I must admit: this story, and the memory it invokes, still takes my breath away.
Again, Exactly as I Step Upon the Wall . . .
by Ann Kreilkamp
Editorial, Crone Chronicles #39, Summer Solstice 1999
March, 1999. I am in Florida for a week, for talks and workshops and a radio interview on both Crone and “How Astrological Cycles Structure Crone Consciousness”. After 25 years, my understanding of astrology has reached a certain Mastery, which I am glad to share when asked. Meanwhile, there is another story to share from Florida, an encounter which took the wind out of my sails and plunged me into Mystery . . .
I’ve saved the mornings in St. Petersburg for myself. Dressed in shorts and short-sleeved shirts, I walk for hours on top of the flat stone seawall of Tampa Bay, soaking up the warm sun after the long Wyoming winter. I am utilizing this week to re-source myself, allowing my mind to drift out to sea, down into the wordless realm of the unconscious.
During my walks I also aske for a sign from the universe. Not directly, not fervently, as there is nothing specific I need to know. Besides, I am embarrassed to ask — probably a holdover from not feeling worthy. After all, who am I to ask the universe to rearrange itself? And then too, there is my inner cynic, who scoffs at anything not rational. So, despite my having asked — and received — such signs many times before, this time my request is unusually muted, even ambivalent.
Morning after morning, I walk the sea wall on Tampa Bay, my feet four feet from the surface of the smooth, glassy, tide-swollen sea. Except for the occasional fisherman, my solitude is complete.
On the fifth morning, as I walk across the grass to the seawall, my awareness has already widened, dropped into reverie — so that what happened next was a jolt beyond imagining . . .
Exactly at the moment I step upon the wall, a dolphin breaches, not six feet away. I am stunned, of course, paralyzed into wild, joyous shock. Swimming in circles, again and again she breaches, breathes noisily, dives. Then she churns powerfully in a line, back and forth along the seawall, fractions of an inch from its barnacle-encrustations, her sleek muscled body knowing the exact relationship of its own boundaries to the razor-sharp shells.
Then, as suddenly as she appeared, she turns and glides off. The entire encounter has taken perhaps two minutes of clock time. Two minutes n which the usual space/time illusion was ripped open to reveal eternity.
I am so stunned by this extraordinary encounter that I spend the rest of the day in a daze.
I have had my sign, obviously. I know this. And I don’t want to be greedy, but . . . The next morning, as I set across the grass to the sea wall for my walk at a slightly different time, I can’t but wonder if perhaps I might see her again. Will the universe repeat the miracle? “Oh no, Ann,” I berate myself. “Don’t be so greedy. You’ve had your sign. Now let go.”
And can you believe? Once again, just as suddenly, and as exactly, exquisitely timed, as I place my left foot upon the wall, the dolphin breaches, breathes noisily, swims in a circle once or twice, churns up and down the wall, and swims back out to sea.
This encounter is shorter, not quite as dramatic. It is as if the first time she was determined to catch my attention, and now she doesn’t need to.
The seventh and final morning of my stay in St. Petersburg. Of course as I set out upon my walk I am again hoping and praying and berating myself all the while for wanting to see her one more time.
And again, she appears, this time even more subtly, about 20 feet away, only her fin showing. She swims to me, breaches once, circles once, swims up and down the wall, and disappears.
It has been two weeks since my dolphin encounter. I returned to my work feeling safe in the world, wrapped in the arms of the Goddess, haunted by Her presence. Yet something in my understanding is missing, something I was meant to receive. What? I cast about, looking for clues.
The word “dolphin,” I discover from the dictionary, comes from the Greek, “delphinus” (cf. “Delphi”), which means “womb.” No wonder I feel safe.
But questions remain. Why three times. Why the precise, exquisite timing? Why the seemingly deliberate progression from dramatic to subtle?
I tell this story to a friend on the phone. Her response fills the space of my questions, takes my breath away. “You,” she responds quietly, “encountered a larger awareness that knows both you and the dolphin.”