Friday, May 28, 2010

The Wanderings - The Wild Hermit, Part 1

The river roared on their left and the forest grew dense on their right and soon they found themselves in a vast wilderness. On the second day they came to a tributary and it also being too swift to ford and the path, narrower still, turning with it, they turned right and away from the river. Presently, they entered a deep defile where the stream fell in a great cascade and all about them grew immense ferns from which rose also great dogwoods awash in bloom. “All the world has beauty in its own way, but here is a beauty beyond all others!” exclaimed Tzu-yu.

“Ho! How nice of you to say so!” said a voice from amidst the ferns. “I’m sure the glen appreciates it!”

Jumping in fright, and discerning a head rising from the ferns, King Ching Chi exclaimed, “By the gods, Sir, you gave us a fright! And what are you doing hiding in the ferns!?”

“Hiding?” replied the head, wild as the vale in which it spoke. “Hiding? There is no need for hiding, as surely you must know. Being. I was being with my friends the ferns. Down here beneath their fronds. Watching them grow. Listening to their fiddles unfurl. Smelling the earth. Absorbing their presence.” And carefully stepping out from the ferns, he stood before them, a man of wildest aspect. Neither hair white as snow nor beard nor ear-hair tufts had seen a razor or scissors for years beyond count. Ancient he seemed, though eternally young. For clothes he wore rags and his belt was a vine. Yet both he and they were remarkably clean. “Ah,” said he, “the river and stream have brought me three sages, that is clear. And welcome you are, though it’s best left unsaid.”

“And you, Sir, are clearly a sage and hermit of the wood,” replied Chen Jen, “and honored we are to have been led to your vale.”

“Come then, my fellows, to my humble home,” said the wild sage, “if it so pleases you.”

And so they followed him further up the path and away from the roar of the falls to a home more forest than house, yet sturdy and snug and cunningly made. Taking strong ersatz tea, they sat about on a thick moss carpet and absorbed the moment and surroundings; or were the surroundings absorbing them?

This post is part of a series. To view the index, go here.

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