Traveling seems to have become a part of my therapy. Every time I go somewhere new, I learn something about myself that I would have never known otherwise. A little over a month ago, I had the pleasure of exploring parts of Costa Rica. I never traveled outside of the United States, so I was excited and nervous for my first time. There is so much to say about this place, but one thing is certain.. I will visit Costa Rica over and over again until I have seen every corner. I keep repeating myself by saying, “When I went to the mountains, I reconnected with myself. Well, when I went to Costa Rica, I reconnected with humanity.” The palm trees were beautiful and all, but the people are more precious than diamonds. If there is anything I could recommend when visiting, it would be to not sell yourself short by staying in a resort. Book through Airbnb and travel as the locals do. You will never get a true idea of the culture otherwise. Of all that was seen, there is one particular face that is etched in my memory that I cannot seem to forget. She was one of the caged puma’s at La Paz Waterfall. I wish I would have asked the employees her name, but I was too busy emptying my entire memory card on her beauty. So, for the sake of this post, I have given her my own, I will call her Grace.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
Grace was the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. Her coat was various shades of tan with hints of white markings on her face. When I first laid eyes on her, she was resting, observing her own territory as if she were in her natural habitat. Grace’s home was a glass enclosure with a decent amount of room to roam. She shared her space with another puma, which I’ve often wondered were any biological relation between the two. Both felines were equally beautiful, but it felt as if there was an untold story in the eyes of Grace. I may never know what the details of her story may be but I would recognize that look anywhere. For this reason, I could’ve stood there staring into them forever.
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10
Last year, in treatment, my therapist asked me if I had ever read about “spirit animals.” As a christian, I had never really been guided in the ways of seeing animals as part of our spiritual journey. However, my great grandmother was full blooded Cherokee. So, I do believe that even though our family’s ancestors have moved on, and my faith is rooted in God and God alone, there are certain cultural aspects of who we are that are passed down through genetics. Even though I have not had someone directly teaching me about Native American traditions and beliefs, at times, I have felt a spiritual sensitivity to things that I believe stems from that bloodline.
Since my return, I have looked up the words puma, mountain lion, and cougar multiple times. I found myself disappointed with the information I’ve come across. Nothing fulfilled my hunger for knowing why I became so emotionally connected to an animal that I had never seen before. I mean, guys, I am embarrassed to admit that I have even cried about her to my therapist. There was a connection present between Grace and I, and I have been desperate to find out exactly what that was ever since. What I am certain of is that I am God’s creation. Just as I believe we are all connected, I feel the same about animals, as well. He crafted every living thing with His own hands, therefore, I don’t feel it far fetched that we could experience an emotional closeness to each other.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
I can’t explain what I saw in Grace that day. All I know is that when looked into her eyes, I was paralyzed by a heaviness in my chest from a vision that felt all too familiar. You see, I was a very young, innocent child who was a role model to many in my community when I became pregnant at the age of 17. I was placed on the proverbial community stage to fight for a right that I was too young to understand. My humility and shame was used as a platform to save face for the adults in my life who were supposed to be there for support and protection. No one really cared that there was a scared little girl who needed a support system. Like Grace, I know what its like to be kept in a glass cage on display for the world to see, where my good and bad deeds decorate the walls of my prison. This should explain why I am so comfortable being vulnerable in the eyes of the public. I don’t know what it’s like to keep my life private, which, in a sense, is a blessing because this may have been God’s way of preparing me for my biggest purpose in life. Grace will never know what kind of impact she had on me that day, but my soul and hers will forever be connected. Though there is an effortless sense of peace happening in my life right now, I would recognize that look of despair on the face of such a beautiful creature anywhere.
Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. 1chron 28:20
Recently, I researched the spiritual aspects of the Puma. I was delighted with what I finally found out about my sweet friend. Their characteristics are graceful. They practice stillness and quietness. These are two traits that I have struggled with, and two that God has instructed me to practice. They are patient and calculated in their endeavors. I have lived in survival mode my entire life; all I know is action. Through a ton of self evaluation, mistakes, and therapy, these are skills that I am determined to learn. I connected with Grace because I have so much to learn from her. Apart from what I could potentially learn, I came to understand a connection with Grace’s symbolic meaning of courage and power. Two words that have added purpose to my life. When I hear them I think how power of God, has given me the courage to stand on my own two feet and relentlessly fight for everything that I have got right now. Which, to some, may not look like a whole hell of a lot, but considering what I had a few years back, it’s everything. When I speak of what I’ve got, I am not speaking in material terms. You see, that’s what’s wrong with the world today. We work around the clock to fight for the things we will never be able to take with us when we depart from our life on earth. What I mean is that I fought for my faith in things unseen. I fought for my future husband and his faith. I fought for my children and the breaking of what I truly believe to be a generational curse on their futures. I fought for all of the young women who started out without a chance. I fought for my words, my voice. I fought for freedom from a spiritually damned life. I fought for my life. I stopped everything I was doing, picked myself up off the floor that I had found myself on for 20 years, I dusted myself off, I accepted God’s hand, and I found courage where there had been a life full of brokenness.
Have you had similar experiences with animals that have taken you on a higher spiritual level with God? If so, I would love to hear about them! Please feel free to comment, like and share!
Sweet child, be free.