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It seemed kind of crazy to give his notice to the jeep company and the trailer park. They all said, “Where you going?” It was like they knew he didn’t have a place to move on to. As much as this was normal for him in days gone by, it seemed even stranger now because he didn’t know where or what was next. But something said it was time to leave, so he loaded up his truck and moved on down the road. He headed east once he had climbed out of Oak Creek Canyon. Before he knew it, he was on Ol’ Route 66 again, driving and thinking, “How do I find my faith? How do I find places to bring balance to?” This seemed like the craziest journey he had ever been on and yet something seemed so right about it. “I don’t guess I have to worry about too much, I’ll just keep driving until I spot something, or find a place to camp.”

 

He was driving along not thinking about much. He knew he was somewhere in Arizona, and it was edging on towards sunset when a huge set of wings flew into his windshield. He didn’t have time to swerve or stop. The bird glanced off the windshield. He said, “Damn!” as a knee-jerk reaction as he pulled over to the side of the road. He got out and walked back, looking for an injured owl or some other large-winged creature. Surely enough, there was a Great Horned Owl standing by a large Pinyon pine tree. The owl didn’t look any too happy about its encounter with the windshield, but it didn’t look too scathed by the mishap, either. John thought about leaving the bird and resuming his journey but realized the bird would not be looking at him if something wasn’t wrong. John saw that there was a slight tension in the shoulder and right wing of the bird. He inched closer and said, “Do you need help?”

 

The owl just stared at him like he was a fool and John got a feeling like he should apologize, so he said, “I am sorry for the encounter. I know you may not have a lot of experience dealing with trucks, headlights and windshields. I am sorry if I hurt you.” The owl slumped over on its side and tried to get up to no avail. John rushed over and tried to steady the large-winged night eagle. The owl reacted instantly and pecked John’s hand, drawing a nice squirt of blood. “That’s fair,” John said, and held onto the owl. “Let me help you.”

 

The owl looked him in the eye and sent a message. This place needs healing, not me. I am fine. John got it instantly. Oh, this was just a ploy to get me to stop and do something.

 

“Where am I? Where are we?” he asked, and then he felt a crazy, strong, sad energy coming from the surrounding area. There wasn’t anything obvious he could see. He let go and started to whirl slowly with his arms outstretched to the sky. The wind picked up and a desert dust devil formed around him. The wind rose up higher into the air and dust started to blow in larger and larger circles. The owl stretched its wings and was lifted into the air, rising into the eye of the mini-tornado. The dust devil began traveling across the landscape and disappeared into the ground about a half-mile away. John wondered where it had gone.

 

He had slowed his whirling as he watched the dust devil. As it disappeared he wondered where the owl had gone, so he started walking towards where they had disappeared. As he neared the place he felt a tremendous sense of emotional grief. As he got even closer he felt a very eerie feeling; something was spooky about this place. John didn’t normally get scared, but this place felt haunted—like he was being watched, like he was being scrutinized. He slowed his pace and looked more closely at the surroundings. He almost forgot it was dark outside. No wonder it was a little spooky. No, it wasn’t the dark. It was something else. John stopped and waited.

 

He realized he was holding his breath and let out a big sigh. Suddenly the night air moved around him with a swoosh—he about jumped out of his skin! The owl landed a few feet from him. John screamed, “What the hell!” As he turned to run to the truck he realized it was the owl who had startled him. He slowed and thought about stopping but decided to go on to the comforts of his vehicle, no need to explore tonight. What was all of that about? He got in his truck and headed on down the road, although he was not able to take his mind off what had happened. An hour or so later he pulled off the road to bed down for the night.

 

He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. He was extra tired this night. An hour or two into his slumber he was awakened by a scraping sound outside the Airstream. He poked his head into the night air to see what was going on and the owl was back, or another owl was there. It hooted as he looked at it. Something was going on with the owls. He stepped on out into the night with this bird. “What do you want?” he asked.

 

The owl hooted again. John felt sick, was he going to throw up? Maybe he was going to faint? Something was going on with his stomach. “What do you want?” he asked again. There was something else moving in the dark around him. He felt uneasy, and feeling sick and scared wasn’t normal for John. Should he go back inside and go to sleep? Cold chills ran up and down his spine. Rather than thinking too much, he was in the experience in a different way this time. If he didn’t know better, he’d say he felt surrounded by dark energies, something not so friendly or safe. Were these ghosts, trapped spirits, energies looking for something from him? He felt drained all of a sudden, and the owl hooted again. Suddenly he yelled—“No! Get away!”—and put his arms and hands up signifying stop.

 

What was he signifying stop to? He didn’t know exactly what he was doing except he knew he did not like the feel of things. He was pretty certain he wasn’t signaling the owl. It was another energy. Maybe the owl was warning him? It seemed like the bombardment had ceased. Maybe it had retreated. John probably wasn’t going back to sleep and he wasn’t hungry. He decided to drive on down the road. He was hopeful there would be no more owl sightings.

 

John continued east on Route 66. What the hell was he doing? Where was he going? His brain would not leave him alone. Finally, he said out loud, with a chuckle, “I’m gettin’ the hell out of here! That’s what I’m doing!” At least there was a hint of humor left inside. He drove into the rising sun and felt much better. There was always something about the light that made him feel lighter, better, more secure.

 

As he reflected, he knew that things were crazy in his life. It wasn’t like he felt the need to talk to others about this because, well, just because. He had never really found much comfort confiding in others. Certainly he had never tried things like therapy or counseling. I mean, what would they tell him to do right now, except to go on medication or check himself into a psych ward? No, the answers weren’t out there anywhere, at least not in the human realm. He was sure of this. To say this experience was surreal was an understatement. He was seeing into the spirit world. But how does one see, hear and feel into the spirit world with a sense of accuracy and reliability? What does it mean? There’s nothing scientific or logical about it. There’s not a reference he can Google or Wiki search. No, he was on his own with this one. It was the best of times because some of these moments were beyond explanation. They were a rich dessert for his imagination.

 

And it was the worst of times if he was determined to stay in control and hold on for dear life. Luckily, for a good while now he had released control enough to let go of middle class reality. He was living on the fringe of society at best now, and that part felt alright. It was much deeper than that, though, his moving into a place of trusting what was happening to him. The whole experience had this vague sort of dream-like quality to it. Was it a dream or nightmare, was probably the more accurate question.

 

In the best of times, it was a magical dream; in the worst of times it was a dark, scary nightmare. He remembered the dark woman—the long-tongued black goddess—did she not say she had come to protect him or to repay some debt? Maybe he could call her forth the next time he felt the dark ghost-like energies. He just needed to remember. And what was her name?

the baptism The Baptism is a fictional novel that starts in 2011, when the story of a man who is at a turning point in his life began coming to me in a series of vignettes. The story follows one main character, John River, who has an ongoing supernatural experience with the Mother Earth. I hope you have as much fun reading this story as I’ve had writing it and I encourage comments and feedback because my vision for this journey is an interactive one. You can subscribe here to receive new chapters by email, and view the Table of Contents. Enjoy!

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