This is the first in a series about ancient wisdoms.
Wildflowers along Little Horse Creek.
A little known culture lives near Merri and me in the Blue Ridge. They are the Melungeons and their history is steeped in mystery. They are called the “Lost People ” or the “Mysterious” people of the Appalachians. There are many stories about their origins. Some say they are descended from the “Lost Colony of Roanoke” then married into the local Native American tribes. Others say they were descendants of Welsh explorer Modoc who came to North America around 1100 A.D. Another story is that the Melungeons are the lost tribe of Israel. Others say they are Portuguese.
The story below remembers the Melungeons and brings ancient wisdom to our lives now.
One day, an old one named Goen, perhaps from this ancient culture, was wandering through a meadow located near a graying Appalachian farm. His heart was troubled, his tread heavy, as his shoulders sagged with the worries of the world. His people had been on this land long before other European cultures. They had learned to live in peace with nature and with the Other Men who lived here already from before the beyond.
Wild Mint growing along Little Horse Creek.
Then more aggressive settlers had come and had quickly destroyed the Other Men and had tried to destroy the Melungeons as well. But the Melungeons were of European stock and this protected them in some ways so they survived, greatly weakened, but life still flowed through their blood and dreams and ancient tales.
This old man was a Songcatcher, one who knew the tales, tunes and legends from the far back and he trod heavily through the forest in his mind sorting the runes again and again searching for answers to these worries that discouraged him. The settlers had been attacking all that lived in these precious mountains and across the land for three hundred years. But the Blue Ridge and its life were ancient, wise and strong. The ancient settled wisdom of their nature shrugged off wave, after wave of attack and abuse on the people and the land.
Bee Balm on the creek
Yet now for the first time in three hundred years the settlers were even taking this aggression to other lands and were hailing violence upon others who had not first attacked. This was a totally new imbalance and this troubled the ancient deeply. To defend oneself was part of the order. To attack others first changed everything. The old man knew that this would bring a great negative rebound back to these lands. “How can we survive this travesty?”, the old man thought, his back bent deeper.
He slowly limped along in despair, his mind racing, looking how his people and this precious land could survive the ruin that lay ahead. Then he saw a field of glorious wildflowers, yellow faces glowing in a warm Alpine sun, leaves dancing in joyous harmony with the mountain’s breeze.
The flowers were so inviting and at peace that he suddenly felt his worries leave and a great tiredness descended over him. “I must lay down just for a moment”, he thought, “to rest this weariness.”
He immediately fell into a deep sleep and as his dreams drifted to another place, his body grew warm and quiet and so in tune with God’s oneness that even the animals and flowers could speak to him.
The wildflowers that surrounded him in such beauty, began to sing an exquisite tune with breathtaking words he could not comprehend but their beauty was so rich that he somehow knew.
“Our friend”, they sang, “we bless you for breathing to us our lives and carrying the Godseed in the tread of your boots so that This Expression of the Great Everything may be spread far and wide.”
“We, the wildflowers, have been here generations beyond remembering and spreading our beauty as God’s tune. We are God, as are you and the animals that bless us and the breeze and rain and the sun and all things. We are tough. God made us such and hardiness is our splendor in white, yellow and brown vibrations of the Infinite. We glow in numerous repetitions of condensed sun and shimmering spring breeze generation to generation through the eons.
“For centuries we have been an exquisite blanket for this valley, home for insects, food for living beings in body and thought. We are the glory in your tea and the shining in your morning and calm during your strife. We sing to you in mourning and accompany your dearly departed to the Great Beyond. We sing when you are sad and bring love from heart to another. Yet in our ruggedness we can bind soil so the waters of God’s cleansings can pour pure into the rivers and creeks and streams. We do all this by simply living as God intended, tough and hardy, able to survive blistering summers, torrents of spring floods and frozen winters, but as joy and gentleness as well.
“We simply cast our fate to the winds and God creates this memory and existence that we are, again and again. We are not our creators but just the joy of quenching our thirst in the lightest morning dew. We are the harmony so even meager soil can burst forth through our existence in glorious waves of colors and scents. We live in rapture with the moment, being bliss incarnated in a kiss of the sun, wetness of the morning dew and the caressing, evening breeze.
“Then after millenniums of this sweet existence a new cousin brought by the settlers began growing in gardens nearby. Such beautiful beings, explosions in size and color that we dare not comprehend. Living on phosphate fertilizer fed by settlers, they grow so fat and tall and burst in brilliant blossoms that so outshine our humble nature. We felt shame in the beginning. Why could we not express our Godliness in such a bold and brilliant way?
“Then we began to notice strange happenings. These brilliant cousins were not kept in God’s order, but were altered by the settlers. They were imbalanced. Their size and brilliance made them fat and unable to live from the sweet succor of the land. They demanded phosphates fed to them by the settlers or they died. Nor could they live on the gentle dews. Their thirst demanded that water be drawn from the rivers. They did not clean the rainfall, but flooded it with phosphates and poisoned our rivers instead of purified them. Unusual cold killed them and their imbalances were such that they often could not even spread their seed, so busy were they strutting their huge flowers and brilliant colors.
“These bold bursts of beauty are not as God intended” we whispered to ourselves. “They are excessive and out of Her order. This cannot last.”
“So as these cousins grew larger and moved further from their beds created by the settlers, we prayed for them and felt enormous sadness. The faster they grew, the fatter they become, the more their weaknesses unfold. If they move to our fields and lose their false masters, they will die. Nothing can violate the laws of Nature for long.
“This thought of losing such magnificent kin saddened us at first, but as God’s wisdom flowed we knew that this is Her Way, coming and going, going and coming. Advancing, being, learning and shifting back. The dance of this joyful action is God and the mournfulness of loss is just the other side of Her ever-bursting joy. So why should we be sad because we place a moment on this brilliance? Now we drunken ourselves on the beauty of our cousins but do not mourn the loss we know will come. There is no loss and we give gratitude instead for what we are and God’s never-ending love and the rapture that comes from being. When all that has come and gone, This, which we are will remain.”
Later as the afternoon sun shifted, its warming rays fell on Goen’s face, bring him slowly awake. In the drifting moment between sleep and awake, he sensed how the dread he had carried into the sleep was gone. He rose fresh like the summer grass that stroked his skin and his heart opened as he looked into the purity of blue overhead. “Thank you for answering my prayers”, he whispered “and forgive me for giving away This just because I feared it would be taken.”
He reached and plucked one flower, held it gently in his rugged, sun browned hand and whispered as gently as to a new born child, “Thank you my friend for this simplicity and wisdom”. Then he tread quietly but with light steps back into the forest to return to his loved ones, with the knowing that this too shall end.
Until next message may you have steps that be light and wildflowers in your heart.
Join us for the leaf change in the Blue Ridge.
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