This exchange of questions, curiosity and friendship was repeated many times over as Lilanthro made her way around the village visiting all the families and staying each night in a different bed with a different host family. Everyone was energised by the new village guest. Everyone was keen to show their willingness to be her friend and to display the brightest aspects of their characters to her. Lilanthro felt her love for each villager slowly growing. In her previous secret studies of them she had seen both their bright sides and their dark shadow selves. She had witnessed how their veils of anger, jealousy, fear, greed or sadness often tightened around them to hide their compassionate, loving hearts both from themselves and others. But now, just as falling in love can open the heart and dispel the shadows for a grace-given while, so Lilanthro’s presence amongst the villagers lit little candles in their souls which freed them from their shackling veils.
Lilanthro knew this could only be a temporary effect, soon their beings would contract again and the veils would return once more to wrap around their hearts. But she delighted in seeing the true nature of each villager and she had faith in the process which was occurring. She knew that some of the villagers would rejoice and make the most of this period of grace, being already aware of the true nature of their beings. Others would feel curiously invigorated and notice for the first time the veils which clung to their hearts, so beginning the journey of dancing with them. Others still would not yet be ready to make that leap, and after a few days or weeks of this heightened state would relapse back into their world of anger or guilt or other such thoughts or emotions. But still, Lilanthro knew, one day they would be ready and then their eyes would start to open and their hearts begin to shine. Everyone was on the path, they were just at different places along it.
One night after her first week of visiting the village families, Lilanthro lay sleeping and dreaming. She dreamed of paths criss-crossing a wide land of mountains, forests, valleys and rivers. She was following her path, not knowing exactly where it was leading but trusting that the direction was true and enjoying every moment of being in the changing landscapes. Other people were on other paths all around her. Some shared her path with her for a while and then branched off in other directions. Some overtook her and disappeared from view ahead. Some walked slowly so that she overtook them. She conversed with some of the people, others ignored her completely. Those who overtook her sometimes encouraged her to travel onwards with them, but she was not ready for their pace so she stayed where she was. When she overtook anyone who was looking tired from the journey, she would slow down to walk and talk with them, but eventually she would return to her own pace and they would either quicken their steps to continue with her further, veer off onto another path or drop behind. Some she kept meeting at different points along the path, and they became welcome friends who she would walk with for long distances, part from, and then meet again at some other unexpected turn in the path. There were others still who she could see standing on far distant mountain peaks surveying the land around. She could tell they could see farther than her and they inspired her to continue her journey so that one day she too could stand on that distant peak and survey the land anew.
One night after her second week of visiting the village families, Lilanthro lay in bed in a reflective mood. “Everyone contains a light at their core,” she mused to herself, “We were all born out of that, so how could it be otherwise? But, as Talas said, when we are born here we forget what we are and we spend the rest of our lives trying to remember. Unlike the tree which grows with utter certainty as to its place in this world, we develop layers of uncertainty which prevent us seeing ourselves, others and life clearly. How strange it is that we go about our days thinking we are awake, when really we have fallen asleep! How long and winding and challenging is the path to waking up again. And how different each person’s path. I am lucky that my life has given me such encouragement to feel the true nature of things; I have learnt to become me and also to let go of me. I hope my days forward will be long so that I can continue my learning and share the journey with others.”
One night after her third week of visiting the villagers, Lilanthro lay in bed in the home of the last family in the village. She was restless, wondering to herself what might happen from here. Should she stay and live the rest of her life amongst her new family? Should she venture onwards to other new worlds to meet whatever animals, humans or other beings might exist there? Or should she return to her forest home, taking her learning with her but once again becoming a hermit, far from human contact?
The very morning that she awoke with these questions still hanging in her mind, Onari’s father approached her as she wandered comfortably down the now familiar village path. “Tonight we will hold a celebration,” he told her, “A celebration of all that is special here in our village and a celebration that you have come to share it with us. I hope you will be happy to join us…?”
“Of course,” replied Lilanthro, “How could I miss it? You have all shown me such kindness, I would love to share an evening of celebration with you.”
That afternoon Lilanthro went to visit Talas in his garden. He welcomed her with an all embracing smile and invited her to sit with him. “So have you decided young Lilanthro?” He asked her.
“Decided what?” She replied, blushing as she realised he knew exactly what was on her mind.
“Will it be your choice to live your life amongst this small world of humans, with their beauty and their ugliness, their joy and their pains, and your own veils of thoughts and emotions? Will you decide to leave them behind in search of new wonders, imagining you have learnt all you can here and yearning for other adventures to pursue? Or will you return to your life as a feral girl, where your sense of oneness to the world around you is true and clear, and where you will forget about the complex dance of being human and the mysterious connections that can grow between people?”
“Well, my happiness can be greater in the forest, away from all the strife of the human world.” Lilanthro replied. “But the oneness which I feel there is like a child’s experience of life. I think it is our purpose to learn the lessons of being human; to fall asleep and then to attempt to reawaken and become conscious of ourselves. Returning to the forest might be blissful at times but it might also be like running away from school. And besides, I think I might feel lonely now that I have come to enjoy human company. I certainly do feel a tug of wanting to leave here and be free again; free to wander on to new lands and discover what other marvels exist in this world, free to be constantly stimulated by meeting new people. But I also sense how easy it could be to always travel onwards, to always think something greater exists beyond the present place. And I know that this is not necessarily true freedom. If I stay here it would at times be exciting and at times dull. I have made friends here and I have learnt so much. But whether my love for the villagers would grow day by day or dull down to mere fondness, and whether my learning would continue or whether I would be lulled into sleepiness once more by the day to day-ness of life, I am not sure…” She paused with uncertainty for a moment.
“There are many possible outcomes, whichever choice you make and not all of them are within your control.” Talas said. “But, remember the young tree that grew patiently older; it always knew its destiny was to be a tree, it never tried to become anything else. I have no doubt that you know enough about who you are to make this decision and choose a life that is most truly a Lilanthro shaped form on the tapestry.”
“Yes,” Lilanthro replied with a smile, as the clouds of uncertainty passed and the sun shone once more, “I have made my choice. I will tell the villagers tonight.” And she gazed out over Talas’s garden to the edge of the enticingly dark forest.