This past Thursday, on my way home from working in LA, coming up the hill from Santa Paula to Ojai I had an intense sudden longing and draw to visit a ranch I used to care-take. This has never happened before. The driveway of the walnut ranch is long and leads to two parcels. I had heard that the cottage I lived in had been torn down and perhaps the parcels had two different owners. There were rumors about who the new owners were, but I did not know for sure. As I got closer my desire only increased. It was dark and my plan was to drive just far enough into the driveway that I could get out, smell the ranch and perhaps understand what was luring me. But as I drove in the driveway, I wanted to drive farther.
When I came to the fork in the road that separated the parcels, I decided not to be too intrusive and to stop there for a moment, to breathe and to meditate. I turned off the car, stepped out, and a surge of emotions instantly took me over. My eyes welled and before the tears could fall a car pulled up the driveway. The car stopped. “I am sorry.” I started to explain, “I used to live here and I got home sick”
“Home sick” I thought. “Where did that come from?”
The man introduced himself and instantly I felt another surge of energy. “Do you want come and see it?” He asked kindly.
“Really, I’d love to.” I followed his car. Knowing the property well and the distance from neighbors I searched for my phone. As a single woman every now and then I wonder, “If I went missing, how long would it take people to notice?”
I was pleasantly surprised that the cottage was still standing. I parked my car where I used to. As I got out of the car, I felt extremely joyful and safe. Oddly, I felt a stronger sense of home then I do at the property I actually own. The man showed me through the remodeled cottage. It was remodeled exactly the way it should have been. Except the added roof of the front porch hides the topo topos from the bedroom. I felt an instant kinship to the man. As if I had known him lifetimes ago and was meeting him for the first time in this life. Not in a lover’s sense, but in a true friend sense. I sat with him in the cottage for a short period and told him a few stories of my life there. I felt like it was still my cottage and I was back in time, seven years earlier.
When I left the cottage, I did something I do not normally do. I hugged the man and when I hugged him another intense surge of emotion electrified me. This time, I felt comforted, safe, and loved.
It took me several days to figure it out. Why those feelings in the arms of a stranger? Why was I drawn to the cottage that night? What made him and I go there at the same time? It was not his main address.
When I lived at the cottage I had a strong faith that the universe would always provide for me. I believed with all my heart that all things were good in the world. There was abundance all around me. I didn’t worry about money, work coming in, or the health of my animals (of which I had many: 2 dogs, 2 cats, a bunny, a macaw and 2 pigs). I wasn’t looking for a relationship or trying to get a head in my career. I lived each day as if it were pure and perfect. I wrote everyday, I walked the dogs, talked to my own animals, did yoga, fell asleep drinking wine by the fire, woke up to glorious sunshine on the topo topos, and taught disabled children how to ride horses. I had my agility equipment at the ranch and held dog-training classes there.
I was alone with my animals on 150 acres. The coyotes would yip to warn me if someone was driving up the driveway past nightfall. The owls would fly so close to me that their wings would just barely touch the edges of my hair. The deer drank daily out of the water trough I filled for them. The bobcat would hunt the ground squirrels and leave my cats alone. A golden eagle perched on a cypress tree just outside my cottage every morning. And a coyote who was kicked out of the pack would come every week in the middle of the night and howl for me to throw him a chicken leg quarter. It was him I named the ranch after “Lone Coyote Ranch” and even after I left the ranch I continued to feed him at the Ojai Foundation until he died of old age. My third cat, Serafina, was found at that ranch. It was there that I learned how to be on my own. There I believed that the universe is abundant with all that we ever need and we just need to be open to receiving it. There, I was blissfully happy and content with all parts of my life.
When I left that ranch I walked my animals and myself into the darkest part of my life. I learned about sacrifice, evil, dark spirits in the realms I only knew existed in horror films, betrayal, visions of truthful ugliness, cancer and sickness, and everything else that is bad in the world. I was quickly stripped down to my bare bones in every sense. I learned not to trust myself or anyone else. I learned that the universe could abandon me in darkness with a swift chilling wind. I learned I had angry and despair deep inside of me. For years, I suffered.
I am in the light now and far out of that dark tunnel of my life. I have reinvented myself. For years now I have believed in goodness once again. My trip up to the ranch reminded me of what it was truly like to live letting go and allowing the universe be my sacred guide.
The hug from that man was actually an embrace from my past and the abundance of the universe. He was the messenger, my angel for the day. I have recently come to see that since I came out of the dark void I have had one hand on my sword. When I lived at the ranch I would of told you I was a strong woman, but I am much stronger now. I now wonder if the boundary I have built around me is too thick. It is a fortress.
I see now that I try to control what comes in and what stays out. I feel blessed in my life, but I lack that overjoyed innocent trusting feeling I had when I lived at the ranch. I have been angry at the universe for showing me that darkness. I know it made me stronger, cleverer and more conscious. I know it made me a healthier person.
I am scared that if I have, live and trust the wonders of all life once again the universe may brutally decide to rip it from me. Deep inside I know, I have been through the darkest part of my days and if they come again I already know what will make me healthy and sane.
There is a blue print of my life still living at that ranch. When I went back, I tapped into it. I wonder if the man has felt me there all along. Something happened to me up there last Thursday night. My body and my soul have shifted. I am different. The walls are starting to come down and I have released the grip on my sword. Time….will reveal… the changes…to come….