Evelyn Rysdyk answers the question:

What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?


You know, I'm actually blessed with having had several opportunities, but one comes to mind most keenly. I had a group of students, and one who became a dear friend of mine and my partner, who got together and paid for a trip to send us to visit the polar bears in Churchill [Manitoba]. This was years ago. And at that time, that felt so out of reach financially. But they raised the money together and actually bought the trip. And if that wasn't enough, two of the people who later became dear friends said, "That looks like a really good trip to be on. I think we'd like to come too." And in fact, they upgraded us. So all of us, my partner and I, and the other couple, those two, spent an entire week out on the tundra in a tundra lodge, where we went out every day on tundra buggies to see the polar bear.

And you can tell from what I'm wearing, polar bears are really important to me. They are my direct source to Spirit. They are my protectors. And meeting the polar bear for the first time, the spirit of my polar bear, my power animal, the very first time, healed me of a depression. So seeing them in the earth plane, in their environment, was an extraordinary blessing. In fact, whenever I do my gratitude practice, what I use as an image and a memory to trigger that gratitude is standing in the tundra buggy with my hands right at the open window — because you couldn't let anything go out because they're hungry. And I'm leaning over, and the only bear that came up to the tundra buggy for the whole week came up under my window. And so our noses were no more than that far apart.

And the polar bear's nose moved as it was sniffing me, and I could see every tiny hair on its muzzle. And we breathed each other's breath for a few moments. It seemed like I was there outside of time while that happened. And that gift has stayed with me for, now, several decades. And it's a gift that still leaves me breathless every time I think about it. I think, how could that have possibly been? And yet it's so keenly in my memory, I can recall it any time. And my heart fills up so much that my eyes run over the lids, because it was a way that I saw, in a very profound and physical way, my spiritual connection and my earth plane experience come together in a way that all of my senses were filled. So that was probably the one that comes to mind the most often when I think about the great blessings and gifts that I've been given.

Evelyn C. Rysdyk is an internationally recognized shamanic practitioner and bestselling author whose titles include The Norse Shaman... Spirit Walking: A Course in Shamanic Power... A Spirit Walker’s Guide to Shamanic Tools... and The Nepalese Shamanic Path: Practices for Negotiating the Spirit World with Indigenous Nepali jhankri Bhola N. Banstola. She also contributed to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare, exploring the role of shamanism in integrative care. Along with her writings, Evelyn is an impassioned teacher and a featured presenter for global online programs.

For over 30 years, Evelyn has delighted in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual clients, workshop groups and online participants, or through the printed word, Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling, and purposeful lives. She affirms that as people awaken their full selves, they are much more likely and able to make their unique contributions toward transforming our world.

Still somewhat surprised that the spirits shapeshifted her from a visual artist into a writer, she finds creative inspiration and renewal on the coast of Maine.

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This article appears in: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 12: World Unity Week