It was an exceptionally dark night in the jungle. It was the rainy season and although there were a million stars in the sky, nary a one could be seen from the forest floor on account of the dense cloud cover which threatened an imminent storm at any moment. Mama Gecko, known to all as Mama Phillippa, had just laid a new batch of baby gecko eggs which were due to hatch in a few days. Papa Gecko had gone out with some of the other geckos to forage for food to feed the full nest and was not due back until dawn.
As life does, it yearns for itself and waits for no one and the batch of baby geckos was no exception. Given the warmer than normal weather the jungle had been having and the collective desire of the baby geckos to be born and experience life, they decided to hatch that evening. As Mama Phillippa heard the first egg begin to crack, she experienced a moment of panic but it was fleeting for she knew she had enough provisions to sustain it until the morning. It wasn’t until she heard eggs two, three, four and five start to crack a bit later that she let the panic rise in her chest.
She was all alone with barely enough food for herself and one hatchling, much less for five new born and very hungry baby geckos. She did the only thing she knew to do and that was to breathe. She took a deep breath in and with her exhale she let her heart expand and fill with all the love she felt for her babies and surrounded herself and the emerging hatchlings in a glowing circle of warmth and love.
Mama Phillippa knew all of the dangers that lie outside of the security of the cozy nest. One of the dangers was a particularly playful cat named Chauncey. Chauncey loved to capture the resident geckos then transport them in his mouth to his special spot, which was only 20 feet away but across the world for a small gecko. Once at his spot, Chauncey would let the geckos out of his mouth and play with them there. At least once a day Chauncey could be seen strolling through the jungle with the tail of a gecko dangling out of his mouth as he made his way to his playground.
Mama Phillippa remembered from previous escapades with Chauncey that he had bowls of food and water at his play spot that were filled daily by the monks. She also remembered that Chauncey was quite finicky so he never ate all of his food and a spark of inspiration ignited in her. It occurred to her that perhaps Chauncey and his abundant food supply was the solution to her dilemma of having to feed her hungry babies. All she had to do was figure out a way to have Chauncey take her to his food so she could get some for her newly born hatchlings.
Mama Phillippa was terrified. She knew to leave the comfort and safety of the nest was a huge risk. Mama Phillippa thought: “What if I don’t know Chauncey as well as I think I do? What if I have assessed him incorrectly and instead of transporting me, he bites me or hurts me or something far worse and I cannot make it back to care for my babies? What will Papa and the other geckos think when they find out that I left the hatchlings alone? Will they think I am a terrible mother and gossip about me?
Mama Phillippa felt vulnerable; she felt as though she could get hurt very easily and/or be judged. Despite feeling afraid, Mama Phillippa knew what she needed to do for herself and for her babies. She added a couple twigs and leaves to the nest and tied it up as tightly as she could. She kept the love glow from her heart going and took a deep breath and stepped out into the dark night – alone, very afraid and very vulnerable.
After walking a few steps which felt like an eternity, Chauncey appeared. Mama Phillippa knew herself well and because she had given herself the space to breathe, she was very clear on her needs when she was in the nest. However, in that moment when Chauncey presented himself to her, her fears came flooding back and she momentarily considered running back to the nest. She also considered attempting to make up a different story and lying to Chauncey in order to get her needs met without having to reveal her whole self.
Ultimately Mama Phillippa decided against both and chose to be herself with Chauncey and although she was terrified, she used her voice honestly. Chauncey did his stalking dance as always and this time instead of running away and hiding, Mama Phillippa calmly strolled along the path. As Chauncey drew nearer, he could sense that something was different.
Chauncey recognized Mama Phillippa but there was a strange air about her. He could see her glow and he saw a strength that he had never noticed before. Chauncey thought: “Has Mama Phillippa always looked so strong? Has she changed somehow? Is she actually bigger or is that just my imagination?
Chauncey approached more gingerly than he had in the past. Previously he would have simply pounced but something about her aura gave him pause. “Mama Phillippa” he purred. “You are different tonight somehow. Why are you out here all alone without Papa and the others? Are you not afraid of the dangers of the night?”
Mama Phillippa was indeed afraid – more afraid than she had ever been before in fact because she had five little babies back at the nest which made her more vulnerable than she had ever been. Mama Phillippa felt as though she had everything to lose and because she had everything to lose, she realized that she had nothing to lose by going through with her plan.
Mama Phillippa found a courage and strength she had never known. Her voice waivered as she spoke but she knew it was essential that she speak her truth. “Mr. Chauncey” she started with the words slightly stuck in her throat, “standing here alone in this dark forest with you is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life and in fact, I have had this very nightmare on multiple occasions.“ As she spoke, Mama Phillippa recognized the moment for what it was – a golden opportunity to face her biggest fear honestly and openly.
Mama Phillippa knew that no matter the outcome, she would be bigger and better for having spoken her truth so she continued, “I have been working my entire life to be the best gecko I could possibly be. For my efforts, the universe has rewarded me with the gift of five new babies.
“I have used all of the knowledge and love I have to nurture myself and my eggs as best I can to prepare for their arrival in a few days. However, my babies could not wait to begin their lives and have begun hatching tonight. They are the reason I stand here before you; afraid, alone and defenseless except for the love in my heart and the truth on my lips.”
As Mama Phillippa spoke, her little pulse raced. She looked Chauncey directly in his eyes for the first time in her life. She immediately recognized that they were both living beings and she felt connected to him; she understood there was nothing to fear so she continued to speak her truth: “Papa Gecko and the others will return tomorrow with full provisions however I do not have enough food in the nest tonight to feed all five of my babies. My greatest wish in the world right now is to be able to feed my babies when they are born so I am here to ask for your help. Would you be able to spare a few morsels of your food so that my babies will not go hungry in their first few hours of life?”
Whenever Chauncey saw a gecko, his eyes widened with glee at the thought of the impending capture of a new plaything. Chauncey’s eyes were very wide in the jungle tonight as he spoke to Mama Phillippa however they were wide for a different reason – Chauncey was awestruck. He was witnessing something that he could not quite define but knew instinctively was a feat of great courage.
After a few moments of silence, Chauncey spoke to Mama Phillippa: “I have never experienced such bravery, strength or dedication. Thank you for allowing me to bear witness to an act of love such as this. Thank you also for entrusting me with your truth and for respecting me with your honesty. It would be an honor to help you. I will transport you immediately to my feeding area and help you to gather as much food as you need then I will return you hastily to your babies.”
Chauncey opened his mouth as an invitation for Mama Phillippa to climb inside just as a human might open a car door for another human. Mama Phillippa accepted Chauncey’s invitation and climbed into his mouth. Chauncey was adept at transporting geckos without injuring them because he never enjoyed playing with injured geckos but this time he was even more cautious. Chauncey understood that Mama Phillippa needed to be as healthy and as whole as possible in order to tend to her babies and he was committed to helping her get her wish.
Chauncey ran as quickly and as carefully as he could with Mama Phillippa securely in his mouth. Once they arrived to his lodging, Chauncey and Mama Phillippa gathered up as much food and water as they could carry. Mama Phillippa then climbed into Chauncey’s mouth once again and he ran her back to the nest as fast and as cautiously as he could.
The entire interaction and expedition took less than 10 minutes but it felt like it was an eternity to Mama Phillippa – time has a funny way of expanding and contracting in pivotal moments. Mama Phillippa was gone for so little time, in fact, that the hatchlings were still hatching when she and Chauncey returned to the nest which meant she could greet her babies when they were born with plenty of food and love.
The hatchlings hatched one by one through the night. As each entered the world, Mama Phillippa gave it lots of love and something to eat. The babies were fed, full, happily sleeping and nestled around Mama Phillippa as she slept when Papa and the others returned early the next morning. Mama Phillippa awoke with a smile on her face and an even bigger smile in her heart.
She saw and heard the others trying to piece together the mystery of the previous night as they saw the babies sleeping contentedly and noticed the large amount of food. Mama Phillippa knew her truth and her heart swelled with gratitude and love for Chauncey and for her babies which left no room for insecurity or for the fear of being judged.
Mama Phillippa and Chauncey learned something from each other on that fateful night and were forever bonded by their shared experience. Mama Phillippa learned to always speak her truth and that everyone, despite reputation and/or appearance, was capable of kindness and compassion. And Chauncey learned that courage and bravery had nothing to do with physical acts of strength or stature. To this day, Mama Phillippa and Chauncey’s story is a reminder to all animals everywhere that truth spoken vulnerably from a place of love is far more powerful than a lie spoken boldly from a place of fear.