Passeges of Flight

Passages of Flight

By: Erin Thomas

The Precipice

There at the edge of the precipice I stood as I made ready to take the leap of faith. Behind me there came the Soulsnatchers, the Pain bringers and the Uncaring ones out of the dark cave telling me how little I was worth and that I would never amount to anything of value. Below, in the great dark pit over which the precipice extended, a great and empty fear beckoned saying, "Surely, if you jump you will fall into the great pit, never to return. There is no faith, there is no God, or Goddess to have faith in. No one will help you, though some may say they will, they lie." But above me, angels urged me on, telling me that all of the dark things which I see and hear are only illusions.

I stood looking into the dark pit, I could not see the bottom. And the other side was so far away, how could I ever make the other side?

"You will know your worth dear one," I heard something say, "You will know your worth and you will live."

"Live?" I asked, "what is 'live?' " But the voice was gone. Live, I thought to myself as I looked over into the bottomless dark pit, I wonder what was meant by that.

Behind me I heard the voices of the Pain bringers as they told me that no-one loved, or cared for me. That I didn't deserve to be loved, or cared for, and they told me other things that were just as hurtful. It hurt me when they said these things, that's why I called them the Pain bringers. Yet, they had been telling me these things all my life, so I thought they were right, and although I felt numb inside for the most part, I still felt just a little bit of pain when the Pain bringers would say their mean and hurtful things to me.

I remembered, or thought I did, the shameful deeds that some of the Soulsnatchers waged against me when they stole a part of my soul. the other Soulsnatchers didn't mean what they did, or said, but I was still missing a part of myself because of them.

I felt the cold empty hollowness and resentment of the Uncaring ones. They just never cared for me, even though they were in my everyday life. They always made what the Pain bringers said seem truer.

I felt the cold grip of fear close over my heart when I thought of trying to reach the other side of the dark pit. It was so impossibly far, and there was no other way to the other side at all. The precipice extended over the pit a ways before coming to an abrupt end. The trail on to the precipice came directly out of the dark cave of my life, there were cliffs on all sides, and there were no materials in the dark cave which I could use to climb up, or down, or sideways for that matter, only this precipice extending precariously over the deep and bottomless pit.

"It's alright dear one," the voice came again, "you will be protected."

"Is there really someone who cares enough about me to protect me?" I asked back, uncertain, and not really expecting an answer. This calming voice has spoken to me many, many times before as I would sometimes sit at the edge of the precipice upset, or dreaming in times preceding. Yet, only briefly, and it never answered a question I asked it directly, although it would sometimes surprise me by answering a question I had only thought of in my mind. But now it answered.

"Oh, yes. Legions upon legions of good souls and spirits would protect you, not to mention the angels. Have faith dear one, for you will be protected."

I wasn't so sure about the "legions of good souls and spirits," but the angels had always been nice to me. Would they actually help me though, in a time of need? I hoped so.

For a long, long time I have worked myself up to this. For a long time I have dreamt of going beyond the great pit to the sunlit lands with the blue rivers and green trees. The voice would tell me of these places sometimes, he would tell me that I would one day go there and live in happiness and self love, and other words I didn't understand. He would tell me that I would do great things and be well respected and loved by many.

All this, beyond the great pit which I never had the courage to try and cross. But now I was ready, it didn't look so far if I looked at the other side long enough hoping and dreaming, needing. The inhabitants of the dark cave were telling me that I was insane, that I would never make it. The fear was telling me it couldn't be done, but the angels made light, shouting, "You can do it!" loudly, so I could hear them above the racket the others were making. Then the voice said, "Now is your chance."

I jumped. I gave it all that I had, and leaped quite far, farther than I ever thought I could. But not far enough, I wasn't going to make the other side in any sense of the word, and I started to fall into the great dark pit. I clutched at my heart in terror as I fell into the darkness of the pit, I could feel and smell the foul air rushing past, and the little light there ever was, was fading fast from sight.

Then I was falling very fast through some fathomless void.

"Not a void," I heard the voice again.

"Then what?" I asked, feeling betrayed.

"Look more closely, but look with your heart," it said peacefully.

"The same heart that is always hurting and in pain?" I asked, uncertain.

"The same."

I looked into the void, and I looked with the pain in my heart, and for a long while, nothing happened. But then I started thinking about the land the voice always spoke of, of its beauty and its peace, of the serenity there. I started to see with my heart, and the pain started to dissipate. All the anger, hurt, resentment, fear, sorrow and grief were moving aside to let the beauty of this vision take over. I don't need to be in pain I realized, there is so much more. So much, much more than just the dull and constant pain.

Then a strange thing happened, I stopped falling. It almost felt as if I were floating. Was I floating? Now I was moving forward, the void started to fade and was turning grayer and grayer. The air was becoming clearer and cleaner, and more moist. After awhile, it even started to smell nice.

It was getting very bright now, everything was turning from gray to an almost white. I could clearly see that I was suspended in place, yet, when I wanted to go this way, or that, it seemed like I was moving in that direction, though I couldn't be sure. I felt cool mist against my face. Yes! It was mist, like fog, and I could even see distinct swirls of mist now, as it wafted through the air

But where was I?

No sooner did I start to wonder, then did a portion of the mist start to get brighter and give off a warm feeling. Liking the feeling I got from it, I started heading right for it. As I was heading towards it, the mist thinned considerably, and the bright spot became more defined as a bright circle. Then suddenly, I was in a blue sky looking at a bright yellow sun above me, and it was so beautiful. I had just come out of a small white cloud, but how could it be so small, and so white. Then, on sudden instinct, I looked down.

Far below me there was a wondrous green forest spreading over the land, I could see a crystalline waterfall in its midst and a magnificent blue river flowing from it. And... And...

I was flying!!!

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There I was, far above the earth. No words could ever explain the feeling; there is nothing that will ever compare. There were birds around and about me enjoying the incredible beauty of the sky with me. Oh! How we soared so freely together in the upper reaches of the sky, and the eagles soared with the undeniable grace of a divine spirit fully clothed in the utter bliss of just being alive and free. And there I was, soaring with them, freer than any known freedom and more alive than I can ever remember being. The cool air flowed fresh against my face. The mountains, far below, gleamed in the sunlight as if some great rainbow had imprinted itself into the contours of the mighty earth. The rivers and lakes shimmered in the sunlight, giving thanks to the sun with its remarkable beauty. An unbelievable sight, all I could see, so astonishing, so incredible... Breathtaking.

I flowed with the air feeling the winds of the earth take hold of me, caress me, almost with love. I was held in awe by the incredible grace of the bewildering sky, and the winds revelled in the midsts of an unseen god in which I now believed.

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The Meadow

The wide canyon stretched far below me as I flew high in the air. It was a warm sunny day, and the sun caressed my body and heart with its tender heat as the wind blew fresh against my face. The canyon began in a small chain of mountains and extended out over a large plateau, and nourished a beautiful fast, flowing river which flowed amidst green meadows and steep-walled enclosures, eventually to merge with another river after falling midway from the great plateau out of its canyon in a series of cascading waterfalls.

The canyon was entirely enticing, and I wanted to go and explore. So, after spying a peaceful looking green meadow next to the river in the range's lower foothills, I playfully found a place very high above the meadow and let myself skydive freely out of the air, making a game out of seeing how close I could come to landing in the meadow.

It was great! The air rushing past as I fell readily to the ground, feeling the different currents of air and the pressure on my eardrums change from moment to moment as I dove through the air at exhilarating speeds. What a blast!! What a great feeling!!!!

As I neared the ground, everything came into sharp focus, the tall trees, the brush, the river, the hills, and some deer bounding happily along in the meadow I now realized I was missing by a mile. But since I was having such a good time, I let myself fall freely towards the ground to a small vale a few hills away from the canyon. It was a lovely green vale, but not my place of destination , and right as I fell passed the branches of a large tree in the south end of the vale, I made a long, curving arch across the vale and up the other side, darting off over a hill doing somersaults in the air, looking like a rotating human cannonball as I hurtled over two hills into the canyon and the meadow.

As I sped into the meadow, I caught hold of the extended branch of a cypress and twirled weightlessly around it a few times before coming to a stop. All this exercise was simply exhausting, and I looked forward to a relaxing walk in the meadow.

I let myself drift easily to the ground , and felt the lush green grass underneath my feet as I landed softly. The meadow was utterly beautiful, the grass was lush and green, stately oak and elm trees grew amongst smaller beach and at the meadow's south edge near the end up the canyon wall, and the deer I spotted from the air were grazing peacefully at the far east end of the meadow. Hares darted to and fro while birdsong filled the air with a resonance of peace and uplifted spirits. The river was flowing easily along on the north side of the meadow with a wide sandy beach leading to it, while beautiful and resplendent cypresses dotted the meadow, standing alone and creating wonderful shady canopies to sit under. One cypress in particular was growing just short of the river's sandy shore, creating a pleasing shady area on the beach.

I started walking across the meadow to the cypress by the river, and its enticing shady spot near the shore. As I walked, I enjoyed the fresh air and the scent of the trees mixed with wild flowers and the grass. A hare darted out in front of me and looked at me curiously for a moment, then darted back away. And I reveled in the feeling as my feet sank deep into the lush and healthy grass.

As I approached the tree, I saw that its shadow didn't quite reach the water of the river, and I went near the shadow's edge to sit down and rest. It was late morning, the sun was not quite to its zenith, and I felt like taking a nap in the fresh and beautiful meadow next to this wonderful river.

As I settled in to relax, I noticed there were fish jumping about in the water near the other end of the river where the canyon wall rose sharply before leveling out and growing vegetation a ways up. I pushed some sand into a small mound for a pillow , then laid down to look into the canopy of the towering cypress. There were birds frolicking and twittering, and squirrels eating nuts and berries, while bits of sunlight sparkled pleasantly through the canopy. I closed my eyes and I fell into a deep sleep.

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The Great Grandmother Pine Tree

The rain clouds hung low in the sky as I flew just above a tall pine forest. The clouds themselves were not that far above me. It rained lightly over the forest, and my clothes were completely soaked. But I enjoyed it, the moist air was fresh and clean, I felt the cool water fall upon my back and neck, and the forest below was rich with life and beauty.

Flying along, I could sometimes see through a break in the forest's canopy below, though not through to the ground, for it was too far away, and it was also hidden in a steamy mist that blanketed the forest floor. Wondering if I could see through to the ground with a good look I decided to stop at the next break in the canopy to try to see more clearly into the forest below. The next break came, and I stopped and hovered over it. Then after wiping some water out of my eyes, I looked down into the forest. I could see quite a ways down, but I still couldn't see the ground at all, although I could see the younger pines growing below as they tried to make their way up to join their elders. The trunks of the pine trees seemed to get closer together as they got further away, but I knew that it was just an illusion.

The air was fresh and clean, and it felt Great to just hover over the pine trees while the rain fell lightly upon me and a light breeze fluttered about me.

After a minute, I let myself float down into the top branches of the forest to drift about and enjoy the magnificent trees. As I flew close to some of the branches about midway into the canopy, the wet pine needles tickled my nose and ears. Before I reached the canopy where many branches interwove amongst each other, I glided slowly into the dripping foliage of a pine tree that was just on my left, and I found my way to its center.

At the center, I sat on a branch and looked around the interior of the tree. There were no twigs with pine needles on the many branches near the center, so it was easy to move around. The branches grew out from the tree to grow its foliage once it reached past the foliage above it. This way, when the sun was shining, all of the green pine needles could get an equal share of sunlight, as well as share in the cool and gentle touch of rain.

Sitting on the branch appreciating the stalwart elegance of these trees, I realized that the rain wasn't so noticeable under the awning of pine needles, and though I was starting to get a little cold, I was fascinated by these trees and I wanted to explore some more.

I drifted off the branch, then, floating next to the branch, I let gravity take a very light hold of me, and I started to drift slowly down into the forest. Moist branches slipped slowly by while I floated downward. I could see birds sitting over their young in their nests, keeping them dry and warm. Some birds were flying about in the rain, and rejoicing in the wonder of the life giving drops of water that fell from the sky.

Looking down, I still could not see the ground, but I was coming out of the canopy and drifting down below a layer of dead branches that died because the branches above them grew in and blocked off their sunlight, I started drifting forward amongst the tree trunks.

I looked up into the great canopy and saw how the branches interwove amongst each other creating an entire network of roadways between the trees for tree critters to run along and about. It was darker down here, but there really was a lot less rain since it was caught up by the canopy above, and it was even warmer. Gliding near some of the tree trunks as I flew on, I saw rivulets of water were streaming down the tree trunks to an unseen ground below.

I began picking up speed, I swooped past tree trunks and shorter pine trees enjoying the beautiful experience and the adventure of flight. I knew I was getting closer to my destination. So deciding I could see better above the forest's canopy, I glided over to the nearest tree trunk and slowly followed it up past its layer of dead branches and through the thick growth of live branches to the top where a single twig full of pine needles grew straight up from the top of the tree.

The clouds were a darker shade of gray and it was raining a little harder than before, but I didn't mind. I looked ahead to see if I could see what I was looking for, but I could not. But wait! I thought I saw something rising above the forest off in the distance near the horizon, but because of the rain and low hanging clouds, it was hard to make out what it was. Though, it didn't matter if I could "see" what it was or not, I knew what it was. I up and darted straight for it. The forest was a blur as I belted toward the undefined dark shape far in the distance. Getting closer, it was starting to look more like some great pillar reaching up into the clouds. Yet, it was still unclear as to what it was.

It wasn't until I was almost there, that I could make out with my eyes what it was.

It was an enormous tree trunk!

The trunk of this pine tree was so big, that it took me a minute to fly all the way around it. The massive tree trunk extended out of the forest and into the clouds, and the shear size of it was awe inspiring. One side of it was wet, while the other side, the side not facing the wind and rain, was dry.

I went around to the dry side and drifted up the tree a short ways to the cloud cover. I had to be very careful here, for rain clouds are thick, and you usually can't see very far at all inside them. Now I slowly drifted up into the clouds keeping my arms stretched out above me so I wouldn't bop my head against one of the tree's gigantic branches.

Sure enough, as soon as my head entered into the cloud cover, I couldn't see a thing. And it was so, so wet, but then, it was the source of the rain, it made sense that it should be wet. After my whole body was in the cloud, I turned around and poked my head out of the cloud. As I was expecting, I couldn't see my body past the cloud. I brought my hand around so that it popped out of the cloud and hovered, looking disembodied, about a foot from my face. I thought this was great fun, but the heavily condensed rain-mist was starting to get in my nose, so I decided it was time to get on.

After turning myself around and shaking the water out of my nose, I put my arms back out above me, and continued drifting steadily up the tree's trunk. I floated up a bit, then my hands came up against one of the tree's large branches. Although I couldn't see it unless I put my face right up to it, I knew the branch was huge. Getting beyond the branch proved its size to me, because I moved to the side following it hand over hand for about forty paces before I could get by and continue rising up. Continuing on, the cloud was getting less moist, but it was still just as hard to see through.

After going up for awhile and making my way around a few more branches, it began to get brighter and the mists got just a little easier to see through. I could see my hands above my head, and an arm's length over to the tree, but no further.

Then suddenly I was out to the other end of the cloud, and floating through the air in the midst of a clear blue sky with the sun shining brightly off near the horizon to the west. The rain storm rolled below me now, an ocean of white clouds with various small black cloud islands floating on top like ethereal sailships on route to some far and distant realm.

Catching the splendor of it all, was the Great Grandmother Pine Tree, as she pierced through from the cloud-ocean depths with her still massive trunk as it filed high into the sky. She looked so impressive and mighty that it was all I could do to just stare in awe with my mouth hanging open, just as I did the first time I saw her so long ago. But I had never seen her like this, with the clouds extending below like a sea of foam.

She is the most beautiful tree, her branches extending very far from her enormous trunk out over the clouds in a thick carpet of pine needles, and the bark of her branches and trunk a rich, loamy brown, the color of healthy and fertile earth. I flew out away from her so I could see her better. She eventually came to and end high over the sea of clouds, trunk thinning and each branch getting a little smaller until it comes to a point at the top where a single twig full of pine needles extends straight up out of her tip. Her thick and luxurious deep green foliage shimmered in the light of the near sunset, and I could see a couple of eagle's nests up toward her very top.

I flew up higher towards her end, then went to a branch and sat down on it resting my back against the trunk and facing the sun's setting. I was high enough now that the branches were only about as big around as my body, so my legs could drape off to either side. The storm was now far below, and I had the feeling of being on the only tree at the gates of heaven. Everything was at peace.

I put my hand into my tunic pocket over a smooth round object that was warm against my chest. "Hello," I said lovingly to the great tree, "how have you been?"

'hello dear child," I heard her voice softly within my head, "it is good to see you again. I have been well."

"I have brought you a Gift."

"That is very nice of you," she said, sincerely touched.

"Do you remember the last time I came to visit you a few years back, dear Grandmother Pine."

"Of course," she responded patiently, knowing that I was working myself up.

"And do you remember when I told you about the great ocean far, far away from here, and how beautiful it is?" I said.


"And you remember how you wished to have just a glimpse of the ocean, or know its presence through something that came from it?"

"Yes," she said again, but now with a little enthusiasm.

"Well, since I last saw you, I have been to the ocean I told you about, and while I was there, I picked up a little something for you." I pulled a smooth round, gray stone that was about as big as my hand out of my tunic, I had found it on the beach next to the ocean nearly a year ago when I was staying at a small fishing village at the time. I placed the smooth stone up against her trunk. She was so excited, that it took her a minute to respond.

"I will cherish it always," she said with feeling, "and thank you so much for this wonderful and extraordinary gift."

"Not nearly as wonderful and extraordinary as the world's tallest, oldest, and wisest tree," I responded, feeling a little choked up myself from the way she reacted.

I heard her sigh psychically.

I flew up to one of her branches near her tip and pulled out a sash that I had brought along for the occasion, then I slipped the rock into a pocket I had sewed into the sash and tied it firmly against her trunk right above the branch so that the rock rested in a natural niche between branch and trunk. This way, the rock would be less likely to fall when the sash was loosened by wind and weather. Then I flew back down to the previous branch, and gave her a warm hug.

The air above the storm was warm and fresh, and I was just about dry. Together, we quietly watched the sky light up with an array of beautiful colors as the sun peacefully set over the sea of clouds off on the horizon.

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© 1992 EAT