When you meet an angel here on earth, you want to keep your eyes peeled
It’s a rare phenomenon but sometimes we do know when we meet an angel here on earth.
I rarely share stories that relate to my family or my experiences unless they directly relate to the journey I am currently on. Mostly because it seems bittersweet sometimes to look back on my years in Japan. I loved all my time there and have incredibly fond memories. This just shines a harsher light on dealing with my CSF Leak. Being confined to one room means I look back and feel sad. The freedom I have lost, the travel ambitions I miss, the wonderful adventure that awaits out there. That life is for the living.
But let me tell you about a time I met an angel here on earth…
Living a life vs. watching others live their lives
Being in bed seems sometimes a life watching others live life. It can be very confining and difficult. I am blessed to have found distraction and even purpose with writing this blog and submitting articles to The Mighty.
Please do not get me wrong…I am a firm believer that it is all part of the wonderful pathway of my life. That I am much stronger for all of it. I can’t deny though, looking back at photographs does leave me feeling a little wistful.
A wistful private memory
Today, I was getting some files together of photographs for this next month or so of blogging. I have only a small percentage of all the images we have of our life in Japan on my computer. Enough though to fill a nice file for reference. As I was flashing through hundreds of shots, I came across a picture that made my heart skip a beat.
The Spring time, before we left Japan for good in 2009, we took a trip to a Japanese Shrine that is world famous. Often seen in movies and depictions of Japan, we visited Itsukushima Shrine on an island called Miyajima. We stayed at a delightful Japanese Inn called Yamaichi-Bekkan. Not at all the fanciest place in the world but my heart just leaps when I think of this place.
And oddly…not for the reasons you might think.
An Island steeped in Japanese history and tradition
You see, we were in the most fantastical place. A world from a different era. Itsukushima Shrine holds all the mystery and intrigue of old time Japan. Temples and shrines all over the mountain island, incredible food in the winding roadways, ancient buildings that have withstood the test of time. However, the single most impactful sentiment I have when I look at pictures of our trip is the woman who runs the Inn.
I feel terrible that I cannot remember her name. Just a few months ago, I found her business card in among some of my other souvenirs from those last trips we took (it’s written in Chinese Characters and I am unable to read it…Japanese is tricky that way).
I remember that she was easy to talk to.
She admired my Japanese language skills and commended me for traveling and getting to know her country over the 14 year period that we lived there. Her queries jokingly asked: ‘had we seen this, or had we been there?’ She was so delighted that we had made the most of our time traveling throughout her country. So many foreigners she had met, had been to Itsukushima, where she lived, but had not seen the more remote and revered parts of the country. We were not ‘Big 3 travelers’ who focused on the Lonely Planet tour plan. She realized we were definitely ‘off the beaten track’ foreigners and she was delighted by it.
It rocked my life
We joked a lot with her. She spoke a lot about Japan today and the Japan of yesteryear. There was a level of understanding that she admired. And we really, genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.
But she also noted, among our party of four, that I was different.
She talked to me like a loved one. We had an ease and a kindred understanding of our world… almost like sisters. There was a care and compassion for me even though she had no idea who I was. I remember talking to her about being adopted and there was a deep understanding that she had about not knowing one’s roots. (There was a story in her that I knew not to go to…but she really understood).
This woman had an ethereal peace about her that seemed to come from a deep place. It was a particularly difficult time in my life and by osmosis we knew we had both faced challenges. We spoke as a dear friends would. She gave me incredible strength as I was feeling that my feet would never hit the ground again. She embraced me as a family member and acknowledged that I had changed her life by meeting me. (My life had been rocked sideways by her too…although I couldn’t completely understand it how right then).
We traveled on with something new in our hearts
Our party of four left several days later feeling buoyed and rejuvenated by the presence of this wonderful fairy nymph we had just met. The grand journey had just begun and we headed off from Miyashima excited and filled with caring and love. The rest of our trip was filled with outstanding coincidences and happenstances that if I were to write them down, you would never believe me. It was a magical trip…that is for sure.
When we got back from our trip, I made extra sure to write to our Miyashima hostess to let her know how much we had loved our stay. My husband and I recommended her place to anyone who would listen. We exchanged many emails after that time and we wrote some of her webpage blurbs in English for her. A small gift as a ‘thank you’ was sent and in return, she sent us a ‘Furoshiki’ with a handwritten note. I still have the wrapping scarf in my treasure trove of Japanese delights.
Her fingerprints are all over my memories
Years later, it is still one of the favourite places that I have been in my life. The impact that my ‘angel here on earth’ had on me, I still feel today. I cannot completely explain what it is she imparted but there was a wholeness that came from meeting her. She helped me step up to my life like I had never done before. The only tangible thing I explain is, it marked a moment in my life when I understood that my boundaries were mine. I was entitled to them and they define me as much as any other part of me. To this day, I am not exactly sure how that came about but I have her to thank for that moment that I took a giant leap of faith that has lead me here.
And I have never looked back!
I hope this story is your Something Wonderful for today.
Love Ingrid x