It was the time of day when golden light beguiled and confounded. The lake’s surface shimmied as though a spirit danced but it was perhaps the wind, a swift freshening at end of summer. The fir trees ruled with subdued power as they always did. Birds alighted and sang within their branches; deer, squirrel and fox passed one another with barely a glance, then circled a massive cedar. A lone white butterfly looped around flowers and descended upon an inviting yellow petal. Light like a veil drifted between bushes and vines, mushrooms and ants, its glimmer reaching into the darkest crevasse. Roused from sleep, a luxuriant skunk emerged from its spot beside an ancient nurse log. Bright dust rose as a snake undulated across a trampled pathway. And there it stopped. Nearby a colony of ants ceased work. Three ravens closed their wings.
The air itself was still. All was captive in this moment, animal, plant, mineral. Breath was withheld, sound made silent. And the opulent light reached far beyond itself, transmuting all so that everything-woods, water, creatures, sky-was an essence gleaming, and all of one thing.
From the distance travelled minute vibrations that stirred the earth; small and large creatures felt it move right through them like invisible sparks. And when it arrived in this place, the pulsing sound was unlike any that predators or prey had known. It rang out in a vibrant voice, but the voice was a kaleidoscope of music. It imbued the air as life permeated blood. Fragrance emanated from the sound waves, a strange, triumphant scent of all universal elements, an elixir spilled from some secret source unseen in these woods.
The light swirled the blues of the watery depths, and then, as though a magician’s hand at work, revealed all colors known and unknown. In a flash of dark-to-light, a scrim fashioned of overlapping hues fell , and the greenness of the woods vanished. The trees rustled in agitation, then stilled again. Near the cedar, the lone deer dared to step forward, her eyes luminous, nose raised to the beautiful scent, ears flared and turning as though longing to hear the music once more.
And then she stepped closer to fox and squirrel, to snake, ant and skunk, her burnished fur grazing the cedar trunk. But her gaze held steady, even when a sleek white wolf appeared at the water’s edge. He turned his head to look at her, then lifted it high, his body perfectly at attention, proud and strong as a sentinel should be.
There, just above the water, they arrived, by fours and eights, by sevens and nines. Their caftans fell away from their tall radiant bodies as they gathered. They were indistinct from one another and yet they moved independently, each elaborate gesture like a sentence, while each unified movement told a bigger story. When beneath them a mammoth wooden boat skimmed the water’s surface, they descended to it. Their presence illuminated the spectral boat and the gentle waves it caused were limned with silver.
They were the Chalice Curators, travelers between all worlds, caretakers of the saddened earth, most esteemed teachers and messengers. Curates of life. Of souls. Many knew them as angels over the aeons–yet how they passed unnoticed until most needed was a mysterious thing indeed.
The wolf knew what the curates required, and so he walked to small wayside, a stick shelter erected opposite the cedar. He stood at the open doorway, head turned to a small person who now rose and stepped into the light. Q., the little one, the weaver. She was not much taller than the elegant beast who walked beside her. Her long hair was adorned with leaves and flower petals and her clothing made of softest moss. But she took sturdy, long steps; she was strong in this world, she knew that was often true. Still, it had been a trying year. The coming months would require much of her. Q. needed a little power. A way to better see and do what she needed to do on this earth. For she loved it here despite the hard work, the confounding ways. She needed the liberating knowledge of the Chalice Curators, their most compassionate gifts. So Q. had called to them. And they had come as they had come once before, in the beginning of her days.
Q. grabbed the thick white fur and swung atop his back and he gathered speed, the rich, bright rushing past their bodies and softening their hearts. She saw the bemused deer and the others and waved to them. Then, as though it was the most natural event, wolf and girl rose and hovered over the water, then dropped into the travellers’ midst, into that flowering of light.
And the breathtaking brightness drew back across the lapping water. The air cooled. The countless trees adjusted their branches in the sudden shadows. The fox and all his companions melded into the inviting depths of the forest. But the deer ventured forth and stood at water’s edge, looking, looking. Nothing spoke or sang except the forest itself, and then the lake water and all the neighbors, friend and foe. She took a long sweet drink of the cool liquid, raising her head every now and then to see if the majestic boat would return, as it was so wonderful to see. But hours of earth time would pass before that happened, and the deer would be foraging in the twilight then.
The white wolf reappeared. He held back then stepped closer and drank at his leisure beside her. Quietly, they each went their separate ways and sought the comfort of the emerald forest. They would meet again when the Chalice Curators returned to them their young novice of Light.
(For my wondrous children and grandchildren)