Talas and Lilanthro sat together in the garden as a warm and welcoming new day began.
“Lilanthro, why did you ask if I could teach you to be like me, when I am so old and grey, and you are so young and vibrant?” Talas gently enquired.
Lilanthro hesitated in shyness, “Because, you know so much more than me. You seem to know everything. And you are so kind, and you don’t judge. You are just… no words do you justice.”
“And how do you feel about these things?” Probed Talas.
“Small I guess. And clumsy. Like a child. But grateful too, and in awe of you.”
“Hmmm. I am wondering Lilanthro, how about the villagers. What are your thoughts and feelings towards them, having studied them for a while?”
Lilanthro wriggled in slight discomfort and thought for a moment, “Many things Talas. They confuse me, so one thing I feel is confusion. With some of them I feel awe and smallness, although not as much as with you. With some I feel happy and joyful, although tinged with jealousy that I am not experiencing their happiness. With some, I fear them and their hardened, angry behaviour. With some I am sad for their sadness, and also sad that I cannot mend this for them. With some, I hurt when I feel their fear and feel powerless that I cannot help them dispel the fear. Overall, I feel a little dizzy, and find it hard to breathe. They have so many ways of being and doing, it is hard to be among them without feeling overwhelmed. And I feel ashamed and angry at myself that I have not been able to reach out to them openly and reveal myself, but scared to do so because I do not know how I should appear to them. With some I think I should behave one way to be accepted, but with others I think I should behave quite differently.”
“A wonderful answer Lilanthro!” said Talas with a comforting smile. “Confusion, awe, happiness, jealousy, fear, sadness, hurt, powerless, overwhelmed, ashamed, angry, self-judging… What a splendid mixture of thoughts and emotions! And did I hear the word ‘should’ creep in there too? How should you behave to be accepted by them…? Yes, quite perfect. Now tell me, Lilanthro, what does your heart say about these things?”
Lilanthro breathed deeply, “I guess my heart wants to say that it is all OK really, that these things are not real, or not important, and it asks me not to forget it is there. But its words are slightly hidden from me. My heart is still there if I really listen, but the thoughts and feelings sit on top of it and squash it a bit so I cannot hear it so clearly…”
“Lilanthro, you are doing so well. Tell me more about your heart…”
“It feels closed, slightly. Before coming to the village, I never had to think about it… It is so strange, I almost had not noticed this change. Before, my heart was just there, it guided me and I followed, we danced together and sang together and climbed mountains together. I never even quite realised it was my companion, we just were. But since being in the village, it is as if my heart were a friend that I have stopped talking to and listening to so much… I can feel it there, but it feels a little constricted, or wounded, or caged. It feels closed. As if I have wrapped it up in layers, and it is now slightly veiled from me. I feel lacking because of it… I feel a little wounded…”
“And what is it that veils your heart?” Asked Talas.
“The veils are my feelings and my thoughts,” replied Lilanthro without hesitation, “The veils are my confusions and fears and wondering how I should be and all those things… I can feel those layers pulsing so strongly, they feel very real to me, they have substance. But because of them, my heart feels shut away and shrunken… Maybe hurting that I am ignoring it…”
“Is your heart really wounded Lilanthro? Does it really feel hurt by you?”
Lilanthro breathed deeply again to steady herself, “No, I guess not. I feel it that way, but maybe that is just because my connection to it is weakened. My heart is probably there as purely as it has always been, but the hurt and wound and lacking are veils around it, making the connection weaker… Which makes me feel weaker and lacking and wounded…”
“Lilanthro, you perceive so clearly. Well done. All these things you feel and think, they are so amazing. Before you came to this village, what did you feel and think then?”
“I don’t quite know, I never had to think about it!” Lilanthro replied, “I felt happy to be alive. I felt excited to be exploring each new day. I felt warmth and love for the animals and plants. I felt grateful for the sun and rain and wind. I ran, danced, sung, ate, slept, played, sat… I felt peaceful, I felt complete, I did not feel lacking. I just was and the world was with me… I don’t know how to express it in words…”
“And then you came here and everything changed…”
“Yes, everything changed… And now I don’t quite know what to do about it. I don’t want to undo all my experiences here, but I do not know how to also regain what I have lost… That is why I wanted to be like you, you are at one with everything from your heart, to your human-ness, to the whole world…”
“Do not worry Lilanthro, all in good time. But first, tell me, who do you think you would be if you had grown up here?”
Lilanthro replied in a rush, “Oh, so many things and people. I might have grown up to be the sad woman or the angry man, the fearful boy or the happy girl… I could have been any one of them had I lived their life… I cannot guess with any certainty who I would be had I grown up in their shoes… I am so lucky. I was able to grow up feeling in tune with my heart and the world all around me. If I had grown up here with so many discordant possibilities of how and who to be, how to act and behave… I don’t think I would have heard and felt the world around me or my heart within me, I would have been too busy working out what I had to do to be a villager and fit into the village, or rebel from it… The veils would have been many and they would have wrapped and knotted themselves around my heart so tightly in a thousand different variations…”
“Yes Lilanthro… Indeed, you could have been anyone had you grown up here and the veils could have been of many colours, patterns and knots. But you did not grow up here. You are you. You grew up in the forest with only your heart and the heart of the world to guide you… All souls begin that way, and then they come here to the world of being human. When you came to this village, was it not as if you had just been born?”
“Yes!” replied Lilanthro, “That is exactly how it feels. Before coming here, I was held in the womb of the world… Now I have been born and I am human and there is no going back… And my heart is veiled from me. How do I rid myself of the veils so that I can hear my heart strongly again?”
Talas laughed one of his rich, soothing laughs, that melted Lilanthro’s veil of fear, “Oh Lilanthro. You cannot rid yourself of the veils, they are part of being in this world of human experience, they are part of what you have been born for. You are indeed fortunate, your heart may be veiled from you but your veils are few and you can see them; not all of the villagers can do that. The way forward is not to destroy the veils, this would only inadvertently create more… Would you like to know the secret of how to be yourself complete with all your veils, and with your heart free and unshackled?”
Lilanthro nodded vigorously. Talas continued, “The secret is to learn to dance with the veils so that they do not tighten around you and bind your heart. The secret is to accept their presence with lightness, to allow air under their billowing sails so that they flow around you. To welcome their many glowing colours and textures, to spin wonderful pictures with them, and to sing songs about them… To accept them so that they fly like kites around you… In this way, they can exist as they need to, and your heart will remain open and strong at the centre of all things… Free to watch them appreciatively and smile at their antics, free to speak to you and tell you how things really are, free to deepen your connection to the heart of the world around you…”
Lilanthro felt tear drops on her cheeks, “That is so beautiful. You speak and I see glorious swirls of colour before my eyes and feel my heart bursting within me… How do I learn to dance this magical dance of which you speak?”
Talas had a twinkle in his eye as he replied, “For that I think we must pay a visit to a friend of mine; the oldest tree in the forest.”
“I will go with you to wherever you say we must go!” Declared Lilanthro. And in a moment of total unselfconsciousness she went to him and hugged him. Her heart was full of such gratitude towards him that all her veils slipped away and she felt its pure love flowing out, intertwining with his and rejoicing in finding its place in the world.
Talas kissed her forehead and gave her a mischievous wink, “Well Lilanthro, the day is young… My friend is waiting… Let us be on our way…”
And with that they set off to the heart of the forest, where the oldest tree for many miles around stood as it had stood for hundreds of years, patiently waiting to be paid a visit from Talas and Lilanthro…