Signs at the Crossroads


I'd love to have a beautiful
I’d love to create a beautiful “hobbit house” like this one that’s on exhibit at The Bascom: A Center for the Visual Arts in Highlands, NC.

“To understand is quick and exciting but to embody is slow and penetrating.”  ~John Tarrant

As I write this post I find myself at a crossroads;  it’s my last week in our Smoky Mountain summer home. By the time you read this I will have left. Part of my heart doesn’t want to leave this sanctuary;  the other part looks forward to returning to my Florida home and family.

Both places hold special charms for me.  Here it’s secluded, cool, mountainous, and forested. Everywhere I go I’m surrounded by nature’s wild beauty. My life is slower, less “mental”, more contemplative and physical—perhaps I should say, “embodied.”  I have lots of solitude, plenty of time to listen to my inner promptings and do whatever appeals, a large granddog companion to accompany me on daily hikes, and occasional house guests to enjoy and entertain…all at an easy, reasonable pace that feeds my soul at a deeply satisfying level.

My life in Florida has a different kind of beauty with its daily and weekly routines: regular workouts, ukulele lessons,  social commitments, holiday celebrations, and fun times with my family, always with enough time left over to write.  The pace is faster and more exciting, given Orlando’s thriving and diverse cultural offerings, but since I prefer a minimum of “fast and exciting,” I usually manage to stay within my comfort level there too.

The meaning of events is the way of salvation that you create. The meaning of events comes from the possibility of life in this world that you create. It is the mastery of this world and the assertion of your soul in this world. ~Carl Jung, The Red Book, Page 239.

The thing that makes dividing my time between these two paths work so well is that I’ve finally learned to listen to how I really want to spend my time and to look for meaning regardless of where I am. In Florida I find meaning in my family and friends, writing, music, and art.  Here in the mountains I mostly find it in nature, a road less traveled in our fast-paced world.

I’d like to show you what I mean.  These are some of the meaningful signs I’ve found in nature during this crossroads week. Each one speaks to how I want to live my life, regardless of where I am.

This morning I saw this magnificent display of light in the bathroom. It came from a single sunbeam that found its way through the slats of the window blinds.

Always be mindful of the miracle of life and light.

Stay mindful of the miracle of life and light.

The first thing Izzy has to do on our walks is chase the trout around the pond while I feed them.

If herding trout floats your boat, go for it with gusto!

If trout herding floats your boat, go for it with gusto!

As we stepped onto the trail, the trunk and green necklace circling the base of this beautiful old tulip poplar captured my imagination.

There's beauty in everything: even wrinkles and poison ivy!

Be an objective observer. There’s beauty in everything: even wrinkles and poison ivy!

The next thing to catch my interest was this unusual curved tree trunk.

Straight is not the only way to grow to the light.

There are many ways to grow toward the light. Straight is just one of them.

Izzy loves to run ahead, nose to the ground, while I like to take my time on the trail. But she doesn’t go far, and before long, she always comes back to check in.

Izzy's message to me:

There are few more satisfying or loyal companions than a dog that that has been loved, trusted, and treated with respect. Actually, that’s true of people too.

Yes, she does wait for me, but not always where I would prefer!

When you find a really great mud puddle, stop and take the time to play in it.

When you find a really great mud puddle, take the time to play in it.

She also waits at crossroads to see which way I’ll go.

If you're not sure about which way to go, wait for guidance.

If you’re not sure about your next step, wait for guidance.

I think she prefers the road less traveled too.

When your heart knows the way, step forth boldly!

When your heart knows the right path, face it head-on!

 The other day our friend, Sam, found what we’ve decided is an old moonshine jar almost buried beside the new path. Over the years, Mother Nature has turned it into a terrarium filled with green life. We left it there for Nature to do her thing, and to remind us of the history of these mountains. And to enjoy on our next walk.

Respect local traditions. Respect Nature. Respect change. For as Mother Julian of Norwich said,

Respect local traditions.

Respect Nature.

Respect change.

As Mother Julian of Norwich said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

We were being serenaded by crows near the end of our walk today when I found a crow feather.  At the trail’s end I placed it on our Crow Altar.

Respect synchronicities with all living beings, for they are reminders that you are known and loved by something beyond yourself.

Honor synchronistic experiences with your full attention and meaningful rituals. Synchronicities remind you that you are known and loved by a benevolent force beyond yourself.

This last sign came when we returned from town one twilit evening. I heard a loud rustle in the woodpile and saw a hawk fly up to a nearby branch. It peered down at us with interest and patiently waited while I pulled out my cell phone and took pictures.

Try to develop a sharp eye and a cosmic view that observes our precious world with infinite patience and love.

Try to develop a sharp eye and a cosmic view that observes this precious world with infinite patience and love.

A true religion is precisely one that can teach you how to recognize and honor God everywhere, and not just inside your own group symbols. ~Richard Rohr

Jean Raffa’s “The Bridge to Wholeness” and “Dream Theatres of the Soul” are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. “Healing the Sacred Divide” can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

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0 Responses

  1. Deep joyous read Jeanie and a timely reminder for me to seek out my own path to wholeness, wherever that may be, wherever that may take me. A slow, meandering way with many wonderful signs, twists and beautiful long turns for there will be no fast-track or line for the soul for sure.
    I really enjoyed your photo’s, especially your little story about the bathroom and the light, such an alchemical and beautiful moment when elements meet like that! I hope Florida finds you well and deeply rested. Blessings, Deborah.

    1. Thank you, Deborah. This post, the theme of which is, indeed, to follow one’s own path to wholeness, was a reminder for me as well. This slow, meandering way of watching and listening is definitely becoming embodied, especially in the mountains where nature and solitude are constant reminders, but it’s still easy to forget it in the hustle and bustle of returning to the big city. I’m glad to know you got that message. Blessings, Jeanie

  2. I too love looking for beauty in my surroundings or nature. My walks along our waterfront provide me with nature, solitude, and people to talk to and their dogs to pet. I even find interesting images in mud puddles. You may want to take a look at some of my recent postings on my blog to see what brings a smile to my face. I definitely relate to your thinking. Wonderful post.

        1. Thank you for posting this link, Gwynn. I loved the pictures. Yes, I saw the peacock strutting its stuff. Yes, I saw the heart. No, I don’t think you’re a crazy lady. I think you’re a like-minded soul who is in love with the magic and beauty of our world! 🙂

  3. … Synchronicities remind you that you are known and loved by a benevolent force beyond yourself …
    Thank you 🙂 Catherine

  4. Jeanie, good morning. So how often do I finish a blog? However when I listen/feel the message I know I might have a second of fame!!! I knew you had a message for me in your blog. And of course it is about the garden of life. Rebirth of nature in a whiskey bottle. Heck I thought you were going to report on the rusty red wagon and it’s wild slide down the hill. Thanks for being such a wonderful friend, and thank you for sharing all you have and your beautiful family. Love Sam

    1. Good morning, Sam. You are definitely a very intuitive person who listens/feels/notices messages that elude others. Too bad we can’t bottle that! It’s a valuable skill others would do well to cultivate. Thanks for reading and responding today. Above all, thank you for yours and Eleanor’s friendship. Love, Jeanie

  5. Jeannie, This summer went to fast for us to even share a glass of something cool and a moment of warm conversation! Just knowing you’ve left the mountains leaves a lonely void in the atmosphere, even on this beautiful fall day. When you come back, Highlands and I will be smiling.

    1. Vangie, I’m smiling at your sweet comment right now. Thank you. Yes, unfortunately, the summer flew by. Hopefully, we’ll find a way to slow it down enough to enjoy a glass of something cool together next summer.

  6. I feel quite moved by this post. I resonate deeply with all that you’ve experienced and written. Thank you for this and many other of your posts as well.

    1. Thank you so much, Carla, for taking the time to tell me this. It feels really good to know you are “out there” resonating with me! Blessings, Jeanie

  7. silent water in the lake reflects beauty of moon ……. so a silence mind reflects the beauty of outside …… beauty in your words and beauty in your world dear and divine Jeanraffa …… thanks … all.

  8. I love this and love having you as a nature mystic and Jungian friend. More things to share. I resonated with many of these–light, crows, old jars–and loved taking a walk with you. Waiting at the Crossroads got my attention most. Hecate’s Place. The spot where Artemis stands. I love the way Willow runs ahead on the trails, but when we come to a crosstrail or crossroad, she pauses to see which way I’ll go. I’m trying to learn to pause and listen a little longer at the crossroads.

    1. I feel the same way about you, Elaine. It was while I was waiting at the crosstrail that I got the idea to make this the subject of a blog post! Yes, Hecate and Artemis were there for me too.
      On another note, I’ve never thought of myself as a nature mystic, but perhaps that’s exactly what I am. Certainly I’ve felt the magic of nature, and especially trees, since I was very young. At the age of 5 we moved near a forest and something in me awakened big time the first time my father took me for a walk in it. It felt so mysterious and magical, and I still feel the same thing whenever I enter densely treed spaces. There’s something about being surrounded and protected by these benevolent sentinels that resonates very deeply. When I was 7 we moved to Tampa. There were no forests nearby, but there were three palm trees on the other side of the alley behind our house, and they had a cluster of large palmettos under them that I used to crawl into just to relish the solitude. That cozy hiding place felt like a sanctuary to me. So yes, I will happily claim the title of Nature Mystic! Thank you, friend.

      1. I hope you (we) get to wear the Nature Mystic hat along with many other hats. You are also a scholar, a powerful writer, a speaker and workshop leader, a beautiful woman, a mother and grandmother, a wife, a seeker, and so much more. I see the Nature Mystic in your Carolina posts. And now you’re back in FL, another beautiful spot on this earth.

  9. …and an opportunity to wear, or discover, more hats that fit! Thanks for the kind descriptions of some of them. I see you wearing all of these as well.

  10. No problem, Steven. 🙂 I got the gist of what you were thinking and saying and loved it! Thank you. And I don’t know if you meant to hyphenate moon-shine, but if you did, that’s cool because that brings up more images for me too!

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