Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday’s Serving – Willow in the Desert

The basement of an old Episcopalian church served as Leo and Carli’s sweat lodge, the private place they went to invite visions.  Crowded in the corners were the dry remnants of hymnals, a platoon of folding chairs, a board painted with a fundraising effort, and a vacation bible school poster.  It was rather cool for a sweat lodge, despite the growing desert heat outside and the fire Leo had lit. 

They sat in the middle of the floor with a large metal burn bowl heaped with twigs and brush flaming cheerfully between them.  It made their shadows dance on the walls.

Leo’s gaze was filled with Carli.  His wife, as tiny and perfect as a doll, looked into the fire.  The flames reflected in her bright blue eyes.  She was, as ever, his heart and soul.  He’d loved her long before he’d ever set eyes on her.

Even when arguing with her, he did so without any heat.  “My visions are full of symbolism and hard to interpret most of the time.  Yours are much more literal.”

She continued to stare morosely at the crackling fire.  “We’ve gotten nowhere with my taking the lead these last few weeks.  Come on, Leo.  At least with you in control, we’ll get something.  Even a hint of what we’re getting ourselves into is better than nothing.”

He knew when to let an issue go.  Carli did have a point with her difficulty seeing beyond the here and now these days.  “All right.  Just don’t turn into a tree, okay?”

They shared a laugh about that.  Leo and Carli had first met through visions when they were hundreds of miles apart.  Leo had a tendency to see symbols that demanded interpretation.  His visions had made Carli into a weeping willow tree, denoting her ability to bend without breaking.  Those initial telepathic meetings had tested Leo's deciphering capabilities to his limits.  It had made their communications halting, at best.  It was also the reason Carli usually took the lead when it came to vision quests.  Her precognitive talent showed things exactly as they were. 

“Let’s get started.  Time’s a-wasting,” she chided him gently.

“Maybe if we get done fast, we can give ourselves a little bon voyage send off?”  He waggled his eyebrows at her.

“Why do you think I’m trying to get you moving, big man?”

Leo grinned at her heated gaze.  Now it would take real effort to settle down.  Closing his eyes so he wasn’t looking at his beloved and taking a few cleansing breaths helped.  When he opened his eyes again, he stared into the burn bowl.  “Concentrate on the flames.  Feel yourself going into the fire, emptying your mind of everything.  We’re going to our special place, the place where our souls walk, the place where past, present, and future come together as one.”

His deep voice flowed over the room, carefully modulated to help draw Carli into a quiet state of mind.  After a few moments the flames before him blurred.  The room around them was lost in the darkness.  Show us.  Show us.  Help us see, he thought. 

The fire burnt brighter even as it faded away.  Leo blinked, and squinted against the sudden onslaught of daylight.  Carli’s gasp reached his ears, and he saw her on her feet, turning around in surprise.  They stood in the middle of Freetown's stretch of Main Street, surrounded by boarded-up storefronts.

“Okay.  Well this is something at least,” she said, her brows pinched together.  "It's farther than we've gotten under my influence."

“Not Gander’s Gulch though.  I’m losing my touch.”  Leo scowled. 

Carli looked over his shoulder towards the west, and her eyes widened.  “I don’t think so.  Look at that.”

Leo turned and gaped.  A monstrous wall of whipping sand churned down the street, barreling towards them.  Its hiss was as if a million snakes had been set loose on the town.

“Trouble from the west,” he called to Carli as the hissing sound grew louder.  “Maybe it’s already on its way from Gander’s Gulch.”

They backed away from the coming storm, a purely instinctive reaction given there was no way they’d outrun the churning sand.  Leo had never been harmed by a vision before, but this one made him more than a little nervous.

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