She sat staring at the flame, as had her mother before her, and her grandmother and their mothers and grandmothers for countless generations before them. Each flame was different and she wondered what this one would bring. Her eyes softened their vision and she reached out to cup her hands around the candle itself. Cool, it was, cool and smooth, like precious white stone, only softer. The flame flickered then flared and dipped to the right, calling her attention back. As she stared, the flame grew more intense, expanding its light now until the corona filled the entire cave. Ah, yes, it was happening, that old familiar floating sensation. She allowed her eyes to grow softer still and then she saw it, the dark tunnel that brought the Visions.
This vision was darker than others, not what she wanted to see, yet there was truth in it.
The old woman carried her burden heavily upon her back. Stooped she was, stooped and worn with the long trek seeking a place of refuge for her and her people.
It had been a struggle—should they stay at the deep cave that had sheltered them from the scorching flares of the sun, or should they move on, looking for a place that had not been ravaged by the sun’s relentless fire. But then what little provisions they had ran out and there was no choice. Move on or starve. So now they trudged on, looking for a place they never could find.
The earth about the old woman was charred. Stumps of once mighty and ancient evergreens smoldered at her feet. Here and there a flame broke free, seeking any tiny bit of unburned vegetation. The smoke, acrid still, rose in tendrils about her.
Still she trudged on, more for the children in her keeping than for herself. Children? No, what they had seen had robbed them of childhood. Though still young in body, they were adults now and scoured the forest floor for the burnt flesh of animals left behind by the raging fires. Soon, even that would run out—or rot—and then what would they do?
When the rains came, they took what water they could from the skies. Scavenging, they looked for jars to store the rain water as the streams had all dried up. But, like the stone walls of their forts, they had all melted in the furious blasts from the sun. Vitrified, that’s what the potters would have called it. The world was burnt and vitrified. The children wept but had no tears to give, so parched were their shrinking bodies.
And still the stooped Sister trudged on, her woven burden bundle the only color in the dreary landscape. But even that was turning grey from the endless soot.
Inside her bundle she carried the sacred objects of her people. Inside her head, she carried their sacred knowledge. This was what carried her forward. That sacred knowledge must not be lost.
One by one, the children faded away and still the Burden Sister trudged on until she, too fell into the Mother, no longer able to move. She sent her love deep down in sorrow for the Earth Mother, now charred and lifeless.
But she had not passed on her burden.
When finally her breath gave out, some ghostly core of her rose up and watched as her body moldered into the ground. And then even her bundle was gone.
But the knowledge of the wise ones she kept inside, and so her spirit turned and continued trudging forward, looking for someone to take that burden from her.
So, in this vision, I called my thoughts after her, “How can we help you?”
A glimmer of recognition crossed her face. “Sister,” she said as she put down her bundle. “Look for us in your candle. Ask us and we will tell you of the old ways. Save the old ways. There is much good in them.”
And then a Light shone from the north and Sister was gone, but her Burden Bundle remains with me still.
Note: No blog again next week–this time enjoying family time!