It was late autumn as the Shaman made his way through the wood towards his village. Above the canopy, the sun was shining brightly in a clear afternoon sky. It cut through gaps in the branches creating a spectacular shafts of light amid the relative dimness of the forest.
Intensely present, the Shaman listened intently to the forest sounds which surrounded him, alert to both the potential danger and the miraculous wonder that nature presented. A few paces on, he became aware of an unexpected sound. The sound of sobbing. Rounding a large tree trunk, he saw a familiar figure. It was the young boy from his village. The boy sat on the floor with elbows on knees and head in hands. Tears ran down his cheeks and dripped onto his clothing.
Next to the boy was a large pile of leaves of varying autumnal colours. There were also two bowls. One appeared to contain water with some leaves dipped in it. The other contained a sticky brown substance
"What is wrong?" the Shaman asked.
"What is wrong? Can't you see it? Death all around us! I have tried. I have tried to help the trees. But it seems to be no use. The leaves will not come back to life. They will not stick back onto the branches. It is useless. I am useless." The boy hid his face in his hands once more.
"This is not your first journey through the seasons. Why does this concern you so much all of a sudden?" the Shaman asked.
"I have been so selfish before now. So wrapped up in my own world. I did not even notice. I was not paying attention to the suffering all around me. I feel so ashamed." answered the boy through faltering breath.
Stand up!" the Shaman said quite sternly. The boy was a little shocked by his harshness but did as instructed. "Now step over here." The Shaman led him over to the trunk of a large oak. He took the boy's arm by the wrist and placed his palm onto the rough bark of the oak's trunk. The boy felt a powerful energy flowing from the Shaman's hand through his into the tree. The Shaman held his wrist for a few more seconds before letting go and leaving the boy in contact with the tree.
"Remember the sticks?" the Shaman said. "I want you to remember that feeling of letting go. Close your eyes. Access that feeling now."
The young boy closed his eyes and recalled the moment of relaxation when he had learned the art of dropping. As he relaxed into the feeling, he once again began to feel an energy flowing through his hand. This time it was coming from the tree. His face lit up with astonishment. He felt the flow for a while longer then turned to look at the Shaman, his eyes wide and his mouth open.
"Do you feel differently now?" the Shaman asked. The boy opened his mouth a little wider but could not utter a sound. The Shaman waited for a few more minutes and then asked again. "Tell me, do you see death all around us now?"
"No!" the boy eventually exclaimed. "It is so wonderful! Just like the ripples, I can see it now. These are just forms on the surface, arising and subsiding, a miraculous natural cycle. Like the most wonderful sculptor, the material is used over and over, broken down and re-made. Ever changing, never ending."
"What feeling did you sense from the tree?" the Shaman asked.
"There was a sense of melancholy for sure, a certain sadness at the passing of these leaves, but behind it all an absolute certainty and trust in the natural cycle, a deep knowing that the summer will come once more."
"Now look at the two of us and look at the trees all around," the Shaman said. "Are we permanent? Or are we just part of another cycle, a slightly longer cycle? Who will watch us fall with that slight melancholy and deep trust? How do our seasons look?"
The boy was once again lost for words. The Shaman picked up his bowls and put his arm around his shoulder. Together they set off towards their village.
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