TE AWA TINO TAPU: -THE STILL, SACRED LAKE
Once upon a time in a land without time and space a woman sat looking at the still, sacred lake: Te Awa Tino Tapu.
Ah… to gaze upon the still, silver mirror of the sacred lake to see a reflection of who I am. The one watching outside..the one watching inside.
Ah…. to feel the listening lake taking my breath from the very air; from the very soulful breeze now stirring. Ripples reaching out to me. “ Come , come into the cold depths of the half light, the owl light, the twilight. See what you can see here now. You are only just beginning to know the waters wide…Oh you think you cannot cross oer? Then dive into my depths, seek now in this world. Let the water lilies of truth and compassion float upon the surface… dive deeper now to see their roots nourished in the depths of your being. Feel into this underworld. Taste the fertile silt. Go beyond the surface pollutions into the deep fecund where my water feeds the the very earth. This is why the trees bow down to the Lady of the Lake…Viviane your namesake.
Ah …yet yonder hills still call me; “ Come to me, come to me. Return to Te Pahu and the Spring to come. Hear the patu patu ,( beat of the heart the drum of life), in the temenos of Eden again. You left us too quickly, away from the Hawk hung skies and blooded poppy garden. Return, return … our long grasses a pairakete , ( blanket), for your saddening soul.
The End Of Suffering.
Long ago and far away in a place beyond time and space, a woman sat on a bench overlooking the most beautiful garden temenos. Beyond; the stream and weeping willows dusted green with early Spring buds, the Te Pahu valley.
The sun was lowering early in the afternoon into a patch of cerulean sky between the dancing clouds. The sacred mountains on the horizon, a deep secure Prussian blue. Cows munched and mumbled contentedly in the pasture beyond the fence beside her. Steam and rich grassy odours arose from the cow pats and a warm soft , milky, smell from their shining coats stroked the air.
Red poppies bobbed their heads,in delight with the gentle spring breeze, peeping out from their glistening blackened eyes. The shining buttercups, their colour mimicking the sun, whispered the childhood game, “ Do you like butter?”
A pair of hawks swooped and glided in a mating dance above her heavy head:
The Great Dharma Door is Open!
The Great Dharma Door is Open!
She heard them not!
She saw them not!
No senses did she use to breathe in the delights of this Eden.
The small sparrows and white eye finches fluttered over the snowy heads of the Queen Anne’s lace, their songs tasting of honey dew and strawberries. She did not taste the delights of this garden. Nor did she reach to stroke the velvet silver leaves of the lamb’s lugs, or the clacking, rosined, odour of smooth harakeke leaves.
All the delights, all the calling, unable to penetrate the deep, deep fog of melancholy. She was dispirited, depressed and her heart squeezed heavily beneath the weight of her suffering.
“ What ails thee? What ails thee?” asked the busy, patent leather ants as they marched in a long line over her feet.
“ There is a makutu upon me. I was born with it I think and I cannot overcome. Atua does not answer my call. In suffering I am crippled; deaf, dumb and blind. I want to die”, she cried.
The ants, like little Zen monks then replied; “ Die then. Die then. Die to the suffering!”
The great sun was low in the sky now. “ I’ll go down with it”, she said. I will die to this day? Shall I?”
She bowed her head and noticed the raindrops, from the afternoon shower, bright electric blue glass beads hanging on the green, green grass.
Ahhh! One rush of surprised breath and the makutu was broken. Slowly moving her head up and down she watched the drops kaleidoscope through each jeweled droplet; red, orange, yellow, green.blue, purple indigo. A miracle of prism light in her human eyes. She laughed softly and cried a little.
As the great sun went down she awakened to this Heaven on Earth , in her very own Paradise, she was as if a child again.
The Great Dharma Door is Always Open.
Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Pocket Knife
It was a wonderful, magical pocket knife, a present from Nana. In it lay all the magic of a treasure from Tom Sawyer’s pocket. The handle shone brightly, silver, set with blue-green paua colour and, oh, it held such marvelous blades!
Nana had shown the excited child how the attachment for digging stones out of horses’ hooves worked. The cutting blade was very strong and frighteningly sharp. There was corkscrew, a bottle opener, an attachment for opening cans; but best of all, tucked up and folded away, was the nattiest pair of scissors the boy had ever seen.
He often caressed his beautiful pocket knife, feeling its cool, metal smoothness: and taking it frequently from his pocket, he would inspect the blades.
Sitting quietly in the springy, Ngunguru maram grass, he would one by one extract each blade and attachment marveling at their magic, saving always the scissors for last. He felt the pleasure rising in his chest each time the scissors appeared noticing how miraculously they could open and close. Then tucking them gently back into their mottled kingfisher wing case, with great satisfaction, he’d return the knife to his pocket, patting it to see it was safe, and wander off about his boys’ business down on the beach front.
He was an unusual boy with an air of calmness about him. He was a small boy perpetually afraid of, yet excited, about his world. He appeared alone, even with others, and would often gaze about his eyebrows curved in a manner of surprise and his eyes constantly questioning.
It was early afternoon on a very hot summer’s day. The boy hurried toward the wooden bridge which crossed a small inlet stream in the beach village of Ngunguru. His heart pounded with anticipation for the day of the fishing challenge had arrived and he was sure to beat his brother this time. In his right hand he clutched the handle of his green plastic bucket containing the brown and orange cockles he had collected that morning at the early low tide.
In his left hand he held his line carefully wound in the figure of eight fashioned with the hook safely tucked away. The lead sinker was swinging against his grubby knee, in rhythm with his steps, altering only when he paused to wipe the drops of sweat from his face with his forearm. In his pocket nestled the precious pocket knife which would help him cut the bait and kill the sprats when he caught them.
He felt every inch a fisherman because of the pocket knife. He remembered how he had taken it from his pocket the night before, as he was undressing, and placed it tenderly on the table beside his bed. He had stroked it, felt its special power, and made a wish. He’d known then that he was going to catch more fish than anyone else the next day. Nevertheless he had slept with his fingers crossed as an extra precaution.
Now he smiled softly at his secret and began to jog toward the wooden walk bridge. Once there he halted suddenly and seriously surveyed the scene for the best possy.
His parents and brothers had chosen the bridge but he looked for a more exciting place and found it. On the bank upstream of the bridge a pohutukawa tree hung out over the water. It was the tree the boy chose and he clambered out onto it taking care not to spill the cockles from his bucket.
He lay his body stomach down on the wide bough and gazed into the water flowing softly past moving into the darkness under the bridge. The tree cast flickering, cool shadows over the water refreshing the boy as he looked into the stream noticing the silver flashing of many sprats darting below.
“Wow there is a big one!” He thought and, suddenly anxious, scrambled up onto his knees. From his pocket he took his knife, kissed it for luck, and hit a cockle with it smashing the shell. He picked away the fleshy bits revealing the fleshy shellfish and causing the salty, odorous juices to run over the edge of the bottom shell onto the bark of the tree. He hurriedly threaded the cockle onto his hook and lowered the line into the stream.
He placed his pocket knife beside him and once more lowered himself into the prone position keeping very still.
How the sprats darted around the bait, nibbling at it and then speeding away with little tidbits of cockle in their mouths.
He waited for the big one and it wasn’t long before it lazily swam up to the bait surveying it in the manner of a more experienced fish. Still the little ones flashed in and out as the big one hovered there. The boy’s usually wide eyes squinted seeking out the mouth of the big fish.
“Come on, come on,” he murmured and with a little flick of his finger, suddenly the fish was on his line.
All the little fish disappeared and the boy sprang up with a triumphant shout, flipping the sprat out of the water and in doing so knocking his magical pocket knife into the water with a sickening plonk.
“No! No! It can’t be!” he thought and looked wildly around the tree bough just in case he was mistaken. The sprat and the line flopped; forgotten.
“Oh please, please let it be here”, he prayed and looked once again into the water.
This time there was no pleasure in the boy, only a sick, hopeless pain in his stomach and throat. His eyes burned with tears and he now silently cursed the flashing silver of the sprats that raised his hopes; and then dashed them.
How he searched and prayed and wished it were yesterday. Every day for three days he visited the site and daily cried from the agony of the failure of his search.
Sadly, at last he knew that his pocket knife was gone forever from his sight and touch. He imagined it lying in the sandy mud staying perfect always and never admitting in his fantasy the reality of the rusting he knew the salt water would cause.