A Safe Place

She knew that it was time for a return to the mountain trails. Kamali, her name of native American heritage meaning "spirit guide", needs the peace that awaits. 
Kamali has lived a tumultuous life. Her refuge has always been solitude. Her silence often misunderstood. Her reticence mistaken as shyness. It is, simply, her nature to listen, observe and learn. Her strength was born of necessity. Walls built to shelter the heart of a child. 
She has returned to seek the wisdom of Mother Earth. With each step, she is pulled closer into her embrace. Knowing that when she makes her departure, it will be with a purified heart. As she has played in the crystal waters found here; so is her spirit cleansed by the flow of nature. The return is necessary. The healing, essential. 
For Kamali is the keeper of a secret. A secret revealed to few, for she has learned not all are receptive. Always known for her strength, most knowing her quiet nature, how could she reveal the source of the spirit guide? How could she explain to them, that their pain is her pain. Their joy, her own. Is it a blessing or a curse? She searches the creases in faces created in struggles. Their hearts cry out, pain upon pain, unknown to most. Shouldering their burdens, placing hers aside. Reasons not understood. She senses a cause, a purpose. This she cannot share with others. Only, in her safe place on mountain trails can she ease this burden. 
Stopping to sit on a fallen tree, her thoughts wander through her past. She remembers clearly the first time it happened. The brokenhearted was bowed in pain. She approached and reached out to comfort. With the touch of her fingertips, she was overcome with their despair. Their fear, so intense. Their pain was crushing. Tears flowed down Kamali's cheeks. The brokenhearted rose and turned to Kamali. The despair was gone from their face. There was only peace. With a compassionate look and such tenderness, she pulled Kamali close to return the comfort. What had just happened? 
As she sits on the forest floor, the emotion of that moment floods her. Tears fall, again. She reaches to her side, tracing fingertips across the roughened surface of the fallen tree on which she rests, sensing it's history. She understands the energies it has absorbed to bring it to this point. The energies, she has absorbed in life have brought much change to her. No, she must be careful about what she reveals. She rises, the rustling of fallen leaves a soothing sound. Deeper into the forest, she travels. The sound of the creek's flow fades. Now, the sound of her footsteps, her only companion. She knows that nature will be the only companion she needs. In her daily walk in life, she is treated harshly by some. They sense she is different and consider it a threat. She speaks carefully around them, if at all. 
Others seem drawn to her. Of them, she takes even more care. They are unaware of why they are drawn. Once, she had sought their acceptance and kindness. To accept their kindness, means a risk of making that connection. The connection often comes with their pain; at times, experiencing their emotion as her own. She has seen the depths of despair in her own life, has been lost in it's darkness. She recognizes it's dark face in those she cares for. For her own protection, she must take care in who she allows close. The burden of others pain can be overwhelming for her. She is learning to manage, carefully, this gift. Always, she returns to the solace of the mountains.
She stops once more to trace her fingers over the pattern of a tree trunk near the trail. The hill to her left rises. She tilts her head to see the Smokies ridge top. To her right, is a downhill slope.  She leans close to peer to the bottom. Another creek flows far below. Silently, she observes the trail winding before her. As she traces the texture of the tree, she thinks of her daily walk in life. She meets such people. When she greets them, their gaze is so intense. She anticipates the words, she's heard so often.."Do I know you?" She shakes her head and smiles, "No, we've never met".  It wasn't her they recognized. They saw themselves in her eyes. Looking into a mirror to the human soul. They were reflected and liked what they saw. She knows a connection was made. It is safe for she will never see them, again. She treasures these moments, tucking them away like gems for safekeeping. 
She doesn't understand her complete purpose. Those closest to her that hold her secret, believe she was chosen. Kamali, spirit guide, protector of the lost, the struggling. In her own struggles in life she learned to love the unloveable, because she was unloved. She learned to see beauty where it wasn't evident, because she wasn't beautiful. She learned to accept others,  because she longed for acceptance. 
As she takes the burden for others, so the Smokies do for her. She walks the quiet trails and hidden pathways releasing her burdens. As she walks, Kamali whispers softly to the mountain's spirit. She listens as the mountains respond.
The peace she came for has been granted. She has learned not to seek the acceptance of others, only to offer it. She offers a safe place. She seeks her acceptance only on a mountain trail. 
Speaking an ancient language, a tongue heard only between human and nature. Listening to the whispers of the Smokies, she has found the peace she come for. Her safe place.

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