The Gifts of the Flame

Two weeks after the Guardsman left his village he returned.  Expecting to be received with celebration and adulation, he was shocked at the condition of the camp, just two weeks later. Some villagers had fled looking for better circumstances elsewhere. Some villagers were so weak they couldn’t even get up from their beds. A prolonged state of cold and wet weather had made a bad situation worse. Those with any strength were bickering over the remaining food and the tattered, wet blankets.

For the following month the Elder from the neighboring village instructed the Guardsman on how to bring stability back to his village through the flame. The Guardsman learned to tend the flame. He learned how to keep it lit through storms, wind, and dry weather. Soon, he was distinguishing between tending the flame for heating, cooking and medicinal use. He mentored his villagers on flame maintenance. As a mentor, he began to understand the wisdom in sustaining the flame rather than letting it dim as his villagers had been accustomed to doing.  

After a few months the villagers began to assign themselves roles: some tended to the flame’s strength; others regulated the heat, while others learned the finer aspects to the medicinal use of the flame. The villagers began to rally around the flame. It became their purpose. They became its keeper. The flame was their rallying point.

At this point, the Guardsman asked the Elder if their time together was almost done. The Elder replied, “Although it looks like the time is near, I cannot go yet. I must feel secure that you are comfortable in sustaining the flame not only after I am gone, but in passing the flame from generation to generation successfully.  

As the months passed, the Elder observed the villagers transition from one without cohesion to a village with purpose, mission, leadership and initiative. But he was waiting for a sense of unity that would translate as skills and as continued purpose, from generation to generation.

Although it took nearly a year for all the pieces the Elder had in mind to be put in place, the day came when it was time for him to leave the village, not with fanfare and official bravado, but with a final comment to the Guardsman. “You have learned the value in sustaining the flame. Your village must now treasure, build and share with others what you have learned.  This shall be your legacy.” The Elder mounted his horse and returned to his village with honor and satisfaction. 

As the years rolled by, the Guardsman’s village became renowned in its generosity and instruction. The gift of sustainability that they were given they gave to others.  Many came to learn of the medicinal, cooking and heating subtleties this village had adopted so they too could remain strong and build and sustain their flame in a way that grew their strengths and talents and keep their villages cohesive.

Of course the Guardsman became the leader of his village. As word of his leadership, wisdom, and kindness circled around the region and returned to him in the manner of gifts and adulation, he silently thanked the neighboring elder and said to himself: “Without the flame we faltered. With the flame we enrich not only ourselves but others. The flame is our legacy. It is up to us to keep it strong and well preserved.”

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