Soulful Stuff, our Story Hour Leader, opened the Gathering. Osiyo ale ulihelisdi digusdi!The atsila (fire) is roaring tonight….with many cedar logs for much needed healing…
let go of the hurts and resentments…
let go of the sadness and disappointments….
You were called to this moment to be
Right here…right now….
so be present…
and know your presence is received
with love and gratitude.
Dad’s job took him away from home through the week, but on weekends he was almost always home. This could be good for me, or not so good, depending on how his week had gone. I didn’t have many toys growing up, but thanks to relatives and Mom, my stuffed animal collection was huge and for every occasion there were new additions to the menagerie as it was called. They lived on my bed but I played with them on the floor and wanting none to be left out, that meant they were often ALL on the floor. I was 6, Dad was home, and apparently it was one of his not-so-good weekends because he became angry that I hadn’t cleaned my room and there were bloody stuffed animals all over the floor. They didn’t look bloody to me, I told him so, and that’s when things got ugly. Dad strode over to the window, opened it, slid the screen up and proceeded to throw all the stuffed animals out of it as fast as he could. Our apartment was on the third floor overlooking a cement lot where the tenants’ garages were located. Having been warned many times to not fall out the window because I’d die, I had no doubt the animals would die too! I started crying, “Daddy, no, no!” which only seemed to make him throw faster until finally there wasn’t a single stuffed animal to be seen. Sobbing, I walked over to the window, stood on my tiptoes and looked down. There they all were, lying in disarray – some face down, some with bent legs, some on top of others. It was a horrible sight to me and I started screaming, “They’re dead! You killed my animals – they’re all dead!”
Fixing me with an angry glare, Dad said, “You are not to bring them back in this room and that’s the end of it!” Through tears, I looked up at my towering, red faced father and replied, “I hate you! Someday when you’re old and in a wheelchair I’m going to push you down the stairs!”Back talk wasn’t allowed in my house and that defiance earned me a spanking which stopped my tears and silenced me until I heard Dad’s keys jingling and him leaving the apartment. My Mom was standing in the doorway of my room looking at me with sadness and after a while, when I felt he was gone I ran down the 3 flights of stairs that led outside to the parking lot and gazed upon my friends.
Bending down and picking one up, I studied it carefully. It was the blue and white striped horse named Horse that I had since I was a baby and although a little dirty, he didn’t seem dead at all and was even still smiling. Looking at the others, I realized they weren’t dead either – all were ok and still alive!But what would I do with them? My Dad had forbidden me to bring them back inside and there were too many to hide. Looking at the horse, I whispered, “What should I do?” and he replied, “Take us to the secret cave, Little One. We’ll all be safe there.”
The secret cave was in fact one of the forsythia bushes in the front of the apartment building. It was old and gnarly and the thick branches cascaded to the ground. But inside it was hollow, like a little cave, and there was a small opening at the back of the bush where the wall of the building was that a child could crawl through. So taking as many animals as I could carry in my arms, I made several trips from the parking lot to the front of the building and finally all of them were arranged inside the cave facing me.Picking up the little skunk named Skunk, who slept under my pillow and came to school in my lunchbox, I put him in my lap and just sat for a while leaning against the building until a feeling of calmness came.
“I’ll stay here with you,” I told them. “No,” said Skunk, “Your mother is worried. You have to go back inside.”“I hate him!” I said, looking at all their faces, “I’ll hate him forever!” “No,” they all replied. “Hating is wrong. Forgiving is right.” “But why should I forgive him?” I asked, picking up the little skunk and wondering how I could find the courage to go back to the apartment without my best friends. “Because he does not understand”, whispered the skunk. “We forgive because they do not understand. Never forget that, Little One. Now hide me in your pocket and go back inside.”
So I did. I hid Skunk in my pocket, waved goodbye to the rest of the animals and went back upstairs to the apartment where my Mom hugged me and gave me something to eat.The bed seemed too big and empty that night without their furry presence and when I reached out and touched nothing but empty space, I felt very alone. But underneath my head was the reassuring lump of my smallest friend who kept whispering in my ear that everything was ok, and to just go to sleep All the next day it rained and I worried that the animals would be wet and cold. But there was nothing I could do, so I kept myself busy drawing pictures of them until the day passed and I once again fell asleep in my empty bed.
In the morning, Dad took his suitcase and went back to work, Mom packed Skunk in the lunchbox and kissed me goodbye, and I walked to school with my friends. When I got home, all the animals were back on my bed, dry and clean. Mom gave me a hug and a snack, and I settled happily in my room.The week passed, Dad returned on the weekend and nothing was said about the animals being back. I wasn’t worried anyway because Mom had put them there and I knew there they would stay.
Unfortunately though, my words to Dad about pushing him down stairs when he was in a wheelchair lingered forever, and were repeated to relatives and friends. Remembering Skunk’s lesson about forgiving, I always reassured my Dad that I would never really do such a thing which seemed to please him. And the words, “We forgive because they do not understand” stayed with me for life.
Although there’s no longer a secret cave under a forsythia bush I can go to in a literal sense, when we moved, I brought the memory with me. There I can still put anything that gets wounded for safe keeping, including myself. And the animals remain in case I need a reminder about hating and forgiving. Sometimes long periods of time pass and I don’t visit, then suddenly I’ll find myself back there again needing reinforcement. It’s a good lesson and easy to remember because no matter what the circumstances in questions are, the answer always remains the same; hating is wrong, forgiving is right
So digusdi, that’s how I learned and continue to learn to forgive. I am sincerely thankful that my Dad and my stuffed animals taught me that.But most of all, I’m grateful to my Mom, a small, black and white-haired woman who always smelled of Shalimar perfume, for teaching me about forgiving with love and wisdom:>) THE END
How A Friendship Was SavedAt nine months of age, Jasmine came to live with us and right from the start, she and Shiashi were the best of friends. Shiashi was 2 years older than Jasmine and the alpha of the pack who ruled with an iron paw. But for some reason, she took an instant shine to the quiet young female and since Jasmine was under her protection, her integration into our lives was seamless.
Their favorite shared activity was digging and there was one particular tunnel hole in the yard they worked on together all the time. It was their special project and the other dogs would watch but not participate. This was a two-dog only job and as soon as one would stop to rest, the other would take over. When the tunnel hole became really long and deep, we’d fill it in whereupon the two girls would immediately start excavating it again. (One of the older dogs, Nick, got stuck in the tunnel hole one winter because he was unable to back up. Since the ground was frozen, I had to crawl in and pull him out, but that’s another story.)
Anyway, one day I was outside in the kennel yard when suddenly a fight broke out. I spun around and there were Jasmine and Shiashi at each other’s throats over something on the ground, which turned out to be a dead beetle. I grabbed both their collars and held them apart; not an easy feat since both wanted blood. But finally I was able to maneuver them into separate kennel runs and get the gates closed. Checking for injuries, I noticed Shiashi had a gash under her eye, but Jasmine seemed unscathed.
After doctoring Shiashi, I let them out of the kennels, but they made it clear their argument wasn’t over by staring at each and raising their hackles. Shiashi was especially upset because Jasmine had cut her face which had necessitated an application of peroxide that stung. And being alpha, anything less than submission from the other dogs was unacceptable to her.Encouraged by me to at least be civil and stop glaring at each other, they kept as far apart as possible and the rest of the day passed under an uneasy truce.
The next morning, both Shiashi and Jasmine continued to ignore each other and the rest of the pack was getting tense and acting like there was trouble brewing, so I decided to have a communication with each of them, but learned neither was prepared to forgive and forget. An unfortunate fact about Siberian huskies is that although the males will fight and then usually be friends again within minutes, the females tend to hold a grudge forever.
On the third day I could see that happening and was really concerned. I tried talking with them again, mentioning their wonderful friendship, how it would be a shame to let a fight over one stupid little bug spoil it and suggested maybe they’d like to do a little hole digging together to make up. Afterwards, both dogs seemed to relax a bit and were now at least sneaking glances at each other out of the corners of their eyes. I tried calling them over to the tunnel hole, and they came, but avoided eye contact and refused to look at the hole.
Finally, in desperation I ran inside the house, got an abalone shell, and filled it with sand from the bucket downstairs. Then I raced back upstairs, grabbed a sage stick, a feather, matches, and took everything out in the kennel yard. All the dogs ran to see what I had then settled down as I lit the sage, prayed, and asked the plant for help. I smudged myself, then the spot where the fight took place. Jasmine and Shiashi were right next to me watching and stood perfectly still as I directed the smoke all over their bodies, then smudged the rest of the dogs, the kennel runs, the yard and the hole. After saying thank you, I extinguished the sage in the shell and looked at Jasmine and Shiashi to see what their reactions were, never expecting what happened next.
asmine casually walked over to the hole, looked at Shiashi, and pawed at the edge a little. Shiashi perked her ears, trotted over to the hole and lay down beside Jasmine, peering inside. Apparently that was all the encouragement Jasmine needed, and she started digging like crazy, happily tossing dirt all over the place until she was tired and it was time for Shiashi to take over.All that day they took turns, digging and resting, until both were exhausted and the hole was a good two feet deeper. They continued work on the tunnel hole together for many years until Shiashi crossed Rainbow Bridge in the fall of 2006. But Jasmine kept digging until she too crossed in the fall of 2010. Thanks to sacred sage, their friendship was saved! THE END
AnimalsMagic is a “regular” on our chat thread. She is from East Freetown, MA and belongs to Etsy’s EFA (Etsy For Animals) team as well as ours. The AnimlasmagicShop features a very special Syberian Husky named “Sky”. Sky offers lovely vintage pieces for sale. 10% of Sky’s sales, will be donated to Patriot Siberian Husky Rescue, and another 10% will be donated to the Etsy For Animals Charity of the Month.
Please see Sky’s shop for more details.
www.theanimalsmagicshop.etsy.comSoukySuz, a long time member of our team, has been away for awhile and has recently re-joined our chat. She also gathered around the campfire for Animalsmagic’s story last night. SoukySuz is from Chicago, IL and creates lovely jewelry using both new and up-cycled components. Her is a sample of her work.
To see more, go to www.soukysuz.etsy.com
Wado Soul, Animalsmagic and all who gathered around the campfire last night.