The next morning when Lilanthro awoke she lay in the safety of the hammock, feeling her way into the new day just as the new day felt its way into the world. She was reassuringly calm after the events of the previous day. She was aware of the potency of her experiences sinking deeper into her body, of her mind beginning to digest the meanings within meanings of Talas’s story, of her heart feeling nourished, and of her spirit eager to learn more. Underneath all this, she felt a deep stillness that quietly watched the waves of her being ripple themselves into new places.
When Talas appeared in the doorway and made his way into the garden, she was ready for him and knew what the day would bring. Together they proceeded to faithfully enact their morning rituals, greeting the day and each other with gladness, tending lovingly to the plants, enlivening their bodies with graceful movements between the flowers and sharing themselves with the world around them. Talas was once more his lithe and flowing self, belying his great age with his every move. Lilanthro played her role with a self assurance that displayed a knowingness beyond her years.
After their morning tasks were complete they ate a simple breakfast, as easy in each other’s company as if they had known each other for a lifetime. However, Lilanthro was also aware of an expectant tension in the air; they had yet to focus on the central matters of the day. As they finished eating, Talas turned to Lilanthro and asked the question she had been waiting for.
“Lilanthro, last night you showed me great kindness in ordering me to my bed”, Talas spoke with his usual warm humour that wrapped every word in silken love. “I thank you, I feel wonderfully rested. Now, I remember offering to teach a young girl called Lilanthro to be more like herself. I remember her discovering that she had strange new thoughts and feelings that at times veiled her heart from being heard clearly. I remember her asking how to dance with the veils. I remember taking her to visit the old tree in the forest and telling her a story of its life. I remember her dancing and singing her way back home. Now, I wonder what she learned from all this and I wonder if she will be kind enough to tell me…?”
Lilanthro smiled, “Talas you are such a magician and a charming one at that. Yes, I will tell you all I have learned. I am me. I am the life that I’ve lived and the things that I’ve learnt. I am the feelings I’ve felt and the thoughts I’ve thought and the experiences I’ve had. I am the girl who grew up in the forest and lived a life far away from humans, but close to the land and the animals.” She paused.
“What else?” asked Talas.
“I am these things and I am also connected to the world around me. I know what it is to be the still mountain and the tall tree, the rushing waters and the swaying grass. I am these beings at times, I feel them in me, or me in them. I also become the thread that moves between them and breathes life into them all, although this I only become on instinct, I do not really know what it is.”
“I am a child who came to the world of humans and did not know what to make of them. I am a child who has just learnt what it is to feel many conflicting emotions and think many strange thoughts. I now know what it is to feel fear, admiration, happiness, sadness, confusion… Many things. And I know that these are the veils which I can learn to dance with.”
“And what else?”
“I know that I am who I am partly because of the life I have lived. If I had been born here in the village I may be the woman who sits all day looking sad. If she had been born in the forest she may have grown up to be me. I am changeable and as malleable as a cloud passing across the sky. But I am also me partly because of innate things that come from I do not know where. They simply are as they are, and they do not come from this life. I feel they sit more deeply in me and were born in another place and time where I learnt other lessons. These parts of me are still ultimately ephemeral, but they have greater substance. I feel them like a life-giving undercurrent that shapes, builds and dissolves the clouds of my current existence.”
“I don’t know. I know that I don’t know. I know there is something more than that which I know, a stillness which sits behind all the movement of life. I know that even with my connection to everything around me there is something greater at work that I cannot fathom. It connects everything and I am but one link in the chain, one moment of form on the tapestry. I can sense the links, become the thread at times and feel my way into other parts of the picture, but the whole picture is hidden from me. It is so much bigger than me, I am a tiny piece of it. And the thread which weaves it… I cannot quite grasp how it is that I am both the thread and a tiny part of the tapestry. But I know that I can sense it most when I drop my veils, connect with my heart and find the stillness at my core.”
“And what else?”
“I am happy to live with the mystery and to learn more about it as I go. It is a wonderful mystery, I am glad of it! I know that I am part of something and as such I must play my part. There is a dance going on and if I choose to sit out I will miss experiencing its highs and lows, so I choose to join the dance and learn the steps. I am here to be myself with these humans and to learn to loosen my veils so that my heart shines. To show them my truest self even if that is but clouds in a sky, and encourage them to show me their true selves. To share what I am with them and allow them to share with me. It still scares me, I still want to remain in a hidden place where I feel safe, but I know the bigger picture demands me to come into the open.”
“I know that I know enough to be in this human world. I can overcome my fears, they are just passing clouds after all. I can be the feral girl who knows how to dance and tell stories of the forest and become as still as a mountain. I can be Lilanthro but not cling tightly to myself. I can let go of me to sink into their lives, just as I can sink into being a tree, so that I can feel how they feel, and perceive their veils and their hearts. I am here in this world of humans to know myself and others, to live with a free heart and find the stillness behind all else, to seek out the connections, to learn what it is to give and to receive, to feel the inward and outward flow that moves us all and urges us onwards to a greater love for one another.”
“And yet,” Lilanthro hesitated, “I still know so little! I know nothing of the vastness which is in you, I know nothing of what it is to be not just me but everything all at once. I am not at one with the light as you are, my love is not as all encompassing as yours, I cannot help others as much as you have helped me!”
He stopped her protestations with a smile, “Do not be in a rush Lilanthro. You have much to experience, learn and give before you become old and grey like me. All things will come to pass as and when they are ready. I was once you and you were once the sad villager. Be content with who you are and where you are right now. How can the young tree be wrong for being young? Aspire to grow but rejoice in where you are. As for helping others, this can only be done when all your veils are seen clearly, or else you will become entangled in them in your attempts to help. Be yourself, continue learning about yourself, others and life, and all else will follow naturally. And you have already helped me. You have reminded me of things I thought I had learned long ago but had forgotten through the years. And you have given me such joy that my heart opens to infinity with it. I am truly grateful to you and in admiration of you dearest Lilanthro, more than you may ever fully know.”
Lilanthro’s eyes filled with tears as she went to Talas and hugged him tightly. “Thank you, thank you, thank you…” She whispered over and over again.
Talas hugged her tenderly in return and then gently pulled away to look at her, “So, when will it be then brave, white flower, feral girl, Lilanthro?”
“It will be this evening when the villagers have all returned from their day’s work, just as the sun is sinking low, the air is cooling and the land is settling comfortably into sleepiness.”
Talas nodded and they smiled knowing, mischievous, childlike smiles at one another…