Denali Dragonfly

This is the beginning of how Grace came to be called Denali Dragonfly. Still disabled in May 2008, she began writing her story. Originally this piece about her dragonfly encounters was intended to be the beginning of her book. Then her whole life totally changed in July 2008, when she began to heal herself with the daily practice of Emotionally Focused Transformations.* 

Taku Sanctuary

Alaskan autumns begin in August with typically cool rainy weather, but that late August afternoon in 2006 was sunny and warm. It was twelve months from the onset of my disability from Chronic Mono on the heels of twenty-plus years of misdiagnosed Fibromyalgia. My ability to walk was a tenuous blend of toddler and elder. Being housebound and full-time caregiver of myself, the isolation drove me outside on any day I could rationalize was a “good day,” by means of my energy level and the weather.

I had spent the previous six weeks attempting to blend back into life by walking outdoors, short distances at first, then gradually increasing to longer ones. The condo I rented was two blocks from the Campbell Creek Greenbelt in Anchorage. It is an urban wilderness trail that winds its way along the creek and to the south passes by Taku Lake. During the previous seven years of my Alaskan residency, I had frequently walked it at a fast pace. I knew it well enough to be prepared for travelers of various modes, both domestic and wild. In my compromised condition, I had honed my ability to tap into a Higher Source through Applied Kinesiology (AK) for confirmation of safe departure from my den of hibernation. The walks along the sun-dazzled creek, enveloped by the crisp air, were something I craved for all the healing powers of nature that I could collect.

A few days earlier, I had been to Twilah’s, a friend who was hosting a small spiritual study class in her home. That was one of several desperate, yet premature, attempts to venture out of my invalid’s cave. It was a safe place where I could lie on her couch, if sitting proved too painful or exhausting. The group was never larger than four, therefore not an overwhelming energy drain. Twilah had enthusiastically recommended seeing a movie called Way of the Peaceful Warrior, on screen at The Bear Tooth Theatre. It was a favorite, familiar setting, so I ventured out to see it. The affect it had on me was profound. The spiritual message fell into close alignment with my personal growth studies of the previous few years, and the more recent, intense study of various types of meditation as a possible way to heal.

The powerful lessons from the movie were still fresh in my consciousness that bright afternoon of August 29, 2006. I painstakingly made my way out into the world that I longed to breathe, see and experience. As I plodded along, I maintained my conscious contact with my Higher Source with frequent AK testing by asking, “Is it okay to continue?” I never knew how far I might get on any given day, or when I might get the signal to return home. I was immensely grateful to be out in communion with nature and was acutely aware of the trees and insects in the forest surrounding me, all which seemed to hum with the energy of life. It was a manifestation of Dan Millman’s revelation portrayed in the movie, “There are no ordinary moments.”

That day I was not relegated to the short distance of “my spot” by the bend in the creek, about 25 yards from the fence pass-through. My AK testing confirmed it was safe to walk farther down the winding trail. I arrived safely past the three bridges that cross the creek before the trail goes under the railroad bridge. That had been my turning point on previous ventures. Still testing my Source, I was good to go on. Once I reached the bend after the railroad bridge, I knew it was best to continue on to the lake, where there were benches and I could rest before the return trip.

Having reached Taku Lake only a few times in previous weeks, my heart filled with gratitude at seeing it emerge through the trees. I found my favorite seat on the black iron bench where the lake trail transitioned from pavement to dirt. It’s an ideal spot to view the entire lake and watch the dragonflies that populate the boulders at water’s edge.

In 2002, I had my first personal encounter with a dragonfly along the east shore of Taku Lake. I was walking around it and talking on my cell phone to a friend about a personal, emotional crisis. I had stopped in the brush, was slightly bent at the waist and near tears when a very large dragonfly landed on my right thigh. I was mesmerized as I remained motionless, staring directly into its bright-green, highly animated face. I was amazed and enraptured as it continued to return my gaze. I told Pat what was happening and she said it was a good omen because dragonflies are a symbol of tenacity. She shared her story of a personal encounter with three dragonflies and how it had affected a spiritual healing in her. After five-to-seven minutes, my muscles were beginning to ache badly, but even the slightest movement toward my comfort sadly hastened the creature’s departure.

The four years since then, whenever a dragonfly came near me, I yearned for another encounter. I wanted to make it happen, if I only knew how. Since I didn’t, I became a vigilant observer at every opportunity. Various other forms of dragonflies began to show up in my life. Within a week I found a complete skeleton on the sidewalk just below where my foot was about to fall. A co-worker gave me a Christmas gift box with a dragonfly on it. I asked how did she know I loved them? She didn’t. Other dragonfly gifts began to arrive; a book, finger puppet, candleholder, clock, wall hangings, prints, etc. The power in the Law of Attraction was at work. What I held in my mind I was attracting, whether I told people or not. During those years, I had a series of other, less intimate, encounters with various natural creatures. I came to believe they have messages for us, if we are willing to study their behaviors, characteristics and the ways they show up in our lives. “There are no ordinary moments.”

That warm August day the breeze blew slightly across the lake and I did not need my jacket. I laid it across my lap in the hope that its bright-green color would attract a dragonfly for me to watch in comfort. I meditated on the present moment. I practiced being one with the lake surface by focusing my gaze on one spot, yet seeing all that surrounded that spot. The sun sparkled like diamond-lights on the ripples that created ever-changing patterns of reflection. Gradually they melded into a tranquil sheen except for the gentle circles the playing grebes were making. I listened to the natural sounds and the occasional small propeller aircraft overhead. I wondered if the noise caused an effect on the wildlife. They didn’t seem to notice, they have adapted.

Momentarily departing my meditative state, I watched and greeted people passing by, since we are also creatures of nature. My attention returned to study the shimmering water. I noticed a few surface circles, which must have been made by fish underwater. Way out in the middle of the lake I could see a dragonfly rapidly skimming the surface, popping up and down. In four years of observation, I had honed my ability to recognize them by their flight patterns. From a great distance I could see clearly each time it touched the water, as if it were right in front of me. I could not see the detail, but imagined the sudden, extreme close-up like in the movie dramatization of “no ordinary moments.” I continued to hope for a personal encounter, fantasizing that it would fly right up and land on my lap.

I’d been there for about half-an-hour completely content to let the sparkling lake imprint on my consciousness. I felt a wave of fatigue wash over me and realized that I needed to head back while I could still make it home. During a moment of surrender, I looked down and heard a swooshing sound. Two Grebes had flown and landed directly before me.  Gratitude mingled with surrender and I rose to go home without my dragonfly wish fulfilled.

Walking a few yards, I became aware of a young man I had greeted previously. He was now jogging behind me as I neared the small bridge by the picnic table loop. My internal dragonfly radar locked onto one, high to the left, coming around the trees and heading my way. I watched it like a catcher sees his ball fly into his mitt. I curbed my pace as the large dragonfly dropped down over my left shoulder and landed on the edge of the hooded jacket I had tied around my waist. Instantly, I gave a subtle hand signal to halt the young man behind me, while softly imploring, “Have you ever looked a dragonfly in the face? If you move very slowly, you may be able to.” He responded immediately to my suggestion. My eyes were still locked on the creature by twisting my stiff neck over my shoulder. The discomfort was worth the sight of its face gazing up at me.

As the young man stepped slowly toward my back, we began to engage in conversation regarding what we each knew about dragonflies. Before long, he successfully invited the dragonfly to step forward onto his fingers. I turned gingerly as he brought his palm steadily up and held it in front of our faces. This dragonfly had no fear whatsoever as it looked at us. We continued to share information for quite some time and exchanged first names. Carl said dragonflies like to sun themselves when they digest their food. I told him about my experience four years prior. I shared about the two-year cycles, but my mental fatigue-fog limited recollection of most details I had learned previously. I shared a story I had recently enjoyed that Wayne Dyer had written in his book “Inspiration,” where he had a similar encounter with a monarch butterfly.

Carl began to call my attention to the creature’s various markings, like the stripes on the thorax. We noticed the segmented abdomen with blue markings there. To my delight it had a bright-green face. Slowly, I raised my hand up next to Carl’s with my palm down and the dragonfly stepped forward to perch atop my middle and index fingers. Shortly, it adjusted its position and kicked all four front legs out into the air above my index finger. Carl noticed it was missing its left hind leg. I noticed it had the stump of that leg propped under the center of its thorax. The right hind leg was stretched out normally behind it. The body behind the stump also rested on my finger. Only three points of contact supported it. This dragonfly was just kicked back, relaxing in the sun on me.

We continued our visit. Humorously, Carl said it could get a good disabled parking space. I said it was welcome to park on me anytime. I had been warned by my physical therapist not to fatigue myself explaining my disability, but mentioned it briefly. After more than half-an-hour, Carl decided he needed to leave and suggested I see if it would go home with me, like the butterfly did with Wayne Dyer. I bid Carl farewell with gratitude. We had shared no ordinary moment.

My energy was seriously waning, increasing the need to move toward home. As I turned away from the lake, the sunlight made dragonfly eyes even more brilliant. I told it, even if I did take it home, I wouldn’t know what to do with it except to let it go. The creature stayed with me crossing the bridge. As I rounded the corner the shadow of my hat passed across the dragonfly and it instantly propelled itself away. It flew to a nearby plant stake and hung there crookedly. I slowly followed, watching and talking to it a bit more. It was content to digest in the sun.

The beginning of the homeward walk was strenuous, like moving through wet concrete. Yet, my spirit was uplifted by the long-awaited, personal encounter. Being caught by a dragonfly was an amazing experience, not to be taken lightly. I slowly climbed the three flights of stairs to my condo, grateful for Feldenkrais lessons, which provided skills to maneuver them in a more energy-efficient way. Inside I sat on the bench to remove my shoes. I slowly rose and went to find the book about Dragonflies in Alaska, which Pat had given me four years earlier. I wanted to see if I could determine what kind it was and learn whatever else I could about this remarkable creature. I laid down to rest on the day bed and began my quest to answer the question, “What is the lesson dragonfly came to teach me?”

© 2008-2012 B. Grace Jones

The dragonfly in this video is the same type as the one that landed on me that day.

*aka FasterEFT or FEFT

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