Trembling slightly, I leave fear's darkness behind and step into blinding light and onto the precipice.
I take a deep breath. Closing my eyes, I exhale slowly and lean back against the closed door. Even with the door firmly shut, I can feel the fearful images crowding against the other side, trying to break through and swirl around me. But I was strong enough to go through the door and I will not let the fear come crashing through. I open my eyes to find I am not alone.
A small woman, with close cropped white hair watches me through serious, but gentle eyes. While I do not know her, there is something familiar about her. She’s an age my grandmother never reached, but seems so full of life it’s hard to believe her own life is mostly behind her. As I am processing the fact that someone else is on the precipice with me, she speaks.
“Shannon, I am so proud of you. I know that wasn’t easy to do. Those rooms are hard to walk through and even harder to leave. But you did it. You followed your gift. I’m here to help you take the next steps.”
Feeling like I couldn’t take another step, I blurt, “You mean I don’t get to rest here for a while?” The shortness of my answer takes me somewhat by surprise – I don’t even know this woman. She is unruffled and unsurprised by my reaction.
I apologize for my shortness and catch a look from her that makes me ask her, “Do I know you?”
“No, not really,” she says with a smile. “But I’ve watched you for quite a while and I couldn’t be happier that you’re here. I’ve been waiting for you for a long time. And you do get to rest before moving on. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Here, have a seat.”
This time, my mind is quicker than my tongue so I don’t demand to know why she’s waiting for me if we’ve never met. I’ve never been to the precipice before and I’m finding it a strange place thus far.
As I make my way to a table nestled on the ledge’s deepest spot, I realize what makes the woman familiar. It’s not really the way she looks, so much as the way she looks at me. It’s the way I look at my daughters when they’ve done something completely unexpected that gives a flash of who they are at the core of their being – a celebratory dance, a new way of seeing something, a smile that splits her face open. Why on earth would she look at me that way?
The table she leads me to is mirage-like. As I slide into the only chair at the table and take a sip of clean, cold water, I turn to ask my hostess if she’s sure all of this is for me. But she’s gone. I’m frankly too tired to go find her and just thankful to be alone after feeling crowded, bombarded, and hemmed in by my fears. Finishing my water, I sip a glass of room temperature red wine and nibble on a plate filled to overflowing with cheese, fruit and nuts. Reaching to refill my glass, I find a book sitting under the bottle. Several chapters later, I realize my eyes are tired and my mind is drifting. After re-reading the same passage three times without comprehending the meaning, I place a leaf between the pages, close the book and look around.
The table sits on the widest part of the ledge, to the right of the heavy oak door guarding my deepest fears and grandest hopes. To the left of the door, the ridge thins dramatically, curves and ends altogether. Just before it ends lies a rough hewn plank, about the width of my two hands together. The plank bridges a gap between the precipice I stand on and another, wider ledge surrounded by a verdant meadow. It looks much more accommodating than my current locale, but as I move towards the plank, I see it spans a chasm so deep I can’t see its bottom.
Having begun to replenish both body and soul, I know I need sleep, so I head towards the plank. I certainly can’t sleep on the table which fills the only available space on my side of the rift. I inch along the tight ridge. As I approach the section right before the plank, I see a crevice that appears almost carved to fit my body exactly.
I crouch down to peer into the crevice.
Inside, the stone floor holds a rough pallet. Crawling in, I find I can lie down fully, if not comfortably. Tired from the journey so far, I roll onto my stomach and fall asleep without giving the new ledge and meadow a second thought.