Young Girl

The morning sun danced with the leaves of two trees marking the entrance to the village. The young girl, astride her pony, rode into the forest with her mother’s medicine pouch tied to her waist.  She felt honored that her Mother had given her the task of collecting juniper leaves that grew in the distant hills. She stared early for it was a full day’s journey.

By the time the shadows grew long in the meadows she was done. She was pleased with herself  as she returned home that evening.  As she drew near her village she  anticipated the sweet smell of the cooking fires. Instead the smell was acrid and strong. When she came to the two trees  she saw that her village had been burned to the ground!

Frantically she searched for her mother and father, but when she found them – they were both dead. She could not find her brother. She looked for her uncle, her friends, but no one was left.

The next morning a neighboring tribe found her and took her to their village to live.  She was a good and obedient girl but she seldom spoke and no one saw her smile.

Each year at the same time she disappeared for a few days. Only the medicine women seemed to take much notice. One year after the young girl had disappeared again, the medicine woman decided that it was time. She went to where she knew the young girl would be.

The medicine woman found the young girl spent with weeping and sitting between the two trees that  used to mark the entrance to her old village and were now all that was left.  Softly the medicine woman approached. The young girl looked up. “It’s time to leave this place behind,” the medicine woman said.

“But how can I?” the girl protested. “I must never forget them.”

“I have something for you,” the medicine women replied, putting a smooth gray stone into the girls hand. “This”, she told the girl, “is for your father.” Holding the stone, the girl felt her father’s quiet presence and heard his voice. Then she felt a resolution and he was gone.

Next, the medicine woman gave the girl a piece of soft leather “This,” the woman said “is for your mother.” As the girl held the leather, she felt her mother’s gentle caring. It was as though there was an exchange and then her mother too was gone.

“This,” said the medicine woman, “is for your brother.” She handed the girl a feather. It was as light as her brothers laughter and for a moment the girl felt as though she and her brother were running about the village playing. Then something changed and her brother was gone.

The young girl now understood. She put the stone, the piece of leather and the feather carefully into her mother’s medicine pouch which she kept safely tied at her waist. Then, leading her pony she followed the medicine woman away from the two trees and into the woods without looking back.

If you look carefully you will see the young girl is talking. Her face is animated, she is asking questions and she is smiling.

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