with clients; to become a master at acknowledging your partner and your loved ones.
In the first two years after her death, a day would not go by that I didn't say to myself, All I care about is taking care of my daughter and helping as many people as I can until I meet my Shyheart in the afterlife. I was done with everything else. That thought is fading now. I hope.
My daughter's sweet voice brings me out of my thoughts. "Daddy, the Raindrop-People are kissing my face!"
My heart smiles. "That's a beautiful way of looking at it, baby!"
A world of gratitude keeps rising up and I must let myself be willing to be pulled into it. Warriors allow their God-given willingness to translate into behavior, into action.
I say formally to Shyheart's daughter, "You have honored them on this day by listening to them, my little warrior."
"Thank you, Daddy."
I am so proud of her. I can feel myself moving into joy.
I think to myself, Willingness, brother, willingness.