Into the Woods

Into the Woods

At first she walked without thought, mind caught up in languageless reverie, body exquisitely attuned to every sound, scent, touch of living plant against her skin. Feet and arms bare to ground and air, though toughened by years of work and exposure, Caela moved into this landscape bare of expectation.

Scurrying, hiding creatures, peering out curiously slowly came to understand that she could be safely ignored. Walking into a rhythm in tune to the forest sounds, she could feel the music. She could feel completely alive, a creature in this natural world without guide, constraint, responsibility or companionship of human kind. Not thought, instantaneous realization of another level of being outside of society, inside the ecology of the forest. There is a restfulness to shedding roles. There is an energy that comes from rhythmic movement, a relaxation from moving in tune to the natural music of the moment. Habituated ways of sensing, of perceiving, of thinking can silently fall away. Without preformed valuations, what is speaks for itself.

A few smaller Earth mammals, originally brought as embryos on the ship, then propagated on farms, had escaped, gone wild, mutated to better fit in to their new world. Earth food stock in seed and embryo form had been sent on the ship in case Earthmen might find the local lifeforms inedible or lacking in needed nutrients. There had been hydroponic gardening on the ship for fresh vegetables, and, perhaps, to keep food growing skills fresh as well. Farming in Eden's soil had presented no problem for the plants growing from Earth seed or the people and Earth animals eating them. It was even found that grazing Earth animals could find sufficient nutrition in the local flora. Still, suspicious humans preferred their own food stock to foraging.

Caela would need to eat in the forest. She must learn where useful, nonpoisonous to her body, sustenance could be obtained. She needed to learn to speak with the forest, learn its language. This seemed to her, on a level beyond conscious thought, the most obvious next link in the chain from here to there. She remembered Singer's love of the forest, the music he found and co-created there. After all, it was the same forest, as far as the forest was concerned, a bit further north. She could find Singer's presence within her, reassuring, loving, telling her to love this forest, his friend. She could also feel chilly ghostly energies, the pain, the fear, the intense emotion of her people's journey that this forest had never assimilated into its own abiding wisdom. She could feel, sense, become a conduit, student, and awed participant with all of these energies ready to interweave into something she could accept and carry. But not yet; this journey is only beginning.

First, find food. There is water running in the narrowing/widening stream she can hear and smell. Water is water, pure without pollutants. Minerals are minerals. This planet seems to be pretty much of the same kinds as Earth. We have lived here all these years unpoisoned. Caela's people had dug wells to make use of the water in underground springs. They had devised irrigation for their plants. They had lived all their lives with, more and more as part of, this land, this sky.

After food, find a place to sleep of soft mosses, grasses, loam, dry enough, secured enough from rain and other detriments to sleep. Simple survival, basic building blocks of communication life to life in those simple, basic demands of biology.

Caela stopped walking; sat in the curve of an old gnarled tree. Listening intently, reaching out from a primal place in her mind into the teeming, pulsing life surrounding her, she drew it in with her breath. Very still beyond rhythmic breathing, she sat for a small arc of eternity. Heightened awareness to all sensory data without intrusion of conscious thought, Caela was finding her rhythm, the tune, the music of forest life with which she could improvise, sit in, sing along.

When he was till quite small, Larik had found and brought to her a sharp, jagged rock of clear, hard crystal. Over time she had found it to be a useful tool for digging, cutting, grinding herbs, even focusing sunlight to start tinder burning. She kept it in a pouch tied to the woven belt around her waist (a more recent gift, from Maea now settled into Grandmother Maris's legacy). Had she not this fortuitous, familiar tool she no doubt would have found what she needed, made plans around what she found, for foraging. No doubt her crystal ally had originated in another part of this forest. Thus Caela amused herself with thoughts on the vagaries of fortune while digging a fire pit, arranging stones, tinder, various widths of fallen branches which she broke down to appropriate size.

Making preparation, not far from the stream. Moving through these purposeful actions as if in meditative ritual, Caela felt herself getting caught up in a quietly graceful dance, each movement blurring into the next. Bright sun star shining into rippling water, trees standing their ground as branches play with breeze, rustling scratching chirping squeaking creatures playing out their destinies, dramas, simple cycles of life. Caela discovering while creating her way in, feeling satisfaction in this expression of her consciousness, carrying water on broad leaves from stream to pit site, becoming hunter-gatherer natural human being.

Old man rabbit feels the call. He is not so spry nor sharp of sight as he once was. It is good that he is called; better than the young ones with much life and potential still in them. Old man rabbit is not afraid. More curious than anything, "What is this will that calls me? I am a rabbit, burrowing in the earth, gnawing on roots, nibbling on leaves, ever wary of the predator in all his mighty forms. I am quick and sensitive, enough, while I am lucky, to survive and become old -- too old to count on luck everlasting. I have never felt a call such as this, overtaking a will I had not been aware of possessing. What is an old man rabbit to do? Thought is a foreign concept. Action, reaction, that’s what I do. An overwhelming power pulls me closer. Without thought or emotion, I follow the pull. Am I to be eaten by a mighty foe? That is, no doubt, my destiny. I am to be honored by assimilation into the great mystery of life eternal. In this way, prey becomes predator, becomes mulch, falls back into the cycle, becomes the essence of life."

"Come to me old man rabbit. I call you, with deepest respect, to offer me your lifeforce that I may continue to have the strength necessary for my mission. I enwrap you in a happy, peaceful dream as your life recedes. I consume your remains with reverence, feel the essence of your sacred sacrifice.”

Thus Caela bespoke the creature in their conjoined fields of consciousness, binding it to her will. A special kind of hunter, conjuring the prey into view, into giving itself to her need. A very special power must be tempered with love, compassion, humility. It is well that such power be discovered in a time of liminal contemplation, that it be honored and addressed appropriately. It would not do to be overtaken by fear or bravado, or a desire for self-aggrandizement. All of this Caela understood as she sat there, in what seemed the beginning of the world, in a state of reverence and awe.

She prepared and ate the old rabbit. It took a bit of cooking covered by wet leaves on stones in the fire pit. It was clear to her that what she had gained from this lesson was much more than a full stomach or added strength and vigor. It was clear that her strength and will, her gift, were much stronger, subtler, more powerful than she had dared to imagine when she had lived as part of a bustling community.

It was clear that this knowledge was now being revealed so that she could hone her skills for the adventure ahead. Whatever was to fall across her path to be overcome, this time alone, learning the ways of her spirit, would surely give her the skills and confidence to do what she must.

Replenished, Caela watched the last performances of flame as the fire consumed what wood it had been given. Darkening forest, ebbing, flames, tired body ready to sleep. She found her way back to a nearby sheltered grove noted in her earlier brief exploration. Having improved it for her purpose in rudimentary fashion, Caela lay down upon the soft forest floor and relaxed into dreams.

They had assembled in ghostly presence, those from early memory who had walked with her through this forest. These spirits had not aged as the bodies that had carried them did over years in the human environment formed in the soft divide of this vast woodland natural to this world. So many of these she had traveled with were gone now. Yet here they appeared to her shifting in guises from that previous time in their lives. Shifting positions, faces, garments, props, several of these dream ghosts bespoke her, as if acting out a morality play, vagabonds in the woods begging for favor. The ground around her shifted as well, quaking, dream sand turning quick, sticky, flimsy, unstable. Yet she was not falling through, but with this slow-motion molten panorama. Voices, figures fashioned of old friends, memories, and memories of what had never manifested past fears and dreams, continued their performances into changing scenes. Too amazed and swept up to notice fear or her own reactions, Caela dreamed unlike any dream she had known before.

"Somebody called me. Was it you?" she asked of each ghostly presence. They all had their stories. These became a song of endless verses. When she awoke with the morning light, Caela was still singing. The feelings evoked by the dream lingered. Still dreaming, she resumed walking, perceiving multi-layered forest imperceptibly interweaving with the many layers Caela had never realized she contained.

Or was it the forest bespeaking her? She felt drawn to shiny succulent fruits when her thirst needed slaking. Their dripping nectar gave not only moisture but renewed energy. When she needed rest, she felt drawn to securely comforting soft vegetation. She found herself frequently accompanied by soft, chittering creatures, droll and endearing, somehow leading her into wordless conversation. Her human ghosts too had their say, quietly, whispering barely discernibly in the shadows. Far from frightening or unwelcome, these gentle, often changing companions amused Caela, engaged her attention, set off trails of reveries. "Tell me." she whispered in return. Not dreaming, but seeing in a way that accessed unexplored places in her mind, Caela's rhythmic movement, her very open senses, her willing acceptance of mystery, was rewarded.

"I was a tailor. I measured fabric, repaired treasured garments. I was not a monster. Mostly I was generous and kind. Not always. I still regret yelling so angrily at my little daughter when she scrambled my buttons and clasps in innocent play. I should have made a game of sorting them out together. But they sent us away, tore us from our hard-won through diligent working lives. Not because we may have been at times unkind or foolish, but just because we were."

Caela felt the memory of tears. "But you found another life." She wanted to give comfort.

"But it was not the life I wanted, worked for, chose over my years of childhood to give my devotion. I found another life out of necessity. I never found justice for the life taken from me."

The forest too had life taken from it without its choice. The small clearing her people had taken was not such an issue. Of course over time and human ideas of progress it could become much worse, like the city. When the settlers first arrived, they took over only small areas, as the witchfolk did now. They took only what their several hundreds needed for continued life. They were careful, not knowing what to expect. Now they have claimed ownership of everything within their range of sight, as if by natural order. Perhaps it is the natural order. There they are.

Resigned sadness permeated Caela's mind. It was not hers. She was happy, buoyant, enjoying the scents, the sounds, colors, sensory bliss, her own good company. She felt compassion for the sadness, but did not carry its weight. She did not feel resigned. Her blood felt wild within, her mind sharp and questing. Readying to meet any challenge, outmaneuver any obstacle, fully enjoy each next thing, still she listened. Hearing the stories, envisioning that imagery, Caela felt their desperate shadows. As when Larik was small, confused, angry because he did not know how to respond to frustration, Caela felt love. Flowing through her response to angry visions was loving calm, gentle acknowledgement, glad acceptance, open embrace.

Larik always so wanted to be good. He needed constant reassurance. Is that what provides the resilience to face down obstacles to integrity? The deeply cried out for reassurance that, yes you are good and deserve that recognition? So much of the "bad" young people do is naked self-destruction, proving to the world what they have been told: that they are bad, undeserving of respect or real love. Larik was born into horrendous fear, grief, despair. He had no way of knowing these were not his fault until Caela made that clear. It came from what she had learned raising his mother, along with her own daughter. Maea was so much more needy than Felicity. Mirra and Doren didn't understand her the way Caela could. They were still too caught up in their own childhood dramas, recreating in their adult relationships the conditions to fulfill needs never acknowledged. So complicated, so tragic in large and small ways these misunderstandings, disregardings, minimizing of the importance of respect, consideration, for those we do not fully see.

Caela has been practiced, tried by fire in her own way. Opening her heart to these long festering injured spirits, bespeaking her in their desperation to be heard, feels natural, an outgrowth of who she has always been becoming. The forest and its spirits accept her love. They love her in return, not as a representative of her kind, but as her own unique entity. The seed growing in her since her birth is flowering. Multiple gradations of coloration, complex heady perfume, this flower, this Caela, is as beautiful as they come. Human hag, old, wrinkled, grey, yet what she projects transcends such definitions. Walking, traversing light and shade, consciousness as well moves. First cause, first principle: keep moving.

"Something vital was taken from us. We don't know how to respond. We are wounded, unwhole. Tell us, healer, how do we reconcile? How do we grow new hearts, neural pathways, create what we need to feel alright?" A common theme so may of the ghosts agreed on. Caela too felt severing losses that had overwhelmed her, wrenched away good lives, those she most depended upon.

"Did you grieve?" A grey solitary ghost came forward with open palms, tears dripping down her cheeks, thin, wan, faint, but with intense presence. The forest became a sanctuary, a shrine, a temple of worship and sacrifice. A dark pit slowly manifested, a well for sorrow. Each ghost contributed tears, wrenching sobs, wailing, whatever they could give. Caela felt herself dancing around the pit, drawn irresistibly into the music of ghostly crying. Coming into her notice, she saw her longed for long dead loved ones among the ghosts, crying with her over her loss. Slowly, hypnotized, she moved toward their circle. They embraced her, an ectoplasmic affirmation of love, dispelling sorrow. But what of those other wounded spirits? How could they be helped? Were Caela's deeply embedded wounds so easily healed; or was this uplifting but part of an ongoing process? If we can be ever moving in the direction of healing, no matter how slowly, Caela was thinking. Silently smiling in the center of the pain, wonderful gifts of lives leaving those behind forever better because of the beauty imparted into who we become. When we can let go of the pain and be the totality of who our interchanges and experiences have created, will that be a new kind of wholeness? Could this tentative resolution be useful to the forest's spirits?

The well of sorrow metamorphosed into a peaceful pond in which graceful gliding silvery creatures glinted in the sunlight. Caela sat upon a convenient large smooth stony surface enjoying the solitude and warmth.

Yet, how strange, she was not alone. A self-possessed child, bright and lively, mature for his years, sat beside her. His image wavered a bit when she looked more closely. She could hear him speaking, though he appeared to be silent. "What was taken from us is still being taken. How can we reconcile, heal, absorb to grow, when our energy must focus on defense against pernicious, chronic attack? Our enemies have not been dissuaded by stoic resolve nor peaceful co-existence. They want blood sacrifice. They are angry beyond reason, calling forth such emotion in we who feel so poignantly a need to arise, take back what we can."

This was the voice that had called her into the forest, into this newly forming relationship offering new ways of perceiving. The boy was gone, not waiting for an answer. He had given his message. Their people are still being attacked. The exile solved nothing. Had all the witchfolk been rooted out, wouldn't others with some articulable difference be set apart as scapegoat, blood sacrifice? Does disregard of indigenous life come from a same core of xenophobic disdain? A cognitive confusion of anger, fear, manifesting desire for mastery, control, superior positioning? Back to walking, these puzzles her companions, ghosts dissipated in the sunlight while Caela's focus is more inward. Why would xenophobes travel so far? Was there nothing left on Earth for them to claim? Or was it the children of the pioneers, born into a less clear purpose, into a world still not their own? Caela's eyes were drawn to the only sky she had ever known. Brilliant with colors of the setting sun filtered through atmosphere, shape-shifting clouds showing off in deepening hues. Caela stopped her forward motion, turning her purpose to preparing for the night. For a passing moment she considered that she had no recollection of how many days and nights had passed while she and this ancient forest renewed and deepened their acquaintance. Then, back in the gentle flow of this time, she continued her rituals of preparation.

It was Singer. Really him. If this is a dream, it is a real dream, more real than the dreams of ordinary awake life. He had always loved this natural world. It was part of him; he part of it. Perhaps she was called because of that of Singer which was in her. Now he is here so I can touch him, even if in the way of dreams. Why is one significant touch so powerful, so deeply held in the realm of essential desire? Caela doesn't question. She drinks in that essence so immediate, so necessary. She dreams so intensely, as if lives were in the balance. When the rain comes, it is warm and gentle enough to meld into her dream.

Here she was, a great-grandmother. Felicity's oldest, Solia, had had her baby just a few seasons past. Still, her heart was that of a passionate young lover. This forest, so far from human, seemed to understand and take joy in her. She felt welcomed as long wandering kin, with so much to catch up on. As she walked again in the sunshine, she openly shared her memories as the forest, too, shared its stories. They found common nonlinear, nonlingual, imaginal, perceptual language. Was this how it had been in that mythical garden of Earth, the Eden for which this planet had been named by human invaders? Was there a time in the early history of man when he and the Earth had been companiable kin? Could that kind of relationship be formed here, now? Could there be a reconciliation, a healing? What is this primal wound that keeps humankind from wholeness, integration with life? Caela has no reason to leave this forest. She can make a home here. She can make a new kind of life within this friendship she is forging. She misses her old friends, family, as she thinks of them, remembers their presence. Here in this forest she has found a reuniting with spirits of those she had thought lost to death. She found that something most meaningful of them living joyfully within her. She knew when she entered this forest that she was saying good-bye to those she was leaving behind. Something of them too lives in her, carried with her, wherever she finds herself.

Young furry creatures playing, chasing each other, tumbling, acting out ferocity that disarms itself with chittering laughter, reminds Caela of the children she left behind. The ones she raised were now children long ago. Larik has become a fine young man. Though quiet, preferring solitude to society, he enjoys his life tending to his companion animals and plants on his mother, Maea's small family farm. The other young people living in what has been expanded from Maris's old homestead, as well as those older folks he has always known as family, love and respect him for exactly who he is. Caela no longer has regrets about Larik, the circumstances and her part in how he was born. Their time together gave them both what they needed to grow strong, to heal, to learn to be more because of who they had been, where that had taken them. Yet, Solia, without those scars, was her own unique wonderfully alive young woman, adored and cherished by all who knew her. She had always been that magical, blessed child, even more so than that enchanting Felicity, her role model mom, had always been. Teren, quietly calm, shiningly creative, strong, magical, loving, had been such a perfect complement to Felicity's willful insouciance. Solia was their perfect blend. Yeah, yeah, everyone has their faults. That stipulated, faults can often be the most endearing of what our loved ones see in us. Spiteful moments, bouts of vanity or self-pity, the occasional tantrum or thoughtless hurtful remark is easily subsumed into a generally remarkably lovely character. Caela brags to her forest friend, showing snapshots from the family album she carries within.

They are mothers, together sharing the joy and mystery of life.

Another mother appeared, ghostly drifting in sudden mist. "Did you grieve for me?" It is Letta's spirit, a mother's love Caela has not felt since she was almost too young to remember it's sweet beauty.

"I grieved for you while you still stood before me in strange imitation of life. I tried so hard to reach you. You would not be reached, would not respond, would not know me."

Caela felt that grief again, a scarred old wound that could still throb when disinterred, angry, red, infected, long controlled into quietude.

"You know I never meant to leave you. I never meant to betray our bond. As you say, my life ended long before my body died. I never knew it could happen that way. I never knew how to find my way back to you. It wasn't that I loved her more, no longer needed you. All love, all feeling, was lost from me. I had nothing to give, no way to receive. But, look at you. You give and take in more than anyone I have ever known. I am gifted with this chance to feel the love, pride, pure pleasure, in knowing what you, my precious daughter, have become."

And she was gone, dissolved into the mist which itself dissolved into a sweet, brightly colored flowery glade. Caela stopped to smell the flowers, inhaling a heady mixture of scent memories. She sat, relaxing her weight against a broad tree trunk, letting her freely flowing tears water the landscape until she drifted off into a different consciousness.

"Why do your people divide? Not just here and there, spatial separations, but even within? Mothers and children separate to expand living. Death separates, but renews -- feeding the whole. Yet your whole rebels, rejects connection. No, some connect. But not the whole, not seed to root to stem. Even a healer can still be divided. You have strong presence, strong awareness and integrity of self. You are separate from your kind, also because of your own conscious striving to wholeness of self. How is this? To what purpose? Feel your way along the division, healer. Can you weave it whole? See this spiral dance? Reattach your shadow as a companion of play, and dance so sweetly, so free, complete in every movement, every moment, in living embrace of music vibrating eternally. These are your pictures, your words, imbued with that which is love calling between us."

As other loves had implanted their brightly precious cuttings through Caela's being, she now accepted this growing loving friendship with sentience not of her kind, nor of the world her ancestors called home. What is home but where we learn to be and feel alive?

So welcome to be undivided, safely within forest consciousness. Feeling every experiential frame falling into place, blending. Light, airy viscosity, like breathing bliss, in, out, all around, a solid-liquid-ethereal state in which thought, movement, awareness is fluid, unset in form, actively adapting, expecting only what is.

"I am actively adapting. I am whole as solution, dissolving while redefining, in all ways an accumulating summing, of perceptions, cognitions, interweavings." Revelatory impressions rippling through, Caela walks in a foreground shaped by her background, steps interacting with ground, skin interacting with all the migratory molecules, movement as a whole system, within wider wholes, spiraling cycles, widening Caela's range of perceptions. "I am; and I expand and am expanded, with every interchange of breath, every synchrony of symbol and response, every crystallized moment merging into the next."

And the next

"I had to learn, to teach myself carefully, who is this I, my private self, my separate consciousness. I had to keep myself whole and pure, individualized. I needed to be me to hold on to my ability to work with my patients in pain, help their separate individual systems to heal after wounding. Of course I felt deep bonding, relationship, love. I could let go with Singer, fuse with his so familiar, so inextricable beauty. Even so, I knew: this is me, in pieces and their combined integrity. No mistaking others' cognitions for mine. Here, though, I am integrating with this other, this nonhuman consciousness, communicating in direct sensation on liminal planes of natural awareness. I as myself continues even as we expand through mutuality. Strongly self-identified, I embrace, assimilate, share beyond compassion. It is not so much a separation as a hyper-awareness. All these floating impressions, imparting graceful strands of wisdom, enhancing my tapestry. I praise the artist, consciously in awe of the art flowing through me. My multi-layered friend, I know you understand. Your comprehension is whole, absorption essential, active, taking nothing that is not enhanced and shared. How have I lived so long in your presence and never before known you at all? Singer only knew of you what you both needed to sing, a specified arrangement of love. He shared with me what I was willing to see, shared his music that was of his essence influenced by yours. I was busy, caught up in concerns of what was then here and now. You were not my concern. You lived as eternally, abiding, direct perception, without my conscious thought." Caela's human cognitive impressions work though perception's code, translating into a foreign tongue. Tasting her essence in flicking serpent-like strokes, thus pleasured, the forest releases its love. We know what and who we know. Love exists as grace, or not at all.

"I am proud of being human, woman, tribal representative, individual being on my own. I am proud to know and be known by you, to feel this loving acceptance. I am amazed, awed, deeply gratified by your stories, the grandness of your beauty." Thus grows a beautiful friendship.

Opening that sharing place in her mind to full sensitivity, Caela feels bathed in totality of loving joy, bliss. All the busy interplay of forest life flutters through her senses. Not so much walking as dancing in that interplay, she partakes of life's daily rituals. It is a brief, though eternal, idyll.

A human voice not her own, but one now well recognized, falls like thunder into her peaceful reverie in forest time. It is the boy who called her here, his own mind, not the forest's allegory. He is somehow physically nearer, though still at some distance. Perhaps she has been moving with purpose, closer to his situation. It is not her mind he set out to link to. She is an accidental recipient, along with the intended ones. The story he relays tells her that in the greater scheme this accidental receiver is exactly the person required by that situation. Currents are crossing, lives in the balance.

The boy, Lukin, his story, sifted out from what he relays from his grandfather to the other children, his family. They were more comfortable sharing this information in a manner avoiding the wrong people's overhearing. Not sure how or why she was let in on these family secrets, Caela delved deeper into Lukin's memories. She felt no resistance, despite his clear alert cunning in the face of danger. "We both know I am not dangerous. It is understood that I am here as ally." Caela listened and took in the background of her original calling into the forest by this child caught up in more than he could clearly comprehend. Caela, from her vantage point outside the maelstrom, could apprehend the bigger picture.

The children had been sent, under cover of subterfuge, to a sort of uncle, Toriv, a witchfolk teacher of the young. Their parents were being hunted down malevolently, essentially for thought crime. Guilty of the wrong kind of identity, of hiding their guilt. Conspiracy. Cover-up. Making authorities in control of terrible power feel like fools. Yet, it is the quiet power of these frightened, pitiful few that those in authority fear to the point of demanding extermination. A real mess these kids have been thrust into. Now they have word from Lukin's grandfather, Merin, with whom he has maintained a mind link, that the adults in question, himself included, have been arrested. No further help can be expected for these forcibly abandoned children from their forcefully incarcerated kin.

The forest is complicit. These children must be aided. While Toriv may be a good man, he is too much an innocent, caught up in too much that he can not understand. His education has been more in ideals than practicalities. He has allowed himself to be sheltered from truly harsh experience. He has been foolish enough to see his disappointments as tragedies. Faced with so much more drastic circumstances and consequences, he is but another frightened child.

Does Lukin, the young leader of his small troop of frightened children, possess and pass on these insights about Toriv? The forest somehow amplifies Lukin's mind for her. It has a stake in this meeting and outcome. Caela, beloved, healer, has intertwined missions to accept and follow through. This is a time of crisis. A point of stress built up of forces now converging offers unique opportunities. For abiding consciousness, preparing, alert to rumbles and shiftings that foretell action available to outside direction, this is a sacred occasion.

There is still a distance, more than several days worth of traversing, between here and there. Caela prepares for sleep, for potent dreaming. There is something within her in need of awakening. It feels, yes, just ready to be released, to claim its power. Is this a spirit child of Caela, of the forest mind, ready to be born as Caela's sacred internal daughter, a part of (not apart from) herself?

"I see the cruelty, the stupidity. A tight fist. Harsh measures. Petty meanness because we dare not weaken, dare not show a chink of kindness, dare not relax. Nowhere that deep relaxation, every cell of life open to receive, to exchange expiration for inspiration. Tight disciplined cognitions, never too alive, never to allow dangerous chinks of doubt, unsettling openings to chaos. Fear is palpable, but more. It is gripping. Addictive. You need more and more to even feel, to not go numb with the senselessness, with the constancy. I feel it all. Where? How? I am moving through a forest. One footfall into the next. I see is in dual visions. I am perceiving far beyond my natural range. My senses, my cognitions, doubling up, increasing in velocity and intensity. The me I have known too slow to keep up falls behind. There is so much more to me. No binding down into mere panoramas of perception. I feel, see, cognate, extend, a greater totality. This I is not a limitation. Consciousness accelerates. Mind is not a boundary. Every sensation is infinite, eternal, completely integrated. Yet, here I am, still conscious of my own being, biography, will. Ecstatically integrated beyond my temporal concerns, yet so very grounded, root to stem, to sky. I am of this ground, of this sky, and of what comes between. I am a woman traversing a forest that has become my kin and my home. I am a multi-cultural consciousness in motion through space and time. I am a story in the telling, spinning outward, revealing my wisdom as it is acquired. I am a harbinger of sanity composed of beauty, of grace, of intricate balance moving dynamically through simple resonance." Potent dreaming, indeed.

She awoke to a world exactly different. Nothing significant had changed in the time of her dreaming, except for Caela herself. She made all the difference. Seeing, hearing, touching with a different mental construct to decipher the sensory code, she discovered a whole new world.

Lukin's impressions are still available. She can look; she can feel his pain, as his not hers. She knows her help and healing is needed. She can taste the forest throughout all her senses, molecular communication from self to self. She can also sense all the busy beings, all the selves working out their lives, or not. Pain, pleasure, the ennui of emotional defeat, the exhilaration of new challenge, the fearful raging, exhausted confusion, the newly forming consciousness opening an inner eye, the lurking of an inner smile. It is what it is, malleable, ready for change, so long as no one let's it know it is changing.

Caela reaches, tentative and sincere. Enjoying the flickering light of subtle conclusions, she feels herself gently calming, a feathery serene presence, in Lukin's consciousness. He tells his cadre there is help on the way. Strange, but he can know this so surely without knowing how or when, or whom. Strangely, they trust his seemingly occult knowledge. On that not quite conscious level, they too feel touched by the strands, the subtle movements of change, the ripples on the breeze.

Not all prayers are answered. Not all needs are fulfilled. Tragedies often come to pass, unaverted. This is not one of those. Sometimes there is a miracle. Powerful, subtle forces converge. We can feel that electricity playing among our circuits. Not all storms bring destruction. Rain, wind, electrical release, can bring potent healing.

Caela feels a beautiful storm brewing. She stands open to the elements, ready for their guidance in the ways of power.

The forest, proud of its consort, sings into the wind and rain, rejoicing in storm and song. Unnumbered flowers await blooming. What a beautiful day!

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