Gift or Punishment

The embers are intensely hot, but welcoming as I gather ash on two fingers. Spreading this under my eyes, I am one step closer to completing the appearance. I would only need to do one more thing before considering this task complete; the most dangerous part.

Dozens of people danced in lines around and between the grass huts we call home. Each woman is adorned in thousands of flowers, and each man in the finest stones he could gather. The latter, I was privilege not to be part of this year. No, this year, I had a more important part in the festivities.

As I start the trek up the mud slope, the dancing follows me. Our leader, Chief in all things spiritual awaits me on the top of the mountain. I approach him after walking a couple of hours. Behind him, the open pit of the volcano rumbles in anger.

Ready, Child? He speaks directly into my mind.

I am, Wisest One. I say back into his.

Now in a full frenzy the dancers close in around the mouth of the beast. I take a deep breath and give myself to the lava.

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