Encounters With Infinity

Synopsis: An anxious, nervous young woman by the name of Azrael is panicked by almost everything in life meets a shaman named Willow who challenges her distorted views and helps her realize, visualize and access her true path to build for others who have nothing. Along the way, she makes lasting friendships and her old self dies.

Chapter 1--Frazzled, Nervous, Anxious Azrael

Azrael Michaelovich had been a very jittery girl. Almost everything had terrified her and she hardly ever went outside without her best friend, Magnolia. Magnolia was the polar opposite to Azrael, but the two were like sisters. Through Magnolia's involvement, Azrael had been able to play with her peers on the playground without much of a problem. There had been the occasional tormentor who would petrify her to the point that she would stay inside and play board games with the nerds and asthmatics of the classroom, but for the most part, she enjoyed being outside with her 'big sister' Maggie. This was the situation until Azrael's mother and father decided that they would move to the southwest. Azrael was devastated. She knew she wouldn't be seeing Maggie again. The only way she could communicate with her now was through telephone, email and snail mail.

Email was the cheapest method of communication, so Azrael relied on that heavily.

Azarel's parents noticed a change in their daughter's personality as soon as she started going to school in the Southwest area they had recently moved into. She kept mostly to herself and didn't want to be bothered with anyone, so she spent a lot of time chatting with people online, particularly Maggie. She felt alone in the world and decided that her parents didn't understand her one bit. Little by little, she began to shut down and revert to the scared little girl she had been initially. Her parents started to fear that she would never overcome this reversed mannerism of thinking. However, this was all about to change when they decided to take a short vacation during the summer into Hopi territory.

Chapter 2--Willow Sonoma, The Shaman

Azrael couldn't be budged from her bed. Since the last few days, she hadn't eaten much of anything and had been excessively depressed. For a while, Maggie hadn't been able to speak to her online and Azrael foolishly interpreted this as a signal that her longtime friendship with Maggie had come to a close. Her parents tried to talk sense into her but nothing worked. She was insufferable and obdurate. Finally, with all his strength, Claude Michaelovich, her father, lifted her out of bed and literally stuffed her into the family van.

"Gosh, Claude ! I'll never cease to awe in the wake of your bulldozer-like strength.", Vanessa, Azreal's mother marveled in astonishment. Azrael rolled her eyes, knowing that her father was feeding on this praise with gusto. She loathed them both that she hoped there would be a horrendous monsoon hit them unexpectedly and cause the van to spin wildly out of control on the oil saturated roads. No such thing happened in the desert, so her rain prayers were null and void.

She had been forbad to use her Nintendo DS while on the trip. She wished she could've brought it. Playing the second installment of Professor Layton was more exciting than anything she saw outside the car door window, or so she thought.

That was, until they came upon a Hopi village. It was like the ones she had read about before and had heard about by listening to Greg Braden on You Tube.

Azrael was struck completely dumb. While her parents were admiring the scenery, a wise Shaman walked up to Azrael and touched her. She nearly screamed, but no sound rang out.

"What just happened ?", Azrael asked, bewildered.

"There is much magic you are unaware of, child. The earth is our teacher, we are her students. If you like, you could become an alchemist in this trade.", the Shaman stated. She adjusted her circular glasses and chuckled lightheartedly. The old woman looked relatively young for all her years. Her face had hardly any wrinkles, which Azrael found rather unusual. Azrael had no clue as to what the woman was speaking of, but she couldn't stop listening to the shaman. Feeling that she could trust the sage, she followed her back to her adobe hut in the village.

The woman told Azrael everything about her without even knowing her prior to their meeting. Azrael was surprised and a bit hurt by the woman's assessment of her. Yet, everything this shaman, Willow Sonoma, had said about her was true.

"Do I have some sort of chemical imbalance in my brain causing me to act the way I do ?", Azrael said, crying out of frustration. Willow shook her head back and forth.

"No, my child. What your trouble is are negative thoughts. They have you chained. But you can break these chains. I can teach you if you like. The only thing is, you have to want to be taught.", Willow taught. Azarel was a bit uncertain about going any further, but as far as she was concerned, she knew that she needed to change. No matter how uncomfortable or awkward this transition was going to be, she knew she needed to boldly walk forward in her transformation or she would never fully be who she truly wanted herself to be.

Chapter 3--Dropping the Negative Anchor

Willow taught Azrael to put aside her self-deprecating behaviors and her crippling phobias that weren't based in reality and began to put Willow's practices to good use. One by one, the chains that were holding her back had begun to disappear and her heart felt lighter and lighter. She had to confront some rather nasty demons that had been following her since childhood. At long last, with Willow's guidance, she had been able to vanquish them, one by one. None of it had been easy but in this stretch of time and space she had seen Azrael had a knowledge beyond her that she had seen a world that her finite mind could never possibly comprehend. All she knew is that what she had seen and experienced was actual and real and that God had sent her Willow to set her feet on the correct path. Whatever final chains were dragging her down were melted completely away and her metamorphosis had been a success.

"The negative entities will still come to you but you can counter them with the methods I have given you. Don't forget your mind is your most valuable asset. And when you truly feel alone, you are not because the Spirit is with you, child.", Willow reminded her. Azrael hugged the widow and as she did the strong scent of sage filled the air. It clung to her clothes and never left her, serving her as a reminder that the lessons she had seen in that spiritual realm would never depart from her.

Chapter 3--Time To Head Home

Claude and Vanessa had searched the Hopi village for their daughter and found her not far from the start where she had wandered off. Claude quickly embraced her and stated, frantically,

"You should've stuck with us, honey ! We had no idea that you remained here. Someone could've taken you away !", he stammered, sobbing. Azrael had never seen her father so distraught, but his words were coming from the heart.

"Yes, dear ! Don't ever do something like that again !", Vanessa said, hugging her from the side. Azrael felt she could feel dampness from her mother's chin. Apparently her mother had been weeping as well. Before she had felt her parents had been so fake, plastic and unrealistic in everything they did. Now she realized her parents were doing the best they could and really did care about her. Now all she had to do was show them she had transformed and learned from her small vacation in the southwest. It would take the two of them a while to get used to the 'new' Azarel but she had so much to tell them about what she had experienced. Knowing that their ears were open to their only daughter, Azarel knew that even if it took her the entirety of her whole life, she would impart her wisdom to her parents and anyone else that lent a listening ear her way.

Chapter 4--Helpful Guide

As Azrael matured, the residual 'old self' that had resembled what she was had withered away completely. Her parents believed they had seen a miracle. She explained to them that it was her own doing thanks to the assistance of her good friend, Willow. Willow was what was known as a 'mystical traveler'. In some circles, these travelers were known as 'time watchers', who kept people's destinies in check. Sometimes, the ones being watched had no idea that they were meant for greatness in the scheme of God's incredible plan, but Azrael had become one of these people. She grasped onto it since having met her Guide, Willow. Once having experienced a glimpse of the eternal, she never once let go and told her story over and over. Some people heard the message, saying they experienced the same encounter with infinity, while others dismissed it as someone 'being high on mind-expanding drugs'. Azarel paid no attention to such naysayer's derisive remarks. These people were simply not open to anything 'unusual' unless it could be explained by a disturbance of the mind or maybe a bout of indigestion. Even being of sound scientific mind, Azrael herself knew that there were certain elements such as 'time watchers' that couldn't be explained by logic alone. All she knew is that she and Willow were friends from long ago and by a simple 'coincidence' they were brought back together and their friendship has remained strong.

Azrael often wrote to her friend about Willow. Magnolia, who had known the spiritual realm well growing up having had experienced many situations that could only be deemed 'metaphysical', had told Azrael of 'guides' before.

"There are those who think I am into the occult, and they fear I am traveling a dark path.", Azrael messaged her friend.

"So long as you don't involve yourself in anything dark you're not in any danger. From what I can see the entity you befriended or, in your case, has joined you in this incarnation is an ally.", Maggie said, wisely. "Of course, dark entities could always come when we least expect them, but I see you have managed to keep most of them at bay.", Maggie commented. Azrael was touched by her friend's assessment. It had been a rough road to travel and many of the discoveries she had made she had done so on her own, but it was just as Carlos Castaneda had reported when he met Don Juan. Warriors make journeys alone and learn to see alone, and she had earned her place amongst such people. It felt humbling to her to be among the ranks of such teachers, but she never lifted herself above them or anyone else because of her unusual experiences in the ulterior realm.

As Azrael blossomed into a ravishing young woman, she used her abilities to council others that had felt burdened by stress and negativity in their lives, which all people do, but there were those who had real troubles with depression that had come to her for her treatment and were being cured of long-seated illnesses leaving as though they had never been sick to begin with. Azrael learned that the mind was a powerful tool which could be honed. She learned, much like those going through meditation that focus was key, and she often received heartfelt thanks for her work. She always attributed her success to God, though, to whom it was duly meant to be thankful for.

Epilogue

"What if" scenarios never really entered Azrael's mind in present situations since she had experienced the divine. She knew what to expect, as far as her finite mind could comprehend it. Willow came to her in dreams to keep track of her and saw that Azrael was making stupendous progress on her own. Her CD programs had been helping people find their own means to happiness and she had even been nominated for an award in humanitarian work and her discoveries in positive thinking. When interviewed about her success, she always chortled lightly about how the concept of positive thinking wasn't entirely new but the power of the mind was not being underestimated as it had in the past. She attributed everything to her parent's believing in her, her best friend, Maggie, who was now her consultant and publisher, and of course, the Creator Himself. Of course, there were those that didn't care for the spiritual overtones she carried but she wasn't ashamed to tell her interviewers that she was a believer. No longer did fear cripple her as she continued to forge forward throughout life audaciously, ambitiously and mirthfully.

The End