“Did you grieve?” A grey solitary ghost came forward with open palms, tears dripping down her cheeks, thin, wan, faint, but with intense presence. The forest became a sanctuary, a shrine, a temple of worship and sacrifice. A dark pit slowly manifested, a well for sorrow. Each ghost contributed tears, wrenching sobs, wailing, whatever they could give. Caela felt herself dancing around the pit, drawn irresistibly into the music of ghostly crying. Coming into her notice, she saw her longed for long dead loved ones among the ghosts, crying with her over her loss. Slowly, hypnotized, she moved toward their circle. They embraced her, an ectoplasmic affirmation of love, dispelling sorrow. But what of those other wounded spirits? How could they be helped? Were Caela’s deeply embedded wounds so easily healed; or was this uplifting but part of an ongoing process? If we can be ever moving in the direction of healing, no matter how slowly, Caela was thinking. Silently smiling in the center of the pain, wonderful gifts of lives leaving those behind forever better because of the beauty imparted into who we become. When we can let go of the pain and be the totality of who our interchanges and experiences have created, will that be a new kind of wholeness? Could this tentative resolution be useful to the forest’s spirits?
The well of sorrow metamorphosed into a peaceful pond in which graceful gliding silvery creatures glinted in the sunlight. Caela sat upon a convenient large smooth stony surface enjoying the solitude and warmth.
Yet, how strange, she was not alone. A self-possessed child, bright and lively, mature for his years, sat beside her. His image wavered a bit when she looked more closely. She could hear him speaking, though he appeared to be silent. “What was taken from us is still being taken. How can we reconcile, heal, absorb to grow, when our energy must focus on defense against pernicious, chronic attack? Our enemies have not been dissuaded by stoic resolve nor peaceful co-existence. They want blood sacrifice. They are angry beyond reason, calling forth such emotion in we who feel so poignantly a need to arise, take back what we can.”
This was the voice that had called her into the forest, into this newly forming relationship offering new ways of perceiving. The boy was gone, not waiting for an answer. He had given his message. Their people are still being attacked. The exile solved nothing. Had all the witchfolk been rooted out, wouldn’t others with some articulable difference be set apart as scapegoat, blood sacrifice? Does disregard of indigenous life come from a same core of xenophobic disdain? A cognitive confusion of anger, fear, manifesting desire for mastery, control, superior positioning? Back to walking, these puzzles her companions, ghosts dissipated in the sunlight while Caela’s focus is more inward. Why would xenophobes travel so far? Was there nothing left on Earth for them to claim? Or was it the children of the pioneers, born into a less clear purpose, into a world still not their own? Caela’s eyes were drawn to the only sky she had ever known. Brilliant with colors of the setting sun filtered through atmosphere, shape-shifting clouds showing off in deepening hues. Caela stopped her forward motion, turning her purpose to preparing for the night. For a passing moment she considered that she had no recollection of how many days and nights had passed while she and this ancient forest renewed and deepened their acquaintance. Then, back in the gentle flow of this time, she continued her rituals of preparation.