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Stone Bear July 26, 2018

Posted by wimynspeak in General, Story Tellings.
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Did I ever tell you the story about the time I met the stone bear? It happened countless lifetimes ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was on the hill where the old stone circle ruins now stand. Back then, the circle had not been constructed yet, and wouldn’t be for many generations, and the hill was higher, less rounded by time. The surface was covered with dark, jagged rocks and stiff, course grass; it was not the gentle, comfortable place it is now. On one side of the hill there was a very small cave, which was well hidden and said to be unendingly deep. In fact, the ooooold stories said that one could see the other side of the universe from the mouth of that cave. Of course, no one in my lifetime, then … or now, really, had ever seen such a vision, but I decided that I must do just that.

So, one morning in mid-summer, I woke before all the others and crept away from our encampment. We were nomadic, then, remember, but we would be in this place for some time yet, at least another turning of the moon, for food was plentiful and we could fill our bellies and put on necessary fat stores for winter. Though morning had just dawned, the stars still shone overhead as I made my way… they were much closer and brighter back then … and the spiky grass was damp with dew beneath my feet. I knew how to creep as silently as an owl moves in flight, and I am sure I disrupted no living creature’s rest, nor drew the attention of any of the nocturnal predators returning to their lairs with whom we shared the brightening landscape. I had just reached the path that led up the hill, where the cave and its mysteries lay silent and hidden, when I saw the stone bear.

He snuffled in front of me on the path, moving and breathing like any other living creature, but it was obvious his great hulk of a body was created entirely of stone. Even for the time it was back then, so close to the dawn of humanity, as we call it now, I knew that it was not usual for stone objects to move and breathe thus. This was obviously no carven object, such as the mage’s made, but a living creature made of stone.

I followed the creature, fascinated, and it seemed that, a time or two, it turned its great stone head to see if I was still following, as if it expected me to do just that. I seemed now to be captured by its hard, earthen energy, and felt that even if I were compelled to do so … and I was not … I could not have left the beast’s influence.

Of course the stone bear led me directly to the cave, which, from my vantage point a few steps back along the path, appeared gaping and dark, an abyss into which one might be swallowed whole and alive, to live out one’s allotted time in abysmal nothingness. But the stories promised something greater, a wide expanse of universe that would make the magic and majesty of the star-filled sky over my head seem ordinary, mundane. So I stepped closer to the bear, wanting the promise it seemed to offer.

“You must leave them behind,” I thought I heard the bear whisper when I found I could get no closer. There seemed an invisible field of force about the creature that repelled me, not in the sickening way, but in the true physical sense of the word. I simply could not come closer, no matter that I tried.

“You must leave your most precious thoughts, your fears and inhibitions, your expectations and disappointments, all of them. Leave them here. The others will not find them. Strangers will pass by without noticing them. The treasures of the mind are such that they cannot be recognized once abandoned by the thinker. Even you, upon your return, will not be able to pick them up again, not as they are now.” All of this the bear said without words, but I heard the message nonetheless and vow that this is a true telling.

Be this a curse or a gift? I wondered, and got no answer, and so I came to see that it was neither, but rather a choice that hung on the balance point of my desire. For good or ill, if I wished to see the wonders of the cave, all must be left behind, and the leaving must be understood to be undoable.

The great bear turned away and moved toward the dark entrance of the cave as if certain of my decision.

 

 

© 2018 Linda Maree

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