He reached the edge of the earthen bowl just as the moon rose above the summit’s rim on the opposite side, casting shadows on the backlit valley nestled below. He quickly calculated the time and energy it would take to make the descent into the beloved village that was his childhood home. Memories of tender care, comforting food, youthful adventure, and first love, flooded his tired mind and soothed his threadbare heart. An onslaught of relief and a resurgence of will served to push him onward toward his intended destination.
He’d had no choice but to push himself almost beyond physical endurance to finish the trek after a rugged eight days of night travel on foot, meager rations, little water, and short bouts of wary sleep under haphazard, barely-there shelter.
He stood slightly stooped in his crusty clothing, leaning on the hefty wooden staff--his lone companion, his if-need-be weapon. He absorbed the calm of the sleeping half-moonlit village he held so dear. Breathing shakily, wide-stanced on the upper rim of the valley, he was unashamed that his face was salty wet.
With renewed determination, he shifted the small, filthy canvas pack evenly across his shoulders, and took the first downward steps toward finally reaching his old home. He was drawn by pleasant thoughts of finding food, warmth, and a perhaps, a soft bed.
With only a few steps taken, an overwhelming surge of dizziness took hold. He stumbled as his legs became watery, and he landed hard on one knee. The spell bent him forward, the pain clenched his eyes shut. His breath was jagged as he struggled to suck in air.
How was it he tasted acrid smoke and the unmistakably familiar, putrid stench of war’s waste and suffering?
Slightly less overcome, he used both hands gripping the staff to force his weary body to stand again. The moon was high now and fully lit the village. He blinked hard in disbelief. He bit sharply on his dry lower lip, and breathed shallow, quick breaths with mind-jarring fear. His heartbeat pulsed loudly in his ears. He pulled at his hair, and shook his shaggy head side to side in an unspoken, “No!”
Guttural sobs escaped from his barrel chest and reverberated across the valley, falling heavily to the ground like shrapnel. His mind limply struggled against the fully illuminated, fantastical landscape of a half-destroyed village assaulted by pulsating, swirling moonlight. Nakedly exposed in the burnished lunar glow were burned-out buildings, smoldering fields, and fresh graves--- exuding menace, destruction, and death he thought he’d escaped.
I was no more prepared the second time it happened. I would have gasped or screamed had time and space allowed.
Sudden awareness of immediate separation sliced sharply as my thinking self was filleted from the dense flesh of my still-sleeping body on the meager floor mat.
Released, I floated upward in the dark room and was swiftly sucked through the narrow space of the barred, open, upper window to fly out and glide skyward. Now a wispy, wraith-like essence, a barely amassed entity of self, I easily passed through, then above, the thick layer of the summer’s heated night air. I travelled over the half-dark landscape of the huddled, sleeping city. Even though bodiless, I felt a definite shudder as I spied the dark spikes of the castle watchtower pass below me.
The same Force I had encountered once before, was pulling me, guiding me, across the cloudless dome, just beneath the moon’s silver-gilded array of sparkling sky gems. Again, the growing insistent and urgent yearning toward the beckoning Source propelled me forward into the deep, craggy lines of the mountain forest beyond the dark edges of the lunar light.