I had a most amazing experience at my art fair in Holy Hill, Wisconsin. It was on the grounds of a beautiful church atop a 1350 foot tall hill, with a panoramic view of Wisconsin. It is the home of the Discalced Carmelite Friars. (discalced means barefoot). This was my first overnite stay before an art fair. I had never traveled that far before. We stayed at the guesthouse overnite. I felt like this would be a wonderful experience as there are 435 acres of beautifully wooded land. And there is also a chapel inside the main church, where people have thrown crutches outside the door, after they have worshipped there and received a healing. I have to admit I went there more for the experience of being there and spending the night than for the business opportunity.
However, my heart was heavy. I had things on my mind. And my husband doesn’t like traveling, so he was nervous about this new fair, wondering how and when we would setup, what the weather would be like. So in spite of the wonderful surroundings, we both had a sleepless night. We were supposed to get up at 5am, so that we could get ready and have breakfast between 6:30 and 7am. Then we were supposed to setup our tent.
Well things didn’t go as planned. After not sleeping all night, I finally got up at 5am and decided to take a walk. It was still dark. I had no idea where to go, but I found myself climbing the many steps towards the church. I didn’t know if it would be open or not. When I finally reached the top of the long climb, there was steam circling around the church, and bats were flying in and out of the steam. Since the whole church was lit, I could see all of this very well. I guess it sounds kind of spooky, but I wasn’t afraid. It looked kind of surreal. And my tired mind and body didn’t even have enough energy to react. I went for the door, turned the handle, and it was open! I was surprised. I went in, and I was totally alone. No one else was there.
I headed for the healing chapel. I saw the crutches outside the door, and a pair of children’s boots, and one big adult boot. And then I went inside. I sat down on one of the chairs, and could barely think of what I should be praying about. There was so much stuff on my mind. But I was too tired to put it into words. So, I just said thank you God. And then all the things that I could be thankful for, came to me easily, and I just sat there in gratitude. I looked down on the ground for a minute, just in time to see a huge centipede glide on by! He was about 2 feet from me. That got my attention. And then I started to laugh, thinking, I couldn’t kill him in here! Besides he was too big to even think of killing. Actually, I was too tired to care. As long as he wasn’t crawling on me, I decided it was ok. Every once in a while I glanced at the floor, but he had totally disappeared. I don’t know where he went, but thankfully he was gone. I laughed as I thought we were co-existing peacefully! Worshipping together.
As tired as I was, I felt at peace. I was free of judgments. Of myself. And of others. And it was wonderful to feel that way. Like a burden had been lifted from me. I didn’t realize how heavy I was with the crushing weight of all of these judgments. And I sailed out of there. It was still dark. But I felt like something had changed within me. Like I could face the day. And I hope that I can bring this feeling back anytime. Whenever I need it.
There was definitely symbolism in this experience. I don’t know what the bats mean, or the centipede. I told a friend this story and decided that the centipede needed 100 legs to carry away each of my bad thoughts, because there were so many. We both had a good laugh. But maybe on some level, that’s what was taking place