Chapter 17 - The Tea Drinker
The plane dips its right wing and swings out over the water below, the sun shimmering off of the tips of the waves as they sway to some unheard symphony and my eyes start to water from the brightness of the scene. My wife grabs my arm and lets the seat engulf her as her eyes close, her head rolling from side to side in an effort to find a comfortable spot. Soon the warming reflection of the sun causes my eyes to dim and I soon find myself in a different place and time....
Her name was simply Brighid, no last name or maybe no first, she was at all once there and not there, a shimmering, floating vessel of form and without form. Her eyes, such as they were, were opened wide as her song catches the wind causing the clouds to dance happily away from where we were standing. "Beannaich an t-uisge, an èadhar, an talamh agus gach beathach a tha feumach air na h-eileamaidean sin a bhith beò." She chants. (Bless the water, air, land and all animals that the need these elements to survive.)
Her voice filled with melody and comfort, a warm reflection in a meadow field, "Thig àm nuair a dhì-chuimhnicheas an daonna an co-chòrdadh agus an gaol a th 'aice dha na beathaichean eile agus nuair a thachras seo, leig leis an nàiseantachd a thighinn chun an loch seo agus bathar mar chuimhneachan" (There will come a time when mankind will forget the harmony and love it has for its fellow animals and when this happens let mankind come to this lake and bathe in remembrance.)
A passionate plea to the Gods of the Gaelic world, her voice will be heard and the Gods will transform a simple lake into a powerful healing spot, a mysterious wonderful lake that simply floating on will evoke feeling of peace, love and compassion.
She continues, "Ach gus am bi an daonnan deiseil, leig an t-uisge slànachaidh seo a bhith falaichte agus nach fhaicear a-mhàin nuair a thòisicheas sùilean an duine gus am bi na cridheachan fosgailte agus gu bheil an cinn a 'gabhail riuthag." (But until mankind is ready, let this healing water be hidden and only visible when man's eyes have started to see, until their hearts are open and their heads accepting)
My eyes blink at the final statement, why would someone want a lake to be hidden if the very act of being in the lake would bring a sense of connection with the world? My attention returns to Brighid, as she swings her arms upwards towards the sky, a swirling mystical mist playfully leaps into the air and effortless goes skyward, the clouds reform around the mist and we all take a moment to quietly thank the Gods.
Silently but in perfect unity we turn away from the lake and start to walk back to the village. Behind us vines, trees and dense brush fill in around the lake and soon the lake becomes invisible, awaiting mankind to rediscover its own humanity.
When we arrive at the village, the villagers have prepared a great feast of grains, nuts and vegetables which is set up and waiting for Brighid to give us the blessing to begin the feast. "Na cuir na Diathan an gràdh dhiadhaidh a-steach don bhiadh romhainn, gus am faod sinn cuideachd a bhith na Dhia, eadhon airson dìreach mionaid." (May the Gods put their divine love into the food before us, so that that we too can become a God, even for just a moment.)
And with that, the band starts to sing and dancing breaks out. The villagers excited that Brighid has blessed them by her appearance in the village, she floats from villager to villager offering her blessing and her healing hands and in return they say, "Beannaich thusa ar Bana-dia" (Bless you our Goddess)
In a blink of an eye Brighid is standing in front of me, I lose all sense of my body, my mind and in an instant we are talking though not out loud but through some bigger connection. Without asking she tells me that the reason she asked the Gods to hide the powerful lake is because without understanding and compassion people can take the power of the lake and cause suffering and pain, forcing their enemies into the lake as they torture animals, the power the Gods have embedded in the lake would transfer the pain in the animals to those in the lake. Only when people are ready can they know how to use such a power for healing.
Soon the lights dim and another scene plays itself out in front of me...
I swirl the cup, watching the water go from steady to cylindrical, as smile drapes itself across my face as I reflect on the past days. It started with tea, freshly picked herbs simmering gently in water and a epiphany.
I had grown up on this land, our family having passed this great house down from the time of Egbert, while modest compared to many great houses, ours was still detailed in the finest of gold and jewels. As I went from a boy to a slightly older boy, I noticed that not all people were equal, there seemed to be an agreeable invisible hierarchy all all of which was aimed at keeping our family and the King in great wealth. Some people farmed for us, bringing us only the finest of meats and some brought us gold and other trinkets so that we may pass them on to the King as our gift to him, so that we may improve our own social standing. A very strange existence, this world.
Soon the slighter older boy become a slightly dumber man and I began to see the world not as strange but as my birthright, something God as granted me because our family was privileged and important. And as my thoughts become so, my words and actions soon followed suit. After the funeral of my father and my time at the Kings Court in mourning, I came back to our family estate. I knew that my duty was to find a wife and give birth to a boy, so that he can, when he is ready take my place as the head of our family and serve God and the King in any way he is able to.
So I throw a big party, the largest our lands have ever seen. I had invited all the proper honorable families and promised them a fest like they had never seen before. The night before the great feast, I went for a walk around the gardens. I was practicing my lines, making sure that when I talked to one of the fine Ladies that I wouldn't sound stupid. I came to a fantastic meadow, one I hadn't seen before, or at least didn't recognize, the moon was over-sized and perched at the very edge of the distant plain, the starts seemingly dancing over top of the moon and a certain cloudy brightness just hanging there in front of it all. I sat in the meadow though it felt as though I was floating and just stared. As the peace of the moment allowed me to escape my body, I seemed to be hanging in two different places, one in this world and one in another. And just in this moment a deer came prancing towards me, she too finding peace in the moment and though normally afraid she became quiet and soon laid down on the meadow grass beside me and just stared forward. We were locked in the most magnificence moment in time, our dramatically different worlds connected on some level beyond that of just the physical.
Still feeling overwhelmed from the night before, I descended the stairs and immersed myself in the party, the wine and the proper ladies. And though there was much excitement my mind rarely left that moment in the meadow. Soon the staff announced it was time to eat and we all made our way to the dinning hall. It was a grand feast, fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables and as the main attraction a large roast of venison. My deer friend from last night or at least his relative. Immediately a large scream of tears crashed against my face, the realization that this was done for me, that this deer was killed so that I may impress some lady I don't know. I storm from the party, shielding my face against the sight of the tears that are streaming down, I run to the study and pour myself a tea and in this first sip, I know. The epiphany. I know that there is some underlying current that we all share, every man and animal, some invisible life force that wants all of us to be peaceful and full of love. I can feel that moment again in the meadow and it feels as though there is a change happening inside of me and I knew that my world would never be the same again.