The Chaco Canyon Tapes - Part 4

Interrogative Imperative Institute

Purpose, identity, meaning, valuation, understanding, justice, freedom, responsibility, potential, commitment and choice are very much at the heart of The Chaco Canyon Tapes


This story of spiritual awakening, together with its concomitant thematic explorations, provide a context for reflecting on matters of fundamental concern to all of us.

The Call of the Owl - Part 4

Beth seemed to be studying me again, as if trying to gauge something. Finally, she shrugged her shoulders in an almost imperceptible way.

Apparently, having flipped an internal coin, she started speaking. "About a year ago, I had what I believe is an authentic spiritual vision.

"I suppose we could debate the matter until the cows come home without resolving what the truth of the matter is concerning my experience. However, if you will permit me to cut to the chase, you may find what I have to say of some interest."

I was trying to imagine what she could be going to say to me. Her words proved to be completely unexpected.

She began by saying: "I don't know, David, how you will deal with what I am about to say, but here goes. You were in the vision."

I kind of went mentally numb. I didn't know whether to be shocked or to laugh.

Again, the question arose in me: what was going on here? I briefly ran through a variety of scenarios.

Maybe she was seriously delusional, and through some sort of weird chain of events, I merely had the bad fortune of being available to be drawn into her delusion. Or, maybe she was obsessive, and, for whatever reason, she had chosen me to be the focus of her obsession.

Another possibility which bubbled to the surface was that this was some sort of confidence game. I was the mark du jour.

Perhaps Beth was just very lonely. By inventing the vision story, she felt she would get some attention from me.

Almost as quickly as each of these ideas entered my consciousness, none of them really felt right. These possibilities didn't fit in with the overall sense of Beth which I had begun to develop since she first stepped into the office.

I didn't believe Beth was obsessional or delusional, although I couldn't be 100 % certain without further observation and testing. Moreover, I didn't feel she was scamming me or lying to me.

My options seemed to be dwindling in an uncomfortable direction. If her alleged vision was not due to pathology or scheming of some sort, where did this leave me?

I seemed to recall that Sherlock Holmes had addressed the issue confronting me. His conclusion was something like: when one has eliminated the impossible from consideration, then, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

I was getting desperate. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character. What does he know? On the other hand, my present situation was unreal enough for me to benefit, perhaps, from an unreal creation.

Suddenly, I realized Beth had called out my name several times. "David? ... David? ... Are you alright?"

My mind still was whirling about in a sort of dazed condition. More likely than not, my eyes probably had glazed over as I had become increasingly preoccupied with the possibilities percolating in my consciousness in relation to Beth's revelation.

I smiled at her, somewhat sheepishly, and said: "You seem to have thrown me for something of a loop. I'm having a hard time trying to figure out why I would be in your vision when, as far as I know, we've never met before."

A faint glimmer of hope was triggered by these last words. It needed to be checked out. "That is right, isn't it Beth, we've never met before?"

Her nod in the affirmative snuffed out the momentary hope I had been entertaining. I was stuck once more with my puzzle.

Gradually, some of my clinical training began to filter back into my awareness. There were some more questions which needed to be asked.

I opened with: "Can you tell me about your vision, Beth?"

A sort of troubled expression came across her face. "Unfortunately, David, I can't really go into most of the details of the vision with you. It came as guidance for me, and, as such, it should remain, for the most part, a private matter."

She hesitated for a few seconds and then said: "Visions are sacred. With the exception of a qualified elder, visions are not meant to be talked about or become public knowledge. They should be acted on and used to help orient one's life in a properly spiritual manner."

Her expression showed empathy for the problem with which she was confronting me. Yet, firmness was present in her expression as well. I was feeling perplexed.

"If you can't talk about it, why did you mention it to me?" I queried with a small trace of exasperation.

Beth leaned forward in her seat, clasped her hands together as if in prayer, while resting her elbows on the edge of my desk, and looked intently into my eyes. She appeared to be entreating me to listen very carefully to what she was about to say.

"I've talked with several Native elders about my vision," she indicated. "They have given me counsel about its significance and some of the etiquette surrounding my vision.

"The elders informed me that if I were to find you, there would be no harm, and there could be considerable good which might come, if I were to tell you the part of the vision in which you were involved. The elders also said that if I didn't meet you, things would, nonetheless, turn out as the Creator wished."

I was still working on how something would not make any difference if it didn't happen, but it might be of value if it did occur, when Beth said: "According to the elders with whom I have talked, you have some role to play in helping my brother Brian...the one who is in prison."

I began to feel nervous. "And, just what help am I suppose to give to your brother?" I inquired.

Beth sank back into her chair. "I don't know," she said. Maybe you need to have your own vision to tell you that."

Wonderful, I thought. Not only am I suppose to believe in Beth's vision, but I'm suppose to have a vision too. I began to wonder where I might purchase one...on special, if possible.

I put down the pen and pad on the desk. "So, Beth, what help is it that you think I have to offer you?"

She was looking very vulnerable. Nevertheless, since she had come this far, Beth might as well spin the wheel.

Her words set the game in motion: "I was wondering, ... hoping really ..., if you might be willing to go and see my brother in the prison."

"What do you think that would accomplish?" I responded.

"The elders have told me Brian is in danger," Beth offered. "He needs help," she added a few seconds later

I was getting more and more confused. "What kind of danger?" I asked.

Beth said: "Among many, if not most, Native peoples - at least in North America - the owl is a symbol or harbinger of death. There was an owl in my vision which seemed to have something to do with Brian."

A trace of, what appeared to be, uncomfortableness seemed to radiate from Beth's body for a few seconds. When she elaborated further on what she just had said, there was a kind of shyness to her manner. "The indications surrounding the owl's significance in the vision, however, were somewhat ambiguous. There were several other people in the vision for whom the owl may have been intended."

"Anybody I know?" I said more confidently than I felt.

Her look told me more than I wanted to hear. As a particularly acute wave of confusion, colored with a little bit of panic, rolled over me, I blurted out: "I'm sorry, Beth, I just don't understand what help I possibly could be to your brother, especially if he is in danger. Couldn't you contact the authorities or get help from one of the Native associations in Boston or New York?"

She had a funny kind of smile on her face. "David," she said, "if the authorities are the ones who framed Brian, just what help do you think they are going to be?"

"But, surely," I retorted, "not all authorities have it in for your brother."

Just as quickly, Beth countered with: "How do you propose that I go about separating out the good guys from the bad guys? Which of them should I trust?"

She made sort of a dismissive motion with her hands. "In situations like this, law enforcement officials tend to close ranks. They're like doctors, lawyers, academics and the military in this respect. Truth and justice become less important than protecting their interests, image and territory."Beth paused briefly, then, as she went on, there seemed to be a quality of challenge to her words. "As far as the various Native associations are concerned, there was nothing in my vision about them."

By saying it this way, she didn't mention me. Nonetheless, the implication was clear.

I was in her vision. I was suppose to help Brian in some way.

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