Story posted on behalf of Melody Johnson

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Story posted on behalf of Melody Johnson

Post by melissajmueller on Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:01 pm


For many people there are animals that they feel a special connection with, a deep link that transcends the everyday. For me it is snakes. Since childhood, I have always had an affinity for reptiles: catching garter snakes, turtles, and lizards, fascinated by their movements and primitive beauty. When I taught kindergarten we would visit Cayuga Nature Center and I was the only person not on their staff allowed to handle the reptiles. It started one day when they were short-handed. For sixteen years, on our yearly visits, I would take the various reptiles out of their cages, teach about them and encourage the children to pet them. The children were very willing to make friends with the snakes. They commented on how smooth they were and how their tongues flickered in and out. We talked about how snakes tasted the air with their tongues and shed their skins. Most adults would sidle out of the room when the snakes appeared.

I especially enjoyed handling Sammy, a five foot rat snake. I found myself slowing down and entering reptilian consciousness. Sammy and I would move in a stately dance, full of twisting and gliding. I would provide support and allow him to move as freely as possible, anticipating where he would go next. Once, when Sammy tried to stuff himself into my pocket, the kids and I all started to laugh. Holding him, I felt as if time went from 78 rpm to 15 rpm, and for a few days afterwards, felt connected to primeval consciousness.

Last spring I was walking alone in Gov. Dick's wood above Mt Gretna, PA. It contains several thousand acres of mature hardwood forest with old logging roads for foot trails. I hadn't met anyone for a couple of hours and ahead, in a patch of sunlight, saw what looked like a large branch that completely spanned the trail. The trails were well kept, I hadn't seen any other obstacles, so I thought it must have fallen very recently. But as I drew nearer, it started to move, slithering sinuously up the incline, into the bushes on the right. I realized it was a black snake at least 12 feet long. I continued at the same pace, elated by this very special encounter. As I walked past where the snake had been, the tip of its tail was just disappearing. I felt it was no coincidence that this happened at the beginning of a weekend retreat, focused on exploring our connection to the wild, developing our eco-consciousness. I learned there that in mythology snakes symbolize renewal, because they shed their skin and are transformed, as we were seeking to transform humanity's and our own conception of nature.

On this retreat, and throughout my life, nature has been a source of vision, of wisdom and truth. I think we all have such encounters and when we do, we need to pay attention, because they are ways for us to access a deeper knowing, they can be guides for our own development as more fully aware beings.

Our grandson Tucker has a special affinity for ermine, the smallest species of North American weasels. In winter they are white with black eyes, noses and tail tips. In summer, their coat takes on a brownish hue. Most of us will never see an ermine in the wild, but Tucker has had two close encounters with them. The first was a couple of summers ago, when he, his sister and his mom were between houses, spending the summer in a cabin. The children slept in the loft and their mom downstairs. On this particular night their mom had a girlfriend sleep over. Tucker, in the wee hours, climbed down the ladder to go to the outhouse. In the light of a full moon, he saw an ermine sniffing around their guest. He watched for a while and went out. When he came back, it was gone, so he climbed the ladder and went back to sleep. He is used to animals, has handled ferrets and didn't realize, until he told his mom and their friend, how special this visitation was.

Since then they've bought a house in the country. Just a few weeks ago, Tucker woke up in the early morning light and an ermine was running around his room, standing on it hind legs, sniffing, jumping over and around his things. Tucker watched from his bed, fascinated, but then he shifted his weight. The bed creaked, the ermine ran into his closet and disappeared.

Tucker said he'd heard scratching in his closet before, but thought it was mice. We said we doubted that there were mice anymore if an ermine lived there. After doing some research, we decided that if it stayed, the ermine would keep the rodent population under control and would in general be a good neighbor. Tucker has been on the lookout for it since. We've also been talking about what this animal connection means, on a deeper level, why he's been singled out, paying attention, being open....

Over the years, each of us has close encounters with animals, nature's way of calling us to deeper truth. Like most peak experiences, they usually only happen once or twice, but they offer us the opportunity to transcend our boundaries, to widen our circle of compassion and understanding.

Melody Johnson, Jan 2008


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Age : 49
Registration date : 2007-09-28

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