When I worked for the wilderness therapy program, there were certain things we did every day. In Morning Circle, each person drew an Angel Card. These are little cards, about the size of a fortune cookie fortune, that are printed with words describing characteristics or traits one might possess. Each card is illustrated with a little cartoon angel acting out that trait. Many students and guides ascribed to the idea that rather than choosing your daily angel, your angel chooses you. Students kept track of the angel cards they drew throughout the course of their program, and upon graduation often reflected on the angels that chose them most frequently.
I am something of a skeptic. Although I am open to the unknown machinations of the universe, I am usually blind to the unseen. I tracked my angel cards on the back cover of my field notebook, but didn’t see any arcing themes.
I am preparing for another cross-country move. While weeding through the plastic bins that contain the detritus of my life, I found the field notebook I used for my first year of working for the wilderness therapy program. I flipped through it, names and notes bringing fuzzy memories into sharp focus, and for the first time in years took a look at the angels scrawled on the inside of the back cover. One angel had more tally marks than any other: VISION.
Well there it is, a perfect metaphor for the transformative properties of wilderness therapy. Guides grow as surely as students, and growth continues years after leaving the program behind. Although I loved Vermont and was very happy there, I was also stuck. What I lacked, for the first time in my life, was VISION. I didn’t know what I wanted in the big picture, so I struggled. The angels were screaming it at me in their gentle, persistent way. Like Dorothy, I had the ability to get where I wanted to go, but I had to find it within myself.