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  • A few years ago I spent some days in Banff, Alberta, Canada, attending a small small leadership conference at The Banff Center for Leadership Development.

    Guided by Julian, we spent one morning experiencing nature and our relationship to it in the nearby forest. As part of our time, we each found a private ‘sit spot’ where we had 45 minutes of quiet…to meditate, talk to the trees, enjoy the beauty.... While it was a beautiful, sunny day, the temperature was only about 35º F. We were encouraged to go barefoot so we could more deeply connect to Our Mother, The Earth. I did. But, also, I was wearing my long winter wool tweed cape.

    Since the terrain was quite variable, I had found a wonderful pole pine staff to support my walk.

    I walked slowly and deliberately as I returned to where others were already gathered. Julian was watching my return. He smiled. Then he said something to the others and they all turned to look at me. More smiles. Some nods. When I reached the group, I asked Julian what had made him smile and comment. He said that a chipmunk had run across my foot.

    “Really?” I thought to myself, “That’s amazing! The joke's on me! Here I was walking so deliberately and I didn’t even see a chipmunk run across my foot! How funny!”

    During our walk back to our lovely meeting place, Renee said, “You were like a vision coming out of the forest.”

    Later, as we sat in our circle and shared our morning's experiences, Michael said, “With your staff and cape and the way you walked – your pace and peace – I saw Wisdom coming out of the forest. Forever more, when I am asked to visualize a wise person to ask for counsel, I will see you in my mind’s eye."

    Later, I again asked Julian what he had seen. He admitted that he was joking about the chipmunk. He said he was seeing the emergence of ‘a new archetype.’

    In that moment as I walked toward the group, it seems that I served as an apparition of an archetype. By definition, it wasn't personal. It was...and continues to be...beyond personal. That's what an archetype is: transpersonal. And...it includes the accoutrements of my age such as my cape, my slow and deliberate walk, and my walking staff.

    Yet, it was personal for me. That morning was both a very powerful and very humbling experience that continues to impact me. It was about recognizing and claiming myself in this stage of my life...as a wise elder.

    And about remembering and continuing to recognize and claim myself as I am today. Especially when I'm at risk of losing heart.

    .

    [Photo by Barbara, on my iphone, the view from my sitting spot, Banff, Alberta, Canada, 2010]
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