by JoAnne Dodgson, Ed.D.
mentor at the Wise Woman University
author of Walking the Spiral Path: Awakening Power and Passion
Maia woke up with a start, her heart racing. She got out of bed and fumbled through the darkness, trailing her hand along the wall searching for the light. Blinking against the brightness that suddenly filled the room, she brewed herself a cup of chamomile tea, hoping to soothe herself back to sleep and leave behind the troubling dream that kept waking her up in the middle of the night.
The dream was always the same. There she was, standing on a moss-covered cliff watching the ocean waves crash against the rocks far below. A golden dragonfly with glistening wings suddenly appeared. The dragonfly hovered high above the ocean, just beyond her reach, mysteriously calling to her. She felt an irresistible urgency to catch it, to claim it, to keep it for her very own. Staring intently at the dragonfly, Maia took several steps back and then ran forward as fast as she could. She leapt off the cliff, desperately reaching out for the dragonfly. She caught it, cupping it between both of her hands, feeling delicate dragonfly wings fluttering against her palms. Her delight turned to terror when she suddenly realized there was no longer any ground beneath her feet. Flailing her arms in distress, forgetting all about the dragonfly, Maia plummeted toward the ocean. And that's when she woke up, night after night, in the midst of a free-fall toward the rocky shore far below.
Maia finished sipping her tea and went back to bed, tossing and turning for a few more restless hours. She was relieved when morning finally arrived. In the soft glow of sunrise, she eagerly got dressed and went to the beach, hoping this daily ritual would bring her some relief. Hurrying along the sandy shore, she rushed by the tide pools filled with starfish and seashells which she usually enjoyed taking time to explore. But she was too preoccupied with the dragonfly dream which kept lingering in her mind, even in the daylight hours. Maia couldn't shake the feeling that had been haunting her for quite some time - her deep yearning to catch and hold onto something beautiful, something enchanting, something to fill up the empty places in her life.
Maia waded into the ocean and jumped over the frothy waves, finally diving in for a swim. Exhilarated by her immersion in the vibrant salty waters, Maia faced the distant horizon and swam as far and as fast as she could. The simple act of taking action, of moving under her own power and holding her own against the ocean tides, filled Maia with a great sense of accomplishment. Her mind raced with seductive imaginings of what it'd be like to just keep on swimming, to never turn back and leave everything behind.
When her arms and legs began to ache, Maia stopped to catch her breath, floating on her back in the rolling waves. She glanced toward the shore, seeking reassurance that she really hadn't gone too far. From the corner of her eye, she saw something glowing in the water. She swam quickly to catch up with the trail of shimmery lights. Suddenly a searing pain erased Maia's awareness of anything else. She hadn't noticed the stinging tentacles dangling below the surface near the jellyfish's alluring glow. Numbed and disoriented, Maia lay back and floated further out to sea.
Like a leaf on the water, she floated between worlds, in a time beyond time, in a space where the ways of the world, as she knew it, washed away. Embraced in the warm salty waters, Maia sensed shifting shadows of darkness and light beyond her closed eyelids. She felt ocean tides echoing inside the rhythms of her breath. Flocks of pelicans and seagulls guided her safe passage from above. Sea turtles watched over from below as Maia floated out beyond the coral reef, leaving sight of land.
It was boisterous laughter that finally woke Maia up. Disoriented, she tread water and quickly spun around, trying to figure out where she was and who it was she heard laugh. Fear gripped her belly when she discovered there was nobody, nothing, around her except the endless expanse of water which stretched from horizon to horizon in all directions. Panic surged through her veins when she felt something move underwater and brush against her legs.
The rippling surface of the sea suddenly burst open with wild commotion. Countless dolphins leapt toward the sky, spinning, flipping and splashing back to sea. They called out to one another with staccato clicks and melodic whistles, creating a harmony of sound and meaning and movement, filling the air with magic, music and laughter. Maia couldn't help but smile watching the dolphins. They exuded boundless freedom, thriving in their exuberant play.
Maia soon became aware of an invitation coming her way. She understood without question the dolphins' messages to her, though no words were spoken aloud. The dolphins had something to say about coming out of hiding, about the ways she kept holding herself back. So with playful abandon, she jumped into the soaring waves of dolphins, naturally synchronizing her movements with theirs. She dove to the depths of the sea, gliding gracefully, reaching out to connect with the diverse flow of life all around. With focused intent, she swam back up toward the surface. Bursting out from the water, she sailed into the sky, spinning, flipping and splashing back into the ocean waves. And on she danced between worlds of water and air, of spirit and physical form.
As the rhythms of the dance slowed, Maia rested contentedly inside a circle of dolphins, floating in the vastness of her joy. One of the dolphins suddenly disappeared beneath the waves, diving toward the ocean floor. A few moments later the great dolphin leapt from the water, clasping a red starfish wrapped in flowing strings of seaweed. The dolphin sailed through the air before diving into the waters beside Maia, hardly making a splash. Maia reached out to touch the elder dolphin's silvery body, enthralled with her power and grace. Speaking in lyrical clicks and harmonic whistles, the dolphin looped the ribbon of luminaria and kelp around Maia's neck and placed the starfish on her heart.
Maia immediately sensed the starfish had something she wanted, something precious she thought she'd lost and would never find again. The starfish reminded Maia of the agreement they'd once made, heart to heart, in a time beyond time. The starfish was to be a guardian of her spirit, particularly of those pieces that Maia left behind while navigating the turbulences of human life. Pieces of her joy. Elements of her power. Pictures of her purpose. Rhythms of her creativity and voice. The starfish agreed to tend to those lost soul pieces, to lovingly hold them in safekeeping until Maia was ready to call them back and reclaim them as her very own.
Maia's tears flowed into the salty sea, releasing the bindings of long-ago losses, opening space to welcome in all that was naturally her. Placing both hands on her heart, she touched the starfish tenderly and breathed deeply, calling herself back home. Subtly at first, she felt a sweet vibration came alive inside her. The sensation expanded, filling her up, like thousands of dragonflies fluttering their wings, drumming the rhythms of her spirit, fanning the song of her soul, inside each and every cell. Maia floated in the spaciousness of her being, holding onto her cherished rememberings - of her beauty, of her passionate enchantment with life, of her own undeniable power and grace.
Flowing with the tides of the great waters, Maia continued her journey home. Pelicans and seagulls guided her safe passage from above. Sea turtles watched over from below. Maia crossed over the coral reef, coming closer to the land. When she opened her eyes, she discovered she'd washed ashore, nestled in the sand among a gathering of shells.
She untied the ribbon of seaweed from around her neck and set the luminaria and kelp free in the ebbing tides. Placing the starfish in a tide pool, Maia shared her gratitude for the sacred safekeeping. She immersed her hands in the ocean waters, wiggling her fingers and splashing around, sending rippling waves of playful greetings to the dolphins out at sea. She walked along the shore, moving in rhythm with her spirit, leaving a trail of her footsteps gently imprinted in the sundrenched sand.
Copyright © 2006 by JoAnne Dodgson