“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.”
The sun was just beginning to dip below the tall heather when the young woman staggered out of the fields in search of shelter. Tripping about in bare feet, she searched as twilight took over the landscape, but there was no sign of a settlement on the horizon. In desperation, she began to walk towards a large stone outcropping, the thin, homespun rags barely keeping the wind from kissing her skin and sending shivers down her spine.
As she grew closer to the rocks, she noticed that they weren’t what she had thought at all, but was some sort of circle of gray stones starkly standing as sentinels against the fading light, the shadows that they cast before them bathing the ground in darkness as if a great abyss yawned around it. Although every hair on her body stood on end the closer that she got, the poor woman felt drawn there by some unknown power.
At the bottom of the hill, Bonny realized that it wasn’t just the shadows that had cut deeply into the earth, but a deep trench had been dug before the henge and lined with wrapped human corpses. At the outer edge of this mass grave was another woman dressed in light gray robes, a simple belt turning the formless outfit into something more serviceable. As Bonny drew closer, she heard the other singing lightly in a lyrical voice that spoke of rain gently falling as she sprinkled water onto the mounded dirt poised to give the dead back to the earth. Her hair was dark, her skin a tan that betrayed the many days under the sun bent to her task. The wind shifted and she stopped her work, straightening and turning to look at the shivering girl before she fixed her with a smile. “You’re cold,” she said.
The young woman pulled her rags closer with a trembling hand and nodded.
“I’m Agna,” the robed woman replied as she held out her hand. “I can’t offer you much, but you could help me if you would like. The work will get your blood moving and will warm your bones.”
Hesitantly, Bonny approached and began to help, tossing the water over the grave dirt alongside Agna. When the wind would blow the droplets against her face, she noted the salty taste, like seawater or tears. Her face became sad as she touched the water tracks as they ran down her cheeks. “You’ve lost so many of your people. Was it in a war?”
Agna shook her head gently. “No, these are not my people. My people came here from afar when our home was ruined by tragedy. These bodies are those of our neighbors. Since coming here, my people have tried to help the others as much as we could. We believed that if we taught them how to work the earth they would stop their wars and begin to work together for everyone's benefit. But we failed them. Though they lived longer, they were still vulnerable to disease and pestilence. So we showed their wisest herbalism and medicine by cultivating the plants to heal and to avoid the poisonous ones. Soon, they came to covet the resources that each tribe had gathered. They turned the poisonous plants that we had warned them about to keep them safe into coating for their weapons. We taught them music in the hopes that it would bring them peace. Instead of songs of love and nature, the tribes favored songs of war, murder, and intimidation.”
With heavy footfalls, the two women marked a pathway in water to the great Stonehenge. As they came to the inner ring of blue stones that glimmered in the moonlight, an eerie light seemed to ignite from within. Bonny frowned even as she marveled at the sight. “What else could you teach them?”
“If we could not teach them how to live in peace, we could teach them how to live on peacefully in death,” the other replied as she sprinkled the salt water on the stones in front of her. Sparks flashed as the droplets hit the stones and the light shone brighter. With each column that the two circled, the light grew brighter and brighter in a blue-white incandescence that out shone the moon. As they continued to move, the energy rippled across the tall stones and lintels like water lapping at the pylons of a dock.
“How can you teach them to die in peace if they are already dead?” the ragged child asked as her friend returned the jugs of water.
“Watch and see, my dear. Watch and see as sworn and bitter rivals lift up and become brothers forevermore.” Once again, Agna lifted her voice in strange song, her body undulating in a dance that grew in fervor. With each turn, the light which gathered in the center of Stonehenge grew stronger until it was nearly blinding. As the song reached its crescendo, the child gasped as the specters of men and women began to appear at the edges of the stones as if waiting for their moment. That moment came as Agna’s voice boomed louder, the sound carrying far and wide. The shades began to drift towards the shining stone and passed between the archways, seeming to vanish before they reached the far side. Bonny took a few steps forward in disbelief, but the older woman’s hand on her shoulder stopped her from moving any further. She lifted her hand upwards and smiled. Above them, the sky was slowly filling with stars that weren’t there before. Where there had been only darkness, now a tapestry of light illuminated the two friends.
“Where once they were made of blood and war, they are remade of starlight and peace,” Agna smiled happily and took a step backwards. The fading light beckoned the war-torn child into the doorway where her tribe had preceded her, promising her peace at last and the honor of being a guiding light.
Many of us have strived to be the angel that pulls another back from their destructive path. Although the noblest of sacrifices, it is often ignored or even rebelled against. What we must understand, however, is that it is often not how we tell others to live their lives, but how we live our own that pulls them from the brink. If you would have others live in peace, it is more important to begin with yourself.