Sweat dripped from my forehead as I walked along the trail to the top of the mountain. With eight and a half miles behind me, big sky and clouds replaced the green pine branches when I looked up. I was skittish as I walked. I watched my feet, electrically alert for small mountain creatures. Fresh pawprints from a big cat reminded me that despite the vastness of the space and the absence of other humans, I was not alone. Snakes, mountain lions and javelina made there homes here. And in the drought, some were hungry.
Standing in a small clearing, I raised my water bottle for a drink and caught my breath. The air was thin, and my muscles were taut. In the beauty and the silence, my eyes met those of a stranger. He stood motionless, looking over his shoulder to size me up. He was slight in stature with a golden gray coat. His black eyes were locked on me. I didn't move. I'm not sure how long we watched each other before he disappeared into the brush.
The encounter left me terrified. I wasn't sure if I'd seen a wolf, or a coyote, or if the creature was real at all. But I was sure I was ready to go back down the mountain. My fear had overcome my desire to see the view from the top, and I had been so close.
Today I wonder if it happened at all. Truth is, it doesn't matter if he was really there. He left a legacy. He had a message for me. Native American wisdom teaches that when a wolf shows up, he reminds us to trust our intuition, and to listen to our inner voice. He also asks us to find a new path and look at rituals and patterns that aren't working for us.
I trusted the wolf medicine, and began listening to the tiny voice inside myself. It has changed the direction of my path. Aligned with the song of my soul, I am stronger. One day I will stand at the top of that mountain with no fear. I will sit under clouds with the sun on my face, my fears behind me, looking for my next teacher.