Category Archives: And then I met God, again

This is a group of posts in regards to large changes in perspective that I have had on the path. It be relevant to a specific God or Goddess, but might not.

What is the Misa?

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I think it is important to note the Quechua is a very interesting language. And over time, it has adapted quite a bit to the Spanish language which is also spoken heavily in Peru.

The proper Quechua word is Misaq’epe. And a rough translation for this is: “the collection of khuyas or power objects given by the teacher or Nature Spirits to the Paq’o (Shaman/Mystic/Priest/Healer/Wiseperson).” The Misaq’epe is a physical extension of the Andean Priests power and is used in almost all ceremonies. This is also stated as Misa for short, or Mesa, which is the Spanish word for table or plain, referring to the flat surface it creates when opened for use.

The Misa is a ceremonial cloth, filled with Khuya, and other pieces relevant to the Paq’o. It can contain almost anything at the Paq’os discretion. But each item in it carries value in the Misa. It serves many purposes. And the least of which is to carry the Khuya and tools. It truly is an extension of the Paq’os power. Through the Misa, I see the Universe around me, and within that universe, I see the truths that exist around us. Even the ones that don’t seem apparent. And even if they are too subtle, or disconnected for me to see, all the truths are there.

I feel like I could look at the layout of my Misa, and the contents, for days straight and never come near finding all of the meanings that it has to tell me. And that is only trying to look for a single person. The Misa can be used for connection to the individual Khuya, or all of them, it can be used to connect to individuals, it can be used to read people/places/things, or do divinations, and it can also be used to change the universe around a person. It is a grave responsibility, and it is a remarkable power.

The Misa, and all it can do, gives me so much to be grateful for on this path. I continue to learn more about myself as it challenges me to be a better person.

Ayni

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Ayni (Eye-knee) is a Quechua word for Sacred Reciprocity. And to be very clear, Reciprocity is not just given and taking of things in equal value.  Sacred reciprocity is about you gifting what you can without expectation of return, and how it gives people a feeling of joy that allows them to feel generosity in their own spirit.

My work as a Paqo is done on the Gift Economy.  Which makes me endless happy for several reasons:

  1. It allows me to use my privilege to assure that those with less do not have to do without my aid.
  2. It allows people to be helped, and if they choose to give a gift in return, it can be something that means a lot to them, and allows their soul to feel that there is an equitable exchange. To elaborate, if I charged $60 an hour for my services, my work becomes transactional, and they value of it ends once the check is written. If I don’t charge, and a person decides that they would like to give me a monetary gift so they can offer me something of value in exchange… The exchange has happened, both people are happy, but there is a remaining feeling of I appreciate you, and I feel slightly indebted to you (in a positive way).  But it also allows for someone to gift me a piece of handmade art. Which has value that our capitalistic market doesn’t recognize.  Handmade art carries the Kawsay (Cow-ss-eye) or life energy of the piece.
  3. It allows people to be helped, and just accept it for the gift it is, and not feel the need to return something.
  4. It honors the wonders of Ayni: which is an essential aspect of all things for a Paqo.
  5. I have also noticed that with the Gift Economy, the transaction doesn’t end. Many of my clients become friends and we build strong relationships ~ which is also an essential aspect of all things for a Paqo.

Ayni is such an essential thing for me personally as well as my work as a Paqo.  I realized today while I was taking a walk around our neighborhood on this lovely Equinox day, that I feel indebted to my mentor, my Ayllu, and the lineage, history, and care of the Q’ero people.

I work hard to hold a balance of Ayni with both my mentor and Ayllu, but I was trying to figure out how I can aid the Q’ero. I was recently turned onto an organization, by a friend Tami, called The Heart Walk Foundation. The goal of this US Non-Profit is to aid the Q’ero people in their lives high in the Mountains.  You can donate to the Q’ero directly through their site, or, you can purchase some of the beautiful hand-woven textiles that carry both: their history, as well as the Kawsay of the people.

Through the Heart Walk Foundation, you can donate to help the lives of Alpaca’s (which are essential to the way of life), Directly to the Education of Children, Health, Food, and Security.

I have spoken directly with a member of the board of this organization, and I fully support what they are doing.

Currently, I support friends who are creating things that matter, I support Black Lives Matter, and I will now start supporting the Heart Walk Foundation in their efforts to help the Q’ero people.

I would ask two things of you:

  1. Consider the power of your money.
  2. If you wish to offer a gift to me, you may do so in submitting your support for either of these two organization.

Heart Walk Foundation
Black Lives Matter

 

 

Tower of Babel

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For those of you who have not heard this story, I will give you the briefest possible explanation.

Towards the beginning of mankind, mankind got overly proud of their own prowess and decided to build a tower to the heavens to meet God. After they reached a point that was higher than God was comfortable with, he stopped them, destroyed the building, and created hundreds of different languages for the people to speak, so they wouldn’t be able communicate with one another to rebuild it.

I have often heard this story and frequently could only hear the scientific improbabilities. And this exact thing points to the issues I created, in trying to not hear what people said about God. Looking back, I see that my goal in doing so was to NOT hear them. It was not to point out science. It actually gives a poor name to both science and faith.

If I were to alter my goal in that argument to line up with my interests, hear them, and speak truths I see in their faith, so that we can all work together, the story looks a bit different.

Let us start with the idea that this whole interaction is true. I find that no matter what faith you are in, while you don’t have to believe in the other person’s faith, it is important to know that their faith is true for them. With that, I see the story above as being very different.

It seems to me that in order for us to make sense of things, we personify everything. So, while we might have been made in God’s image, I doubt Ze* has our pettiness, frivolousness, or ignorance. What if Ze destroyed the tower and created the different languages, not to STOP people from meeting Hir* face to face, but so that we CAN meet Hir face to face.

The reality, is that God is all around us. No matter how you label Hir. God is in the air, the plants, the trees, and all the beings. What if this tower was prevented because people were under the misconception that you needed to build some remarkable tower to meet Hir. And by destroying that tower, and preventing the communication to recreate it, maybe God was reigning us back in from a humongous Red Herring? What if Ze was both, redirecting us to a helpful place, but also making ‘God’ accessible to everyone, including those who could NOT build a tower.

Food for thought.

*Ze and Hir are gender neutral ways to identify She/He and Him/Her

Caution

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One thing that I find troubling about worship is the amount of effort it takes.

While I am aware the effort is part of the point, I often feel that taking that first step, putting that initial effort forward, is like an opening gambit in chess. It is requesting a relationship that you then need to maintain. That is where the hesitation comes in.

This train of thought really gets me thinking about the relationships I have now, and how hard it seems to be to maintain them. How my efforts seem to be never enough. (Insert several more expressions for anxiety here)

But when it comes down to it, so many of the things with which I work, exist as a consciousness because they have been believed in. So the fact that I even fret about not offering enough to maintain a “proper” relationship, is in fact, worship onto itself…

I am quite excited at this realization. But that got me thinking deeper… What Spirits/Gods am I worshipping that I have not acknowledged? How many hours a day do I spend worrying about the dishes or a confrontation at work? Ever notice how the more you worry about something, the bigger it seems to get?

Also, how many hours do I spend on my computer, my phone, Facebook, Instagram? It made me see that putting an Apple Logo on my God Alter might not go amiss…

By having a subscription to Amazon Prime, am I increasing the energetic power of the spirit created through the worship? All of the sudden, my ideas of social justice give me some clear boundaries on where and with what I worship. It brings much more meaning to “Every dollar is a vote.”

What do you worship that you aren’t yet aware of?

Connections

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If we look at some basic principles of Qi in Chinese Medicine, you see that the Qi (or energy) that makes the core of you, is a knot of all sorts of energy cords that come from many other places.  It is like you are the central hub and a definition of the crossing points of all of the different energies that make you, you. Basically, you are made of a giant intermingling of energetic cords.

Now, if we take that idea forward, and think about our interactions, to have an interaction with someone, you are actually taking an energetic cord, and trying to energetically make a connection to them.  This can be a positive thing, and it can go bad.  But that is a story for another time.  I have noticed for a very long time that I will see someone, and I feel connected to them.  The only word I have for it is attracted to them.  And I feel that this is where our language breaks down.

When I say attraction, I am not meaning sexual attraction.  No matter what that person looks like, nor how I perceive and judge that appearance, this attraction has nothing to do with it.  It is almost as if I can sense an aspect of who that person is.  An aspect of their essence. And from that brief glimpse of who they are, I feel as if I know something about them, and that something seems to override any visual representation that I take in with my eyes.

This is something that I would like clarity on.  And I would like to offer clarity in a place where neither our language, nor our culture is very clear.

There are several people I have met, mostly women, but also some men, transgender, pangender folks as well.  And it took me a long time to figure out that this wasn’t a physical attraction.  I am seeing that they are a person with whom I could connect.  And when I can trust that connection, without judging it, I can find a soul with whom I can connect.

For example, my family and I were visiting some family-friends in London, England.  We were having dinner, and we very briefly saw one of our friends that had simply been unavailable each time we had been there in the past.  And when I saw her, I instantly felt that connection. This was initially confusing for me.  She is a strong, intelligent and kind woman, and that is the sum of everything I would find attractive in a woman.  But it was so clear to me that the attraction I felt was not about romance.  The longer I thought on this, the idea came to mind, “Best Friend”.  And that was actually a defining moment for me.  I realized that this confusing pull that I have had, that seems to transcend people’s physical appearances, was an energetic connection giving me a clue about the people with whom I could be close to.  To be able to trust, and be 100% authentic with. This was a feeling I was having that talked to people I could trust and truly find friendship in.

Our language supports very few kinds of relationships without paragraphs of explanation. Friend, Romantic, Enemy, None.

If we can look beyond this, we can see all of the various relationships here are: (Like my post about love)

The relationship with your dog.
The relationship with a respected peer.
The relationship with a well spoken professor.
The relationship with your son’s friend.
The relationship with your favorite Oak Tree
The overarching complicated relationship with your extended family.

There are so many I could list that are boldly different, and remarkably and subtly different from the above.

I often mock the creation of new words that can come out of modern culture, but I cannot dis-acknowledge the benefits of words like “Frenemy”.  My kids use this all that time.  And it is a single word that actually takes a very complicated relationship where you are mostly friends, but there is some competition between you, and you regularly have spats that seem quite mean, but when it comes down to it, you would defend that person as a friend….  This single word articulates a complicate relationship.

While we may not yet have the vernacular to describe the complexity of the 90 thousand potential relationships, we can start to acknowledge them.  We can acknowledge, and even converse about the nuances of relationships, and how they are not always a relationship that must be Romantic if you are nice to each other but it is not quite friends.

By acknowledging these, we can start being clear with our intentions about those energy cords we send out in making connections with people.

It can become clear, and perhaps society can see, that if I, as a male, and teaching a female something, does not mean that there is romance even as an idea in the conversation.

Relationships can become more clear when we are transparent from the beginning that our intentions are to be a strong friendship, in a way that is NOT romantic.  And if at some point, those intentions change, be honest about that too.

When we are talking about how to connect better with others, let us start, by being clear with ourselves.

Shadows

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There are so many aspects of myself that I have spent years finding new ways to look around and avoid.  What I have learned so far on this path, can really be summed up to a single act.

Find, acknowledge, accept your own shadows.

What is a shadow?  The definitions are slightly varied here or there, but the core of it is this: A shadow is any aspect of yourself that you avoid.

Need examples?  Some of my shadows I have found are these…

  1. My cruelty
  2. My Ego
  3. My hatred
  4. My anger
  5. My Recklessness

These are aspects of myself that I had avoided for years.  And after spending some really difficult time sitting with those feelings, learning to accept them as part of me, and moving forward, I feel something important has shifted.  My understanding.

I have always run away from the aspect of myself that was cruelty.

But I realized that Cruelty is only one end of that spectrum  The other end is Generosity. And many problems in my life have fallen into line, by simply accepting the balance that swings between Generosity and Cruelty.  Remember, only acknowledging one of the two, leaves you without balance, and out of control.  Accepting the aspect that my value judgements dislike, I have found that the skill I have that makes me so efficient with my cruelty (my tongue, and ability to say exactly the right words to hurt someone) is actually a skill that is equally as strong with Generosity.  I learned that I also have the ability to say exactly the right words that someone needs to hear, to allow themselves to heal.

I have so many shadows. The 5 above are simply the ones that are the loudest, and somewhat more simple to deal with for it.  But there are so many other shadows that overshadow aspects of our lives.  And some are far more profound than others.

This past weekend, I did some hard extremely hard work, and encountered a shadow that I didn’t realize I was holding onto.  When I was 16, I moved out of my parents house.  And there was a physical altercation that was the trigger point for me leaving. The physical altercation did not actually cause this shadow.  It was the fact that while I was ‘facing-off’ with my step-father, my mom was standing over his shoulder, not doing anything.  I completely accept that she was probably terrified.  But that moment, told me that she didn’t care enough about me or my safety, to overcome her fear.  I realized that it put her in almost a paradox, where every direction she felt like she failed.  I left home, because of that.

It didn’t end there though. This past weekend, I re-encountered this experience, again.  This is not the first time I have looked at this shadow, and found a new dark spot.  I felt that deep sadness. It sat right over my heard Chakra, and was a black-hole density of sadness.  I let myself go into that feeling to work through the problem and I cannot tell you the challenge it held for me.  But I came through it.  And I saw things much more clearly.  I saw that I have the ability to cut my caring almost as clean as with a blade.  Just like I felt from my mother that day.  I found that I fear that my kids will one day see that I didn’t care, so I model myself after this “ideal” i have where my efforts can be so forced as to feel in-genuine.  That made me feel sick.  This insidious shadow snuck into the core of who I am, and could have possibly ruined my goal of having my kids remember our time together as happy, and knowing that we could be authentic and true with each other.  Realizing what that one shadow, thatI didn’t even realize I still carried, had such a profound affect on who I currently am.  And how holding on to that memory was such a strong item causing self-sabotage made me realize that I need to look so much deeper to clear the stigma of my shadow self, accept me for me, without the burden of those stigmas, and to grow.

I feel so much lighter, and I feel so ready for the challenge.

Calling

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This path is not easy.  I have gone through an unbelievable amount of work, growth, and change since that day I came out of my “Shaman Sickness.”  There have been physical issues, mental issues, energetic issues, and I think worst of all, interpersonal issues.  I have had to dissect many aspects of myself and be very honest about who I am, which is not always easy.

But I knew my path.  And it doesn’t actually matter what it takes to get there, I know that “there” is where I will be, so I press on.  Recently, I have found that the efforts I spend to work with, and assist people, have been the most empowering efforts I could be doing.  I feel as if I am more whole for offering cleansings and guidance.

I am told that I am starting to fulfill my role.  I am a Torchbearer.  For those who have questions, and have lost their way, I can guide them through the chaos and hardships to the door that leads them to their path.  And each time this effort becomes a reality, I feel like all is right with the world. I feel like I am doing right, and my calling is fulfilling me.

Sometimes it is important to see that the right path is rarely the easy path, but taking on that challenge has some remarkably clear, and tangible benefits.

I am helping people, and I feel good.

Boundaries

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A large lesson to be learned in doing the South work on this path, is learning boundaries.  Ironically, before I even officially started on this path, I was in a class held by Sarenth Odinson called Encountering the Runes.  It was amazing!  And when he held up a rune in explanation, I felt a sigil etching itself on my face.  It felt like a vertical line from the top to bottom of the left side of my face, then two more lines on diagonals creating an arrowhead pointing to the right of my face.  I later asked Sarenth what Rune he was holding up, and he said, Thurisaz.

Elder Futhark: Thurisaz
Elder Futhark: Thurisaz

And after speaking with my mentor, Jim, he informed me that a lesser known meaning of Thurisaz is Boundaries, and to hold them.

Now, I have not yet met a lesson along this journey that has been filled with the glee and the wonder of, oh say, learning about how to calculate the inclination of a new star off the plain of the sky…  These lessons tend to put you in the hardest possible position, and then apply pressure until you are forced to figure out a way to get out of it.  And I find myself asking the question, “Can’t anything be easy!!??”

And when I come to that question, I hear chains of raucous laughter in my own head.

If you were not pushed into the worst possible situation, who is to say you could really learn the lesson.  If the spirits doing the teaching were to ‘go easy’ on you, you might walk away thinking you know the answer, and only having scratched the surface. My teachers, and I hope yours too, will not spare me any difficulty, in order to do you the justice you deserve as a true student.

But so much of the South work (Which started on August 16, 2014 and is nearing an end in April 24, 2015), has truly been about balancing compassion, with boundaries.  How do you hold compassion for others, while holding firm boundaries and protection around yourself.  This has truly been tested, and abused.

I find myself in a situation, where I must hold a boundary hard.  And I must hold it to protect me, and my family, from people who we care about, and have no intention of causing harm.  Holding a boundary when you can see the pain it causes, and aching because the compassion you must hold must be abated for the sake of that firm boundary.   Yet there can be no give, and no wiggle room.  This boundary is the limit.  And no matter how much I long to act more on my compassion, I have learned that Generosity can be as much of a curse as a blessing.

By allowing your compassion to run without the boundaries, you are draining yourself, and enabling others.  Endless generosity breeds darkness, and although not as blatantly hard, it is a more insidious darkness.

Lesson learned.  I get it.  When can it stop?

Learning about myself through my Addiction/Greed Khuya

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In the beginning of the south work (We work the four directions on this path), we select three stones to make friends out of.  Each of these stones are used with a specific emotion, feeling, or terrible problem.

In this post, I would like to discuss my Granite Khuya.  This is a stone I got from the ashes of our first ceremonial fire I attended with my mentor.  I connected this stone, in my mind, with Pachamama. (Which is Qechua for Mother Earth.)

To create this Khuya, I needed to find something in my past, inside me, that illustrated Greed or Addiction.

I am happy to say that I couldn’t find much in my character (Where I am now, at least) that I can attribute to Greed.  Addiction wasn’t much easier to locate.  And I thought about how I had had a hard time giving up Soda a few years ago. (And in fact, I still drink it on road trips, when we eat out, and from time to time otherwise.)

After we spent time thinking about this, we needed to sit around, and speak about our issues with our Wyna Allyu (Small Group), and mentor.  Upon hearing my unsure suggestion at a soda addiction, Jim was like, ummm, no.  That is not it.  Can you not think of anything that is a bit truer?  And I couldn’t.  I truly couldn’t see it.

He said, do you not see that you have an addiction to Data? He then began to enumerate, from just the seemingly few interactions we had had, all of the ways that I would become obsessed with knowing ‘all the things’ about any topic.

I had never considered this as an addiction, but as he spoke through some of the examples, I really saw the possibility.

From there, we were given a more difficult task.  We were to take a walk.  And the point of this walk was to spend time, in nature, almost in meditation, while thinking about our addictions. I guess that statement doesn’t do this justice.  It was to focus so hard on the individual issues that you are able to locate the source, the point in your past from where this addiction came.  The challenge here was really to go through and find the worst parts of yourself, and explore them in broad daylight, and without being able to close your eyes, or point at someone else.  This was the truest experience of staring into the worst of myself, and finding the root cause.

With the other two Khuya I created during this time, it was EASY to find those things, and work to their source.  (Easy in the sense of how vivid they were in memory, not actually digging in, that was terrible) This particular thing, an addiction to data, was one that I wasn’t going to question when Jim brought it up, but at that time, I really didn’t see it.  I saw how it could completely be true, but not how it was.  Nor could I really see the dangers in such an addiction.  And here is the answer, and perhaps this is true with all addictions, and I am just unaware.  It is insidious.  It is subtle. You are completely unaware of it, until it explodes in your face, and then you are stuck in a place where an unbelievable effort is required to extricate yourself, and a lifetime of ongoing work to keep yourself free of it.


I think it is important to know that I get into a job, any job, and immediately start looking for the ways to improve it. How can I do this job better?  And after a bit of effort, I master the job, find the best paths to walk, and the best shortcuts I can take to make it more efficient.  Then I get bored.  I start taking on the other tasks to fill my time.  And then, all the tasks are done, and I get bored. The average job would be exciting for about 2 months.

In fact, working in computers has been so amazing because every time I learn one thing, I hear of five more that I had never even seen before.  I took me a long time to get bored.  This job really held me for about 10 years.  But I still fall back into, what can I do, to learn more, to make this interesting.  I am not saying I know everything with computers.  I have learned a large amount about the parts I can make myself care about, and those are ones I have been working on for 15 years.  Anyway, the point of the matter is, I look for stuff to learn outside of work.  I have taken up, Martial arts, running, Archery, Violin, Board work for my church, giving sermons, teaching, reading, writing, blogging, weight lifting, Astro Physics, Quantum Physics, and studying about spirituality, religion… I wish the list stopped there.

And I don’t know of any sane person that says learning is a bad thing, but the problem with almost any addiction isn’t that the thing itself is bad. I mean, you can have a drink, and not be an alcoholic. My addiction was disrupting the balance of my life, and I didn’t see it.

I kept complaining about how I felt that there wasn’t enough time for anything, I was too stressed, too much going on, anything was just one more thing.  In fact, I still feel this way, but a friend pointed out that it comes from being too fragmented.

I am a father, a husband, an uncle, a guardian, a martial artist, a programmer, a manager, a leader, a speaker, a blogger, a runner, a president, a congregant, a teammate, a friend, a lover, a shaman, a problem, a physicist, an educator, a student, a hunter, a protector, and an artist.

While I often shift which has the highest priority; father, and husband, are always on top. But it is not always easy to see that.  Anyway, he pointed this out, and I had never seen it before. These are not just roles that everyone has, these are the culmination of the damage that my addiction to data has brought me.  And as I see it, I have to separate each and every one of my roles and then re-evaluate its individual value in my life to keep myself sane while figuring out how to curb the addiction.
After I have evaluated it, I can then attempt to find a way to bring it back into my life, in a way the suits my current goals moving forward.  If it doesn’t fit, then it should be shelved.

The best metaphor I can come up with is to look at the pile of dominos on the floor, and pick up each one, and then stacking them sequentially on their heads.

They will inevitably fall down again at some point.  But this will be a job of finding balance and a firm grounding on which to build my track.

And while I am always shocked when these rambling posts come to a point, this one brings me back to balance.  Which I think is what all of this work is about.  Finding the places in your life that are so far off the “bell-curve” that even the outliers’ call them outliers, and bringing them back in to balance with the rest of you.  The first step is seeing the problem.

Giveth and Taketh Away

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Gray Timber Wolf.

My third spirit animal has been quite elusive. She shows up from time to time so I know She is still there, but always from a far.

From the moment I learned about Her (which, in itself, felt as if it happened before She was ready, and it was definitely by accident) I understood that there was some extra work I needed to do in order to know Her.  Maybe even to prove my credibility in order to know Her. I felt such a longing for this energy that is a part of me, yet I do not have access.

And finally, we spoke. I felt the connection, and with that last piece in place I felt whole. And for the first time, I learned her name.

I slept well that night, and when I woke, although desperately scrambling to recall it, I couldn’t’ find Her name.

Emerald?
Evergreen?
Forest?

It is like I have the essence of the name, but not the word to perfectly fit.  And then I heard Her voice. “I took it back from you.”

“Why?” I asked in utter perplexity.

“You are not Ready.  Make a connection with the tribe, then I will give it back to you.” She said.

*For those of you who do not know, I live in Traverse City, MI, and there is a reservation nearby.  But this “quest” (for lack of a better term) is a different story.

She gave me this challenge, not as a ‘condition to Her affection’, but as a tool I can use to identify my own readiness. (And I did not realize this myself, until I wrote it here)

Where does this stand now? There has been almost no contact for over a year, I almost forgot She was still with me.

************

I was driving home from a trip down state. The fog was thick, and I was driving 10 miles per hour below the speed limit.  As I came over a slight hill, I saw a place where I went into a small valley between two hills.  There was an eerie line I crossed where I went below the fog between these two hills.  And into the center of the road, walked a very large timber wolf.  My Timber Wolf.  I had NEVER seen one in person before.  I started to slow down as to not hit Her, and she turned, looked me in the eye, bowed Her head slightly, turned to casually walk off.  This incident was particularly strange to me because there wasn’t enough time for Her to do all of that, before I would hit her at the speed I was driving, yet, it was not even a close call.

But I know for sure, She is with me.