I am drawn to the times of day when sunlight casts long shadows, like in this photo, taken this morning walking out of the labyrinth for the third time.  Now it is still and quiet.  I am still feeling rattled, but calmer.

The morning started in a startling manner.  I was reaching up to pull covers over me in the early morning chill, when my hand hit the bedside lamp and brought it crashing down on my head.  My husband leaped from the bed so quickly I thought he’d been hurt.

Adrenaline pumping, I try to go back to sleep.  Fitfully, I manage to do so, dreaming that I’ve fallen into a deep hole and that other people are trying to help me out of the hole, but instead they’ve fallen in with me.

I get up, eat breakfast, do regular morning things and then head out to the labyrinth to walk three times.  I’m happy to be doing this.  I’m hoping to see the tiny little visiting birds this morning.  And I do!  They’re fluttering about, making what appear to be alarm calls.  I’m surmising this because two of our three cats are here, watching the birds fly down to drink from the fountain.  Because I can hear the alarm calls, I know that the birds know the two cats are there, so I don’t worry much about it.  The birds are getting brave, and fly down to drink water.

I stop in the center of the Maiden spiral to gaze at the birds and the cats watching the birds.  Ryder starts to get in a pounce position, but I’m sure that the birds can see him because he’s been right there the whole time since they did the whole alarm call thing, so I watch.  He leaps!  He lands in the top of the fountain, rocks skittering everywhere. A loud crash, birds fly, cat is wet.  And I’m feeling a rush of sadness.  If he had caught one of those birds I would have been horrified.

The birds leave, I go back to walking the labyrinth, sad now and feeling responsible, which is funny, because really, I chose to have cats.  I know that they catch birds.  I chose a long time ago to let them be outdoor cats, and while they don’t often come back with bird kills, it does happen.  So why I would be feeling responsible now is interesting.

As I continue to walk I’m noticing a heaviness in my chest and a plodding rhythm in my body.  I do not feel light and joyous.  Then I notice that my son’s cat and my daughter’s cat are starting to play.  At least that’s what I think is going on, but then it starts to get serious.  Fur is literally flying as they roll and growl and hiss and suddenly I’m flying out of the labyrinth, clapping my hands, growling myself and heading towards the water hose.  I spray water towards them and they split apart and race off.  My heart is pounding.  I’m angry.  At the cats for fighting, at myself for who knows what.

And I realize the thing that I have been unwilling to fully face about myself. I will do almost anything to avoid conflict.  More importantly, I have been choosing conflict avoidance over my aliveness.  I have been choosing compromise over love, real love that comes from feeling my feelings all the way through and speaking what’s true for me and being committed to Life.

I have come a long way in this realm.  Many things have shifted for me, but this one, this thing that I thought I’d handled? It’s not handled.  And that’s okay.  Because I know that now that I am seeing areas that I’ve been hiding from myself, I can face them.  Because I am choosing a particular kind of light, I can see shadows that I wasn’t aware were there.

And note to self, if I think I’ve handled something, I probably have only gotten this current layer.  There are more – more layers, more twists and turns on the path.  It’s an in and out journey.  I travel in and travel back out of learnings, uncovering the next thing.

Just now, I’m feeling peaceful.  There is a spotted towhee sitting in the top of the tree just outside my window, trilling at me.  I can see it now.  Normally I just get to hear the trilling, but today I get to see him.