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Wisdom Stories — The Branch

Every so often I come across a story that stops me dead in my tracks.

A memory so raw and real that it brings tears to my eyes and makes me breathe deeply into the beautiful paradox of our human lives. This Wisdom Story is just such a sharing. I am honoured to offer this out to you all with the author’s permission as an expression of the joy and light that can be found in the darkness. May it remind you of the deeper purpose hidden in our fear. May you breathe in the sweet freedom that waits when we can restory our human darkness into our human light.

I have done a u-turn at the Pearly Gates several times in my life. Have I lived so that I can share these stories? Perhaps I am the one I came to inspire. Nevertheless, I have begun to write them down, and have a sense they are meant to be shared. This story stands out the most.

The place, Alaska, a place I still hold as one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I was very young and was on a college break adventure. One night I accepted a ride home with a co-worker I barely knew. He did not take me home, rather to remote forested area. It was winter, very cold and the area was covered with snow and bright moonlight.

There in his car I was beaten and assaulted. Through the haze of events there was a moment when time stood still. Through the window I saw a branch, covered in icy crystals. They were a bright dance of light twinkling in the moonlight. It looked alive and so incredibly beautiful. It felt like mine, for me. I fell into the abyss of such splendour. I felt no fear, only peace. I was immersed in light… I was going there. This beauty could not be taken from me. I knew he could not let me live to tell the tale… but he did.

He dumped me, broken, bruised and disoriented. I did tell the story. There was a trial. It was headline news. There were threats. I had round the clock State Trooper bodyguards. He was a member of the mighty Teamsters Union. My case would be a landmark. There had never been a rape conviction before. My case was solid and they told me I could not lose. He was found innocent of all charges.

All these years later what do I remember most? The branch.

Years of healing followed, searching for wisdom and the ‘why’. I was not alone that night. The ‘branch’ moment carried me through more dark times in my life. In retrospect, there was always a branch. I am still here. I still drink deeply from beauty and kindness. They feed my soul, my body responds, my life reflects them. I slowly let the story go, my need to understand it. I realized it was in the past and could no longer hurt me. I refocused my attention on not just surviving, but thriving. I was created in love, beauty and kindness. It cannot be taken from me. By whatever name, I realized the branch is who I am.

I have not forgotten the trauma of what happened, it has forgotten me.

My love and blessings to all of you. All of your stories. You are my family. I pray you health and joy.

Written by Tanah Whitemore

Tanah travelled the world, eventually returning to her roots — founding a wilderness school, retreat and Buffalo Preserve, Sacred Ground International, based on honour and respect for all life.