This little story started coming to me early Sunday morning August 29, 2009, before the sunrise ceremony for David. I wondered if I could still communicate with him, so I said, “OK, David, let’s have it!” It came bit by bit in picture form until Tuesday Sept 1, and then I set it down in words.
Lisa Van de Water
THE WOMAN WHO WAS AFRAID OF THE FOREST: A STORY
Once there was a woman who lived next to a big, dense forest, which she found dark and foreboding. She was very afraid of it and thought that if she went in she would not be able to get back out, so she never dared to set foot into it.
She wished that she did not live in such a frightening place, and wondered why she did not just go somewhere else. But her fear captured her thoughts and focused her attention on the forest, so although she often thought of moving away, she stayed there instead.
One day an outdoorsman stopped by, and when he learned that she had never been into the forest, he said, “Come in just a little way with me, I will protect you.” So she timidly went with him, and he showed her that the forest was not a big, impenetrable mass but was made of trees, with spaces between them and light coming through them. She was astonished, and found herself admiring the different kinds of beautiful trees. But when she looked back the outdoorsman had vanished.
She became frightened, but she saw a bird singing on a branch above her and a squirrel hopping at her feet. They said, “Come with us, we will show you that the forest is full of life.” So she did, and she met many birds and animals and insects, all chirping and chattering and living happily in the forest.
Then the bird and the squirrel disappeared and the woman felt alone and scared again. She did not know what to do, but a gnome appeared. He said, “Come with me, you will learn that there is magic in the forest.” So she went with him, and the spirits of the forest swirled and glowed around her. Surrounded by their exquisite energy, she felt at peace.
When she saw to her horror that the gnome was gone, she realized that she was deep in the forest and had no idea how to get out. The sun was setting and suddenly the trees seemed to loom ominously over her, closing in on her and grasping at her. Things were rustling and making strange noises in the trees and on the ground, and she thought she felt ghostly shadows stalking her.
All her fears were coming true.
She ran blindly, tripped and sank down, terrified. She wished that she had not dared to go into the forest; she had been right to stay out of it all this time. She cried and cried, until in the dark she finally fell asleep. When she woke, the moon had risen. Its light shone on a deep and silent pool.
A fine, high voice came to her as if on the wind. It said that the pool was the depth of her own heart, which she had never had the courage to reach. She had been so frightened of what was in her heart that she had completely avoided the forest. The voice said that she no longer needed to hide from knowing her own inner places.
She stood up and dove into the pool.
When she emerged, she was bathed in a light that came from within herself. She found her way back to her house with no trouble, greeting the forest spirits, animals, and trees on the way. Her fear was gone, as if it had never been.
Now she goes often into the forest that she had once thought so scary, appreciating every part of it. Her heart rejoicing, she bathes again and again in the pool. She understands that she was frightened of her ideas about the forest, not the forest itself.
When people come searching for a way into the forest, they may find her, and she guides them for a while. If they come to the edge of the forest but are afraid, she tells them the story of her own fear.
And she never forgets that while it was her fear that kept her out of the forest for so long, it was also her fear that kept her beside it, waiting for the day she was ready to begin to make her journey to be free of fear.