(I like it read to me)
Ascentia continued. "Estella, if you are to save Harry then you need to learn what weapon is being used to destroy him. My people have a word for it. Contempt."
"The City People believe that they have a mission to conquer other lands. When they conquer a land, they believe they own the ground and everything that lives on it. When they see a forest, they harvest every tree until they are gone."
"When the City People came from over the water they were welcomed by my people as guests. What my people did not know was that these people from far away saw the land we live on as a resource to supply them with building materials to create cities here, just like the ones they left behind. They did not want to be our neighbors. They wanted to own all the land. They did not want to become our friends; they wanted to become our masters. When we refused to be their servants they tried to destroy us."
Ascential chuckled. "They had the audacity to ask us to sell the land on which our lodges rested. Can you imagine one flea trying to purchase from another the back of the bear they both sit on?" Ascentia smiled and shook her head.
"City People are like unhappy children. Unfortunately, they have powerful guns that kill. It is hard to reason with infants like that."
"Estella, this illness of the mind can only be removed by understanding how it grows. It starts to seed when an individual thinks they are separate from the web of life. From the earth."
"They feel a mysterious longing because of that loss. They attempt to satisfy their emptiness with things that do not satisfy. They harvest the wood from the trees and trade it in for the bright yellow metal. They call it gold. They believe that the ones who collect the most gold are the strongest among them. However, this is the opposite of what is true. Their world is upside down."
"In my village, our strongest are the ones who can offer the most service to the tribe. We know that our strengths are gifts from the earth. Each person has a gift to share."
"This is easy for us to understand."
"When we are little we discover that we like learning some things more than other things. So we practice doing what we enjoy — every day. We are encouraged to practice those skills. Eventually, our skills give us power."
"From where did that desire to learn a special thing come? It was there when we were born. It was waiting for us to discover in the way a present is wrapped in beautiful leaves asking us to unwrap it. Some discover they are leaders, some healers, while others are hunters, and yet, others are protectors. We each have a unique gift. Where did our strength originate? The people of the trees know. The earth, our Mother, put it there."
"When we become fully grown, we share our gifts with our friends. It is in that moment of sharing that our community sees us as valuable to the tribe. We teach the younger ones our skills as they will pass on their skills, generation after generation. Strength grows only through sharing."
"Everything in nature is ruled by this principle. It is called the law of giving. Because of this natural law, there are no masters. There are only those who serve others. Our leaders are those who serve others the most."
"However, there is a danger. If an individual doesn't understand that they are a part of the earth and that everything we touch is a part of her, then we run the risk of becoming like ghosts lost in the forest. We learn as children that the forest has a thousand eyes and ears. There are no secrets there. So if one hunts for food, but forgets to thank the deer and the fish who gave their lives, then the earth will stop offering herself as nourishment through those beautiful creatures. If when we bring home food from our day of hunting, and we know that someone is hungry, we share what we have. If we ignore the one who is unable to hunt, then the entire tribe will ignore us the next time we need assistance. Eventually, if someone continued to act so foolish, the tribe would treat them like a ghost with no home."
"This how the City People lost their connection to the earth. They forgot to say thank you to the earth. They forgot that the earth had given them everything. The forgot the law of giving."
"But there is hope. This sickness has a cure."
"Most City People can feel the purifying power of nature when they step into a sacred grove of trees. The beautiful light falls through the branches and filters into their eyes. It fills their hearts with a sense of gladness to be alive. It is a beauty so intense that they feel a deep peace. They feel like they have come home."
An owl called out in the trees overhead, whooo, whooo, whooo. They both listened. Another owl along the dark ridgeline replied with echoing whooos. Ascentia looked at the moon slowly falling behind those dark trees. She realized that she needed to show Estella what the next step of her journey would be before the tip of crescent light disappeared behind the tree line.
"They don't know how to return to this paradise. They visit the forest, and then they go back to their towns," she continued. "When they return to their town they forget how easy it was to feel peace when with the trees. Soon their thoughts are filled with worries and they long for that peace once more. But how can they live in both worlds, they ask themselves. They need to be guided by those who know the way.”
Ascentia paused. “And that is why you are here, Estella. To help the City People remember where they came from and how to return. When you do that, their desire to conquer other people will be replaced with a feeling of wonder and respect for all life forms. Including Harry.”
Stella shook her head. “Ascentia. What you ask is too much. How can I do that? I am just a cat!”
Ascentia continued. “Maybe you are more than just a cat. The previous leader of these people was one who had a longing in his heart. When he met me, he discovered what my Forest People still know. At first, he thought he was feeling love for me. He was, as I also was for him. However, I knew the source of his feelings were for something he has always longed to have. I explained to him that his yearning for what is beautiful and healthy in me is his longing for the forest. In the forest, everything is beautiful and in balance. That yearning he would only find filled in walks through the forest.
We talked much and in those discussions I discovered that long ago his people had ancestors who were Forest People. Those Forest People were just like mine. And just like mine, a terrible enemy came from a city in the south and destroyed them. The Forest People who survived were made into slaves. Still, the memory of his ancestor's secrets was kept safe deep inside his memories."
"I took him on many hikes through the woods. Each time I guided him a little farther away from his city home and closer to the forest spirits. I explained to him that the forest spirits live in everything. They see us in the same way people see us when we step into a circle of strangers standing around a fire to warm themselves. At first, they are just faces, but as we spend more time around that fire, they tell us a little more about themselves. First, we learn their names, and then we find out what each one likes and dislikes. Soon they become familiar friends. Each time I brought him a little farther into the forest and each time he felt happier. As I taught him the names of trees, and rivers, hills and valleys, he began to see that the forest spirits recognized him each time he walked with me.
"Eventually, I brought him here, to this sacred pool. It was in this place that he felt like he had finally come home. His longing had been filled with friendship with everything alive. It was then that he told me that he wanted to protect the forest and the people who lived in it.
I felt as though my father was there that day. Standing next to me. My father could now rest. And that is when the man I loved asked me to have a child with him. His longing for beauty was replaced with a feeling of continuous joy."
Stella could see the yearning in Ascentia’s eyes, hear it in her voice. Why did Ascentia leave him? Stella was asking herself.
As though Ascentia heard Estella's thoughts, she responded. “I stayed with this strong and kind man as a way to support his love for the forest. I was able to influence his decisions to stop the war and create peace with my people. We had a child. A boy.”
“But when my man died, his brother took control of the people who lived in that town. His brother was not kind. He convinced the town to once more go to war with my people. Again my people abandoned their villages to go even deeper into the forest. I wanted to join them, but I still had work to do. I had promised my father to find a way to stop the war."
"So I came here to the sacred spring. My people call this place the Land Between Worlds. My time with the City People is complete. I can never go back. However, Stella, my son still lives there. After his father died, since he was a child I brought him here to live in the forest. I taught him to see the natural world as his home. When he became a man, I sent him back to live with the City People. He comes here to spend the time to replenish his spirit once each cycle of the moon."
"Recently his cruel uncle died, and the mantle of leadership has fallen to my son. Many miss the peace that existed between the City and the Forest People. Many people live in that town with strong kind hearts. Those people want my son to lead."
“However, there are many there who filled with greed like his uncle. They would sway him to their hateful desires. They are the ones who have marked Harry for harvest. Those people have hired woodsman to cut Harry down. Which is why you are here, Stella.”
“You can be a powerful influence on my son in the same way I was to his father. Harry’s life or death rests in your decision to cross over and become a human, like me, or to remain a cat.”
“My son needs you, Stella. And he can help you save Harry.”
Ascentia looked back at the moon. “The changing dark moon is now falling behind those trees and will soon be gone for another cycle." She looked to Estella. "You should decide now.”