This is the first in the Storytelling Series on the Grief Talk Podcast!
In this episode with Vonne as the storyteller, travel to Petra, Jordan and ride a donkey to the top of a mountain that will require more than just courage!
Note: sound effects and music included with the audio.
Video includes visuals to accompany this story!
Watch the episode.
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BOOKS (by Vonne Solis)
“Lessons in Surviving Suicide – A Letter to My Daughter”“Divine Healing Transforming Pain into Personal Power – A Guide to Heal Pain From Child Loss, Suicide and Other Grief”
“The Power of Change”
RESOURCES (Blog, Course & Meditations)
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Vonne Solis 0:01
Welcome to Storytelling with Vonne Solis. Today's story is called The Donkey and the Mountain: A Story of Courage.
The story starts in the mountains of Jordan. Petra to be exact. An ancient and archaeological city in the south of Jordan, whose name means rocks. The city dates back to 7000 BC. The donkey of course is that old. Nor is the woman riding it. But as they set off on their journey together up the mountain, for which the woman has no idea what awaits her, they seemed joined in spirit. A oneness that can't quite be defined.
The donkey has been up the mountain more times than he can count. Assuming that is, he can count. But even if he can't, his instincts guide him with every step he takes. Some that seem to the woman riding on his back, faltering at times. Whether due to the donkey's weariness of his day in, day out journey up the mountain, or something else entirely, she wasn't sure.
She feels a little guilty sitting atop this donkey, waiting patiently to carry her up the mountain. But, having agreed to what at first seemed like a thrilling once in a lifetime tourist attraction, closely monitored by the local guides, she started to feel concern. For the donkey having to work too hard? For her safety? She wasn't sure. But the guide assured her it was safe. The donkey knew what it was doing. It could carry her weight, and no harm would be done.
As the woman settles in on the donkey, she looks around her at the giant peaks of rock, set amidst the rugged desert canyons. She can't help but feel captivated by the scenery. The smells. The anticipation and excitement of going up the mountain, despite her nervousness.
Deciding to trust the donkey, she notes that the path looks relatively safe. She hopes that the donkey will find its footing over the larger rocks, and that the path, though winding, appears to be safe all the way up, nestled between the solid walls of mountain rock. The guide gives the command to go.
At first, the journey doesn't seem so bad. It is enjoyable. Relaxing even. Until...
around the corner, the mountain of rock wall disappears and the donkey starts to shift to the ledge on the right. Where there is nothing beyond it except a several 100 foot drop to one's certain death.
The woman freezes. There is no guide in sight to ask for help. She feels trapped. Desperate to get off this ride. Yet there is no way to stop the donkey. He is firmly set on his jaunt up the rocky mountain path, skillfully placing his hooves between the rocks that litter the flat earth between them.
The woman takes a deep breath, holding on for dear life. She casts a side-eye glance over the vast space to her right, trying to determine what's below. And what is surely several 100 feet down. But she can't see the bottom. Which terrifies her.
Setting her sights on the donkey's right hoof, she watches as the animal precariously places it in a narrow groove, aiming to balance each step. Which terrifies the woman even more as she sees it falter a little over some of the rocks. Gently tap tap tapping around them to firmly plant his hooves.
Despite all she has been through in her personal life that has created her greatest fears and fright, the worst being losing her child just months before, sitting on top of that donkey, in that moment, climbing to the top of a mountain with a sheer drop to her right, may have topped even that! Her fear was palpable.
She began to imagine the donkey slipping. Both of them falling to their deaths. Would it be quick? Painless? What would she be thinking on the way down? Had her life been worth it? The pain? The suffering? Could she recognize the beauty of her life? And especially in that moment, despite her fear? Would they even fall? If not, what would she appreciate when she got to the top of the mountain. She had to get there. She couldn't imagine that falling off a mountain, on a donkey, was the way she would choose to go. All of these questions and thoughts sifted through her mind. In the mere seconds she knew she couldn't give in to the fear. She didn't want to give in to the fear.
So, she slowed her mind down and taking a deep breath, moving with the gait of the donkey, she decided to be brave. To find the courage to enjoy this moment. An experience she likely would never have again. She wanted to appreciate the spectacular scenery and the experience itself, instead of lose sight of these moments going by. Which, giving into her fear would surely rob her of.
She tore her gaze from the donkey's right hoof. As calmly as she could, she looked up at the pale blue sky, dotted with clouds, that felt like it was all around her. She felt the grandeur of the rugged mountain peaks.
Giving up every bit of control she longed to hold over the donkey, she offered up a silent prayer that she would be safe. That the donkey knew the way better than she did. And any attempt to try and control any part of this experience would be futile. She relaxed a little more, and gave herself completely to the moment. Moving in tandem with the donkey.
She became one with the sky. With the mountain. And the silence that enveloped them, except for the small shuffling noise of the donkey's hooves. And they climbed. And climbed. And climbed some more. Until they finally reached the summit. And with a relief that was noticeable, she parted ways with the donkey she had trusted with her life. Literally. She knew in her heart that the experience would remain a series of moments she would never forget. For the courage it took to stay on the path. And the trust that she felt for a donkey in charge.
That woman was me. The loss was of my daughter in 2005. The trip to Jordan was in 2007. When I was still raw with the suffering from a grief I didn't understand. Yet going forward, and choosing to trust that wherever this path of bereavement would take me on a journey up my own personal mountain, was one that I could trust. That the way would always be shown to me. Even when my own footsteps faltered and I felt desperate to get off the climb.
It takes courage for anyone to climb their mountain. It takes faith that you can and will get to the top. It takes the belief and trust that in the stillness of the summit, there, you will find the grace and an appreciation for whatever journey has brought you to right where you are today.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Until next time.