For the past year, I’ve gotten up each morning and looked at my suitcase. She sits expectantly on my luggage rack reminding me 2020 was to be my Year of Travel and Adventure. We’ve mourned that loss together. Her mere presence brings back memories of people, experiences, laughter, discovery and pure delight.
In those moments, the physical and emotional yearning to sit, once again, in a piazza sipping cappuccino with a large dish of Stracciatella gelato – well, that yearning has become almost unbearable. So as a way to appease my wanderlust, I offer this story for all the travel gypsies trapped at home.
~ ~ ~
My spirit guide introduced herself to me a few years ago during a visualization exercise. I think she’d been trying to get my attention for years, and I was finally ready to meet her. I was standing on the shore of a warm, secluded beach. She emerged from a frothy sea-green ocean in a shimmering white dress that wafted across the waves. I recognized her immediately as Athena, goddess of war and wisdom. Notably, her dress was not wet because she was, after all, a magical goddess. Her golden belt, cinched firmly at her waist, looked comfortably worn. Across her back was a deeply-etched hawthorn bow. A quiver of white feathered arrows peeked over her shoulder. They were not ornamentation. She was a working goddess and had arrived on my shore with a purpose.
She crossed the short distance between us with a grace I envied and a smile that told me she saw my soul. Her bare feet left no prints in the warm fine-grained sand.
From an aquamarine pouch on her hip, she pulled a pulsing golden heart that fit snugly in her palm. It was emitting tractor beams of light and a warmth I could only describe as unconditional love. I thought she would offer it as a gift, allowing me the choice to accept it. Instead, she placed her hand firmly on my chest and with a decisive push, embedded the heart deep within my body. I rocked back gently, adjusting to its presence. I felt the inner light slowly rotating outward. My heart began throwing out wide beams of light like a lighthouse searching for lost vessels. I felt complete.
Athena’s hand remained over my heart as she looked into my eyes and in a voice that rang like earth bells said, “Go. Go. Go.” A command with such urgency I nodded my assent without hesitation. I admired her succinct use of language. There was no ambiguity. My mission from this goddess of war was to embrace my heart light as a way to battle darkness by helping others see their path.
She turned and walked back to the ocean. At the water’s edge, she paused and looked over her shoulder. With a twinkle in her eye, she added a second instruction. “Don’t stop until you find the perfect gelato.” With that, she vanished.
I was left with a heart light radiating from my chest and a quest to find gelato.
I immediately set about choosing each day to make myself a blessing to everyone I met. I try not to worry about the success of my mission as I create connections, foster community and promote consciousness. I trust my intent will guide me. Occasionally, Athena returns to urge me along. Like when she arrived after my second Reiki attunement, declaring, “So much more to do!” She isn’t a whisperer. She’s not shy. I love that about her. She’s leading me by example. Be bold. Be clear. Go, go, go.
I’ve come to terms with her first mission. It’s the second one that has puzzled me over the years. Yet, I’m not one to disobey a goddess of war with a quiver full of arrows and a demeanor that indicated she would use them, if necessary. So, along my journey, I’ve searched for that elusive perfect gelato.
Dark chocolate on a park bench in Seville, watching a child full of giggles chase butterflies and bubbles. Hazelnut and blackberry, the Florentine version of PB&J, strolling past a carousel full of locals bobbing up and down on colorful horses. Traditional stracciatella in the late-night stillness of a plaza in Granada, guitars playing softly in the distance. Simple vanilla in a small patch of shade after whale watching in Tarifa, gazing across rough waters to Morocco. The list is long. The moments deeply imprinted. Each time, I asked, “Is this the perfect one?”
What I’ve come to realize is that my dear Athena is also the goddess of wisdom. And boy, is there a lot of wisdom to be gained from a simple gelato. Awareness that I need to stop and refuel. Appreciation for the beautiful works of art in the gelato display cases that offer me so many choices. Reflection on where I am in the world, who I’m with, and how I want to show up.
Athena knew perfection was imperfect, too fleeting to hold on to. Instead, this was her perfect invitation to stay . . . stay . . . stay.
Stay just long enough to refuel my heart light and savor the sweetness of life before, once again, I go, go, go.