WARRIORS OF THE WAY
STARSHINE IS LOST TO ME
I awoke to find a flower crushed underneath my cheek. I had not noticed it when I lay down the night before but then I had been too tired and too grief stricken to notice anything but the aching in my heart. I had walked for many miles, having lost my horse to the bite of a viper on the hillside far behind me. Starshine. Black as midnight with a white star shaped mark on his neck and star shaped sprays of white on his two front legs. A magnificent horse, my childhood companion, my best friend.
His death had come as a great shock and one that I wondered in my loneliness if I would ever overcome. How had I been so careless? How had he? We both had ears and eyes like hawks and had never been attacked unawares in all our years together. Perhaps it was in our weariness of long journeying that we had become fatigued and let down our guards. Perhaps we had taken our protection for granted much too long. But he had been my guardian as I had been his. I could not remember a day of my life without him in it. Till now. How could I ever forgive myself?
The viper had appeared out of nowhere, long and fat and golden hued, like no snake I had ever seen. I had dismounted Starshine and had climbed to the top of a tree to scan the horizon when it happened. The horse made no sound, gave no cry for help, raised no alarm. When I'd made my way back down the tree, taking my time and humming a melody I had heard in the last village we'd passed through, I jumped down laughing and shouted, "Starshine, my friend! I have spotted a lush green field for thou to graze ......."
And there I saw him, still as death itself, his sweet eyes closed and no breath coming from his nostrils. Lying on his sleek, black rump, there coiled the viper, it's cold, intelligent eyes looking at my expression, almost, it seemed, in mocking amusement. I felt a tremor go through my body as I stood frozen in disbelief and anguish.
"H..h..h.how?" I gasped in a tiny whisper of voice, feeling for the first time in years like a helpless child. The viper stretched out to it's full length and struck Starshine behind his unhearing ear as if to answer then turned his yellow eyes back to me and disappeared from sight. Finding my feet and voice, I sank to my knees beside my faithful friend and sobbed until I could sob no more. I wept until his silky mane was soaked with tears and I had caressed his beautiful face and flanks a thousand times. I had never felt so alone.
I didn't know how to say goodbye. I refused to say goodbye. The morning with it's azure skies and golden sun so full of promise became my heart's saddest day. I hated the tree I had climbed, the hill on which it stood, the land in which it grew. But most of all and more than anything I had ever experienced, I hated that viper! I swore vengeance on the creature and made no apology for it. Fury flowed through my veins like lava, shut down my mind and took my soul on a journey I had never made before: to the dark side of myself.
During that journey, I would learn to distrust, to fear, to question all that I had been taught. To walk alone, to love and to know a different, more terrifying kind of heartbreak. I would lose my faith and find it again in strangers and places I did not know existed. Worst of all, I would learn that I could not trust my own eyes or ears or heart. For, from that day forward, nothing would ever be as it appeared. Nothing. Not even the person that I had always imagined myself to be. Everything changed after the encounter with the snake. Light became dark, the familiar became strange, the tangible, intangible and the road I traveled on, a seemingly never ending quest to find understanding of the mysteries. But the world would never be the same. Everything changed for me at the tree.
True Strength by John Dreamer