Stories make beautiful meditations. We’ve been offering stories as meditations for three years at Sacred Essence. Some of the stories we have found, and others we have co-written ourselves but each one of them has potential for deeper creative thought. This story was written for the April 2013 Sacred Essence Seasonal Journey. Only part of it is offered here and you can read the full version over at Sacred Essence.
Allow your mind to wander as you read … the thoughts and themes that arise for you are important. I do encourage you to think on the themes that arise for you as you read this story, and create your own ending before you go and read ours! Perhaps you’d like to follow the story with some artwork to explore your thoughts further. Perhaps some journaling will bring substance or clarity to the themes that arise for you.
The Keeper of the Flame
Written by and copyright to Jennifer McCormack and Melissa Joss, 2013.
The darkness would soon swallow the bush and the path in front of her. It had started already, the sky had just changed from the rosy glow of sunset which had highlighted the beautiful shapes and colours of the trees, outlining them in soft pink and yellow light, to the dusky grey of twilight which now painted the trees as dark silhouettes and masking the familiar sights that marked the path to the cabin she was hiking to. Time does strange things at the beginning and ending of the day. In that transition where the sky plays with colours and shapes and paints everything in a new light, it is like a moment suspended. She felt as though nothing that happened before this moment could enter this space, and yet in this space infinite possibilities hang in the air. Tonight’s sunset sky lasted for what felt like a very long time, and she had welcomed the change in colour after trekking through the bush all day. Quite unexpectedly the dark crept forward and the colours changed to shadows. The beautiful shapes and colours of the trees became unfriendly shadowy figures, sticking out their twiggy fingers to scratch her and their roots to trip her up. Anxiety about reaching her cabin crept in with the deepening night sky.
She could feel the drop in temperature as she picked her way through the bush. She shivered and thought of her warm woolly jumper in her backpack. She’d been hiking all day but the day had been hot and she hadn’t meant to take so long getting here. She was supposed to arrive before nightfall, so her warm clothes were packed in the bottom of her heavy backpack. She had walked further than she had intended to, taken an unexpected detour and had to backtrack before finding her direction again. It took a great deal of energy, and all her concentration to quell the fear of being lost. She is alone but inside her is a great strength and instinct for survival. She knew she’d make it and was annoyed at herself for losing track, losing time, and exhausting herself.
She kept moving, in the darkness, the moon was a slice in the sky, just budding. Tomorrow it would be brighter still but tonight its light just wasn’t enough to see by. Her torch was a small zig-zagging beam of light, seeking the path between the unfamiliar shadows in dark bushland. As soon as she finds the cabin she’ll have to light the fire. She hoped she could find enough fuel to get it started and keep it going. In the cool night the ground was growing damp, and it had rained here earlier. Any fuel around was going to be wet.
It was incredible how quickly the cold wrapped itself around her once all the light had gone. She was freezing, aching from walking all day and her backpack was heavy and sore on her shoulders and hips. She shifted uncomfortably under the straps and rubbed her arms, wanting to jog for warmth but was far too tired, her pack too heavy and awkward, and she was too uncertain of where to place her feet. She was aching for warmth and a place to curl up. Then a massive black shadow loomed imposingly behind the streaky black shapes of the trees. The cabin. Home. Warmth. Relief.
The house is made of stone – not much of a place to curl up and warm up. There are only two small windows in the walls, at the moment closed with wooden shutters. Cursing loudly, she unlocks the door of the stone cabin and finds the inside just as cold and dark as the outside. She dumps her backpack, rummages with her torch in the darkness to find and pull on her warm woollen jumper. It hugs her, soft and reassuring against her skin
She wants to sit, to be still and rest her aches from an exhausting day of constant movement and concentration. But she has to get warm, she has to make this frosty, hard stone house welcome her so that she can sleep. She gathers her will to build up the fire in the stone hearth of the cabin, and using her torchlight she heads back out to the wood pile. Not much more than a few logs there. She skilfully gathers some dried seed heads, grasses and bark that she found scattered around the pile, on the dry ground under the eaves of the cabin. With the flint from her backpack she strikes a spark to the soft, stripped bark and coaxes a small flame to life. The air in the cabin is bitter cold and her hands shake as she feeds the tiny fire. The little flame is lit and extinguished several times before it takes hold of the tinder and gains strength. Tears of exhaustion well in her eyes and a headache begins to throb behind her brows. She is thirsty and hungry and too tired for this! She rubs her hands and blows into them before trying one more time.
…to be continued …. to find out how this story ends, please read The Keeper of The Flame in full from the Sacred Essence Story and Meditations Page. In the meantime, how would you finish this story?