“I pick these sticks for you.”
A raised voice. Asian accent.
I look. A man. Calling to me, over his shoulder as he worked.
“For you. YOU,” he emphasized.
I stood there looking at him. I do not know what to say.
“He sent me help you, and show you way of I CHING.”
And he rustled through various piles of sticks, searching for pruned branches that might serve as yarrow stalks.
And suddenly I was moving from that place, through a set of doors and into what looked and felt like some ancient Chinese-style dwelling. The doors slid open as I walked/floated through them. I went forward a ways, and another set of doors slid open, revealing an inner area, outdoors and roofless and soaking in the sun.
I slowly entered.
A man, wearing a black robe. With white on the ends of his sleeves.
His hair was high, and in a bun.
He worked silently in his garden, tending and caring for some kind of small tree growing there. Every touch was tender, thoughtful, careful.
His back was turned away from me as he spoke.
“That was my gardener,” he said. “The man you saw earlier, in the shadow night – while you were gathering your sticks.”
A memory suddenly resurfaces; completely suppressed, from just two nights ago.
I: Yes… I remember.
A calm silence.
I: I… feel such honor in your presence.
He said nothing, staring at his work of delicately trimming the smallest and most fragile branches within it.
“Do you know why you are here,” he said.
I: My… sensei.
He smiled, chest softly bouncing, an inner and suppressed laugh.
I: My Master.
“THE master,” he added. “Yes… Yes, I suppose you are here because of him.”
I: But, not.
I: I am here because I want to be.
I: Who are you?
“Wu Tan,” he said. “I am ….a farmer, of sorts.”
I: Of sorts?
“Yes. I plant things and help them grow.”
I: Such as?
His shears continued snipping the tree.
And then were larger sheers in his hand, as the tree was now somehow bigger. The metal of the scissors blades scrapping and sliding louder with each loving cut upon the tree.
And then the tree began to bleed.
I: How is it that this tree bleeds? No tree is like that in my world.
He stopped. As if frozen.
He turned, and (for the first time) looked at me, in the eyes. There was a small fire kindled in them, and I felt him looking right through me.
I: The sap of the maple…. the cream of the milkweed…
“Your trees bleed. All living things do. Blood isn’t only red; or, even human.”
I: “River of life”….
“I heard the old man say yours has far too many rocks.”
And I knew exactly what he was referring to. And I marveled in wonder.
He turned back to his task. The sound of his snipping continued.
WT: Read this, and come back when ready.
And then I found myself moving, floating just as I had entered, but now in reverse, and so out of the inner room through the doors of the house and through the doors into the garden and then past it
… and then I was gone.