Thursday, October 20, 2016

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learning to burn part 7

Please begin at the BEGINNING.

Kokofeko was asleep when he arrived home. Ofonode wasn't surprised. She'd been working very hard to prepare his pack and just generally make him ready for his journey. He still had an hour or so of sunlight, so he went immediately to work on the garden. He was surprised at how overgrown it became after only a few days of less attention from his Aunt.

Ofonode reflected on the many garden analogies his Aunt shared. Most often, they pertained to his mind, but sometimes she compared the garden to his heart. What was it she said about neglect and weeds… Something about neglecting to control thoughts enabled weeds of discontent and unhappiness to gain root and grow strong. His favorite, by far because it also told his favorite history story, was the lesson in which she compared the anger in his heart to the fire thistle in her garden.
She said almost the same thing every time so Ofonode knew it by heart. He imagined her teaching him again as he worked in the garden, “Some have suggested that fire thistle is the reason the people of the village burned in the way they do today. Our people glowed and sometimes flamed when they first settled here, of course. That's why they left where they were to find a new place. They were just too different and others were persecuting them for the obvious differences.

Initially the fire thistle was a wild leggy, prolific, edible plant that had a strange spiciness which the early settlers of the village grew to love because they could eat all of the plant with no harmful effects. They used the tubers as whole meals and dried them to make unleavened breads. The leaves were sauteed up with other spicy roots and served next to the tubers. They could also be boiled with beans and a bone to make a really filling and tasty soup.
Those first settlers may have eaten more of it than they should. And after a couple generations, the people had eaten most of the wild fire thistle. Times were tough in settling this land and they ate what was readily available until it was almost gone.

They didn't know that the plant was of alien origin. We never would have known, either, if not for the Chemistry class one I grew up with took through a distance learning university. The microscope revealed the other-worldiness of the fire thistle.

The fire in it was not seen until the red dwarf came near our planet. And, of course you know, that happened and caused the quakes that Ughegbe saved our village from and formed this plateau. Only at that time could one readily see that this plant had a fire all its own.

Perhaps the most alarming thing about the fire of the plant is the way it glows quietly when both suns shine, but flames angry and wild when the yellow sun sets. My grandparents told us it was beautiful, but if they touched the fire thistle when the yellow sun was set, they would be burned very painfully and very quickly.

Many have suggested, since we learned of the alien nature of the plant, that it's alien parts changed the first settlers DNA enough to encourage the increase of fire in our bodies. And that eating it still continues to change us.

Currently fire thistle is only available to us in our gardens and we work hard to propagate what is left, for we love the flavor above any other vegetable. Perhaps they are right who say it has changed us. Maybe it is why the original glow and rare flame of the first settlers has become, in almost everyone, the ability to steadily burn and even direct fire from our bodies.

You anger, Ofonode, like the fire thistle. It burns invisible and then something goes down and you might become dangerous in anger. Please work to control your thoughts, my nephew. It is in thoughts that our feelings will be tamed or allowed to rage wild.”

'That was before she saw me actually flame,' Ofonode realized as he thought. He finished weeding the garden in silence and then went to bed. Tomorrow he would depart. Everything was ready. There was no good reason to delay.


Thank you for all the work you've done for me, Auntie. You have been really wonderful and supportive. I know I couldn't have done such a good job on my own. I'm sure my journey will be successful if the packing and planning impact it at all.”

My hope… I do want your success, my nephew. Please take care. Ifueko repeated many times how she lived her name during her journey and since. She learned the value of taking things slowly and being careful. Please be careful.”

I will. Thank you, again, for helping me.”

Kokofeko simply nods her head. She's had a premonition that she will die while he is away. Her eyes fill with tears at the thought of never seeing him again and she hopes with great energy of heart that she's wrong, just this once. Ofonode has begun to walk away from her. She catches up with him and grabs him up, pack and all, to hug him so tight he lifts off the ground. “I love you, nephew. I am grateful to have been able to teach you and raise you as if you were my son. I wish you could have had your parents for your sake, but for mine… I'm glad I've had you.”

I love you, too, Auntie Kokofeko! I'll see you when I return and we will live together happily again, I'm sure.”

That would be wonderful to me, my nephew. Travel in peace and safety. Be careful and control your thoughts.”

Yes, Auntie.”

Ofonode turns away and walks again. This time Kokofeko doesn't chase his down, but only slowly follows because she doesn't want him to see the tears pouring down her cheeks. She suddenly feels every year of her age and feels even more certain she won't see his return. She stands at the back of the group assembled to wish Ofonode good travel. Many, perhaps even most, of the villagers have turned out to give Ofonode protective wishes and bright hope for success.

Ifueko sends Ofonode a bright packet of energy that Kokofeko can tell is shielding. She is worried about him, too. Because she feels an ache of concern for her dear nephew, the only family she has left, she reaches into the depths of her being and sends Ofonode a small packet of tight white light. As soon as it reaches him, it spreads over him and he glows. Kokofeko smiles. Surely the Creator of all will see how she loves this boy and protect him for her. She must have faith that it will be so because no matter how much energy she might try to send him, it could never be enough if The One is not on his side.


As the rain begins to fall before Ofonode has even reached the entrance of the path, he wonders if he should have waited another day afterall. Rain, auspicious as it is because of its rarity, just isn't pleasant to walk in. Ofonode feels the chill of the drops even though the sun still beats down hot. The air is now twice as heavy as before because of the humidity hanging about. The ground has become thick mud and each step feels increasingly difficult and heavy.

'Surely I can make it to the path and down. Surely. This is ridiculous. I can't believe I'm having such a difficult time and I'm still on the plateau. I'm not a weak boy! I can do this.'

Ofonode doesn't realize it, but he's glowing with anger. The anger in him grows as the rain continues to fall and the mud of the ground grows deeper.

Pulling each foot up with a slurp, he takes slow step after slow step. Finally the rain stops. Ofonode decides it's worse without the rain now that the air is so thick and the sun is beating down with an intensity that doesn't seem appropriate or normal at all. 'Does even the sun want to prevent me from taking this journey? Is it so bad that I want to leave the plateau? This is ridiculous, for real! I mean, it never rains here, but it does today. Why? Because I want to leave here? Just ridiculous!'
As his thoughts spin faster, the anger within him grows and his fire spreads from the mask across his eyes to his hair and lifts the ends of it. The fire lights down his spine. Not realizing he is almost fully ignited, Ofonode continues to think angry thoughts.

The fire on his back stretches down the backs of his legs and then engulf his feet and race up the front of him. As his whole body is swamped by flame, Ofonode sees himself light up. He feels happiness race around the edges of the crackling anger within such that he feels a strange sort of power. And then concern and maybe a tinge of fear. 'Is this why my Mother and her sisters couldn't seem to control their fire? Because of this feeling? I better do something about it. But what?'
A split second after asking himself the question, he sees his Auntie sitting in meditation. 'Meditate? Well, why not! It sure couldn't hurt'

Ofonode sits and lets the pack fall from his back, folding his legs wide. He rubs the palms of his hands together quickly and begins to chant the opening phrases. As soon as the open is complete he begins his favorite kriya. Kirtan Kriya. He spends five minutes moving through the mudra and repeating the mantra at each of the first two volumes which represent the voice of man and the voice of spirit. Then ten minutes at the volume representative of the voice of God, then back to spirit and finish with man. Sitting in silence for a minute, he feels peaceful. He stretches and then closes the meditation.

Before he opens his eyes, he feels completely peaceful. He hopes he will not see any flames around himself when he opens his eyes, but believes he will still feel peace if he does see them. Surely they are not hot, if they are still dancing.

As he opens his eyes, he looks down and finds that his body is just his body. No flames dance eagerly around him. He releases the breath he didn't realize he was holding. It is definitely a relief not to be on fire. He didn't know what he'd do if he was still flaming.

He stands, picking his pack up as he does. Once again he begins walking. The ground is still very wet and goopy around his feet. Yet he feels peaceful and even content. 'This is the beginning of my journey, so be it.'

Kokofeko would be proud. She was constantly speaking to him about acceptance of that which is not changeable. Now he understood a little better what she was talking about.


When he saw the stone pillars in the distance, he felt excitement and hope. 'Maybe I will reach the bottom of the path before it's completely dark, afterall.'

Almost as if someone was standing next to him Ofonode heard, “Do you not remember Ifueko advised that you not attempt to leave the plateau unless you arrived here quite early?”

Ofonode looked around. No one was there, but he felt sure he'd just heard someone remind him of Ifueko's words. 'How would anyone know what she said?' He was alone with her when they talked about his journey, so Ofonode felt very confused.

He arrived at the pillared entrance to the path that would bring him to the lower earth. He was so excited to see new places and experience new things. He touched a pillar, stepping as if he would begin the climb down.

No. You sleep here. It will be dark before you're down even a quarter of the way. Ifueko knows what she's talking about.”

Out loud in hopes of feeling less crazy, Ofonode says, “Who is there? Who is speaking to me?” He looks around and jumps as the lizard appears, sticking to the side of the pillar near his hand.

I am, of course.”

Oh. Okay. And who are you?”

I am Osaretin, an invisian.”

Laughing, “No. You can't be!”

But I am. Why can I not be what I am?”

Invisian. They are myth."
Nope. Definitely not. You can see me, can't you? You can hear me because you're talking to me. So why must I be myth?”

Because… well, because you're supposed to be.”

I'm not.”


The stare at each other in silence for a few minutes. Osaretin breaks the silence, “Why don't you set up the tent right over there. I do dislike sleeping in the open night. Waking to dew on your skin is even more uncomfortable than walking in the rain.”

Ofonode continues to stare.

Osaretin disappears and Ofonode jumps, almost as if waking from a dream. 'I knew there wasn't anything there. What a strange daydream!' He steps into the space between the two pillars. Suddenly, standing in front of and slightly below him on the path is a giant dragon. Ofonode jumps back out of between the two pillars as he squeals like a scared baby. The dragon jumps over the pillars and Ofonode and lands softly near where the daydream indicated he should set up his tent.
With the same voice as the invisian, the dragon speaks, “Are you going to set up the tent, or not? I'd really like a snack and some rest in some semblance of a shelter. Do be a good fellow and set the thing up now.”

Ofonode begins to giggle. He feels giddy and goofy with the strain of the journey thus far. He believes he is actually gone bonkers.

Not crazy. I'm real. Pitch the tent. You'll see me first thing tomorrow, too.”

Moving stiffly, Ofonode lays his pack down and sets up the tent. He decides that if he's so tired he's daydreaming this vividly, he must need to sleep earlier than normal. As soon as the tent is fully up and has eaten a few bites from one of the meal packets his Auntie prepared for him, he looks around surreptitiously for the dragon or invisian. He sees neither. He gets comfortable in the tent and falls asleep quickly while the sky is still bright from the setting sun.


Osaretin, tapping his tail against the stone pillar, felt growing agitation. He walked over to the boy again and found that he was stirring, finally. He stood near Ofonode's face and waited.
His eyes opened a little and then opened so wide Osaretin thought they might flip around the back and out the bottom.
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