FURTHER STORIES OF WILLOW contd….

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A PERFECT DAY

A small, green rocking chair had been placed very carefully in the bay window.  From this chair one could gaze out across the fields that surrounded the house where Willow lived.  Willow knew that if one crossed those fields and headed off left into the woodlands one would soon come to a great Oak Tree.  If you knew what Willow knew, you would rest your hand on a smooth, jade-green doorknob and push gently on the door to enter a home where someone very special lived.  Turning right at the tree would quickly bring you to a clearing in the branches.  You had to look carefully of course – it wasn’t obvious to the eye.  But if you found it, on peeping through this clearing one would be rewarded by a beautiful view of the meadow.  If you were lucky you might see a fountain there, but Willow had never yet met another person who had seen the fountain.

On this particular morning Willow surfaced very slowly from the depths of a deep sleep.  Never drawing her curtains, Willow preferred to fall asleep able to see the stars and sometimes the moon from her pillow.  Usually awake before dawn, Willow could often be found sitting on her small, green rocking chair gazing out across the fields as the sun rose setting the meadow alight in shades of green and gold.  Dawn was her favourite time of day, arriving as it did abundant with promises of things as yet unknown which she would discover as the day progressed.

This morning however, Willow had found it unusually hard to get up.  Blinking herself awake, Willow stretched back into her pillows and considered the night from which she was emerging.  It had been a very quiet night.  It had been a night of no dreams.  The kind of night one perhaps wished one might always enjoy, so rested were you when eventually you opened  your eyes to greet the day.  Willow knew that many people found the process of awakening a very difficult one.  Many people, she had been told, turned away from the day ahead of them at this exact point, sliding under the covers and back into their sleep.

Willow was not one of those people.  Eager to greet the day, Willow unfolded herself from the bed, crossed the room in her bare feet and seated herself on the pretty green chair.  Drawing her knees up to her chin Willow wrapped her arms around her legs gently rocking herself backwards and forwards as she welcomed this brand new day.  Having missed the sunrise, Willow found the fields already alight in the early morning sun, glistening with remnants of dew that covered vast areas of the brightest green.

The  meadow called.  It wasn’t a sound of course.  It was a feeling.  The feeling Willow had was very strong indeed, and shortly after she had felt it, she found herself calling a cheery farewell to the lady whose room she passed on her way out of the house.

“I might be a long time!”she called.  Willow had a feeling that this day held something very special for her and suspected she might be out of the house for most of the day.

“Take all the time you want, dear.” A voice from within the room replied.  “If my door is shut when you return, please do not disturb.” The voice advised.

Willow paused for a moment.  It’s such a beautiful day, she thought.  I wonder if I should invite her to come with me.  Would she come with me to the meadow, she wondered.

Willow very hesitantly peeped into the room.  Seated in a pool of sunlight streaming in from a very wide window, a woman was sitting before a large, blank canvas.  In one hand she held what appeared to be a very oddly shaped tray.  In her other hand she held a brush with which she was mixing bright yellows, oranges, golds and blues across the surface of this tray.

Softly, Willow called into the room: “Would you like to come with me today?”

“What an extraordinary idea.” Came the reply.

“Be a dear girl, and shut the door behind you please.”

Pulling the door softly behind her, Willow skipped down the stairs, out of the house and into the fields before her.

Stopping at the Oak Tree, Willow noticed that the doorknob showed her neither the sun nor the moon today.  Perhaps it was too early.  On entering the warm room, Willow found Jay standing before a pretty mirror placed above a small chest of drawers beside her bed.  Twisting her long, silver hair up into a knot, Jay turned to greet Willow with remarks about how very lovely this particular morning was.

“Will you come with me to the meadow today, Jay?” asked Willow.

“I have much to do today, Willow.” Jay gently declined.  “You go and have a splendid time.  If anything happens, be sure to come back and tell me all about it.”

Willow reached up to touch Jay’s hair.  Softer than the finest silk Willow had ever touched, Jay’s hair felt to Willow as she imagined a cloud might feel.

“Won’t you leave your hair down today?”she asked.  “Just this once, won’t you leave your hair down on this perfect day?”

Jay smiled.  “Gracious no.  I shouldn’t be able to see where I’m going or what I’m doing if I let my hair down!  Goodness, it would feel most odd!”

Bidding Jay a fond farewell, Willow turned right as she left the Oak Tree, climbed through the clearing in the branches and entered the meadow.

There stood the fountain, rising high up into the sunshine, inviting Willow to play.   Not yet, thought Willow.  Today I am happy just to be here.  Walking across the deep, long grass Willow stepped carefully among the meadow flowers making her way towards the stream that meandered along the edge of the meadow and out into the woods beyond.

Finding a smooth boulder here, Willow took off her shoes, sat down and put her feet in the cool, clear water.  This was such a beautiful day, she thought.  A perfect day.  Tilting her head back to face the sun, Willow found herself relaxing as she listened to the sound of water bubbling over small rocks in the stream.  Occasionally a tiny fish drifted past, pausing briefly to investigate her toes, nibbling on them for a moment before slipping off down the stream. 

A long blade of grass brushed against the hand Willow had place behind her on the rock for support.  Wait – it wasn’t just a blade of grass!  Something else was moving across her hand!  Turning to look behind her Willow saw a pretty, bright, green grasshopper had found itself a place to settle!

Very slowly, very carefully, Willow brought her hand around in front of her in order to study this pretty, little, green grasshopper more closely.  What a very strange creature a grasshopper is, thought Willow.  It was so small, yet so perfectly formed with its huge, oval brown eyes gazing steadily back into hers.  Segments of its perfectly formed, shiny, green body were dappled with tiny specks and dots that appeared to be changing colour in the sunlight.  Two long feelers twitched from side to side on the grasshopper’s head as it turned away from her to gaze into the stream before them.

OH!!  Suddenly, it jumped!  High off Willow’s hand, the little green grasshopper jumped into the air and into the stream before them!!  Can grasshoppers swim, wondered Willow, more than a little nonplussed!  Why would it do that!  Surely it would drown! Now anxious, Willow leaned over to stare into the water at her feet.  Nothing could be seen.  Feeling a little disconcerted, Willow wondered why the grasshopper had done this.  So small, so perfect, yet so deliberately this little grasshopper had leapt to what was surely its death!

Now what?!  What was this!  Bubbles had appeared in the water, swirling and bursting before Willow’s eyes.  To her astonishment a tall man, bare to the waist, adorned with what appeared to be a golden snake curled around his neck and a wide bracelet worn high on his arm, arose from the stream and stood before Willow, smiling.

Willow thought she might faint!  Scrambling off her boulder with her eyes fixed on the figure before her, Willow stepped backwards into the meadow, practically falling over her own feet as she backed away from this man in haste.

“Where are you going?” smiled the man.  “You don’t need to be afraid.”

“Who are you?  Where did you come from?”

“Why are you surprised?” smiled the man.  “I was sitting on your hand a moment ago!  You were perfectly happy with me there!”

NO!  No this sort of thing didn’t happen in real life.  This was the sort of thing that happened in fairy tales, and Willow was not a great reader of fairy tales at all.

“Why are you wearing a snake around your neck?” she demanded.  Willow had noticed that this creature had in fact quite a pleasant face for a snake, and that it appeared to be smiling at her from its position of honour.

“It’s a long story.” Replied the man.  “It has something to do with a river, but I shall save that story for another day.”

“Another day?  I hope I don’t see you on any other day!” Willow declared.  “I hate surprises!  And you’ve surprised me!”

The more she looked into his eyes, the more Willow, very reluctantly, had to acknowledge to herself that this man had a very kind face indeed.  In fact, this man was oddly not at all frightening.  Aside, of course, from the fact that he had appeared out of the stream claiming to be a grasshopper!

“I’m sorry to have alarmed you, Willow”  the man replied.  “I shall go back and I shan’t alarm you again.”

“Wait!”  Willow moved slowly towards this remarkable man.  “Why a grasshopper?  Why did you appear to me as a grasshopper!  How did you do that?  How do you know my name?”

Taking her questions as an invitation, the man stepped out of the stream and seated himself on a boulder beside the one on which Willow had been seated, indicating that Willow should join him on her boulder in order for him to explain.   Overwhelmed with curiosity Willow sat down to listen.

She heard many, many things.  The man spoke quietly.  He told Willow that he had always known her name and he always would.  Willow did not understand this, but, slightly mesmerised by his presence, she leaned forward and listened closely to all he said.  In a voice as warm and smooth as milk and honey, the man spoke to Willow of himself a little more.  He spoke of powers he had.  Powers of Giving and Abundance, of feeding all creatures of the earth, large and small.  He spoke also of rivers of poison, of battles and destruction, of birth and re-birth and of many things about which Willow knew nothing at all herself.  Then he spoke to Willow of the snake, telling her that he wore it as an ornament while it also represented the endless cycle of life.

“Is it alive?” asked Willow.

“From the beginning of time, it has always been alive.  To the end of time it will always be alive.” replied the man.

Did she imagine it, or did the serpent wink at her as he spoke!

Lastly, he spoke of the grasshopper.

“I’m extremely fond of grasshoppers ” he explained.  “Once, when I was handing out Plenty to all creatures of the earth, large and small, my wife picked up a small grasshopper and hid it under her gown at her breast as a joke.  But I had seen it there.” He smiled.  “When she withdrew it from her robe, she saw I had placed a fresh blade of grass in its mouth.” he laughed.

“I could just as easily have appeared to you in a different form you know.  I could have appeared as a tiger rushing towards you through the trees!”

Willow laughed out aloud!  “There are no TIGERS in these woods!”

“You would hope not ” he replied.  “Let us hope I never appear to you in that form.”

As the sun moved across the sky, the man continued to speak to Willow of many strange things.  Mostly, he spoke to her of great responsibilities.  In his tales of battles and births, of destruction and creation, he impressed upon Willow how hard it was to carry such great responsibility for everything on his shoulders.  Understanding very little of what he said, yet enjoying the sound of his voice and the warmth with which he spoke, Willow was happy to sit and listen. The further the sun declined on this perfect day, the more Willow grew sure that she had glimpsed a crescent moon appearing behind him, settling just above his head as though to adorn his hair.  What was that blinking lazily at her from the middle of his forehead?  Could it be a third eye?  It looked like that to Willow, but she could not be sure.  None of this made any sense to her at all.

Finally, the man arose from his boulder.  “Well, it was lovely to meet you, Willow.  Take good care of yourself ” he smiled.

As suddenly as he had appeared, this extraordinary man was gone!

Willow blinked.  Where did he go?  Glancing down Willow saw a tiny green grasshopper chirping merrily away up at her before it turned to hop swiftly away across the meadow.

What a very strange day this had been!!  Strange, but wonderful too!  Of course, she must have dreamed this.  None of what had happened could possibly have been true.  Yet, Willow could hear the voice of that remarkable man in her head, and in her heart she felt very warm and glowing, as you do when all things are well in your world. 

This had been a most perfect day!

Realising how late it was, Willow rushed back across the meadow, resolving to spend only a moment or two with Jay to tell her of the man she had seen, and all she had heard.

Sliding across the clouds on the surface of Jay’s jade-green doorknob a crescent moon could very clearly be seen.  Just like that which Willow was sure she had seen adorning the man’s hair just a very short while ago.

Breathlessly, Willow poured out her story to Jay; telling of grasshoppers, winking snakes, third eyes and a remarkable  man who spoke of many things about which she did not understand. Willow finally drew her story to its conclusion, awaiting Jay’s response.

“He seemed so light – yet so overloaded, Jay!!  There seemed such a great weight on his shoulders when he spoke!”

“Well, yes” replied Jay.  “Certainly, it is a great responsibility – having to carry all matters of both destruction and change on your shoulders all at the same time.”

“We don’t have to worry about that though.  Do we, Jay?”  Willow smiled, wondering how it could ever be possible.

“We don’t ever have to worry about anything”replied Jay.  “Worry is a terrible waste of time.  However, we do all carry that power, Willow.”

“We do?”  Willow inquired more than a little anxiously.

“Certainly.  On a daily basis, in all our lives.  We can destroy and renew so many things, so many people and in so many different ways.  We give and we take.  All of us.” Jay sighed a little before she continued.

“But don’t fill your head with thoughts of frightening things, Willow.  Remember only the wonderful stories you heard today.  Clear your head of all stories of battles and destruction” she advised.

Willow laughed.  “But of course, it wasn’t REAL Jay!  I must have fallen asleep and dreamed it!”  Although…. I wasn’t at all sleepy today, thought Willow.

Oh, it was real” replied Jay.  “It was like all things are.  It was all in your mind.  It’s in the mind that we make things our reality, Willow.”

As Willow left the Oak Tree she was sure she noticed that the crescent moon on that beautiful jade-green doorknob was blazing a lot more brightly than it had been on her arrival.

“I’m HOME!” called Willow, racing up the stairs.  “I’m home!”

To Willow’s surprise there was no: “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.  Tonight, the door was slightly ajar.  Softly pushing it open, Willow peeked in and gasped in surprise!!!

There, filling what this morning had been a blank white canvas, now stood a man, adorned with a golden snake around his neck, a crescent moon above his head and what appeared to be a very small third eye in the middle of his forehead. Here stood the very man Willow had seen in the meadow today!!

How could this be?  Willow wondered.  How did she paint him so perfectly – so exactly as I saw him?  Could it be that in some way the woman asleep on the bed had also seen him?  Could it really be, on some level Willow did not understand, that they did in fact share something after all?

Something so vivid, so bright, so clear, so perfect as all on this day had been!

 

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