The Magic of Love, the Miracle of Laughter
I desperately needed to get away from the disharmony of the group, so I stepped out into the night and took a deep breath to clear my head. For the last forty-eight hours, I had felt a strong tug to climb the north face of the mountain, but had dismissed the feeling because it seemed so illogical. Now, looking up at the night sky, the insistent feeling returned more strongly. And as I turned full circle, I caught a glimpse of a flash of light high up on the craggy rock face above the tree line. A tingle went through my body. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. It wasn’t a star, it was a light burning steadily in the distance. In the next instant it was gone, but now I knew. I knew someone was up there, and I knew that my original instincts were correct.
The following morning without telling the others, I walked east along the rocky plateau and soon found what I was looking for ~ a faint path up the mountain. I climbed steadily neither looking left nor right. Above the tree line, it became much steeper. Pausing to catch my breath, I turned to look back down. I was high, high above the plateau floor. I turned to continue climbing and caught a flash of colour out of the corner of my eye. I looked up the incline. I had run right into a tiny stone cabin nestled against the side of the mountain, and standing just in front of me was an ancient with a shaved head and wispy grey beard, wearing simple but beautiful robes of maroon and saffron. He had a wide smile of welcome on his face and exuded so much warmth and compassion, it was almost tangible!
Bubbling over with exhaustion and relief, I began to tell my story, my words and questions tumbling over each other in my haste. Wordlessly, he motioned me to sit in the dappled sunlight and handed me a cup of water, and when I had drunk my fill, he settled down to listen to me. He listened intently.
At the conclusion of my story, still without saying a word, this beautiful being in maroon and saffron got up and bowed to me with palms together. Then he leaned forward and cradled my hands in the most compassionate gesture I had ever experienced. Instantly I was in a space where no worries existed, no fears and no angst. Feelings of being completely understood, of deep acceptance and of exquisite well-being, enfolded me. I felt as though I had fallen into the most incredibly beautiful bubble of love. I felt completely safe, and suddenly, life now seemed full of possibilities.
Silently he pointed down the hillside. Down and to the right of us was another tiny stone cabin nestled into the hillside and standing there laughing and waving and beckoning to me was another ancient with a round face and ample proportions, her maroon and saffron robes fluttering vigorously in the breeze. I nearly jumped out of my skin as the ancient beside me spoke for the first time. ‘By auspicious circumstance’, he said, his eyes soft and gentle, ‘you have come at a time when we are both taking a break from our retreats’.
And as if she knew my story already, the ancient at the second stone cabin linked arms with me and guided me a short way down the mountain through trees and foliage until we came to a clear, sparkling spring, leaping and tumbling gaily down the mountain in the sunlight, with a rainbow displayed in the fine mist of its exuberance.
We sat down and she began to tell me a story, in fact, a series of stories. They were deeply humorous and before I knew it, I was lost in laughter, and fascination. For at the end of each story, she bubbled over with so much laughter from deep within, a wonderful rich laughter that was so infections, I laughed as much at the stories as because of this amazing, laughing being. Totally engaged, I completely forgot everything else.
Later, on the way down the mountain, loaded with fresh spring water and food for the others that the ancients had given me, the journey was beautiful. I felt energized and alight with possibilities. I saw everything differently, as if with fresh eyes. The air was crystal clear and everything seemed sharp and exquisitely beautiful as I gazed at the forest around me and the earth beneath my feet. I noticed the delicate, vibrantly-coloured flowers in the underbrush and the way the tendrils of fresh sprouts curled gracefully over and around in a simple spiral. And everything seemed to glow gently golden.
Reaching the plateau floor, I turned to see the others running towards me, their faces full of concern. Their concern turned to astonishment when they saw the water and food I carried, and then to curiosity, for they could also see that something was very different about me. I hugged the others and consciously tried to pass on the beautiful energy of the silent ancient as best I could.
And while everyone partook of the simple meal of barley and water under our make-shift tent, I told them about the two ancients and I recounted the deeply humorous stories I had been told. For the next few hours, we were transformed. Delighted laughter filled the air. And with the laughter, everyone’s perceptions of our predicament shifted dramatically. We began to see it and each other with new eyes. Those who were injured forgot their pain and everyone forgot to be afraid ~ panic and anxieties dissolved. All that was left were feelings of well being and possibility.
We softened, became kinder and were more supportive of each other. We felt a kinship, a shared humanity, and small possibilities for helping ourselves began to enter our consciousness. While the stories were being shared and we laughed together, the twins’ father felt a new sense of purpose. Following a nudge from out of the blue, he tenderly began to give his son a gentle, deep, whole body massage.
Suddenly, the sound like a footfall on gravel interrupted our merriment. Exchanging puzzled glances, we all stepped out of the makeshift tent into the lengthening shadows of the day to behold a sight that was simply awe inspiring.
The moment was truly electrifying as we gazed at what seemed like three ascetics striding easily, purposefully towards us, approaching from out of nowhere, one from the East, one from the South and one from the West. They wore loosely fitting and softly flowing garments, a mixture of soft pastels and vibrant colours, each reflective of the region of their origin. They walked with grace, power and confidence, and next to the One from the West, trotted an elegant and dignified sighthound, whose long, flowing, silky coat glowed golden in the waning sunlight. We were riveted. The sight was impressive.
Of course, the dog immediately engaged my attention. And in the next moment, as my gaze switched to the One from the West, a word flashed unbidden into my mind ~ ‘Shuvani’. I didn’t know what it meant. I looked more closely at the others. Within the folds of clothing of the One from the South nestled a slender carving made of polished purpleheart wood. Affixed to one end with a woven sleeve of tibisiri straw, were two feathers of the sacred Eagle, one slate grey and one white. The One from the East wore a distinctively embroidered kofia on his head and carried an intricately carved staff of polished ebony. It was almost as tall as he, and the carvings at the very top were of a giraffe, a zebra and a gnu.
‘We came on the sound of your laughter ~ we are your wisdom teachers’, was their enigmatic reply in response to our questioning eyes. They wasted no time on pleasantries, and as in a dream, we heard the Elder from the South speak first.
‘This is your time of reconnection to all that you are, as individuals and as a village community of the Earth. It is a time of raising your awareness about the effect you have on each other through global connectivity ~ through the interdependence of the oceans, the atmosphere, the land and all of life. Do hold your precious interconnections gently in the palm of your hands ~ honor and respect them.
Rediscover your sense of place in the Universe. Revel in that sweet, ineffable relationship with the specific land into which you were born that is a part of who you are, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the foods. Rediscover a sense of time ~ you are the critical link between all those who have gone before you … the wisdom walkers … the truth speakers … the peace makers …the song weavers … the storytellers down through the ages, and all those who will follow in your wisdom footsteps. Stand firmly in your sense of place, let your sense of time ground you in the world, and allow your greatest gift to unfold for all the Earth to enjoy.’
Become the wisdom.
The Elder from the East spoke next, soft, fluid and melodious: ‘I will reconnect you with the power and wisdom of a body and mind in harmony. I will teach you to use the sound of the tone to bring peace to the mind and unruffled calm to the body.’
Gently slow the running mind
Breathe deeply, breathe gently and be still
And out of that stillness will emerge a new clarity and wise power,
The power of right thinking, right speech and right action.
Then in a voice like sparkling water, the Elder from the West spoke: ‘I will reconnect you with the wisdom and abundance of the Earth.’ Holding up the leaves she was decocting as the others spoke, she said gently:
‘Let the land teach you.
Just as every poisonous plant in the forest has an antidote growing nearby,
So too every challenge you encounter has a solution close at hand.’
With a deep twinkle of mirth in her eyes, she added: ‘I will also teach you how to tap the abundance of the forest to find the water, the food and the medicine you need right now to sustain you on this plateau.’
Finally the Elder from the South spoke again, in a voice reminiscent of whisper-soft, gentle breezes: ‘Born as you are of the same elemental stuff as the planets and stars of the Cosmos, the story of this magnificently beautiful, expanding Universe is your story as well. Never forget that you are the earth beneath your feet, you are water, you are the air, you are the fire of sunlight and more. I will reconnect you with the wisdom secrets of the Cosmos and yourself.’
that as surely as the precession of the Equinox,
humanity is growing steadily in wisdom, in understanding
and in expression of the highest human attributes
and the highest spiritual ideals.
She continued: ‘I will also teach you to use the dance of the heavens to navigate unerringly, so that when the time is right and everyone is ready, you will travel in the cool of twilight, resting during the heat of day, and you will easily make the six-day trek off this highland plateau to the nearest town.’
The Elders split the group into three.
The Elder from the South began her teachings in the ruins at the southwest corner with the twin sister and I. A little while later, twin brother was able to join us, for within hours of being given the decoction that the Elder from the West had prepared, the poisons, dislodged by the massage, were swept out of his body by the antidote.
With the forest as her classroom, the Elder from the West began her teachings with the three able grownups. And soon thereafter, with their newfound knowledge and her guidance, they began treating the wounds of the injured with the medicines of the Earth.
The Elder from the East gathered the three injured grownups as the perfect candidates, and began his instruction of using tones to calm the mind and body. They settled in the middle of the plateau in the sturdy balloon basket, with a shelter skillfully rigged up to protect them from the sun.
From time to time, I would catch their soft chants floating over to us on the breeze. It was powerful and moving, strange and wonderful, like no other chant I’d ever heard. Each tone would fragment into a cadence of harmonics, much like a light beam breaking up into a rainbow. And as the sound washed over me, I felt a cool buzz of harmony in my mind and body. The sighthound also seemed to ‘bliss out’ with the sound of the tones, as she lazed on her back in the shade near us in complete and total enjoyment of life.
For the next two days, the wisdom teachings continued with hardly a break. Everyone knew that an extraordinary moment had opened up for us, and even the injured struggled through their discomfort to fully engage the teachings.
The ancients came down to the plateau on the second day of the teachings. They shared their wisdom of loving compassionately and they shared the wisdom of lightening up with laughter. For two hours they spoke gently, intently, and then took their leave, going back up the mountain to continue their spiritual retreat.
And on the third day, as the first morning light crept over the plateau, the Elders fell silent, and without further ado, took their leave, setting back out in the cardinal directions from whence they had come.
We stayed there on the plateau sharing their wisdom, sharing love, sharing laughter until we were all strong enough to make the six-day hike to the nearest town. The twins and I felt pretty proud that us twelve year olds would be the ones to choose the time of departure, and that we would be the ones to navigate, to lead the others on this first part of our journey back home.
On our way off the plateau, we met bearers hiking in to replenish the ancients’ supply of food. And as I walked away, arms around the twins, I threw one last glance back over my shoulder for a final remembrance of my fantastic adventure on the high plateau ~ one last remembrance of our time with the Elders and ancients of the four directions and of the four colours.”
When the winds of life blow strongly
Take a deep breath and let go
Glide in its flows and eddies on wings of love and laughter
And stay alert!
for the wisdom solutions
that come from the fresh perspective
of a heart energized by laughter and a mind elevated by love.
Well winged, this journey always takes you to pools of calm,
and rich experiences of pure magic.
Arnaq Akili closed her mother’s journal gently and tucked the book back into her clothing for safe keeping. Soon it would be time for her and the other lost children of Northern Uganda to move again. She was so glad that she had been able to convince her mother to write her stories down exactly as she had once told them. Now, it was the only thing she had left of this great Inuit, this great storyteller. And nothing at all to remember her father, even as she sat in turmoil in his native land.
Arnaq Akili closed her eyes tightly and sent a plea out into the ether ~ she wished, oh how she wished that someone wiser than she would come to lift her and the other children out of their bleak and dangerous existence, just as the Elders had done in her mother’s story.
● This Peace Circle Story was inspired by precious moments of compassionate love and infectious bubbles of laughter shared by two new friends, Tripp and Mari Lyn, and by conversations with an old friend, Reenie.
With this Circle I fulfill my pledge to the Global Movement for Children, an organization under the patronage of Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel, to do one Peace Circle for the children of the world each year. It is dedicated to the children of the Inuit and the children of Northern Uganda.
Arnaq’s mother’s story is fictional but …
… In recent years, in an unprecedented move, teachers from wisdom traditions the world over, have stepped forward to share their sacred knowledge with the rest of the world, including Sobonfu Somé of the Dagara, Burkino Faso, father and son don Miguel Ruiz and don Jose Luis Ruiz of the Toltec, Mexico, LM of the Lakota, USA, the First Nation Elders of the Waitaha, New Zealand, and the Yogis and Yoginis of Tibet.
… Many children of Northern Uganda, known as the night commuters, daily move from place to place, fleeing abduction and the genocide of that region.
The Inuit children face two global challenges. First, their health and well being is being threatened by the presence of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the blubber of their marine mammals and in their mother’s milk, POPs that originate outside the arctic from sources thousands and thousands of miles away. Secondly, their hunting heritage and traditional way of life on the arctic ice is in danger of disappearing forever because of environmental changes to the region on a global scale.
These children of ours are awaiting creative global solutions ~ they are waiting for us grown-ups to reconnect with our wise power and provide wisdom solutions to the serious global challenges that affect them.
Many cultures are represented in this Peace Circle. Mindful of certain historical experiences endured by some of these cultures, I have offered their representations with great respect and have tried to be as accurate as possible with essentials.
‘Arnaq’ [not sure of pronunciation; it is not pronounced as spelt - the ‘r’ may be silent.] is an Inuit word meaning ‘woman’. ‘Akili’ is a Tanzanian name whose Swahili translation is ‘wisdom’ or ‘intelligence’.
In the early nineties, a mountain climber/photographer and his pilot became the first to successfully hitch a ride in the jet stream with a hot air balloon. They flew over Mt. Everest to capture a bird’s eye view of the grandeur of its snow capped peaks.
Laughter clubs have sprung up around the world recently, as people turn to laughter to release the stresses of modern living, and reap the beneficial effects that laughter has on their physiology. People gather together and just laugh and laugh and laugh.
‘Laughter is the best medicine…
…and it’s cheaper too!’
- Victor Borge, musician and humorist
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