"What you seek is seeking you." --Rumi
It can be difficult to know what we are seeking and recognize what is seeking us; but it is essential to prevent any obstacles from keeping us from what will finally bring us back to our true selves.
For Angelica Mee, Payne Porter, Eviann Adams, Helena Sawolynska, Rachel Taylor, and Bo Strickler, the answer to this question requires them to journey into their daily lives and meet the challenges that have blocked them from seeing who they truly are. With the aid of ancient and contemporary guides, prophetic dreams, and synchronistic events, they struggle to reunite with a fundamental part of self--the child of wonder and delight, a long-forgotten principle that can bring them back to their essential selves.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Lorraine Lum Calbow holds a master's degree in counseling education, but her real training came from hours of listening to family and friends. Her love of people's stories, metaphors, and parables led her to reconnect with her own inner child of wonder and delight. She has published three nonfiction books--This Little Light of Mine, Seeking the Light Within, and Smarly's Adventures--and co-authored The Art of Fine Whining or How Lori Lew Wrote Her Own Fortune Cookie with Neil Weiner, PhD. The Community of Lightbearers: Seven Stories of Reclaiming Wonder and Delight is her first novel and she resides in Tempe, AZ.
Read an Excerpt
The Community of Lightbearers
Seven Stories of Reclaiming Wonder and Delight
By Lorraine Lum Calbow
Turning Stone PressCopyright © 2015 Lorraine Lum Calbow
All rights reserved.
Ming Mee: Itchy Feet
The Taoist monk, Li Wu, lives The Way. He listens to the message when he sees the taiji symbol — yin and yang, heaven and earth. He knows it is T'ai Yuan, the Buddhist saint, elevated to Goddess of Infinity. He gathers the seeds of a few ancient Dawn Redwood trees. He stops at Dr. Chi Yu's house, a doctor of herbal medicine, who provides a sapling gingko tree. Dr. Yu tells the Taoist monk the ginkgo leaves have repairing powers, and the unusual shape of the gingko leaves will attract the attention of the green warrior. The monk thanks the doctor and proceeds to Yunnan City.
Nestled in the woods near the Dengfend Mountains in the Henan Province, a Shaolin priest, Ma Fun, resides in a monastery with a fifteen-hundred-year-old tradition of studying Chan Buddhism. Ma Fun, well-versed in Wushu and medicine, is invigorating himself with slow movement meditation when the Goddess T'ai Yuan appears to him. She is gazing upon a young boy wearing a garland of colorful leaves that resemble orange duck feet or yellow butterflies or green fans depending of the color of the ginkgo leaves. The boy is cradled in a grove of willow and cassia trees beside a lake. Ma Fun recognizes this ritual site. It is the Xishuangban'na region of the Yunnan Province. Then the priest hears, "Go find him."
His vision spreads among the network of Shaolin priests. An American studying at the monastery offers his Buick. Ma Fun arranges care for the female orphan under his guardianship. When Ma Fun arrives in Yunnan City in the Yunnan Province, possible candidates have been identified. He learns there is a Taoist monk, Li Wu, carrying a sapling gingko tree looking for the boy, too. Remembering his vision, Ma Fun laughs, What an excellent idea!
Ma Fun interviews several boys, but they fall short. When he arrives at the home of the boy next on the list, he spots a monk carrying the tiny sapling gingko tree. He wastes no time to introduce himself and explains his mission. The monk and priest hear a child way before they see him. The boy is bargaining. "I promise ... my brother...." Soon, rising above the wall on the willow tree branch is a young boy with a kind face. His eyes light up when he notices the leaves of the gingko tree. His smile reveals his dimples. He points and asks, "What is that?"
"Hello," respond the two men.
"This is a gingko tree," answers the monk Li Wu. "How old you are?"
"I'm six. In my whole life I've never seen duck feet leaves," shouts the boy.
"Would you like to touch it?" asks Li Wu.
The boy nods yes.
"What is your name?" asks the priest Ma Fun.
"Ming Mee," answers the boy.
"Ming, we have come a long way to find you. May we come in?" asks the Shaolin priest Ma Fun.
"I'll ask." The door finally opens and the boy and his father are behind it. The priest and monk explain their mission. The father invites them into the courtyard where the priest Ma Fun spots a familiar structure. The father takes a moment to express gratitude for the efforts made by the Taoist monks and the Shaolin priests to keep the ancient Dawn Redwood trees alive.
The boy's father informs the two men that his son is sensitive to nature. The boy has an affinity toward growing things. The priest Ma Fun and the monk Li Wu are hopeful they have located the right boy, but they still need to confirm it. "Do we have your permission to test the boy?" asks the monk Li Wu.
The father nods in the affirmative.
"Is that a shrine to T'ai Yuan?" inquires the priest Ma Fun.
The boy's father replies, "For many years, our family has relied on the saint T'ai Yuan for guidance. She is the balance of heaven and earth, of female and male, and of right and wrong."
The priest smiles, "It is fitting then that we test the boy by the shrine." The father nods in agreement. Soon the rest of the Mee family arrives: the mother, the grandparents, and the youngest son. They gather around the shrine and the ginkgo tree. The father whispers to Ming, "Do as they ask."
"Wait!" cries the mother. "Our eldest son needs to be here, too." The father returns carrying a frail boy of ten, and he places his son in a bamboo chair near the shrine. Meanwhile, Ming can't contain his fascination with the gingko leaves and inches toward the sapling tree. The monk Li Wu tells Ming, "Go ahead and touch the gingko tree." Ming's small hand reaches out and strokes the leaves, releasing an infectious laugh that fills the courtyard with joy. "What did the tree tell you?" asks the monk Li Wu.
"The tree helps," says the boy. The monk Li Wu gives a smile.
The monk Li Wu pulls out two tiny seeds and presents them to the boy. Ming reaches for the seeds, but the priest Ma Fun stops him. "Ming, T'ai Yuan helps the ancient trees. She is the one who calls the green warriors to assist. Do you understand?"
"Ming," says his father. "Taking the seeds may mean you'll have to leave your family, so answer with care, my son."
"I want the seeds. I don't want to go away," cries the boy. In the end, Ming's curiosity wins out. The strong energy from the seeds draws the boy toward it. He touches the seeds, which explode into massive energy, merging with the medicinal properties of the gingko tree and surrounding Ming and his older brother. The green energy radiates outward, embracing the entire courtyard. Ming sees the energy of the gingko leaves swirling around his older brother. When the green energy subsides, the family screams with delight, as the oldest son is standing firmly on his own two feet.
Tears of joy run down the mother's face as she embraces her son. The father and grandfather beam with relief. The older boy affectionately taps Ming's head and whispers, "I heard your bargain. Thank you."
The Taoist monk and the Shaolin priest know the bittersweet moment to come, so they keep their hearts open. The mother asks, "How long before Ming leaves?" The two agree it would be in a week's time. The priest Ma Fun already has a child under his care. The monk Li Wu speaks of a doctor and his wife, who are childless, and convinces Ming Mee's parents that being an apprentice to the doctor would be excellent training for a green warrior. Since the doctor and his wife live nearby, Li Wu could easily augment the boy's training.
The priest Ma Fun shares his vision and the initiation for the boy. He knows where the ritual is to take place. He offers to take them there and then to the doctor's home. The Taoist monk Li Wu accepts the offer and expresses his appreciation.
Grandfather surprises his grandson with a gift of a travel bag. "Ming, the Mee family is a family with a long tradition of itchy feet." Grandfather Mee laughs. "We must explore. It's in our blood. I think you are the first green warrior in our family. You will add new secrets to the family." Grandfather Mee touches Ming's heart. "Keep open and magic will happen." He touches Ming's third eye. "Keep open and wonder will appear." Grandfather Mee sighs. "I was free as a bird until your grandmother caught me in her net."
"How did Popo catch you?"
"Popo," laughs Grandfather, "your clever grandmother scratched my feet."
"How come Ba-ba stays in one place?" asks Ming. "Your father takes after Popo's side, while you take after me."
Ming looks inside the soft carpet-material bag and asks his grandfather, "Gung-gung, perhaps I need another pair of shoes."
"You're right. Why didn't I think of that? No matter ... this travel bag is for joyful adventures that come from an open heart and mind. Did you know I heard that where you are going there is five-hundred-year-old hermit who lives in the sacred mountains? Wouldn't it be fun to meet him?"
"Gung-gung, if I meet him, I'll get his secrets for a long life and give them to you."
"I'm going to share a secret from my travel bag: A cheerful heart lifts you up and sad heart weighs you down."
"Gung-gung, I'll miss you. I'll miss your stories." Ming sinks into sadness.
"I'll miss you too." With a glint of glee in his eyes, Grandfather Mee says, "But when I think of the stories in your travel bag, I'll be happy. I'll wonder what new things Itchy Feet can be learning today."
Ming's sadness is replaced with excitement when Grandfather Mee magically pulls out another pair of shoes. Ming is in awe and can't figure out how Grandfather did it, but he places the shoes in the bag, for tomorrow a new life begins.
Traveling to the ceremonial site, Ma Fun tells Ming a story. "Dragons are magical and powerful water creatures. When dragons roamed the earth, they kept watch over the water to help stop floods. Each season they made sure the skies opened and poured down so that the trees and plants could live. They lived in underground crystal palaces by the lakes, rivers, and oceans. They carried shiny pearls in their mouths to light their caves. Would you like to visit a special dragon place?"
"Please! Won't Gung-gung be surprised," says Ming.
Ma Fun lets out a jovial laugh and says, "To the Summer Palace of the Mongolian Emperor we go."
At the palace grounds, Ma Fun finds the path and asks the monk Li Wu for the gingko plant for Ming to carry. The path is smooth with weathered granite rocks and a multitude of ferns growing on the ground and on one side of the hill. On the other side are openings between the large rocks. As they travel down the path, they near an opening to a lake, and the air is laden with a sweet and spicy scent. The path opens to a breathtaking view of cassia's grayish bark against the cascading strands of yellow blossom among elongated leaves. The pink blossoms of the cassia trees, willow trees, and mulberry tree give a storybook appearance.
Ma Fun and Li Wu nudge Ming toward the trees. As Ming steps forward, mist envelops him and the trees. The ginkgo leaves form a garland around Ming's head. A limb of a willow tree and a limb of a lone mulberry tree bend together to make a chair for the boy. He sits down, holding tight to the sapling tree. A silkworm from the mulberry tree inches onto the garland of gingko leaves. Slowly the silkworm crawls down the side of Ming's face and proceeds to his arm. "Hold out your arm so I can see you," says the worm.
"Hello, I'm Rainbow White. Did you bring that gingko plant for me?" says the worm with a sweet feminine voice, which puts the boy at ease.
"I'm Ming Mee. The plant isn't mine, but I'm sure the Taoist monk Li Wu wouldn't mind giving it to you. You live in a beautiful place."
"The gingko tree will go well in front of my crystal palace. My palace is a wonderful place to hear stories."
"I love stories! Gung-gung and Ba-ba are wonderful storytellers." Thoughts of grandfather, father, and family make Ming sad.
"Look at where you are! Beauty and joy live in the moment and sadness lives in the past," says the worm.
Ming laughs and sadness disappears. "Gung-gung says to be cheerful." A question comes to the boy's mind. He scrunches his eyebrows and asks, "How can a rainbow be white?"
"White is in all colors. I'm a great storyteller too. I think today we should fly across the lake while I tell you a story. Are you ready?"
Ming says, "Yes."
The silkworm vigorously tosses a huge iridescent ball and Ming high into the air, transforms into a dragon, swallows the ball, and scoops Ming onto the soft cushion where the ball had wedged between the fifth and sixth ridges of her back. The dragon asks, "Ming, did you know that the Creator Pangu married T'ai Yuan, the holy woman?"
Ming, who is captivated by the dragon's stag horns, the camel-shaped head, and the snake-like neck, and charmed by the fish scales that shimmer in the sunlight with the colors of the rainbow, doesn't answer.
"Ming, are you awake?"
"I know T'ai Yuan. She protects and guides my family."
"And T'ai Yuan and I are good friends. She is the one who wants me to tell you the story Journey to the West. It is a very long story about the Monkey King, Tripitaka who is a monk, and Pigsy, a character who eats too much."
Ming giggles, "I love Monkey King. He steals a magic weapon from the Great Yu, controller of floods. The god can't find the weapon because Monkey King learns how to make it so small that it can't be found. The Monkey King goes to the underworld and changes how long he will live. He goes to the heaven and eats the Immortal peaches that take 6,000 years to ripen. He drinks the Laozi elixir of immortality."
"Yes, children do love the naughty Monkey King, but the Monkey King had to pay for his misdeeds, and he had to accompany Tripitaka from China to India to get the sacred Buddhist scrolls."
"Gung-gung told me to fill my travel bag with adventures and stories."
The dragon dips gently across the lake, but still towers over the trees. "Yes! So my children, will you go on a great journey, too?" asks the dragon.
Ming looks around to see who else the dragon is talking to when he spots a girl with a garland of ginkgo leaves around her head sitting between the seventh and eighth ridges. "Who are you?" he asks. She smiles, turns into a beautiful bird with a head of a golden pheasant, a body of a mandarin duck, a tail of a peacock, a mouth of a parrot, and wings of a swallow with feathers of black, white, red, blue, and yellow, and flies away.
The dragon lands softly on the ground, expels the ball, and changes back into a silkworm lying on Ming's shoulders. "Ming, I want to thank you for the gingko plant and for becoming a green warrior. It's time for me to return to my crystal palace."
"Wait! Aren't you going to tell me how that girl turned into a flying creature or how you can change from a silkworm to a dragon?"
"Ask the holy men who brought you here. Remember, adventures and stories are best enjoyed with an open mind and happy heart." The silkworm disappears and the mist lifts.
Ming runs toward his two companions. Ma Fun plays with the boy by appearing and disappearing among the trees and rocks. Then the boy asks, "What are you doing?"
"This is the move that Monkey King made when he met the Buddhist monk, Tripitaka. Perhaps you would like to play Journey to the West?" says Ma Fun to his two companions.
"I'm not playing Pigsy," says Li Wu. "He eats and drinks too much! I'll be the Tripitaka going to India and you two will have to fight it out for who will be the Monkey King and who will be Pigsy."
Ming shouts to Ma Fun, "Wait! Who is the girl? How does a silkworm change into a dragon?"
"Did you meet a dragon? They are good luck," answers Ma Fun.
"Yes, but who is the girl?"
"What did she look like?" asks Ma Fun. Ming describes her and the bird she became. Ma Fun ponders a moment. "What's the dragon's name?"
"Rainbow White," answers Ming.
"Oh ... one evening I took a little girl to say goodbye to her parents when Rainbow White appeared to comfort her. She wrote a poem. Should I recite it?" Ming nods yes and Ma Fun does.
Keep me safe day and night
For my family is gone from sight
Be my sun and moonlight, dear Rainbow White."
Ming listens, and before he knows it, he is crying. The two holy men watch the grief moving through the boy's body, and they surround him with love and compassion.
When the tears subside, Ming says, "Tell her it is a beautiful poem."
"The girl's name is Yao Wei Lee, and she is waiting for me. I'm her guardian," says Ma Fun.
Li Wu tells Ming that the flying creature is a phoenix that represents the empress, while the dragon represents the emperor. When Ming shares that Rainbow White took the gingko plant, Li Wu laughs. "Dr. Chi Yu will be so delighted!"
The trio arrives at Dr. Chi Yu's house, and they are invited to dinner and to stay the night. The Shaolin priest Ma Fun expresses his gratitude and explains he must get an early start in the morning. While Mrs. Yu prepares dinner, Dr. Yu takes the three to his lab.
Upon entering the lab, Ming immediately spots gingko plants. The two holy men are surprised that the doctor wastes no time. He begins the boy's training by asking him to touch each plant. Ming reaches for the first plant and feels energy pulsating through his body. Each plant feels different. On the last plant, Ming lifts and shakes his left foot.
"What did each plant say to you?" asks the doctor.
Excerpted from The Community of Lightbearers by Lorraine Lum Calbow. Copyright © 2015 Lorraine Lum Calbow. Excerpted by permission of Turning Stone Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1: Ming Mee: Itchy Feet,
Chapter 2: Angelica Isatis Mee: A Donkey and a Thief,
Chapter 3: Payne Ow Porter: Truth of Indigestion,
Chapter 4: Eviann Adams: Secret of the Pink Light,
Chapter 5: Helena Sawolynska: Race of the Charioteer,
Chapter 6: Ashlar Rachel Taylor: Making ART,
Chapter 7: Bo A Strickler: What's in a Name?,
Chapter 8: The Gathering,