During the week, Jean Houston one of the presenters said to the group, "Tell your stories. Tell your stories over and over."
I don't recall the context of Jean's saying this but I felt as if her words were meant specifically for me. So here I sit reflecting on the events that led to this sudden trip, another round of my Hero's Journey and the unfolding story of my time on Earth.
In early February I came across an email sent to Jerry (who doesn't do much emailing) about a conference call with Andrew Harvey one of the speakers for a program in Chartres. I was already familiar with Andrew's work from prior workshops and books yet I was drawn to the February 12th call not to mention curious as to the emails coming to Jerry's seldom used address rather than mine.
So I listened and knew I was suppose to be doing so when one of the speakers was Jim Garrison, a man I interviewed in 2008 on a Nashville radio show I co-hosted for the newly formed WRFN-Radio Free Nashville.
Weeks passed after the February call. I missed the March and April calls yet in my journal I now find "Chartres" periodically noted in the margins as if I was contemplating something I wasn't consciously considering.
In April I had dinner with my friend Maryann. We've kept this ritual for years as she comes to Nashville to see clients. This particular dinner she asked if we had any trips planned. I said no. We travel fairly spontaneously (another reason I shouldn't have been surprised by France).
Maryann is an intuitive. Her forehead wrinkled a bit as she asked somewhat confused, "You're not going to Europe?"
With my own wrinkled forehead but no confusion I replied, "No" while placing her comment in the Maryann-really-got-that-one-wrong file. Although I've traveled and love travel, I had no desire to go to Europe and didn't give her question any more thought until I saw the billboard.
Three weeks later while hurrying down Nashville's busy West End, one of the rotating billboards read "Chartres" when I glanced at it. I did a double take only to find the advertisement had moved to another ad.
'Am I to go to Chartres?' zipped through my mind.
I knew in reality the ad was more than likely for Charter-something yet in that moment I knew I saw "Chartres." It was easy to discredit what I thought I saw. I was ambivalent about returning to France. I recalled the sadness from six years prior when I was there. I did not want to be surprised by sorrow like I was then while walking and weeping through French towns remembering what I felt there prior. (That trip convinced me of past lives.) I wept tears of profound sadness and joy as we traveled in the south of France for a week visiting sites of the Black Madonna, Mary Magdalene and Sarah, a saint to the Romani people. Upon arriving in Chartres during that visit, I longed for the greenery of the south of France. I didn't want to be surrounded by the concrete and asphalt around the cathedral. I wasn't even taken with the stained glass for which the cathedral is known.
Yet after the billboard I did wonder. I wondered yet reasons for not going stirred in my mind. Not only was I apprehensive about returning, I didn't have the money to go, and I didn't feel my best.
May arrived and I received an email about the upcoming call related to what would be occurring in the stars while the group was in Chartres. I could at least find out about the heavens without making the trip.
I listened to that call and sensed a inner hmmmm when I heard . 'Was I to go to France?'
I read my notes from the call to Jerry. He listened but asked no questions. I shelved the possibility.
In the meantime, I spent the rest of May recovering from a sudden bout of Epstein-Barr virus activated by a potent herb I took for something else.
The June 11th call came around a month later. This time Jim Garrison spoke of the Greek stories of which he would share daily during the conference. A deeper HMMMMM resounded in me. I read my notes from the call to Jerry and said, "I miss being a student."
A couple of days later he asked, "When is that conference in France?" (He thought it was in the Fall.)
The trip was now just under three weeks away and his passport as I feared had expired. We quietly wrote the trip off as renewing a passport required weeks.
The following day while outside working, I came upon a bug, a large black bug that appeared dead. Actually it was behind me and as I turned it got my attention. As I held it I knew I was being told to hold the things of the past, that are behind me, like my experience in France. I placed the bug under the azaleas nearby then turned around to again find behind me a large down feather.
I've many feathers yet had no idea what this one was other than down. I later wrote a friend who made suggestions then as I read her response I intuitively knew I had been given goose down. A quick on-line search confirmed what I thought. I looked up the symbolism of goose in "Animal Speaks" and read: "The call of the quest and travels to legendary places."
I excitedly, hesitantly told Jerry, "I think we're going to France."
He didn't jump for joy but he was open.
Later that day I read further in "Animal Speaks" and learned goose can also be related to having assistance in one's writings. Was that why the goose feather found me? Maybe I was being given help in my writing (which surely I need) and we weren't to travel.
Yet I kept thinking 'What if? What if the conference comes and goes and we've not even tried to get a passport?' We agreed that getting a timely passport appointment would be a sign.
I found a number on-line for getting an urgent appointment in Atlanta. One would think I would have called that number immediately. Did I? No. I waited until the next day, a Tuesday, and made the call. There was availability at 10:00 am the following Monday. Jerry and I never take Mondays off together unless we've a vacation. Yet that specific Monday we were taking off from work to hike. We were actually free the day of the available appointment.
Was this another sign?
I pressed the key pad to hear if an 11:00 or Noon time was available that Monday. The next available time was four days out and too close to the trip to accept. When I returned to the prior 10:00 time it had already been taken.
My heart sank. I had rejected our opportunity because I didn't want to get up early enough to be in Atlanta at 10:00am. I felt devastated. I put out feelers to everyone I could think of including a friend who suggested I call my congressman. I did and learned the staff member who might be able to help was away until Thursday.
I left a message and received a call from her Thursday morning. Within thirty minutes we had an appointment Monday at 8:30 in Atlanta.
All the reasons I shouldn't go suddenly to France circled my mind in bed that night: We don't have time to prepare. I wasn't fully recovered. I had forgotten my French. I hadn't read any of the books on the suggested reading list. I usually give the cat and house sitter sufficient notice. I would have to cash in retirement money. No wise investor would do that. And I reminded myself that just because we had an appointment didn't mean we would get the passport.
Yet to give in to these fear-based rationalizations meant ignoring Maryann, the billboard, the hmmm, having Monday off and Nature's messenger, the goose feather.
The passport appointment lasted all of 30 minutes and we were home by the afternoon.
The wait began and I began to reread my journal from 2009. In it I saw notations where Chartres, this city of concrete and asphalt where I did not want to initially be, was one I did not want to leave two days later when my group left. As I read notes from my prior trip, I knew we were going to France.
Four days later Jerry's passport arrived. Seven days later we boarded a plane.
We crossed the threshold from our Ordinary World as Joseph Campbell calls it in the Hero's Journey and embarked on the Road of Trials and Adventures. This trip our trials were few and our adventures many. (Actually my trials are usually more of my own making due to mistrust aka fear.)
Synchronocities, always a sign I'm on my soul's path, continued during our trip.
And I walked around Chartres thinking and saying aloud to Jerry, "We're suddenly in France, aren't we?" It all unfolded so quickly I didn't fully believe at times we were there.
Now we're home and I reread my notes and look at photos to get a felt sense of my having suddenly returned to this land that broke me open in a beautifully, unexpected way.
I reflect on my experience to return to that felt sense of following the "bread crumbs" placed before me, to ponder why I resisted and feared? I retell this story to you and to me because Jean's words resonated with me.
In today's busy world it is far too easy to forget the signs and synchronicities weaving themselves through my life and possibly through your own. It is easy to get caught up in the news of the day, what's next to be done or loose time reading the passing comments on social media that I don't listen to the stuff of my life...the many layers and planes, the planes of Then woven through the Now.
Through reflecting and remembering my trip, I see the patterns within me and in the bigger picture of my life.
As I continue to listen I am reminded the Hero's Journey begins with what Joseph Campbell refers to as The Call which the hero usually resists. I smile since my "call" was literally "three calls - three conference calls."
Reflecting on the past, I'm reminded of Nature's engagement as the goose offered its feather and animals arrived with messages throughout my trip.
How do you receive messages? What is your relationship with the world of Nature?
As I wrote this I searched the meaning of goose on other sites and read: When goose totem appears you may be embarking soon on a journey (physical or symbolic) with others for a collective purpose.
This was another reason goose appeared for 100 of the most amazing people from around the world convened at Chartres that week, creative, innovative, inspiring people open to listening and being more alive in the world.
I've not known how or where to conclude this story or at least this part of it. I realize it has no end yet I've knowings that I experience as Truths thanks to the goose feather and France.
One of those Truths is the Universe is always speaking to me through the nature made and manmade and through unexpected interactions and encounters. My challenge, opportunity, and fortune is to stay wake, open and be willing to follow.
To what are you called? What do you feel tugged to do? How do you feel tugged to be?
Do you jump in, vacillate or at times resist? How do you receive messages?
What is your relationship with the world of Nature?
How does the Universe/God/Spirit/Higher Power try to engage with and speak to you?
-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 25 August 2015