Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Wand in the Wall

I'm not much of a dancer and certainly not a singer so I decided that for my performance, I would tell a story.

The rocks I saw that day in a faraway, wild, and lonely land were ancient, molded by heat and pressure in the bowels of a primitive planet, then shot to the surface in cataclysmic eruption.

The old stone wall was strong, sturdy enough to have withstood the onslaught of centuries. Each stone had been set in place by skilled, if not loving hands. The wall had been built to last, but for what; defense, protection against marauding tribes, or perhaps to set a boundary -- a line across which a neighbor could not or should not step, without invitation?

What of the builder? There was no sign of habitation, no crops, no home or hearth--not even a trace of foundation, no ruin for archaeologists to ponder. The wall in its aloneness kept its secrets and would continue to do so, or so it seemed.

Few of us are here long enough to notice centuries passing into history. Most, except artists and poets, barely notice the passing of seasons, the ice and snows of winter, except when they inconvenience us, the rains of summer, except when they flood our fields,
and the destruction wrought by each drop, each crystal, each flake, each breath of wind.
The widening of cracks and erosion of surface happens silently and gradually. Ancient stones, once snuggly fitted together, loosen and start to crumble slowly into ruin. What is ruin anyway, but an art form in itself?

I saw, that day, during spring thaw, changes ever more apparent. I lovingly caressed the old stones and wondered what they would tell me if only we had a common language.
I stopped though … took time to listen for voices in the wall. The surface crumbling beneath my touch spoke of time, of ages past, of wisdom found, and wisdom lost.

The wall had been breached. An unknown someone had installed a primitive, wooden gate. The when and the why of it was shrouded in the passage of time. When I touched the weathered wood, a piece fell off, crumbling to dust in my hand. The moss that had held it together clung to my fingers like slime on brackish water. Afraid of becoming too aware of the strange and unknown, I wiped my hands on my jeans and left.

No matter what I did after that or what other studies I pursued, the wall would not release its hold of me.

I returned again and again, my mind fraught with curiosity. Someone in ages past had taken great pains to build this sturdy barrier. But why, what for, and to protect whom remained a mystery? There were no ruins of hearth or homestead so why the breach, why the gate, which was much younger than the wall?


One spring morning, I set out light of step and followed a shaft of sunlight, a God beam in the morning mist.

As I approached the wall that day I felt uneasy and fought the urge to turn around,
return to the safety of my home. But, foolishly perhaps, I continued on. The wall was not the same as it had been yesterday or the day before, or last week or last month. That day, it radiated, displayed an aura.

And there, at a place I’d stood so many times before, I saw a speck of something in a crack. With a finger, I brushed away the dirt and grit. The stone crumbled away and in its place lay a treasure too bright to be believed. I carefully retrieved the artifact and, in my hand, lay a golden wand--exquisitely engraved with spirals, dragons breathing fire, water falls, moons, Goddess figures, and symbols the like of which I had never seen before, or since.

I lay the wand upon the wall and, from my knapsack, I retrieved a worn and somewhat ragged sweater. The wand glowed ever brighter as I wrapped it in the faded, woolen garment and carefully stowed it in my pack. Later, as I walked home, I felt its glowing warmth upon my back.

Once home and warmed with tea and a fire burning brightly in the grate, I unwrapped my precious bundle. Inside the sweater lay a length of gray and weathered stone. The golden wand with all its glorious symbols had disappeared. But there, clinging to my ragged sweater, was a speck of gold so tiny I could easily have missed it, and almost did.

I cannot explain what happened that day at the wall, or the meaning behind it. Was I allowed to glimpse a gift that I was not yet ready to receive?

Many times, I returned to search that ancient, crumbling wall, and for all those years, the wand remained illusive. Perhaps it was too much caffeine or an overly active imagination triggered by a shaft of sunlight, that revealed a treasure on that otherwise gray and overcast day.

The length of stone that I brought home that day resides upon my bookcase, and tucked into a crack, a speck of gold, just to remind me that all things aren’t always what they seem.

Will I ever know, or is it mystery that sustains me? I know there are worlds within worlds, that we are not alone in the Universe. I know the birds and beasts and finned ones are our brothers and sisters, and that little people; elves and fairies, really do exist. And though we rarely see them, when we do, it’s just a fleeting glimpse that leaves us unsure that that what we're seeing is real. As humans, we presume to know all things and tend to disbelieve what we cannot prove, and yet -- I know I saw a magical wand that day, and for a moment held it in my hand.

But wait, that is not the end of my story.


Later, so very much later and half a world away from the wall and the magic it weaved around me, I studied the speck of gold under the cold harsh light of science. A powerful, electron microscope would reveal its secrets once and for all, or so I thought. Only, instead of revealing its secrets, it presented me with even more questions. There, engraved upon its surface and so clearly defined, was a labyrinth. Now, if I can find a way into the labyrinth and follow it to its source--

There are worlds within worlds within worlds, and so it goes.

©August 23, 2005


At 9:06 AM, Blogger Imogen Crest said...

This is extraordinary.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger le Enchanteur said...

Ah Vi! This is divine. Coming through the doorway to begin this journey leads to a labyrinth that goes in circles. Sigh! I love it.

At 4:15 AM, Blogger Gail Kavanagh said...

A breathtaking piece of writing, Vi8.

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Believer said...

This is just exquisite, Vi--worlds within worlds--yes.

At 11:41 PM, Blogger Luna said...

amazing! I want to hear more!


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