by Maria Theresa Maggi on September 23, 2017

Autumn Equinox Beach memory sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

This memory sketch is the view from above my neighborhood’s north beach access, late afternoon, Autumn Equinox. The actual equinox point was about 2 hours before we arrived, at about the same time the tide was at its highest point that day. The wild ocean of late has reclaimed a lot of the sand and exposed bedrock, making the tidal surges even more dramatic. The day was deciding whether to stay sunny or cloud up, so the sun on the water and in the sky was, by turns, bright or muted white. The water was too close to go down and explore. I thought we should maybe hurry toward the field behind the club house, so Cotton could “twirl” on the grass there. But neither of them were in a hurry. Romeo sat like a sphinx facing the ocean, eyes closed, his nose gently taking in the scents on the breeze. So I sat down next to him. Cotton surprised me by immediately following suit, backing his back up against my leg. I sat Indian style, looking out at the light, so clear it almost had a sound, harmonizing with the sound of the waves. The sun was warm, but with that sweet angle that only comes with Fall.

It was a gift given to me by the patience of my dogs. And it came to me as I felt them on each side of me, that this is often what they like to do when we rest: flank each side of me. And then it came to me in a big woosh of a realization, that this feeling of them on each side of me, their white bodies also glistening with the angled light, is somehow exactly the same feeling I had when I was in the car accident on the San Diego freeway 25 years ago, attempting to leave my body through the crown chakra, What I call angels (there was definitely a feel of big white wings amongst a greater white light) literally, but not literally, held me by the shoulders and stopped my movement out of my body. “No, they communicated telepathically, “it’s not time yet. You have to go back and learn how to receive.”

This not what the books say people report “hearing” during near death experiences. I have never seen anything like it, anyway, in accounts I happened upon afterward over the years, hoping to discover an experience that more closely mirrored my own. I never did. At the time of the accident I was flip, and assumed it merely meant that the guy responsible for the accident had paid for the necessary repairs to my bashed in car. Then later I would assume it was a harbinger for the diagnosis of MS, which set me on a long journey of learning to ask and receive help. That journey also led me to Romeo, and the help he still gives me, and then to Cotton.

In the months after that accident when I moved to Idaho to teach at the university in Moscow, I would round a corner in the road there near the grain towers at the edge of town, a road that no longer exists in the way it did then. It would give me the same feeling I had when I felt the woosh of starting to leave my body through the crown chakra during the accident, just weeks before I moved to Idaho. It would make me so “homesick” for that ability to be “out” far enough beyond time, and feel those angels and “see” what I saw, and how I was given the instructions for how to live through the accident in an intuitive flash outside of linear time. But it was gone.

So I put what I could capture of it into a long poem called “Earthquake Lights.” It took many years, but finally it was published in The Los Angeles Review.

I came to see this learning how to receive instruction as my life purpose; I thought it must be why I continued to live. Like the good student I often was, I have tried to do my homework and wondered how I am progressing, or if I am. I certainly can make an exhaustive list of the experiences I would say have taught me or are teaching me how to receive.

But until this Autumn Equinox afternoon, I had never had an experience that duplicated the feeling of the angels on each “side” of me, protecting me and keeping me safe in an impossible situation. On that bluff, at the edge of the continent, my white dogs on each side of me, I felt it again. It seemed quite matter of fact, not an outrageous leap at all, that these two somewhow embodied aspects of whoever those beings were. They had come into my life literally to sit on each side of me, often as I gazed out onto the water, and saw what I saw, composing in some mysterious way what would become a drawing, a blog post, some deeper understanding of a next step. They were holding me down, so I could feel the earth, and receive from it. Literally.

I’ve never told them to sit on either side of me when we stop and rest on the beach; they just do it—it’s their “idea,” if you will. At home in order for us to fit on the couch with my legs up, it’s one human, two dogs “below,” On the bed it’s human on one side two dogs on the other. But both touch me at all times, if possible. Cotton sleeps on my feet: Romeo likes to spoon into my hip space.


Waiting for Thunder, by Maria Theresa Maggi

Is this near constant physical contact when I am at rest somehow a version of those angels who steadied my soul and guided me back into my body, not with instructions to be more loving, but to learn how to receive it? I can’t prove that. I can’t prove the angels were there either. My dogs are still dogs, Silken and lovely though they be. But as Wendy in Peter Pan would say about Peter coming in the window, she didn’t know how she knew, she just knew. Just like a pivotal metaphor in a really good poem—they are both/and: their canine selves and something more. If sitting with them is how I am learning to receive, once again, I am surprised—and delighted. I don’t have to try to learn how—it just happens. Nothing, I realized yesterday on the bluff, has assuaged that feeling of “homesickness” I felt in the curve of the road in my first year in a small Idaho town, which beckoned me up out of my body toward the oneness of all things, only to find I couldn’t leave it at will like I had in the accident. Nothing, anyway, until yesterday, when I felt the woosh of the angels by my side once again in the form of my dogs. I stayed in my body and I received that feeling.

Maybe I am getting the hang of my homework here on earth after all.  Perhaps, though, I am learning it isn’t how I’ve imagined it.  I’m  even beginning to wonder if calling it homework misses the point–maybe letting myself  receive is simply the way home.


Maria (moonwatcher)




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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pam September 24, 2017 at 11:10 pm

I love that beautiful sketch of your beach. It was so interesting to hear about the car accident, and about that ‘whoosh’ feeling that you experienced again. Thank you for sharing your insights with us. That last paragraph gives me a lot to think about.


2 Maria Theresa Maggi September 26, 2017 at 8:27 am

Thank you so much, Pam! I’m happy you enjoyed the drawing and the post, and that the last paragraph gave you lots to think about. Me too! xoxo


3 Veronica September 26, 2017 at 7:39 am

This is a beautiful post, Maria. I’m sorry about your accident; but I’m glad you made it through, and with a new perspective. And thank you for sharing it. Often I think our non-human friends are angels who help guide us, and ground us, and watch over us. They keep us from feeling alone. They are the purest of souls. I’m glad you have Cotton and Romeo to keep you safe, and sit by your side. Your description of “woosh” made me imagine you caught in a big gust of wind with your hair twirling around and upwards… Your play with words is wonderfully visual.
Your last paragraph is lovely – homework isn’t something we typically want to do, but home is always comforting. xoxo


4 Maria Theresa Maggi September 26, 2017 at 8:29 am

Thank you so much Veronica! I so agree with you about our animal companions. I love the visual you got of me with the word “woosh”–and the insight that my play with words is so visual. That was very cool to read. And thanks for the way you expressed the paradox of the last paragraph. Such lovely thoughts in response to mine!xoxo


5 Gena October 15, 2017 at 9:24 am

How fascinating that being flanked by the dogs brought this experience back to you, Maria—and the fact that you summoned up the memory so vividly and immediately certainly suggests to me that it may well have been a re-embodiment, rather than a second of deja vu or mere recollection. And what a beautiful piece of writing it inspired.



6 Maria Theresa Maggi October 15, 2017 at 8:46 pm

Dear Gena–thank you so much for this comment. This is certainly one of the more unusual posts I’ve written so it means a lot to me that you found it credible, and the writing about it beautiful. That just makes my day. xoxo


7 Lisa Allen October 21, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Dear Maria, I have loved all your posts for a few years now, after I accessed them through the Fat-Free Vegan website. I always mean to write a comment and thank you. This time I just had to….thank you so much for this meaningful and moving post. I can feel all those feelings myself and I love how you put it all into words. I love your artwork also, I appreciate you and I’m receiving your wisdom. Love to you and your companions!


8 Maria Theresa Maggi October 21, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Dear Lisa, Thank you so much!! It’s just wonderful to hear you’ve been reading my posts for a few years! Thank you for deciding to tell me–it’s such a gift! And a very special one for me that it ends up being this particular post that compels you to leave a comment. That means a lot to me. I’m so happy you are out there reading and “receiving” too! Love back to you!


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