DON'T QUESTION THEIR PRESENCE--JUST BECAUSE-- YOU DON'T SEE THEM.
The first time I heard the voices... I was cuddled in my sleeping bag, enjoying the comfort of sleep as it slowly enveloped my exhausted body. Suddenly awake, I sensed something was wrong and slowly raised my head to listen. At first, I heard only the night’s dark silence. Then… they spoke. The indistinguishable sounds...uttered from unseen mouths…. surrounded me. Voices were intentionally-breaking the silence and the voices were only a stone’s throw from my tent.
Forcing myself to overcome heart-skipping panic, I tried to make sense of the voices. Was I hearing voices whispering in conversations or was a united group performing a ritual or chant?!?! The constant sounds, impossible to identify, were everywhere. Huddled inside my tent, I was helpless to know their location or how many were involved in what sounded like-- a “group” discussion. I reached for my flashlight and, as quietly as possible, unzipped the tent’s opening. Expecting to see a number of Chinese standing outside, I braced for a confrontation. With no means of protection, I decided to use the element of surprise. Hopefully, my presence would frighten these night visitors... assuming they were human.
Climbing out of the tent’s opening, I flooded the area with light—in all directions. Then, I forced my long body to“Stand Tall” on the Great Wall’s dew-covered surface. It was important I look fearless and strong and powerful-enough to conquer any and all around me. But, Looking around, there was nothing—and no one. The voices had stopped; all was silent. My flashlight searched the thick blackness and still---nothing to see or hear. I knew an extensive search would be in vain.
All totaled, I heard the voices on seven different occasions. The voices always spoke in whispers and their sounds were delivered in unison---like a united chorus--without music. These incidents happened near the beginning of my Great Wall journey, when I was alone. And, the voices only visited me on the nights my tent was perched on-top of the Great Wall’s surface. Several times-- hearing the voices-- I climbed out of the tent to shout greetings in English, then Chinese-- yet there was never a response….only silence.
During the day, traveling beside or on top of The Wall, I often thought-about the voices. And, I was reminded of my experience with Harriet-- the spirit who “lived” with me in Shrewsbury, New Jersey. There were many similarities and---like Harriet--- the voices meant me no harm.
Desperate to make sense of it all, I repeated the flashlight search each time I heard the voices... and like each time before…I appeared alone on The Great Wall. After completing ALL THE WALL, I remembered something I’d read years before, while researching the Great Wall:
“Ancient Chinese writings state The Great Wall’s indomitable strength is derived from its builders---scores of nameless men who suffered unbearable hardships while building The Wall. It has been estimated that sixty million Chinese died while constructing more than 10,000 miles (the Main Wall and tributaries) of The Great Wall. According to Chinese Tradition, the bodies of those who died while building The Great Wall… were buried in The Wall. Not only did those burials create the world’s largest cemetery, but Chinese believe the dead workers fortified The Great Wall of China-- enabling it to live-forever."
Remembering the unseen voices, I’m honored to have “met” the Wall’s heroic builders--- now a permanent part of The Great Wall. I believe they stayed near me-- much-like an honor guard--to sanction my first-ever journey of The Great Wall of China.
PS. To learn more about Harriet...the spirit I grew to love and respect in Shrewsbury, New Jersey... read my book, THE BEAUTY QUEEN. My incredible experience with Harriet made me a true believer in endless possibilities....the kind of possibilities that reach far-beyond ordinary life... and the living.