The Cave of Inwardness

Here is another story, inspired by the Star+Gate cards (these cards are no longer in print). To learn more about how these stories came to be and what these cards are, you can read about that in my introduction to the first story, posted in this blog.

The stories in this series have never been made public until now, and I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Sometimes the Star+Gate cards called for only two cards to be drawn at one time. In the following story you see the two cards that I drew below:

Star+Gate Story: The Cave of Inwardness

The Cave of Inwardness

A person was walking along a mossy hillside in the early evening when she caught sight of a cave in the hill. Seeing it, she smiled at the thought of entering it. Such a cave would probably have mysterious rock formations in it, ancient collections of crystals from prehistoric times, stone columns, and it would surely be icy cold in the cave, cold with the timeless cold of caverns.

Taking out her flashlight from her backpack, she switched it on and, whistling cheerfully, she entered the cave prepared for an adventure in timelessness.

To her surprise the cave was nothing like her expectation. It was instead strangely home-like. People, a family perhaps, had decorated the walls of the cave with attractive hangings, oriental rugs and simple tapestries. On the stone floor of the cave a large oriental rug had been spread and there were some couches about, some lamps and a fire burning cozily in, of all things, a fireplace called out of the stone of the cave.

“This must be some sort of Swiss family Robinson.” she thought. “Only an unusual family would make a cave their home.”

By now she was beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable as though she were intruding upon someone. She had thought that this cave would be a wild and unexplored place, part of nature, a refuge for wild creatures. Now she saw that it was simply a family abode and this unexpectedly made her an intruder in someone else’s home.

Since she saw the truth, that the cave was inhabited by civilized beings, she decided she should leave discreetly and as soon as possible. She was just turning to go by the same route that she had entered, a bit embarrassed by her mistake, when she saw a figure emerge from another cavern.

The figure turned out to be a gracious woman dressed in a long gown that looked somewhat like an Indian Sari. She was a gentle, soft-spoken woman with eyes that looked at the person steadily and with great warmth. The woman nodded to her and said, “Please make yourself at home. We are honored that you came.”

The person, for indeed she did not identify herself as exactly being a man or a woman but simply an “American”, was taken aback by this. She had not expected this kind of family and in fact did not know at all how to relate to them. Suddenly, she felt awkward.

“I’m sorry to have barged in like this” she blurted out, “I thought it was a real cave. I didn’t know it was your – your home.”

The woman said gently, “Won’t you sit down. Perhaps you’d like some tea?”

The person was surprised. Tea drinking was not exactly her thing, but she thought she was up to it and in fact and she found herself interested.

“I’d– I’d like that.” she answered and then remembered her manners, “if it’s not too much trouble” she added.

The woman didn’t speak but noiselessly retreated into the other cavern and soon returned with a copper tray, some tiny China teacups and a plate of miniature sugar biscuits. She placed these on the hearth and gestured with a soft, graceful movement of her arm toward the person, signaling her to sit down.

The person felt awkward but she had to admit she was liking this. The only trouble was that she felt a bit too big for the cave. She felt rather “clunky” and very American, and sort of gauche.

Nevertheless her heart was in the right place and she wanted to do the right thing and so this rather awkward modern day being seated herself on a pillow near the hearth and said to the woman, “This is very kind of you”.

That was not her usual way of speaking and she thought to herself, “Good Lord! I sound British or something, I’m being so polite. I didn’t know I could be so polite.”

She reached for the tea and a tiny biscuit and began to sip the edge of the cup and munch on the biscuit, rather slowly. The woman sat down on the hearth facing her, smiled gently, and waited.

The person surprised herself by suddenly saying, “I like it here. I like it very much.”

“A little more tea?” The woman asked and quietly moved to fetch it.

“Yes, if you please. It tastes so good – and it smells so good, spicy and aromatic.”

What were these words coming from her mouth? The person did not feel like an American as she said them, yet she meant them. This was in fact what she was feeling. She was saying what she really felt which was totally unlike her. She was, she realized, speaking the truth.

“I’ve often wondered what tea would taste like,” she heard herself say. “Real tea I mean, the kind that is prepared slowly and with care – prepared and brewed and served with– with…” she fished around for the word, then it came to her, “served with love” she blurted out.

How odd to have said this to a woman she didn’t even know in a home that was a cave in the mountainside.

“Yes,” continued the person, “a tea that is prepared and served with love, one that has devotion and caring in it.”

She noticed the woman nodding slowly in recognition as she said this and so she continued. She found herself wanting to talk more.

“Your home is peaceful” she said “it’s really a place of peace. That’s very unusual. People in the United States don’t really believe in peace – I mean we don’t believe it exists.”

She felt a twinge of sadness come over her, and again she experienced that sense of awkwardness. “Yet we want it ” she said, “We need it . Do you understand what I mean?”

Then the girl, for she actually was a girl, fell silent. She had nothing more to say. And the woman who had a motherly way about her, seemed to understand.

“You can come back you know” the woman said to her. Then looking into the girl’s eyes deeply she added, almost in a whisper, “…whenever you want to.”

The girl now became aware of an odd sensation around her eyes.  At first it felt unfamiliar, then she recognized it, it was the sensation of tears welling up. Why they were there she did not know but it was somehow relieving to feel them, yes, and it was also a relief to her to feel an ancient tiredness in herself, a bone tiredness, a tiredness that had now found a place to rest – a home.

“A home?” she thought to herself. “But I’m a modern person. This is just an ancient cave. Or – or is it?”

The woman had been quietly clearing away the teacups and the plates. Now she turned toward the girl with a smile as she lifted the tray and prepared to retreat to the back cavern again. “Whenever you want…” she said once more. This time her voice was so soft it was scarcely audible.

“Whenever I want,” thought the girl, the American, to herself. “But I’m tough! Do they really want to let me in? Me? I’m hardy and a person of the twenty first century!” She answered her own question. “They do” she thought simply. “They do want me because – because – I think I belong here.”

Having never felt that she belonged anywhere, not during her entire life, this was quite a statement for her to make, but it felt real to her.

“I belong here.” she thought “I belong.” and she kept repeating this to herself, slowly, as though hypnotized by the words.

Although the woman had retreated to the other cavern she could hear her gently shifting dishes around, preparing food, doing some quiet domestic things, and this very American girl suddenly felt a profound sense of gratitude to the cave, to the path that had led her to the cave, and even to her sturdy flashlight that had illuminated the entrance.

“I can come here again,” she thought “I will be able to find my way back. Even in the dark I can find my way back.”

She knew she could because she had the thought that even in the dark a star would lead her. It was a star she had not encountered as yet, a star of inwardness and gratitude.

“A star will lead me.” she thought. “It will lead me inward into the cave. I will come back… I will come back.”

Then, as she prepared to leave, this American person found herself very gently and reverently touching the hearth with her fingertips and lightly touching the pillow and the warm soft rug on the floor and saying softly to the room and to the cave, “Thank you. You are at peace… You are peace.”

As she left, the person was careful to tread very quietly like a mouse or perhaps even more like a slender spirit easing itself out of the home, unseen.

But to return again, she reminded herself. Surely, to return.

__________________________________________________________

Pat’s Comments:

When it comes down to it, none of us are really from any specific time, whether that be the twenty first century or prehistoric times, for who we are is timeless in the real sense of that word. And none of us are Americans, or Norwegians, or South Africans or Icelanders, or whatever else we may call ourselves – we are simply one of earth’s people traversing this often bewildering planet.  I am so happy the girl in this story realized that as she found within herself her real home.  Good for her!

I’d love to hear your responses to this story. What it means to you?

4 Comments:

  1. Gil, that interpretation is beautiful. It is, in fact, the story. I had not realized it before but of course, we do sometimes dip into that timeless inner reality momentarily and we are at home with the gentle wonder of what we find within, then in a second – whoosh! we are back into rush of the world and so many “things” to do and then we are once again a twenty-first century Americac, or whatever other nationality we decide to be or whatever else we call ourselves and the cave is gone. But – somehow its taste lingers, “A cup of tea served with – love.”

    • I apologize to anyone reading this, but somehow I pressed the wrong button when answering the comment made by Gil Alan so that his original comment is not only beneath mine here. when it should have appeared first chronologically, but one of my posts had disappeared temporarily and so I wrote another one responding to his comments – then BOTH my posts were posted at once! Those things happen with the internet!

  2. That is a beautiful interpretation of this story Gil. Of course, the Indian woman in the cave is herself, a very different timeless – dating from the days of cave people and much earlier- version of herself that welcomes her “back”. I had not viewed it in this way before and I thank you for opening my eyes to this. Actually, the “Alice in Wonderland” interpretation of the story also makes a lot of sense because isn’t that what we so often do? We get those moments of “Oh – I am THERE again!. I am with what is REAL…” and then before you know it – whoosh! – you are back into the whirl of it all – so many “things” to do, and you are again a twenty-first century American – or some other nationality – or whatever you decide to call yourself. Yep, that happens…

  3. For me the story is a metaphor, as the title suggests… The Cave of Inwardness. It’s as if the girl was meeting herself on a deep level of acceptance in a somewhat strange yet recognizable and comfortable setting – HOME, or a HOME. in a manner of speaking it was a homecoming for her… an opportunity to reunite with the safety and comfort of her own inner self.

    It felt like a dream to me… as if the next seen could have been with the girl waking up from this adventure realizing she was dreaming – or perhaps she entered a wormhole of sorts and suddenly appeared in this space, and upon leaving the cave and returning to her other reality, she might never consciously remember this adventure. But she would feel the effects of it in her unconscious mind as they would now offer her a new foundation of support in a most comfortable and loving manner. 🙂

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