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The night was quiet and peaceful, with only the occasional call of
a whippoorwill to break the tranquil silence.  The Moon was an
iridescent ball of silver perched high in the heavens, illuminating
the Earth below.  The sky, a lovely shade of midnight blue, was
sparsely speckled with the twinkle of stars.  I peered out my
window, enchanted by the beauty of the night.  As my eyes wandered,
they came to rest upon the corn field - the corn field that had
broken my very heart.

In the beginning, I had worked patiently and diligently tending the
soil.  I tilled it - turning it over and over, so that the new
could surface and the old could rest.  I carefully pulled away the
weeds and the remnants of the old crop to make the field ready for
new planting.  I fertilized and nurtured it, smoothed and moistened
it.  Day after day, I toiled to make it ready.  Finally, I plowed
it into even rows and lovingly planted it.

Every day, I tended the seed and watched for new sprouts.
Tenaciously, I ripped the weeds from Earth that would rob the seeds
of the nutrients necessary for their growth.  And then one day, I
saw it - a single, solitary sprout that had pushed its way through
the soil!  Within the week, the entire field was covered with a
very thin mesh of green, and I felt a joy in my heart that words
cannot describe!  The hard work, the aching muscles, and the tender
care with which I had nurtured the field was not in vain - the
Earth which I loved had given birth, and was alive in the greening
of the seed I had sown.

Daily, I worked in the field, delighting in the growth of the corn
- revelling in its freshness - exulting in the part I had played in
its birth.  The rains came down, drenching the earth and the roots
grew deep.  The sun shone brightly on the young plants and they
grew tall, reaching for the sky.  Ears began to form on the stalks,
and all was well with the crop.

But then the drought arrived, and the rains came no more.  The sun
still beamed brightly, and the roots moved deeper and deeper into
the Earth in their desperate quest to find water.  Alas, there was
not a single drop left with which they could quench their thirst.
The once luxuriant green leaves began to yellow and wither.  The
stalks which had stood so proudly against the sky began to shrivel
and crack, and the tender ears, so newly born, dried up in death.
Yes, the corn which I had helped to birth - that which I had loved
so dearly - was gone.  Dried up.  Dead.

A tear fell from my eye as I stood looking at the field that night,
remembering.  A gentle breeze rustled through the old and withered
stalks as I wiped away the tear.  And then...I saw something!  Or
was it someone?  Slowly and silently I crept toward the corn field
to take a better look.  I felt my heart beating faster and faster,
as panic began to consume me.  After all, it was nearly midnight
and too late for visitors!  Whomever was in the field was obviously
up to no good, and I wanted them to leave immediately!  My legs
moved faster and faster - more quickly than I had dreamed they were
capable - until I was, indeed, on a dead run!  When I reached the
old oak tree that shaded the northern edge of the field, I opened

my mouth to shout my displeasure at the trespasser; however, I fell
silent as my eyes focused on the sight, and my mouth gaped wide.
For there, in the center of the corn field, was a young woman in
white - her hair as gold as the maize - glowing in the shimmering
iridescence of the moonlight!

Questions ravaged my tired brain, as I tried to assess the
situation and size up the intruder.  Who was She?  What was She
doing there?  Surely She knew She was trespassing - and most
certainly She knew that it was illegal!  As much as I wished to
call out to Her, I was mesmerized by Her very presence and found
that I could say nothing.  Helplessly, I watched as She moved
through the rows of death.  She stopped to caress a dry and
withered leaf, and then smiling, held it to her cheek.  Gently, She
reached out and wrapped Her arms about the cracked, brown stalk,
hugging it closely to Her breast.  She released the stalk and bent
down to look at one of the ears - perfectly formed, but shriveled
in its deathly demise.  Quickly, She snapped the ear from its
stalk, tugged away its husk and swiftly moved toward the outside
perimeter of the field.

Holding the ear of corn high above Her golden head, She began to
dance upon the barren Earth.  As if in slow motion, She twirled
about the outside edges of the field, as she softly hummed an
unfamiliar tune.  Round and round the field She danced, picking up
momentum as She worked Her way toward the center.  Louder and
louder She sang, the volume increasing as Her feet flew faster and
continued to spiral toward the center.  Within the matter of a few
seconds, She had become a whirling dervish - dancing with such wild
abandon that the kernels of corn were loosed from their cob, flying
helter-skelter across the field!  She glistened in the moonlight as
droplets of perspiration formed upon Her body, and in the frenzy of
Her dance, they too, were flung upon the Earth.  Her feet and voice
reached the ultimate crescendo at the center of the corn field, and
She fell upon the ground in total exhaustion.

All was silent.  The sounds of the nocturnal creatures had been
stilled.  All was enveloped in an unnatural hush - as if time
itself, had stopped.  She lay on the Earth, unbreathing, unmoving,
immobile - as still as Death, itself!  I stared at Her in horror,
the panic which I had forgotten, rushing back into my brain with
full force.  Was She alright?  Good Heavens!  Was She dead??

Finally, I gathered my wits about me, found my feet and rushed
toward the center of the corn field, where She had fallen in
collapse.  My heart beating wildly, I reached out to Her - but She
was gone!  She had disappeared into the very ether!  All that was
left in Her place was a single corn cob, void of its kernels - the
kernels which had flung from their resting place in the midst of
the Lady's spiral dance.

The sun was shining hotly on my face as I rubbed my sleepy eyes
into total alertness.  Where was I?  This didn't feel like my bed!
What was causing this blinding light?  I was soaked to the bone!
Just what the hell was happening here?  Cautiously, I opened my
eyes and surveyed my surroundings.  To my dismay, I was lying
smack-dab in the middle of the corn field and my head was resting
in a rather large mud puddle.  Clenched tightly in my fist, like

some precious jewel in need of protection, was a solitary corn cob.
I scrambled to my feet and tried in desperation to collect my
thoughts.  What was I doing here?  Had I lost my mind?

And then...I remembered!  I remembered the cornfield in the
moonlight - the Lady and the dance.  I also remembered how Her
drops of perspiration had dropped to the ground in the frenzy of
Her movements.  I looked at my feet and the Earth beneath them.
Joy and wonder rose in my heart.  It had rained!  Merciful Heavens!
It had rained - the Earth was soaked with moisture - the drought
was over!

Gleefully, I ran through the cornfield, feeling my bare toes dig
into the wet Earth - the same Earth which had been so cracked and
dry and barren just yesterday.  I ran in joy.  I ran in ecstasy.  I
ran in sheer celebration of the soil's return to richness - and
then, I stopped dead in my tracks.  Something was amiss.  Something
had changed.  Something was quite unlike it had been before.
Scanning the field, I realized that it was once again covered with
delicate green mesh of newly sprouting corn!  In awe, I reached
down to cradle a newly-formed sprout and as my fingers touched the
verdant green leaf, a feminine voice began to speak:

    "You were born of me!  You are my child and at death you shall
    return to me.  Fear not of death, dear one, for within its
    realm I shall bring you new life!  Just as the corn lives again
    - so shall it be with you!  For all that falls shall rise
    again, and that which dies shall be blessed with the gift of
    rebirth - the gift of My love!"


Next: Keeper of Wisdom, The (Kalioppe)