As usual, you can catch up on previous stories with Ruby on the following link as well as read other spiritual allegories and stories in the Jim Tolles Extended Universe:
Ruby could barely open her eyes. Her mind felt full of fog. A part of her didn’t even want to get out of bed.
She forced herself upright.
But then lay back drown from a strange sense of vertigo.
“What is happening to me?”
She glanced at Tru who slept soundly, sucking a thumb. She carefully removed it from his mouth, but he instinctively put it back.
She shrugged and slowly got to her feet, glancing out a window covered in condensation.
A blanket of snow covered everything. The chill of January near Mt. Liebe filled Tru’s cabin where she had stayed for several months.
Ruby put on clothes and added a few logs to the remains of the previous night’s fire. She stoked the little embers, but they sputtered and smoked, reluctant to catch fire. She started to prepare breakfast, but realized that she needed a few items. She donned her winter garments–also made by the town’s seamstress, Gwen–and headed out.
Sunlight sparkled in a field of white diamonds. The snowy bed muffled the sounds of the village and nature. Wrapped in this cold silence, Ruby heard the crunch of her boots in the snow, the sound of her breath, the beat of her heart, and something else.
She didn’t see anyone or anything, so she continued.
But then she felt it. The familiar presence.
“Are you following me?”
She looked some more. A slight movement in a fir tree caught her eye. Her eyes met the golden eyes of a snowy owl.
Ruby gasped. This was the owl Gwen had mentioned. She knew it in her heart. But there was more.
“You? I know you…somehow.”
For a moment, Ruby thought she saw a person–a woman–instead of the owl.
The owl spoke, “Where are you going?”
Ruby opened her mouth to reply, but only quickly evaporating steam escaped into the cold.
The owl disappeared.
Ruby didn’t know what to make of the encounter. She finished her errand.
The next fee weeks, Ruby’s sleep worsened.
Tru stopped inviting her to do talks together. He want back to his typical spiritual monologues about being here, going nowhere, forgetting about Mt. Liebe, enjoying the momentary pleasures of life, and other things. The audiences who came to Tru also had lost interest in Ruby’s story.
With winter here, there wasn’t much need to greet new people with Maggie either. Everyone dropped into slower rhythms. People tended to things left undone through the warmer and more active pars of the year.
Ruby occasionally joined hunting parties who showed her some of the less used routes to Mt. Liebe along with the nuances of hunting in the area. They’d go out.
And loop back.
In her errands around the village, she’d go out.
And loop back.
With Maggie and Tru, they’d talk about a few things, but then loop back to whatever topics with which they were most comfortable .
All the while, Ruby felt the owl’s question echoing in her mind.
One day, she remembered her promise to Gwen to tell her about the owl.
As usual, Gwen’s home/shop was a projectile-vomiting mess of thread and fabric. Today was even more chaotic because of all the packaging papers. Apparently her skills had grown in notoriety. Some people had come all the way from Julmus and placed an order for a powerful man.
“Gwen? You in?”
“Yes, yes. Be right with you.”
Ruby found Gwen amidst a struggle with packaging string. Ruby found that strange for a woman so skillful and deft with a needle and thread.
“How can I make clothes for someone whose body I’ve never seen?” she grumbled. Looking up, “Hi Renee. What do you need? More warm under layers?”
“No, no. I’m good. Thank you. The ones you made are perfect.” Ruby sat in a chair amidst many other colorful fabrics. “I saw her.”
Gwen dropped the package. Her eyes lit up. “Oh goodness. Yes! It’s been some time. What happened? Tell me everything!”
Gwen plopped down atop a stool covered in gray fabrics of different sizes.
Ruby told her what happened even though there wasn’t much to tell.
“Have you seen the owl since?”
Ruby shook her head. “But I can’t get the question out of my head. ‘Where am I going?’ I certainly didn’t set out to be in Padreson Chemin.”
Gwen shrugged. “That’s life. Maybe you should ask if the owl finds you again. Seems to be looking after you.” Gwen went back to packaging.
“I think I am supposed to answer this.”
Gwen didn’t reply. Instead, she grumbled again about packaging, special dyes, and running colors if it isn’t handled right. Gray strands of hair fell over her eyes, some entwining themselves with the packaging twine. The woman, parcel, clothes, and house seemed all enmeshed and tangled to Ruby.
Ruby stepped outside.
“Where am I going?” The day was crystal clear. Ruby took a deep breath in and let it slowly out. She looked around the sleepy village of Padreson Chemin. She realized it was really a ramshackle affair. Houses had been thrown together quickly and sagged in places from the lack of proper support. She heard a conversation from some other folks talking about other places that are supposed to be better. She heard a couple of names like Rainbowton and Illumeville. Then she looked up at Mt. Liebe.
The fog in her mind lifted. Her thoughts became as clear as the day.
Ruby went to the local hunting leader and got equipment to help her ascend Mt. Liebe. She told people, friends, Maggie, and Tru about the trip.
Tru took it badly.
“You’re going to get yourself killed. Who goes up a mountain in the middle of the winter?!”
“I have to. I never intended to come here.”
“You got lucky. Stay here. You can do talks with me again,” Tru half-pleaded.
“I don’t know about your talks. I don’t think you know what you’re talking about.”
Tru took a step back as if she’d slapped him.
“I think I got a little lost here. But I remember where I am going.”
“This is a mistake.” Tru’s gaze dropped to the floor.
“I think I’m fixing one.”
Ruby stepped out of Troubler’s home and into the bright, white clarity of the outdoors, heading to Mt. Liebe.
Interpretation of Loops
After the last story (Mind Fog), we catch up with Ruby become more unconscious. The mentions of fogginess and sleepiness are all pointing to Ruby’s state of spiritual development. As those of you read, Ruby has succeeded in getting what she wanted, and she found things she never knew she wanted.
In short, Ruby discovered:
- Beauty (thanks to the state of her body and Gwen’s clothing)
- Sexual gratification,
- A sense of purpose (meeting newcomers to the town with Maggie)
- A sense of notoriety (people listening to her experiences from the desert)
She founds all kinds of worldly pleasures.
They felt great, but then some of them started to pass. Because that’s what happens with pleasure. The novelty wears off as novelty always does in life.
With the remaining pleasures she now has, her ego is having her go through the motions, repeating the things she likes. Ruby is going in circles.
Through ego fulfillment, she’s lost all direction. She doesn’t know where she is going.
Which is what the owl’s question prompts her to notice.
“Where are you going?”
It’s a powerful question.
Perhaps you should sit with it a moment. Journal your responses.
After a few weeks, Ruby has a spark of conscious awareness re-ignite in her. The fog lifts, and she can’t not notice that she is going in circles. More importantly, she remembers what she is truly seeking.
So how does someone with so much genuine understanding get lost on the spiritual path?
There are many levels of attachments. We don’t give up everything immediately. We have too many attachments to do it like that. We typically give up the easiest and most obviously painful attachments first, but then we run up against attachments we like or that we think serve us.
Ruby ran up against some of hers–love, affection, and attention. Her ego felt fulfilled, so she gave up her deeper quest to Mt. Liebe and everything that means to her.
I shared this post in my last interpretation, but it is an important one. So I’m sharing it here again:
Now that Ruby has re-awakened, she’s going to climb a snow-covered mountain in the middle of winter. Let’s see how that goes, shall we?