Once upon a time, a traveler walked down a well-marked path. The more the traveler walked, the more confident she became. She felt more and more empowered with each purposeful stride.
On this particular day, the air temperature was just right; the sky was that expansive, everything-is-possible blue, and there were clouds – loads and loads of white, puffy clouds sailing around the nimbus of the earth.
It was a perfect, happy day. The traveler whistled as she advanced ahead. She had a glint in her eye; determination on her belt. Her pockets were full of certainty and bravado. The world was hers. Everything was in sync; everything was going well. She was making excellent progress.
Until she took a small stumble that ended in a big rumble as she rolled down the bank of the path.
The traveler’s fall stopped abruptly as she found herself knee-deep in leaves, twigs and confusion. She was disoriented. She had no idea what happened, much less where she was. She was completely lost. The traveler realized she was assuredly off-road and, most certainly, off the beaten path.
The traveler staggered to her feet and looked for some sign to direct her back to the familiar trail. Sadly, there was no was marker. The traveler became angry; she tightened her belt and looked for other ways to solve her dilemma. The more the traveler looked, the angrier she became. Her backpack of resources provided no solace. She wanted answers, solutions and guarantees – and she wanted it now. She was wild-eyed with worry and projections, and all she could hear was some damnable hooting of early night owls.
Alas, there were no ready-made answers, solutions or guarantees for the traveler. Her peregrination had taken a seemingly wrong turn.
Unbeknownst to the traveler, there were no owls in this woodland; there were only three witches hooting to each other in the tree tops. The witches, Bemused, Bewildered and Baffled, were doubled-over with laughter at the hilarious antics of the traveler trying to find her way out.
It was like a child playing “cat’s cradle” with yarn; the more she tried, the more stuck she became. The traveler’s multitudinous efforts created a force field, like laser light security at a museum, so that she was locked deeper and deeper into the confines of the forest. There was no way out: the traveler had unknowingly rolled right into a charmed forest.
To be exact, the traveler was being held captive in The Enchanted Forest of Puzzlement. In this forest, perplexity and mystification reigned. It was a no-win situation unless you knew the key to be freed from the enchanted puzzlement.
The traveler tried and tried, but every action closed the forest in around her. She was losing ground at an alarmingly speedy rate, and she was becoming more and more panicked. And the more she panicked, the more the forest shrunk itself around her. Before she knew it, the traveler had only a small plot of forest floor to call her own. The far reaches of the forest were impossible to negotiate. The traveler was locked in a leafy, green hell.
Eventually, the traveler became so very weary and so tired from all of her efforts that she finally gave up her struggle and made a nest of pine needles and moss, where she stretched out and let herself fall into a state of deep, deep sleep. She no longer heard the hooting of the witches. Her mind quieted, and her body rested.
And as she slept, she dreamt of floating in moonlight, through a green, green forest where tree tops held sleeping witches and discovering a bridge.
When the traveler awoke from her dream, the moon was full and the forest was still. The traveler knew now just what to do. She rolled over and went back to sleep looking to finish his dream.
Part 2: The moral of the story
Puzzlement holds a tremendous magic. It is difficult to free ourselves from confusion and worry. Certainty is comforting. Yet, the spiritual path, as we well know, is anything but linear. There are always surprises, changes of venues, unexpected guests, unusual circumstances and the occasional witch or two.
To break the powerful pull of puzzlement, we need to stop moving. It is important to become very, very still. The body and mind need rest. The soul calls for quiet so that its wisdom can surface, and we can find our way. The soul provides markers, be it dreams, meditation or the like. We have the answers. We just get confused and sometimes think everyone else knows better. T he truth be told: if we just hunker down long enough and listen with an open, loving heart, the answer is always there.
As the indigenous elders always advised, when you are in doubt, take no action. I agree and will amend that thought with the following:
When you find yourself held captive in The Enchanted Forest of Puzzlement: surrender to the greenery, rest and wait for your soul to give you the answer. You’ll be on your way before you know it.