Thursday, September 15, 2016

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learning to burn part 2

Please begin at the BEGINNING.  There you will find definitions for some of the unusual words.
Ofonode wakes without waking. He dreams of watching himself become fire the way he has watched all the other adults in the village. He sees fire as it glows beneath his skin. Surely it must be warm. How can anyone stand it? The glow makes him bright with orange light. Just when it seems there isn't anything else, his hair flares around him at the moment that the glow ignites into a blaze. His body is now orange flecked with blue and his hair waves in the air mimicking the shape of the blaze as it rises into above him.

Surrounded by the other youth, he watches as he rises into the air and explodes in an outrageous burn like he's never seen come from anyone in the village and wakes, sitting straight up in bed, before he can see what else happens.

He rushes to his Aunt's room. She is has already left her bed. Ofonode rushes around the dwelling, but doesn't fine her. He races to the back yard and finds her sitting in the tall grass with her back to the dwelling. She could be meditating, but she isn't using any of her mantras or mudras. And she's definitely not burning. So he decides it's safe to speak to her, “Auntie Kokofeko… please Auntie. I need your help.”

She rises quickly and smoothly, especially for her size, and moves to put an arm around his shoulders, “Peace, my nephew, peace. Tell me how you would like me to assist.”

I had a dream and I need help understanding it. But it didn't finish. I woke up on accident. I didn't meant to wake. I really didn't!” Ofonode feels as though he might cry.

Be still. Perhaps you were not meant to see the end. Sometimes when we dream future dreams, which it seems you are worried you have, we do not see the conclusion because we need to choose for ourselves not knowing what the result will be.” Kokofeko runs her hand up and down his upper arm, “Now, breathe deeply three times and then tell me your dream.”

Ofonode takes the deep breaths, just the way his Aunt has taught him as long as he can remember. Kokofeko removes her arm and faces him. He feels calmer and relates the dream as quickly and completely as he can. “What do you think, Auntie?”

I think you are concerned without need. This, my ovbiokhan orhomwen, is not a future dream.”
But it felt so completely and totally real. How do you know it's not going to happen the way I saw it?”

Precisely because you saw it. You were not in it. This is a deception meant to cause you to spend your energy amiss and focus on fear.”

So because I watched myself, it wasn't actually me?”

Yes, exactly so.”

It felt so real, Auntie!”

Deceptions can feel very much like reality. You must work hard to develop discernment Ofonode. Have you recently requested our Father bless you with this most beneficial gift, the gift of discernment?”

No. I guess I haven't recently. You're right, Auntie. I need to do better. I will do better. What would you have me do for my studies today?”

The same as yesterday, dear one.”

What if it never works? I haven't been able to ignite all this time. Everyone in my age class has moved beyond igniting. They are all working on focusing their flares. What if I'm like Ughegbe?”  Ofonode hangs his head in shame. He knows his Aunt thinks well of him. Ofonode feels sure she will scold him.

Ughegbe is a good man. Why would you fear becoming like him?”

Surprised on the lack of a scolding and the question, Ofonode pauses as she shrugs his shoulders and kicks a rock.

I'm certain you know. Tell me.”

He glances at his Aunt. She doesn't look angry at all. She really just looks interested and peaceful. Ofonode starts in a rush, “Because he can't burn and he doesn't do anything important or helpful in the village.”

What is now has not always been.”

Is that supposed to comfort me? I don't even know what that means!”

Ughegbe does not ignite nor flare these days, it is true. And he is often seated and still, as is plain to see. But just because you do not see him actively doing, this does not mean he is of no benefit to our village.”

Feeling as if his Aunt knew a great deal that he didn't, Ofonode waited. Kokofeko didn't continue.  “Auntie, what do you know? It seems you are waiting to tell me something.”

Our village is precariously positioned on this plateau, you know this, yes?”

Yes, of course.”

Do you know how we came to be here, Ofonode?”

I guess not. I thought we just always were.”

No, dear one. No. We were not always as we are now.”

How does this have anything to do with Ughegbe?”

Hush now and let me tell you the story. I will ask questions, but they are only rhetorical from here on until I tell you I have reached the end.

I do not know the beginning of the people of aren, the people of fire. I do know that many generations before ours a group of aren folk seperated from the majority and found their home near this place. The land was very different then, before the red sun most recently passed our planet in its two-thousand year orbit. I have only seen our village as it is, but Ughegbe was a new flame when the change happened. He saved our village, Ofonode.

He used his flame to hold the plateau together as the earth shook and quaked. In fact, I believe he may have caused this plateau to rise as it is, above the shaking of the rest of the crust, so that our village would not be destroyed by the tumult. As you know, our flames, once ignited, only die when our spirit departs our temporal frame permanently.

So you wonder why Ughegbe doesn't flame now or as long as you've seen him and why he moves so little. Can you think of it? Do you see without the conclusion of the story?”

Even though he knows she asks only rhetorically, Ofonode is so totally engrossed in the story that he shakes his head to answer no to her questions.

He is perpetually on fire, my dear one. Hie flame still holds our plateau steady and strong.”

Shock rocks Ofonode and he falls to the ground. Sprawled awkwardly, he looks up at his Aunt. She smiles and reaches a hand. As he stands he asks, “Why can't we see his flame, then?”

Because it is apart from him.”

With knees shaking, he almost shouts, “No!”

Yes. It is extremely rare, that's true. But we have learned about others who could use their flame entirely apart from their body.”

I… I guess I just thought so little of him… I thought he was so much less than everyone else!”

And now you find out that he is an amazing being. Ofonode… for shame. We are each imbued with the same divine nature. We are beings created by the same God, every one of us. We must value each and every being around us, knowing this truth is absolute. And not just true for those who seem valuable in a visibly or outwardly measurable way.”

Ofonode hangs his head. “I do know you have taught me these words many times. I have not learned the lesson, Auntie. I'm very sorry.”

Learn it. The importance of it is far greater than you can now understand.”

How old is Ughegbe? If you have always known the village as it is, he must be very old.”

So, I am now very old, Ofonode?”

He looks at his Aunt with concern, but sees a playful expression moving her features, “There are older, of course. But you are among the elders, aren't you Auntie?”

Yes, of course. You know I'm teasing you, dear one. My mother's mother was friends with Ughegbe before he ignited. So, yes. He is very old.”

But he doesn't look it. I thought he was the age my parents would be if… well, you know. Why does he look so young?”

The work he does is more than he could have sustained on his own these many years. The elders have always moved some of their flame into him a few times each year. The process enables him to do what none of us can do and causes him to look far younger than his many years.”

Will he ever die?”

He has let us know that it would be a relief to pass through the door into the next life. But he will continue to accept donations of flame from the elders until there is a way for the plateau to remain when he no longer supports it.”

So, basically, he's waiting for someone to take his place before he can die?”

Yes. That is exactly right.”

Wow. I don't know if I could do that. Could you, Auntie?”

One never knows what can be done and whether they would do it until the situation is actually before them. We can think about it all we want… we can even make a decision beforehand. That actually does help. But making a decision before the situation is not a guarantee that we are able to follow through. I hope I would be able to relieve him if I had the ability to do so. But I just don't know.”

I'm pretty sure I know. I know I couldn't do it. For one, I can't even ignite. But even if I could, I'm sure my flame is just like everyone else's. My parents didn't have special flames did they?”

Not that I'm aware of, but I didn't know your parents well, dear one.”

I remember.” Ofonode looks off into the distance, trying to remember his parents. Their faces have almost completely disappeared from his memory. He can barely see their outlines now. As if they are standing before a bright light and their faces are in darkness. A tear escapes Ofonode's eye. He wipes it away carefully. He knows Kokofeko will not mention it. If he wants to talk about his thoughts and feelings, he will have to start and he doesn't want to get into that kind of conversation.

Will you begin your igniting practice, Ofonode?”

Yes. I think it's a waste of time. But I will practice.”


For Definitions of the Edo/Bini words used herein, please see the first part of the story.
To continue the story, click HERE on November 1, 2016.
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