About 11 years ago I decided to attend a soul quest retreat in upstate New York. I had been going through a very difficult time and needed to get away. I hoped that the retreat would help me put things in perspective and begin my healing journey.
One of the first things our retreat guides said we had to do was find our sacred space on the land for our inner soul work. The retreat center was located on over 100 acres of beautiful land that included forests, open fields, a river with a waterfall, and hills.
According to our guides, when we each found our place we would know it immediately. We would have some type of emotional reaction to it. Once found, we were to ask the Universe for a sign that we were in the right place.
I set out, determined to find a beautiful private location that made my heart sing. What I found, instead, was an old tree in the middle of a sparse forest. Part of the tree had broken off and was lying in front of the tree. The trunk of the tree had been subjected to repeated visits by woodpeckers. The result was a number of large, gaping gouges in the trunk that I could fit my hand into. When I saw the tree I began crying from the pain I imagined it had experienced. I also immediately began resisting that this hurt, damaged tree was my sacred spot for the retreat. I prayed that the Universe wouldn’t send me a sign and sat, angrily, on the broken off part of the tree.
Within seconds, my sign appeared. A young fawn, still with spots, walked over to me, made a complete circle around me, and then continued walking through the woods. I gave in and made the tree my sacred spot.
Every day for the five days of the retreat, I would go to my sacred spot for my inner work. And every day Fawn would come, make a circle around the tree and me, and then walk off. On the third day I decided to follow her. She walked through the forest and into a beautiful meadow filled with wildflowers. A large oak tree stood in the middle of the meadow. Fawn waited under the tree for me.
Then she continued walking to the other end of the meadow and entered another stretch of forest. I continued to follow her through the forest. This forest also ended at another meadow. And it was then that I realized the message that Fawn was giving me: I may feel as hurt and broken as the tree in my sacred spot, but I will heal and eventually find the peace and beauty that I found in the meadow with wildflowers. Life is cyclical, so there will come a time where I plunge back into the darkness of the forest…but beyond that forest is always another meadow.
I went back to my sacred spot and thought about Fawn’s message. I realized that the hurt and pain that I was going through would eventually subside and pass. These wounds, however, would shape my person and who I was for the rest of my life. It was up to me to decide whether or not they would make me a more beautiful human being.
Fawn continued to visit me for the rest of my retreat, circling and walking around me. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I now know that she was a power animal sent to me to help me at that time in my life. Her message and teachings had a profound impact on me. By the end of the retreat, I had filled each of the gaping holes of “my” tree with bunches of wildflowers, feathers that I had found, and beautiful stones. The tree shifted from being an ugly, hurt tree to a uniquely beautiful celebration of life…and I had shifted from hurt and pain to love and joy.
Thank you, Fawn, for the gift of your wisdom!