As I drove up to the sanctuary the wind howled, how appropriate. Feeling like was I blown over, I retreated to my cottage, it had been an exhausting day in Yellowstone. The cottage is where I stayed 18 months ago with Sun and James. Serendipity is the Divine force in our lives, and it brought me here, to this place I love, to this retreat communicating with the wolves and animals. This was a retreat to heal my heart and soul; to return to me, whoever me is now. Since I ended up as the last person to sign up for the retreat, the only room left was in the cottage, sleeping in the same bed I was in with Sun. And yes, he was in the room with me.
Kim is co-creator of www.TheLightfootWay.com. She is teaching a deep soul communication with animals and, in this retreat, with the wolves past and present at Howler’s Inn. Kim reached out, after a cancellation, with an email titled, “Are you the one?” Within seconds I heard my inner voice say “I am the one.” It only took a short time before I had it all arranged.
Our class was five. And there were five wolves at the sanctuary – Shasta, Koa, Kiowa, Raven, and Shilo. We all connected to each other with our hearts and our stories. The owners of the Inn, Charlene and Thomas, shared their love of the wolves with us. We were the only guests for this retreat. Details of the experience will be shared with my own story and no others, to respect their journey.
A little history, I have been coming to Howler’s Inn since 2009. I met Comanche on my first stay. I had just finished teaching at Healthworks Institute, in Bozeman. I have been teaching continuing education for massage therapists at the school since 2001. I was stranded on that first trip to Montana due to 9/11 (another long story).
When I arrived at Howler’s in 2009, I was the only guest. It had snowed 17 inches, cleared, and there was a full moon. The wolves were howling outside my window. I was in love with this place and these Divine beings (not all will call wolves Divine, but I do). My relationship with Comanche grew until my last visit in 2018, when we said goodbye, with eyes locked on each other.
I had the honor of massaging Comanche over the years.
A photo that Thomas took of Comanche is over my bed. A white wolf for me and a Parks Reece buffalo print called Prairie Dreams, above where Sun slept. We have slept in a bed of aspens, sourced sustainability from downed aspen trees in Tetonia, ID. The artist and his wife are part of my 9/11 story.
The retreat began with all of us sharing our diversity and what we had in common, a desire to communicate with animals and especially the wolves at Howler’s, both here and in the spirit world. I knew that Comanche called me to return, to heal my heavy heart.
We walked the perimeter of the wolf enclosure, slowly, listening and being present with the wolves. Raven came to me and placed his paws up on the fencing, we held eyes and connected hand to paw. My tears flowed – the deep heavy tears. I had held Raven as a one-month-old pup. He filled me with warmth. His eyes showed a knowing of the pain I was in. Crazy as it sounds, Raven was healing my heart.
Shilo too came to be near, Sun had held Shilo as a pup, so handsome, Shilo. Just like Sun. It was so good to be in their presence again.
We learned many ways of communicating with animals including our own pets. My relationship with my dogs, Yonah and Blue, has deepened as they help to ground me in my life here at home. It seems Yonah has a lot to say and prefers me to stay home. Blue is chill and ok with whatever works for me. James’s dog, Zora, is joyfully finding her way with the pack. Soon we will all be living together as an expanding pack on the farm.
One of the experiences I had within the workshop was a reconnection with (St) Francis of Assisi. Having rejected the faith of my childhood, I had also pushed Francis away. Bringing his story back into my life has healed a place of anger to all the harm the church has done to women, children, and indigenous tribes. I choose to not use the saint name, since Francis really does not care about that. His spirit honors the Divine in all beings. Along with all that Kim and the other participants shared, my relationship with Nature and animals will continue to deepen and open my heart to all the good.
We learned many ways to communicate and trust our inner voice. Kim was also incredibly generous with her time with us all. We were in a bubble of healing through “Animals, Nature and Mother Earth.” Thank you, Kim, for sharing this philosophy of being present, in a way that I can really do.
On our last night we shared our thoughts, insights, and gratitudes by the fire under the starry night. At the close we howled. The wolves responded with a hearty howl back. What can I say, I don’t run with the wolves, I howl with them.
A bonus day was a trip into Yellowstone National Park. Kim’s husband, Scott, had been a guide for 4 years. As with any trip into the park to see the wildlife, you must go early. It also had astrological significance to me as it was the Scorpio new moon (as the name suggests a new moon is a new beginning). I had been here on the Scorpio Full Moon, May 2022, with Sun and James. Sun has his astrological moon in Scorpio. I often say there is Divine order in the universe and astrology is one of the ways we track it.
As Scott turned on to the road toward Lamar valley from Mammoth I realized I had not been on the road I thought I was on when I scattered Sun’s ashes. I was puzzled and it took time to put all the pieces together to know I had taken the wrong road, yet it was the right road.
Before coming to Montana, I had visioned that I would be near a Buffalo and stare into its eyes and that would be Sun communicating with me. On this drive into Lamar, there were many herds of Buffalo.
As we were about to drive off, I saw a buffalo staring at the car. I jumped out and felt it was Sun connecting again. We did get a good amount of time just staring at each other.
We drove on and were not blessed with a wolf sighting. I felt for the other participants and Kim who wanted us to see the wolves in the wild. I had the blessing of twice seeing the wolves of Yellowstone in January of 2015 and May of 2022. We did see buffalo, elk, big horn sheep, pronghorn, and mule deer. Stopping at overlooks of the massive open space where glaciers carved out the valley and dinosaurs roamed, I could imagine huge and small dinosaurs here. I so want to bring my grandchildren to this place.
We had the most delicious surprise with chocolate covered huckleberry ice cream treats in Emigrant. I have stopped at this gas station and store so many times, yet never knew what a treat I had missed. This store also has a place in my 9/11 story, it is where my credit card stopped working. That was scary!
We headed back to Howler’s Inn to retrieve our cars and head on our way home. As we drove up Jackson Creek Road, a sundog appeared in the sky. Kim stopped for me to take a photograph. Sun was the one who taught me to look for sundogs. This was a moment of acknowledgment that he is always there. The completion of this part of the journey.
The dead deer in part one of the journey, near my mailbox, I interpreted as the death of my old life and the fear I have of starting a new life that focuses on me. I am in process, moving forward. My path is to write and see where my writing goes.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this journey.
It will be in my memoir A Tale of Two Boulders.
Before I tackle that book, I am writing The Feminine Face of Massage.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.