I am stumbling. I can hardly walk any more. That nagging voice telling me I took a wrong path was right. I realize it was my intuition calling me back to myself, but I had to press on, forcing myself. I cannot give this up now!
But it is too late. I think I have poisoned myself. I am feverish. It is dark, the sun setting in the west. My skin is burning, and I am covered with blister and boils. My sight is unclear and my mind unhinged. I stumble again. I cannot keep this up, and look for a place to lay down and rest for a while.
There, in the distance, a mound! And a spark of light! I see an opening in the mound and the light of a torch is beckoning me. I press on, and with my last reserves I make it inside where I finally collapse. I try to crawl on, but it is of no use. I am dying, my flesh is old and rotten, stinking of decay.
I can’t… I must… I will… I… I…
I just can’t…
I give up and prepare to sink into oblivion.
From the corner of my eyes I see a short but strong and sturdy man coming towards me, and feel myself being lifted up in strong arms. I smell coal, steel and leather, and I feel safe. I’m being carried to a white hot forge, and gently and lovingly being placed in the heat on the coals. I feel no pain, I am far beyond pain now.
My clothes begin to burn. The purging begins. My old self is being pealed away. The rotten flesh and illusions are being sacrificed. It burns and burns and burns until nothing is left but shining white bone. Only the pure can stay here, only the real, only essence. All else being vaporised by this transformative fire.
I lose consciousness for a moment and find myself in a vision. I have lost everything that I thought I was, and yet I still am. What is this being that I am? I look for myself and find nothing but the illuminating flame of my being. It is sight, it is touch, it is hearing. Yet who, what, where? There is no centre! I am nothing, yet I am everywhere.
The sound of hammering on an anvil draws me out of the vision. The essence of what I am is being pounded back into my bones. Then a new body is being build from that undying essence. I see the face of the Smith absorbed in focus with his work, his art. For a moment he looks at me and smiles, and then continues with his work. I lose consciousness again.
Later I wake up on a simple bed and I find myself in new linen clothes. I see nothing of the stuff I brought with me on my journey, yet my staff is resting there against the wall.
A bit unsure I sit up and walk, a little wobbly, to pick up my staff. My staff, my trusted friend! I turn towards the only door in this room where light of a new day is shining through the cracks. I open it and step into the new dawn. I feel fresh, new, and a bit dazed.
Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? I don’t know. I lost my map. My flesh still feels sore, so new as it is. But a new day is here, and something has happened I cannot yet fully comprehend. We just have to walk and see. I do know one thing. I am alive, and glad to be! Even though a little confused I feel radiant with joy.
I find words etched in flame within my mind, already fading, but leaving behind some of their resonance:
“I begin anew”
And so it is.