At dawn Thursday, she started a pot of coffee and gazed absently out into the backyard. The yard was deep and - other than a large oak tree near the house – was clear of trees for about one half of an acre. Deep green grass covered the ground. A huge picnic table and trestle benches which could have sat two dozen people bordered the left side of the yard. There was a brick and cement barbecue pit. She guessed the fenced field beyond was probably cattle pasture. Woods, beginning with the oaks and maples surrounded the right edge and a pecan grove stood sentry at the bottom of the yard. It was too beautiful to stay inside. She retrieved her well-worn broomstick from her room and went quietly out the kitchen door.
Gwen stood in the center of the yard and drew a deep cleansing breath. She hadn't done the Morning Meadow ceremony in over six months. Morning Meadow was a ritual that taught spiritual lessons and physical skills. Everyone who served the light learned it. Children begin the practice as soon as they are old enough to hold a wooden dowel. Morning Meadow was a beginning. The basic steps for all the complicated steps to come. With mastery, the lessons learned in Morning Meadow were sufficient to protect yourself in simple battle.
Simple battle, she snorted at her thoughts. She thought she was done with battles. The Light had other plans for her. She cleared her mind and held the stick horizontally to the ground at shoulder height: Dawn.
She sank to her knees, keeping the staff steady: Awareness.
She lowered the stick to the ground, pressing her forehead to the cool dewy grass: Awe. She held that position while her muscles stretched and her joints popped. Curling upwards from the small of her back she stretched the staff as far as she could reach: Surrender.
She returned to the Dawn position and drew in another breath.
She dropped the rod end, allowing the tip to dip level to her waist and repeated it with the left end. She did this six times. Then the rod dipped to her hip on the right and the left six times. She dropped the staff to her knees on the sides and eventually allowed the staff to touch the grass. The Spider's Web wasn't complete until she'd walked the staff ends back up to Dawn position again. Her wrists ached from disuse.
She transitioned to Frog in the Pond, alternately swinging the staff outward from chest to side with the right hand snapping the free end into her left hand and then arching the staff with her left hand out to the side and back to snap into her right palm. She repeated Frog in the Pond a dozen times.
She brought her hands together in the center of the rod and stretched it up as far she could lift it and then bent at her waist touching her knuckles to the ground: Rainbow. Holding the staff parallel to the ground and keeping her feet flat, she began to twist it around to the back of her ankles to the left and then to the right. Rising slightly, she twirled it around behind her left calf and then her right. A little farther up with each pendulum she worked the staff up to her waist and then all the way inch by inch until she stopped twisting her torso and began twirling the staff. It had taken her two weeks to learn how to perform the Journey without falling over with dizziness. Smiling with joy, she repositioned her hands and returned to Dawn.
She began the exercises again. Dawn, Awareness, Awe, Surrender, Dawn. She added steps to Morning Meadow working her way across the yard. A box step for Spider’s Web, grapevine steps for Frog in Pond, but nothing for Journey because balance was the key to that exercise.
As she arched to the ground with the Rainbow she followed through with a somersault. She arched and rolled across the yard. Then she turned around and worked her way back to the center of the yard in box steps. Sweat was pouring down her arms, torso and legs and her mouth was fuzzy with thirst. Dawn. Awareness. Awe. Surrender. Dawn.
She laughed and lowered the staff. She smelled coffee and turned at the sound of pastor's voice, "That was beautiful, Gwen. Thanks for brewing the coffee. Didn't know what you wanted in it so I brought the works."
He stood behind her carrying a tray laden with a steaming pot, mugs, a jug of milk and a sugar bowl.
Still breathing hard, she smiled and followed him to the picnic table.
"It is so beautiful here," she sighed over the mug she had to hold in both hands due to her aching wrists.
"You're beautiful here," he replied.
"Atticus, please don't. You don't know me."
"I agree. I don't know you yet. But I do know beauty when I see it. And you are beautiful."
She put down her mug and frowned.
"Do you do that exercise every morning?"
"I stopped for a while but I plan to get back into the habit of the Morning Meadow. That's its name. It's a spiritual ceremony as well as a physical rendition. Every individual step has a name too, but they are all things from a meadow."
"Tomorrow morning, will you let me try it with you?"
She nodded. "It's not as easy as it looks. Don't get discouraged."
He snorted, "That didn't look easy at all!"
"What are your plans for today?"
"It's Thursday. I work on my sermons for Sunday and Wednesday, prepare the agenda for the Elders’ meeting, and go fishing in the afternoon."
"Is there anything I can do to help you?"
"Are you any good at cooking?"
"With the right ingredients," she replied softly. "There's only so much I can do with peanut butter."
Comes the Warrior
© Evelyn Rainey
Available for publication.