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SkyGirl

The Silver Archer: The Battle Moves North

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WEEK 3

mission: regenerate

 

I woke up this morning with the sun streaming in my window, for the first time in I-don't-even-know-how-many days, and I kid you not, the first thought that went through my head was "Oh - I guess this is it, isn't it? Today's the first day - I'm the Silver Archer now!"

 

Finals week was brutal this semester. Between Wednesday and Friday, I only slept about 8 hours, including naps. I wrote 22 pages in about 36 hours; I had to take one of my take-home finals in a pub - it was a nightmare. I've heard of being so tired that you hallucinate ... I wasn't quite there, but I had to have been close, because everything felt terribly surreal and strange and scary.

 

But, that's over now, and it's the first day of my first week as the Silver Archer. And I am so excited.

 

4e6cb918c0e9312c5c2f1a99a77d5afa.jpg 

 

***

 

The actual meaning of the allegorical next phase of my training is that I am no longer working as a writer under the guidance of my editor, and I'll now be working full-time as a research assistant and student once more. As Sky will be soon required to go out on her own, recruit, lead parties, and take greater control over the mission to return to her mother's land (and then to come back to the Forest as a Protector), so I am about to start designing and leading my own research studies. The time for being nurtured and gently taught by my editor are over, too - my new major professor is kind, but she is not lenient and she has no intention of parenting me. I'm going to have to work hard and earn my pay.

 

Regarding my NF persona and challenges, now that I have time to think about it again, I want to start intentionally walking long distances again, as well as take my weightlifting and rowing to the next level. I started a Pinterest board today to help me keep track of the exercises and tips I pick up, and I'll be putting inspiration there, too (slogans, photos of people with good shoulders, cute workout clothes, etc.). I'm hoping to get to the gym more, hopefully 3 times a week during the summer, and need to SMART-ify my goals so I have something I'm shooting for ("have good shoulders" isn't enough; "overhead press two 30-pound dumbbells by the end of the summer" is better).

 

Summer is also a good time to tackle the elephant in the room, my eating. I still eat way more prepared dinners, white rice, and sugary snacks than I should, and it's time to get that under control so I can have good habits established before things get crazy again in the fall. As always, I'm not sure yet what I will start working on first, but I'm going to take it slow and solid, so the new habits stick.

 

***

 

And the last part of the Silver Archer's training is to learn how to get even better with her word-healing powers. I don't have any specific goals for this yet, but I want to find ways to keep blessing people with writing, even if that's only learning not to get frustrated when friends message me at all hours of the day and night to ask me to help them talk through their problems. Sometimes, when a friend or two are going through a bad stretch and need to talk to me every day, I start to get frustrated and bitter against them; and that is a spirit I do not want. I want to have a loving servant's heart, like Jesus, Who is never too busy to listen when I call Him.

 

I'm also terribly excited because my editor and his wife are going to come up on a weekend in a couple of weeks to spend a day with me - we're going to go back to the old bookstore together, then we're going to lunch at a restaurant of my choosing. My editor is anxious to stay good friends even though I won't be working with him anymore, and he says his wife is as excited to meet me as I am to meet her; so I'm very honored and excited to get to keep ministering to him and his family with friendship. The reason this fits in with my goals is because he has mentioned before being favorably impressed with the way I live out my faith, so I pray for God to continue to fill me with His Spirit so I can shine a light of hope and truth to him and everyone around me. That, really, is at the heart of what being the Silver Archer (aka the Arrow-Healer) is all about.

 

***

 

And it is now 3AM and I have work tomorrow, so off to bed - I can't kickstart this challenge if I'm falling asleep at my desk!! :) 

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6 hours ago, SkyGirl said:

And the last part of the Silver Archer's training is to learn how to get even better with her word-healing powers. I don't have any specific goals for this yet, but I want to find ways to keep blessing people with writing, even if that's only learning not to get frustrated when friends message me at all hours of the day and night to ask me to help them talk through their problems. Sometimes, when a friend or two are going through a bad stretch and need to talk to me every day, I start to get frustrated and bitter against them; and that is a spirit I do not want. I want to have a loving servant's heart, like Jesus, Who is never too busy to listen when I call Him.

Even Jesus went off on his own every now and then. Jesus didn't heal absolutely everyone. There is a balance to helping others and helping yourself. If you don't take care of yourself you will have nothing with which to take care of others. It's entirely possible your frustration comes not from a sinful or bad place, but rather from burnout and frustration. Ask yourself, do these friends give to you the way you give to them, or do they take and take? Caregivers like you and me can attract unhealthy people who will leach all our strength and energy from us without even thinking to be grateful. They are so entitled they think we owe them everything and that doing so is only the bare minimum of what they are owed. Remember what you posted last challenge or early this one and I replied that you need to learn to say no. I'm going to give you an assigned reading:

https://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-When-Take-Control-Your/dp/0310247454/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494251254&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=boundearies+cloud+and+townsend

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2 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Ask yourself, do these friends give to you the way you give to them, or do they take and take?

 

That's the thing, I don't know because I so rarely ask. I'm more of a "crawl off into the corner and lick my wounds in silence" kind of person - I only need to talk it out with someone if I'm in serious distress, and even then I'm much more likely to post something online than to talk with a person I know. I definitely have friends who are genuinely there for me and love me for who I am; I have some who mostly stick with me because I'm a skilled talk therapist, but they do return in kind when I rarely need them to; and then there are a small handful who really don't know me at all and only care that I help them solve their problems. To me, the proportion of those friends seems very small, but my loved ones tell me it's much higher than I think it is.

 

I opened the "Look Inside" feature for the "Boundaries" book you recommended and started reading the first chapter, and I was absolutely horrified - turn the fictitious character Sherrie into a single grad student, and you've just described me. That is my life. I mean, you can also throw in the time-sucking variable of much too much time goofing off on the Internet, but besides that, her story resonated with me sickeningly well - I stop writing papers to counsel lonely friends; I neglect my work in the office because people want to talk - all of it. I will definitely buy or borrow that book and read it. Thank you, Tank.

 

I'd really like to know, though - how did you learn to set boundaries? Is it something you still struggle with, and if so, how do you win that struggle?

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6 hours ago, SkyGirl said:

I'd really like to know, though - how did you learn to set boundaries? Is it something you still struggle with, and if so, how do you win that struggle?

I've actually come at the problem from the other direction, my boundaries are normally high, except with my ex wife while we were married (it was a toxic relationship). After getting out of that as a reaction my boundaries were even higher, to the point it was affecting my job. I've had to learn to be vulnerable and lower the walls to an appropriate level. Please buy the book and read it. You need to take care of yourself now, or you will make yourself sick. If you have the opportunity to get counseling, I think you need it. I did. You don't really believe yet that you are valuable, and that it's okay to take care of yourself.

If I had to guess I'd say there's some trauma in your past that led you to believe, consciously or unconsciously, that you are unworthy. The desire to care for others comes from a good place, the lack of boundaries comes from pain. You might be refusing to set healthy boundaries in the belief that if you care for enough people you'll be come "good" and "worthy." The truth is counter-intuitive. You'll best be able to care for people if you first understand that you are good and worthy.

You'll be a much better listener and caregiver if you include yourself in the list of people you care for. If I make take up the silver bow once more:

You are a child of the king. You are loved and redeemed. You are worthy. You must learn to care for yourself as you care for others. There is a difference between sequence and priority. We are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That implies you love yourself. You will learn to put yourself first in sequence so you may put others first in priority. 

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On 5/8/2017 at 3:13 AM, SkyGirl said:

But, that's over now, and it's the first day of my first week as the Silver Archer. And I am so excited.

 

4e6cb918c0e9312c5c2f1a99a77d5afa.jpg 

 

***

 

 

 

This picture is incredible!  A great idea for your changed role!  Also, that website appears to made for Ms. Moros - thanks for letting us know about it!

 

 

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On 5/8/2017 at 0:14 PM, SkyGirl said:

 

That's the thing, I don't know because I so rarely ask. I'm more of a "crawl off into the corner and lick my wounds in silence" kind of person - I only need to talk it out with someone if I'm in serious distress, and even then I'm much more likely to post something online than to talk with a person I know. I definitely have friends who are genuinely there for me and love me for who I am; I have some who mostly stick with me because I'm a skilled talk therapist, but they do return in kind when I rarely need them to; and then there are a small handful who really don't know me at all and only care that I help them solve their problems. To me, the proportion of those friends seems very small, but my loved ones tell me it's much higher than I think it is.

 

 

Before I say anything else, I should say that Ms. Moros is a licensed counselor, and I am the science geek.  So, a lot of this may be just wrong.  I suspect Tank has the right approach. Please feel free to take what you want below, and ignore the rest:

 

Spoiler

So, at least for Ms. Moros, she has told me that it's part of her ethical guidelines to make sure her own basic self-care is being handled.  Otherwise, she could be impaired, and be really bad for her clients.  In her internship, her worst day ever is when she was really sick, went in for clients anyway, and (in her mind) did a really poor job.  I know you are heading for a research position at the moment, but I think the basic principle applies. 

 

Also, it's possible that you might not be aware of when things are bad for you, until they are really bad.  This is often true for me.  It might help to speak to a counselor, or a priest, or any other Wise Person for some perspective on whether you are getting the emotional and spiritual support you need.  I would suspect that your good friends would be happy to be helpful to you, if you need more help.

 

Again, please feel free to ignore whatever doesn't work for you.

 

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Thank you both, @Tanktimus the Encourager and @Moros ... I am looking forward to reading the book and hopefully getting some things straightened out. I did run into a friend yesterday in the hall and asked how she was, and she said "I'm really tired ... how are you?"; and when I responded with "Why are you tired?", she stopped me and turned to face me and said "No, I asked how are you? Don't do that." So people do notice; but that also means I'll have some accountability as I try to implement some changes, whatever those turn out to be. I will update my progress here, too, as I read and learn.

 

-------

 

Went to the gym yesterday for the first time in over a week, and my goodness, am I sore today!! I walked for about 8-10 minutes, did 10 minutes on the rowing machine (including a 1- or 2-minute sprint, which was new), and then used this worksheet to try some new dumbbell exercises. I rediscovered the fact that, while my biceps are getting noticeably larger and stronger, I have absolutely zero strength in my deltoids or pectorals. Zero. I tried front and side raises and reverse flys with 5-pound dumbbells, and barely made it through 10 reps before I was gasping and in pain. Soooo, time to switch to maintenance for the biceps and work on those shoulder/chest/upper back muscles. It will hurt and it will not be fun, but I want to be strong all through my upper body and core - nobody lifts things in daily life with just their biceps. :) 

 

I also did some squats while waiting for my friend to purchase her pass and join me, and I was delighted to find that, after working hard on the rowing machine, bodyweight squats are much, much easier! I also did 20 squats while holding a 15-pound weight, and that was harder, but I neeeever would have been able to get through 20 of those a few months ago. I am making progress!!

 

--------

 

Today I have to kick it into gear on my research work - summer is coming up fast and I'm going to be split between two projects this summer. I also need to prepare for my research methods class to start next week ... and part of that will be trying to get back on a normal sleep schedule. On vacations, I tend to revert to a schedule of falling asleep at 3AM and waking up at 11AM; and that is really not useful for anything adult whatever.

 

Aaaand I'm overdue for some more narrative!! :) 

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Catching up on all the awesome. Super cool that your editor and his wife are coming to visit you, and to  keep up the friendship. As usual, Tank is wise.  The Boundaries book is very good.  I think one thing that helps is to set priorities for yourself. If you know you have a paper due, and you need sleep, then that takes higher priority over a friend wanting to talk. You can always tell the friend that you don't really have time right now, but you do want to help, and maybe you can schedule a time when you can talk with the friend. You don't need to drop everything you are doing and help the friend that moment. God has given you tasks to do, and yes we do need to be encouraging to others, but you also need to be responsible in other responsibilities. 

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"Sky."

 

I started and reflexively scrubbed my wrist across my eyes, thinking it was Mistral; but to my surprise, the Bearded Ranger was lowering himself to the ground next to the campfire, reaching out to warm his red hands. The wind still carried more of the winter chill than was normal for this late in the spring, and out here on the hilly plains, there were no trees to break its strong rushing force. He was wrapped in several layers of capes and sleeves and mitts, but his hands were still red and chapped.

 

"It's you," I stammered, trying to rub my wet wrist against the underside of my cloak so he wouldn't notice. "How did you get here? There are no trees for you to hide behind out here."

 

For the first time, I could see a slight smile underneath his hood. "Oh, I have ways," he replied simply. Then he lifted his head and startled me by meeting my eyes - I couldn't recall ever seeing his eyes before. I couldn't tell what color they were, but they had kind wrinkles at the sides. "Don't hide your tears from me, Sky. I'm not afraid of them. Why are you crying?"

 

I pinched my lips shut and turned away. There was a tiny green seedling poking up out of the ground, I noticed, and I pulled and slipped it out of the dirt to hold it up and examine its tiny roots. It was some kind of wildflower. Gently, I poked a small hole in the dirt with my pinky and tucked it back into the dirt. Grow, little one. Grow up and be beautiful.

 

"Sky." His voice was more severe. "How long has it been since you slept?"

 

"I'm sleeping," I mumbled, stroking the tiny leaves. "That's not it."

 

"Tell me about your goodbye with Ayre."

 

I sighed heavily and squeezed my eyes shut. Of course he would know what was wrong ... I shouldn't have expected otherwise. It had only been six days since I said goodbye to my teacher and friend, but the cold, quiet loneliness was already beginning to bite at the edges of my heart.

 

At the beginning of our last day together, Rosewyn and Amethyst had given me a beautiful new set of clothing, sewn and decorated during the nights when I had slept or the days when I had been out scouting - "You'll be out in the open now, so you need new colors," Rosewyn had explained with her gray eyes twinkling. The dress and tunic were a soft pale green, like the slowly blooming hillsides, and the soft, heavy cloak was a cool brown, like a young rabbit's coat. Each of them had embraced me tightly, all of us trying to choke back our tears. "We'll meet again," Amethyst promised, reaching out to take my elbow and press her scarred arm against my own. "We'll meet again soon. Remember to stay strong and take care of yourself until I see you again."

 

Dr. Whiteaxe had taken my hands in his knobby, hard ones and smiled at me under his shaggy white eyebrows. "It was a pleasure to travel with you, Lady Elvenword," he said warmly. "I look forward to the day you return." Suree had simply flashed a dimpled smile and curtsied awkwardly before taking Dr. Whiteaxe's arm and striking out to the west.

 

Ayre had hung back as I said these goodbyes, and I began to fear that he would be aloof, as he had been all week. But as the others began to move off, he finally ambled over to face me, his eyes suspiciously moist but his face crinkled in a warm grin. I resisted the urge to embrace him and just stood facing him, hoping my tumbling emotions were shining in my eyes as they were in his.

 

"I'm glad you're not going far," he said huskily, and absentmindedly reached out to straighten the ties on my cloak. "I'd worry about you if you were headed to the south or someplace. At least you're only a compass point away."

 

I giggled and choked a little, and had to swallow hard. "So am I," I agreed, and then we both looked away and fell silent. For a long moment, I felt the words I needed to say boiling in my chest - could I say them without shedding tears? But if I didn't say them, would I regret it? "Ayre," I blurted, "thank you."

 

He looked at me quickly and took a breath as if to speak, but I cut him off. "No, please, Ayre, I mean it - thank you for everything. Thank you for helping me, for caring for me, for teaching me. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you -" I reached out for his hand and he caught mine "- thank you for loving me. Thank you and Aki for loving me. I - I'll never forget it. And I love you both so much."

 

He looked very old, somehow, as he closed his eyes and tears rolled down through the dents and pits in his weathered, craggy face. Without speaking, he reached to his side and took a small blue-green book from his side pouch, and placed it into my hands. "I've been saving this for you," he said softly, still hiding his eyes. "My father gave it to me when he gave me the Bow. It's a book of wise sayings for Keepers, and instructions on using the Bow correctly. Most of it you already know, but there might be a few things in there that can help you as you become the Silver Archer. And at the very least, it will be company for you - a way to remember me along your journey."

 

He closed my hands over the book, as he had wrapped them around the Bow so many months ago. When I looked up, he spoke quietly but firmly through his tears. "You will see me again. I promise, Sky, you will see me again, and not far into the future. I will come and see you every time my path passes near yours, and so will Aki. This is only the beginning of our work together - I will never be a Protector, nor even a Silver Archer, but I will always, always be your teacher - and your friend."

 

I took the book and pressed it close to my heart, and I looked up at him, and we shared a long smile. He reached down and brushed my face gently with the back of his hand. Then he ducked his head, pulled up his hood, and struck out with long strides, out of the forest and to the west. I watched him until he became a long shadow, a ghostly figure on the horizon. Then I slowly turned to go find Mistral.

 

My days as a Keeper had ended.

 

"Sky." The Bearded Ranger gently broke into my thoughts, and I shook myself and returned to the present, blushing to realize that a few tears had begun dripping down my face again. I automatically started to brush them away, but the Bearded Ranger reached out and gently caught my wrist.

 

I stared at his gloved hand, then looked up at his face. His eyebrows were lowered over his inscrutable eyes, his lips pursed in hesitation. When he spoke, a shock struck cold through my scarred arm.

 

"Sky, you cannot find what you seek in Ayre. His love for you is pure and righteous and strong. He loves you as his student, his dear friend, almost as his daughter. But even the deepest love that he and Aki can give you will never fill that space in your heart that aches so badly."

 

He reached out and gently placed his hand over my heart, and it felt as though a vast cavern deep inside were suddenly illuminated with a warm light. But this time his Bow's powers did not only bring comfort - they brought truth. That cavernous space was full of cobwebs, collapsing columns and broken tools. It felt as though I had been digging there recently. But something was missing. The Dark Elf's chill whistled through that space, only halted by the spreading warmth of the Bearded Ranger's words.

 

"You know what will fill that ache in your heart, Sky. It's time you learned how to do it. Your strength as the Silver Archer depends on it."

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Wrapping up another less-than-optimal week ... mostly food; I ate a lot of sugary, carby things this week (ice cream, sherbet, bagels, lemonade, cookies). I also didn't move around as much as I wanted to. I did, however, get to the gym twice and worked very hard - the soreness from Tuesday's workout didn't start to dissipate until Friday, and even when I went today, I still felt some twinges and creaks. Today I rowed for 11 minutes at 36 strokes per minute (just over 2000m, not awesome, but okay) and then weights:

 

Spoiler

 

Chest Presses

20 reps x 2(10 lbs) = 400 lbs

 

Overhead Presses

10 reps x 2(10 lbs) = 200 lbs

10 reps x 2(7.5 lbs) = 150 lbs

 

Front Raises

20 x 2(5 lbs) = 200 lbs

 

Side Raises

10 x 2(5 lbs) = 100 lbs

 

Hammer Curls

10 x 2(10 lbs) = 200 lbs

 

Total: 1,250 lbs

 

 

My total pounds are going to be down for a while as I focus on my deltoid and pectoral muscles - even with tiny 5-pound weights, those front and side raises are a nightmare, so it's going to take me a while to catch up with my other muscles. My goal is to be able to do 20 front raises with 7.5-pound weights by the end of July. My "reach goal" is to make it to 10-pound weights, but we'll see if that happens.

 

Actually, the start of summer would be a good time for me to review and revise my larger-than-one-month goals - I'm coming up on one year of membership in NF, and my needs have changed a lot since I joined. I'm done losing weight for now, but I want to stay as close to this weight as I reasonably can while still building muscle. I'm very happy with the strength I've built in my quads and biceps, but I want to strengthen my shoulders, core, and glutes. I still keep thinking of my university's archery club and hoping their schedule will mesh with mine this year - that is my Holy Grail of Rangerness, finally picking up a bow and arrow and learning how to use it. And I'm starting to give up on ever loving or getting comfortable running, but I'd like to find another cardio activity to add to rowing, to make sure I'm boosting my overall fitness and cardio-respiratory health as well as getting stronger. So the next couple of weeks - Week Four and Week Zero - would be a great time to unpack those goals and set some incremental subgoals for the next few months. 

 

*takes a moment to look at new, confident self with real biceps and calf muscles and fancy weightlifting terminology*

 

*shakes head in wonderment*

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10 hours ago, SkyGirl said:

*takes a moment to look at new, confident self with real biceps and calf muscles and fancy weightlifting terminology*

 *notices Rhovaniel standing to one side, applauding her friend's progress* :)

 

10 hours ago, SkyGirl said:

That is my Holy Grail of Rangerness, finally picking up a bow and arrow and learning how to use it.

Ooh, I hope you get to do this! I'd love to learn archery :D 

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23 hours ago, SkyGirl said:

I'm done losing weight for now, but I want to stay as close to this weight as I reasonably can while still building muscle.

I recommend instead focusing on keeping the same waistline, rather than the same weight. If you build muscle the scale is gonna go up, and that's a good thing.

 

23 hours ago, SkyGirl said:

 I'm starting to give up on ever loving or getting comfortable running, but I'd like to find another cardio activity to add to rowing, to make sure I'm boosting my overall fitness and cardio-respiratory health as well as getting stronger.

Walking is underrated. It takes longer than running, but it's better for your joints. 

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On 5/13/2017 at 3:24 AM, SkyGirl said:

He reached out and gently placed his hand over my heart, and it felt as though a vast cavern deep inside were suddenly illuminated with a warm light. But this time his Bow's powers did not only bring comfort - they brought truth. That cavernous space was full of cobwebs, collapsing columns and broken tools. It felt as though I had been digging there recently. But something was missing. The Dark Elf's chill whistled through that space, only halted by the spreading warmth of the Bearded Ranger's words.

 

"You know what will fill that ache in your heart, Sky. It's time you learned how to do it. Your strength as the Silver Archer depends on it."

 

This whole excerpt was beautiful to read.  Thank you.

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I gathered the lightweight skirt of my new dress around my knees as I struggled to follow the Bearded Ranger through the marshy ground. It had been a record year for rains, he said, and the rivers in this region had far overreached their normal boundaries, leaving much of the normally dry plains under water, or at least soft underfoot. He had not told me where he was taking me. A little voice in the back of my head murmured, But you've only met him twice before this. Should you trust him? - but regardless, I felt no anxiety. He was a brother and a fellow Ranger, and on this I chose to trust him.

 

The sun broke through the clouds about an hour into our trek, showering warmth that fell across my shoulders like a reassuring touch. I paused for a moment to push back my hood and let the crisp, fresh breeze swirl around my face and lift my gray-brown cloak behind me. When I opened my eyes, the Bearded Ranger had paused too, and was smiling.

 

Gradually I realized we were headed toward a clump of tall trees and bushes, which I guessed was near some body of water. "Is that where we're going?" I asked, trotting to catch up and walk beside him.

 

"Yes," he agreed. He slowed his pace to match my much shorter stride. "There's something there you need to see."

 

The clump really was just that - a group of tall, old, gray-green trees and spreading bushes that bent over to look down on a crooked, sparkling stream. The stream itself was odd - it came from a hollowed-out place in the rock that formed the clump's little hill, and it disappeared into a corresponding hollow about thirty feet away. I knelt to look into the hollow and saw nothing but darkness. "It flows underground," I exclaimed.

 

"Yes," the Bearded Ranger agreed. He, too, knelt by the stream, but I realized he was kneeling in reverence when he pushed back his hood and bowed his head low. I quickly crawled over and dropped to my knees next to him, pulling my hood up to cover my hair, but I tried to see his face - what was this place? Was it a shrine? Did someone live here whom we needed to honor?

 

We knelt in silence for nearly five minutes, and my curiosity began to change to irritation. Was he going to tell me why we were here? Why we were kneeling? At last I cleared my throat. "Sir -"

 

"Hush." He quickly snapped his hand to my arm and squeezed it. "I'll explain in a moment." 

 

I sighed and gazed down into the stream, waiting. As I did, gradually I became aware of a shimmer in the stream - a luminous glow that began silver, but warmed and brightened to include other colors. Gold, then red, then violet and blue - a shower of colors rose and flickered within its flowing waters, dancing like the shine of diamonds but swirling like a ribbon in the wind. I leaned forward and placed my hands on the ground, entranced by the dance. I forgot the Bearded Ranger and found myself wrapped up in the beautiful colors - rich, royal colors, full of pure brightness.

 

As I hung closer to the surface, my own reflection appeared in the water. But it was not like any other reflection I had seen before - it was glorious. My eyes and face were lit from within by a bright light. The scar across my forehead was gone, replaced by an elegant white mark that swirled around my temples like a crown; and instead of my tightly braided hair and brown hood, my hair was falling freely, uncovered and gleaming gold.

 

"What is this?" I whispered, staring at the sight, the rushing colors encircling and beautifying my face.

 

The Bearded Ranger's voice was low and reverent: "This is the King's Reflecting Glass, Sky. The colors you see are heart and glory of the King Himself. When you look into this stream, you can see Him; you are brought very close to His spirit and essence - close enough to begin to understand the depths and heights of His brightness. But there's more. When you look into the Glass, you will not only begin to see yourself as He sees you - you will become more and more like the vision that you see."

 

He paused speaking, so I tore my gaze away from the mesmerizing sight to look at him, and he was holding out a small pocket mirror that he used for signaling. When I held it up to my face, I gasped. The scar on my forehead was, indeed, faded - and changed, somehow. It had begun to look more like a crown.

 

Questions began to tumble out of my racing heart. "But how can this be? Does it do this for everyone? How? And - why have I never come here before? What happens when I leave, will this go away? How can I keep going when I know this is here?"

 

The Bearded Ranger smiled and laughed as he put his mirror back into his pouch. "Slow down, Sky, I was going to explain it to you. The King's spirit can and will travel anywhere His children are. This stream begins at His throne and it runs throughout this land - everywhere we go, it is there, underneath our feet. But you don't have to wait to find one of these places where it comes to the surface - you can carry it with you always. That is one of the gifts you may now have, as a Silver Archer."

 

He reached into another pocket somewhere at his belt, then pulled back his hand. I could not see what he held in his palm. Quickly, briefly, he dipped his hand into the water and lifted it back out; then he held it on his palm - a beautiful vial, ornately blown of perfectly clear glass, with the shining waters of the King's stream safely bottled inside.

 

"This is yours, Sky." He corked it tightly and held it out to me. It felt cool and smooth as I carefully picked it up. "You can carry this everywhere you go and look into its wisdom any time of the day or night. The King will speak to your heart as you listen for His voice. This water will give your healing powers greater force and strength, and protect you from the forces that will try to make you use those powers for evil. It will make your arrows fly true and keep your bow strong. Like the elven lights from long ago, it will shine for you in the darkness, heal your heart when it is hurting, cleanse your mind when it is sick, and above all, change you into the vision that you saw in the stream."

 

Sure enough, the brilliant lights twirled and spun through the vial, just as they did in the stream. I closed my hand around the vial and pressed it against my heart. "I'll meditate on it every day," I promised. "I will let the King make me into who He wants me to be."

 

"The Dark Elf will try to stop you," the Bearded Ranger warned, and as if on cue, a chill swept through my scarred arm. "He will use every trick he has to keep you from communing with the King's spirit in this way. Because it is so easy, you will put it off 'until later.' You will think you don't need to listen for the King's voice. You will be tempted to ignore the wisdom you see and hear in its depths. But Sky, the good news is that the more you look into the water - the more you listen to the King's voice - the more His love will fill your heart and mind, until there will be no room in your thoughts for the Dark Elf's voice or the worries of your own spirit. There will only be love, for the King and for His people."

 

He reached out and touched my cheek with the side of his gloved hand, and even though a shadow across his face still prevented me from looking into his eyes, I could see the love and care wrinkling his forehead. "I will help you, Sky. And you will help me. All of us must help and protect each other. This is what will fill that empty space in your heart with strength and joy, and you must - you must - keep it filled if you are to serve as an Arrow-Healer and a Protector."

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Another lovely addition to the story. If I may offer a suggestion, not on the narrative but on the meaning behind it, you don't have to fight to keep the dark elf away. You need only fill yourself with the king. There's a subtle difference. By focusing on not letting the dark elf win, you are still focusing on him, and that focus gives him power because it keeps your mind on him. Let the king fill you and the king will drive away the dark elf.

Imagine a glass. That glass seems empty, but it isn't. It's full of air. Now imagine your task is to get the air out and keep it out. You can put your mouth into the opening and suck all the air out, but the minute you pull the glass away from your face air will rush back in. On the other hand, if you fill it with water, the water will push out all the air and the air can't get back in. Over time, the water will evaporate, but you simply need to add more water.

The truth is, the Battle with the Dark Elf is not yours to fight. Wisdom comes from letting the King fight the Elf for you.

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32 minutes ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Another lovely addition to the story. If I may offer a suggestion, not on the narrative but on the meaning behind it, you don't have to fight to keep the dark elf away. You need only fill yourself with the king. There's a subtle difference. By focusing on not letting the dark elf win, you are still focusing on him, and that focus gives him power because it keeps your mind on him. Let the king fill you and the king will drive away the dark elf.

Imagine a glass. That glass seems empty, but it isn't. It's full of air. Now imagine your task is to get the air out and keep it out. You can put your mouth into the opening and suck all the air out, but the minute you pull the glass away from your face air will rush back in. On the other hand, if you fill it with water, the water will push out all the air and the air can't get back in. Over time, the water will evaporate, but you simply need to add more water.

The truth is, the Battle with the Dark Elf is not yours to fight. Wisdom comes from letting the King fight the Elf for you.

 

Hmm, that is true, isn't it? I get hung up on that in the real world as well as the allegorical one ... it's one of those things that I "know" in the memorized sense, but have yet to perfect applying in my life. Let me meditate on that a while and I will go back and work on the narrative. Thank you very much. :) 

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I started out writing a post confessing all of my many failures from the week so far - eating too much junk food, not making it to the gym, being behind on all my projects, having distressing dreams - but that was getting too depressing, so I decided instead to write about the things I have accomplished this week. :) 

 

In the first place, I harvested and ate the first leaves from my basil plant:

 

 

(The tomatoes, alas, are not from my plants ... I think my tomatoes' pots are too small, and I've only seen three flowers-turning-into-baby-tomatoes thus far. I don't think they're going to make it if I don't find some larger pots soon.)

 

In the second place, I courageously had my stylist put a wide, brilliant peacock-blue stripe in my hair at my appointment this week, and it is amazing. I wish I had a good picture to post here, because I think it is quite lovely.

 

In the third place, although I haven't gotten to the gym yet this week, I have been walking miles and miles like a champ because all of my normal walking routes are blocked off with construction. :)  It's been a pain, but I definitely needed the miles to help burn off the traitorous ice cream that appeared in my freezer just the same time my monthly hormonal hunger kicked in.

 

In the fourth place, I am hosting an online fundraiser tonight for a dear friend whose son is in the hospital ... I've never done anything like this before, and I'm really excited/nervous and hoping that people buy a lot of things and raise money for her. Definitely a step outside my comfort zone!!

 

In the fifth place, my professor told me about a simply fascinating communication theory today that might completely change up my thesis project - and I'm really excited to read more about it and hopefully build a stronger project.

 

In the sixth place, this week the weather has been very hot, so I went to dig out my shorts; and would you believe that not one pair of last year's shorts fit? They were all much too big?

 

tumblr_lsw81tgLyO1qaqnyb.gif 

 

So yes, there have been some failures this week, and I'm really not sure why I haven't gotten more done than I have (although sleeping and TV may have something to do with that ... #summer), but there have been some super good things too.

 

Going to try to get to the gym tomorrow and row 3000+ meters to try to finish this weird challenge on a good note. And going to say "hel-lo, soreness" for the rest of the weekend, most likely. :) 

 

wow.gif 

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So much win in the above post, I hardly know where to begin! Could one of your siblings take a photo of your hair maybe? I'm really eager to see this cool new colour!

 

Hope the fundraiser went well for you :) 

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10 hours ago, Rhovaniel said:

So much win in the above post, I hardly know where to begin! Could one of your siblings take a photo of your hair maybe? I'm really eager to see this cool new colour!

 

Hope the fundraiser went well for you :) 

 

It did go very well! Twenty-one people participated on the first night, which is pretty good for 9PM on a Thursday night! :)  

 

I will have one of my sibs take a picture of my hair tomorrow - it's a pretty plain blonde bob, but the peek-a-boo stripe is this color:

 

e61f2b89053007f9513a7d459675ea29.jpg 

 

IN. LOVE. Someday I'll be brave enough to dye my whole head this color, and then I'll finally look like the elf that I feel like. ;)  

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Love all your wins. Glad you posted all the things that you accomplished. Yay for basil, running the fundraiser, and lots of walking. Looking forward to seeing the pic of your hair.

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Here's my hair, @Rhovaniel and @Elastigirl!!

 

This is what it looks like when it's down:

 

https://goo.gl/photos/U1Z1k6HEfq53HVwx6 

 

And this is what it looks like underneath:

 

https://goo.gl/photos/g4h9dfxiNdUYH2xZ9 

 

This is after the first washing, too - I was afraid the blue was going to wash out in the shower, like my previous color stripes have done, but this one stayed beautifully and looks just as brilliant. :) 

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