The Rock, the River and the Mountain

Prayer Flags at Thorang La Pass, Nepal. Image from Budget Your Trip

Prayer Flags at Thorang La Pass, Nepal. Image from Budget Your Trip

“…your memory is a warm stone hidden in my hand I’m always turning over…”
~ John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
~ T.S. Eliot

 

My friend Sally travelled to Nepal last year. Before she left, she asked if she could bring me anything back.

“Just bring me back a stone off the ground,” I asked.

And she did.

It’s not just any old rock. It bears the impression of an ammonite, with perhaps a piece of this once beautiful animal still clinging to the silky blackness of this stone which feels so soft and comfortable in my palm.

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The metaphysical properties of the ammonite are all about healing and spiritual growth, helping you travel down or expand out upon that spiral path of soul growth to understand the essence of who you are. It is considered an important ancestor stone for linking you to past lives, and those souls who have gone before you in your family lineage.

As a healing stone ammonites help you to recover from major trauma or illness, systematically reducing problems and strengthening stamina, energy, vitality and flow. They are also said to increase prosperity and abundance.

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But none of that is important. What mattered was how this stone made me feel.

As soon as I held it, it was as if I had been wrapped in a blanket of comfort.

I set it aside while Sally and I drank tea and ate fruit cake on the veranda. But when she left I picked it up again. Immediately I felt a weariness. My head nodded, my eyes would barely stay open. Although it was late afternoon and not yet dark, I decided to lie down on my bed before dinner and listen to the sound of soft rain falling on the roof and the leaves outside my window.

It took little time for me to fall into the deepest sleep, and I did not wake until fourteen hours later, finding myself still clutching the stone.

As I slept a wonderful journey unfolded in front of me. I was asleep in a painted wooden barge, nestled on a pile of silken pillows and elaborately patterned rugs. My hair lay in waves upon the pillows, and my hands were crossed over my chest. I looked so peaceful. I felt so peaceful. The boat was being slowly carried by a current down a wide, muddy river. Snow capped mountains surrounded us, and strange towns I have never visited, there were prayer flags fluttering in the breeze, funeral pyres alight along the shore. I know this because I was above myself looking down.

The Lady of Shallot by John Atkinson Grimshaw

The Lady of Shallot by John Atkinson Grimshaw

“Dis not your river,” said a voice beside me. I turned my head slightly. Auntie!

“No worries. Stone show you its river. Only one it knows. But all dese rivers go same place. Same-same journey. Feel nice, hey?”

I was overjoyed to see her, and to have her soft, warm hand in mine. I began to cry and my tears dripped down from my cheeks and nose into the river below, leaving little iridescent sparks in the water.

“Dat you, dead one time,” she continued. “Just memory now, but still you. You dat lady inna boat. Rock show you. Your old-time grandmothers, dey remember too. All dem sleeping in same place.” Auntie began to giggle. “Nice warm feet,” she said, nudging my arm. “Not me. I got no good shoes for dat place.”

I looked down at myself in the barge again. From under the ends of my cloak peeped two fur-lined boots.

“Am I going to die?” I asked her. I wasn’t concerned. Just curious.

We were flying away now, and the river became smaller and smaller as we left it behind.

“Nah, your life already hard!”

That made both of us laugh.

“Just dat part of you not needed now. Dat die and go away. You be sad, dreams all dyin’, friends all goin’, but after that okay again. No more friend like dat. Dey no good. But you got plenny true sistas. True fellas. You not be too lonely.”

I knew it was right. And it did make me sad. All those cherished dreams letting go. All those parts of my old life.

Auntie made a clicking sound with her tongue. “Not dis life for dem tings to happen. You can’t be dis ting in your head you thought you could be, and be dat ting too. Only be dat ting now. Also, time for other Grandmothers come together with you. Big job ahead. Tell dat story now, girl. Good times coming.”

We kept flying North. The earth curved beneath us. The air grew chill.

“Make dat husband take you shopping. Need a big warm coat. Need proper shoes. He not enough keep you warm.” She gave me a cheeky grin.

I felt a tug, and looked back. Way back behind us, in Australia, I saw a light. It glowed red, but dim. There was hardly any spark. I was engulfed by sadness.

“Dat your soul-sista,” Auntie said. “Sista-cousin to you an’ your true sista. Dat girl hanging in there. She get through somehow. Her job not done yet neither.”

I nodded. That was good news for our friend, who is desperately ill with, I am sure, a similar condition to me.

Ahead green fields and a fairy mound came into view.

“Am I dreaming this?” I asked.

Auntie howled with laughter. “I spirit woman,” she said. “How else I gonna see you? Ain’t no car take me. No walk to your house. No, sista. We got dis place here in da night sky. Dat our meeting place now.”

Waterholes by Alison Munti Riley

Waterholes by Alison Munti Riley

13 thoughts on “The Rock, the River and the Mountain

  1. Thank you, thank you for sharing your powerful dream with us. And the images you chose to go along with your story are just so beautiful and perfect.

  2. You know, I’m pretty much speechless when I read your stories. When I’m reading them, I am there, right there! In that moment, they are everything and I am blissfully immersed in the magic you weave. Replying anything here in response is unimportant, even futile, except this ever so strong pull to say “Thank you Nicole xo”

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this Nicole, I have my piece of ammonite sitting beside me as I read this. Much love to you xxx

  4. Awwwwwwwww!!!! Perfect, Nic. Perfect. And guess what’s ‘weird’? Just the other night I brought the ammonite up from my altar and onto my desk (so I wouldn’t forget to bring it to you this time!) and while it was there I had an uncalled-for memory of that famous painting of the Lady of the Shallot by John Waterhouse … a print of it used to hang in the old hippified farmhouse of our best friends/next door neighbours when my sister and I were kids … and I jotted down the bones of a story-idea in the middle of doing my statistics homework – first creative writing idea in aaaages. Magic is everywhere … isn’t it? xoxoxooooo

    • Sal!!! That made me grin like a loon. How spooky that the rock connected us both to that image! The Lady of Shallot was the closest thing I could think of to me floating down the river. I love this magic business. 🙂 xoxo

  5. Smilin’ from ear to ear…heart lifted SO high…and yes girlie….write those stories down…let’s have a ‘Tea Party’ book launch! LOVE U…to infinity & beyond!

  6. Beautiful. Thank you.

    The winter on my half of the globe has been long and intense and still not quite over. If the Old Man Winter’s pendulum swings on over to your side with the same intensity, then I definitely agree with Auntie, treat yourself with a nice warm coat. You deserve it and will definitely need it. Thank you again for your many blessings and having the courage to share. 🙂

  7. Amazing Nicole. Keep these stories coming. I am so sure they are healing and they are your gift to share with us.

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