I walked through a garden, traumatized by a recent break-up. College was lonely on the weekends since I lacked a car and the funds to go anywhere. I tended to stay at the dorm and pull every possible piece of junk food out of the vending machines. One weekend I ate seven cream filled pastries and drank at least that many Cokes. My sugar high made me shaky and a little paranoid. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to being high on cocaine.
I felt like a failure. I had transferred to Wake Forest University, and was met with students who had private educations and knowledge that far exceeded my own. My recent presentation at a senior forum had bombed, and I was completely blasted by others in the seminar who found my paper a disaster. And every single criticism was right on target, which made it worse.
Proving I could fit into this school was important to me, even while I had a boyfriend at home who had just ended our relationship because he wanted me there. Social possibilities were nil since I couldn’t afford to go get my hair cut or drive to a fun hiking path. I was grounded and stuck in a basement room filled with camel back crickets and feeling really, really sorry for myself. So, I went for a walk through then Reynolda Gardens, a beautiful path that led to a wide-open meadow where I would study while smacking gnats and bees.
As I walked through the paved path that meandered through the trees, I kept my head down, missing all of the beauty around me. But I didn’t want to make eye-contact with any of the disciplined joggers who ran by with their perfect hair and expensive shoes. Focused on the pavement, I suddenly saw a huge white wing cross my path. I looked up and perched on a branch not far from me was a huge owl. Our eyes connected, and suddenly it didn’t matter that my paper wasn’t great, or that my boyfriend lived at home, or that I cut my own hair. All that mattered was that moment. I couldn’t look away, and what my soul heard was, “You’re going to be okay. You are not alone.”
Completely touched by the moment, my spirit lifted along with my feet. I turned and ran all the way back to the dorm.
Many of you know this story from some of my other writings, and I keep trying to adequately express how it impacted my life. The joy that I felt could not be contained in my soul. I was sure that if anybody was watching me there would have been light coming from my pores. I felt so completely loved, and had that owl said “come with me,” I would have left in a minute.
I believe everyone deserves a moment like this, one where we remember that magical place from whence we came, the one where a single glance makes time stand still, the one that hushes the ego and fills our soul, the one that makes us want to dance. Without a word shared, it tell us that there is a flame from which we emanated, and as a spark we have access to that light whenever we will get quiet enough to take it in.
That is the only light that can burn away the pressure of comparison, lack, and fear, all caused by ego.
If it hasn’t happened already, I hope that, someday, your owl will come. It could be dressed in any form, but it will envelope you and be there as a reminder that you are always, no matter your situation, one quiet moment away from home.