Continued from Chapter 6.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Buddhist Proverb
By Richard Juarez
As I got close to the house I could see Tío and Tata sitting on the front porch, talking and drinking from their coffee mugs. They both said good morning as I approached the front gate.
“Hola, Vicentillo,” Nana called from the living room. She saw me through the screen door as I walked up the porch steps. “¿Ya comistes?”
“Sí, Nana, gracias, I’ve eaten already.” I thought about it for a second, but couldn’t resist. “¿Pero … tienes una tortilla?”
“Pues sí.” She motioned for me to follow her into the kitchen where she immediately lit up two burners on the stove. “¿Quieres un burrito con frijoles y chorizo?”
I nodded. I wasn’t hungry, but I wasn’t stuffed either. She knew I couldn’t pass up her flour tortillas filled with chorizo mixed with eggs, and a little of her delicious mashed beans. For burritos she made the beans a little dryer than her usual juicy beans. Just a few minutes later she handed me the hot burrito wrapped in a paper towel. I dug right in, eating it as I walked back out to the front porch.
“Siéntate, mijito,” said Tata, moving his coffee cup off the wooden crate between the two porch chairs. I sat down and finished eating the burrito while they talked.
“So, Vincent,” asked Tío Emilio, “how was your night? Did you have pleasant dreams?”
I almost jumped off the crate. He asked the question in such a detached manner, sort of like making small talk. But I saw a gleam in his eye that made me think he knew something. Did he know about my crazy, wonderful dream? Was he reading my mind again?
“Well, Tío, I did have this amazing dream. I dreamed I was an eagle, soaring through the sky.” Excitedly, I started telling the dream in vivid detail. At some point while rambling, I happened to look down at the leather binder cover I was carrying. Suddenly the shock hit me.
“Oh, God!” I yelled, and jumped off the crate with my eyes fixed on the leather binder cover. I recognized the scene carved onto the leather! It was very much like what I had seen from the sky in my eagle dream. The scene from fifteen years ago and my dream last night were the same! I started to freak out again. What was going on? I suddenly felt very confused.
Tata reached over and put his hand on me. “¿Qué pasa, mijito?”
“Th-this,” I stammered, pointing at the leather carving. “This is what I dreamed about last night. This is what I saw from the sky in my dream!”
Tío Emilio repeated in Spanish what I said, just to be sure that Tata understood. Then turning to me, he said, “That was a very powerful dream about a very powerful moment. Yes, the scene and your dream are related.” This was another answer to a question I hadn’t asked.
He paused briefly, looking at me. “Are you okay? Do you want something to drink?”
His calm voice seemed to soothe me a little. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Vieja,” Tata called. “Traíganos tres Pepsis, por favor.”
“Tío,” I said, pointing to the scene carved on the leather cover, “how could this be the same thing … how could it be what I saw in my dream while flying around as an eagle? And how could I be dreaming about something I was too young to remember?”
“Well, before we get to that, let me ask about your dream. Was there anything out of the ordinary, anything you did not understand?”
“You mean like how could I be an eagle?”
“No, let’s assume that it is not out of the ordinary to experience life from the viewpoint of an eagle, or any animal. Did you experience anything, or see anything that you accepted as an eagle, but that you do not understand from the perspective of a human being?”
I was not sure what he was asking. “I don’t think so. I was just flying around the town.” I closed my eyes and slowly the picture came back into view. I could see it all again, just like the night before—in full color too. “I can see myself flying around, going up high, circling around, and looking down.”
“What did you do next,” he asked, “and why?”
“I was attracted to a hill on the edge of the town and landed on a tree at the top of the hill.”
“What do you mean you were attracted to the hill?”
“I’m not sure. I guess I was attracted to the tree and felt connected to it.” Then I realized I could see the connection! “I’m connected to it, Tío!” I said, almost yelling. “I see thin lines of light. Bright lines connect me and the tree, with thinner lines connecting me to other things on the hill. I think I—I mean the eagle—liked coming to this hill and to this tree.”
I again experienced sitting in the tree, on a branch near the top, looking toward the town. I felt the warmth of the tree, and could see its life force pulsing through the branch under my feet. “Tío,” I said excitedly, “I can see and feel the energy of the tree flowing through its branches!”
“Yes. And what else?”
I hesitated at first. “I think I feel … a lot of love flowing to me from the tree. I feel it in my feet … and I see it in the area of my chest, flowing through the lines of light connecting us.”
“Vincent,” he said, getting my attention as Vincent, rather than as the eagle. I opened my eyes. “Yesterday I mentioned that all things are connected. What you are feeling, and what you saw and felt as an eagle, are those connecting lines of energy. As an animal, you saw the energy lines. A shaman can be trained to adjust his vision to be able to see these same lines of energy.”
“Tío, I saw those lines connecting me to everything, even to people! While I was flying around I also saw energy lines coming from a group people and up from the earth under them.”
Tío Emilio nodded his head. “Yes, I remember very well seeing the little eagle circling above us, calling out, when your family visited fifteen years ago.”
“But how did I dream what the eagle saw fifteen years ago?”
“It was a gift from God, the Great Spirit,” explained Tío Emilio, looking at me then at Tata, to see if Tata was following what we were saying. Tata indicated that he got most of it, but Tío Emilio stopped and translated for him, just to be sure. “Last night you were given a vision of a world that few people ever experience. To describe what happened to you, the native Mexicans would say that you shape-shifted. Your conscious awareness traveled to the eagle and you were then able to experience reality from within the eagle’s consciousness.”
Conscious awareness? Shape-shifted? I had no idea what he was talking about.
“That event was such a powerful omen that Don José and I felt it must be acknowledged and shared with you when you were older. Don José recorded on the leather his impression of the scene from the eagle’s view. The gift was given to you in hopes that the scene would stimulate a memory or dream of the event, and it happened last night. It was an amazing dream, or I should say, vision. Truly, it was more than a dream. In time, you will discover what it means for you.”
Obviously I was not old enough to understand it yet, as I was very confused. “How am I supposed to figure out what it means? Do you have any idea?”
“I can tell you what I think some parts mean, but visions are very personal. You will eventually learn on your own what it means. The dream about energy lines and the interconnectedness of all things is your first lesson in shamanism. This type of experience is at the core of the shaman’s world. We thought that the experience with the eagle might be a sign, or omen, that someday I might share the shaman knowledge with you.”
I was blown away! I didn’t understand a lot of what he was talking about, this strange person, this hidden relative no one talked about who was able to read my mind and who had shown up at this moment to tell me that I was somehow linked to him and his teacher in Mexico.
“Your Tata would like me to talk with you more about the work that I do, and about this ancient spiritual knowledge of our ancestors.” Tío Emilio paused to let that sink in. Tata was pushing it, and seemed to have won the battle of minds with my mother who didn’t want me to learn about this stuff.
“If you would like, I can begin teaching you about shamanism when I come to San Diego for visits. You do not need to give me an answer right now. You have plenty to think about with what you experienced over the past two days. Think about my offer.”
I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t! All that had happened left me speechless. I didn’t fully understand what he talked about, or my connection with him, but I was beginning to think that maybe this might not be so bad after all.
Right then, our car pulled up in front of the house. Tata had gone into the house and came back out with Tío Emilio’s bag. I carried it to the car and again felt the soft leather and admired the detailed carving. Tío Emilio gave me a strong silent hug. He turned to hug Nana, and then quickly hugged a bunch of family members who showed up just in time to see him off. Tío, Tata, and my father then got into the car and headed toward Harbor Drive for the short ride to the downtown bus station.
Copyright © 2013 Richard Juarez
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