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Thanksgiving Challenge 2016 Friday: Cornucopia - The Great Big Horn
This story is one of faith related to my experiences in South Africa as a missionary. It is fiction, in that the characters are not real and the cultural references are based on a mixture of differing practices and religions. This is my first entry into the Thanksgiving challenge I initiated on Friday, 11/18/16. I hope you will enjoy.
Place of Reflection
Sitting quietly by the smooth slab of polished granite, he raises his eyes to the heavens in contemplation. Quietly. Quietly, a delicate caress of atmosphere cools his soul as memories filter from the annals of his mind. This moment. This is the very moment. A sweet release from the laborious burden of common daily monotony.
Danisa had heard all of the stories. As a little boy running barefoot on the dusty streets of his township, he sneaked up on the Makhulus (Grandmas) talking about the ancestors. Fascinating things the Makhulus would say about them!
“Yes, my dear sister. I saw my mother the other day,” Danisa’s Makhulu exclaimed. “Ewe (yes), sister. She was standing in a bin of water repeating words as if she was doing something big.”
“Come now,” Ntombi Makhulu, Danisa’s great aunt exclaimed. “I saw her. There was a man. He put her spirit inside the bin to wash her, and she come out singing Nkosi (Lord), as if it was its own song.”
“I am full of the spirit of our ancestors,” said the third Makhulu, Sarah. “But I smell the sweet breath of an inkwenkwe (little boy) standing behind that bush.” Danisa peeps from behind the bush as the women smile at him with feigned disapproval.
“Uvelapi inkwenkwe (where are coming from little boy),” inquires Makhulu. You are not to spy on us old women talking.”
“Moloweni (Hello everyone),” Danisa chirps in his five-year-old voice twisting his finger in the center of his bare chest as he approaches his Grandmother.
“Molo (hello),” all the women say in response as he gives each woman a peck on the cheek.
“What brings you to spy on us Danisa,” Makhulu asks.
“I want to hear the story of The Man,” Danisa pleads.
“Danisa,” all the women say at the same time.
“You go play. If you sit around us old women telling stories, you will be fat before you are able to take care of yourself.”
“Please. I heard you say the story when I ran by yesterday. You tell the story of The Man that comes, please?”
“Yes, sisters. Let us tell the story to the boy. He is so sweet.”
Story of THE MAN
Makhulu begins, “Every time one of the family members comes to us to be born, at some time before the baby comes out The Man comes with a pure light that walks and talks like a boy or a girl. The Man places the boy or girl next to the mother and out comes a baby!”
“But this time,” adds Sarah, third Makhulu, “The Man came with Cornucopia in hand to give a special blessing to heal the family. From the Cornucopia would come a bounty of things along with the pure white light to connect all the ancestors together from the beginning to the end.”
“With the light as bright as the sun,” Ntombi Makhulu describes. “The pure white light took the horn from The Man and went to his mother to become a boy.”
“The boy came from his mother with a birthmark the shape of a horn on his chest filled with a blessing for the family,” Makhulu added pointing to Danisa. He looked down at his brown horn-shaped birthmark with excitement.
“What then,” he asks.
“The Man went away and will come back to the boy with the horn on that special day that no one knows.”
The stillness brings Danisa back to his contemplative place near the granite slab, so smooth. Not wanting to miss the sweetness of the beauty of this place, Danisa keeps his eyes focused on the granite plate before which he kneels in reverence.
“Now I understand your story Makhulu,” he whispers almost like a prayer. “When I leave this place, all of our ancestors will be blessed in a way that I could never imagine—a blessing that will give for eternity backward and forward, from beginning to end.”
Who is The Man
Danisa had seen to smartly dressed men in town a year ago who approached him outside of his shop. These people introduced themselves as elders, though they were young men.
“We want to tell you how to help your ancestors,” one of them said to him to his astonishment. True, he held a miniature shrine in his right hand that represented his ancestors, the memory of them and their struggles through life. Danisa was taught to speak for them, to say their names each day to honor them so that they could rest.
“How can you help me,” Danisa question the elders.
“I can tell you that we lived in heaven before we were born. God put our spirits into the body of our mothers and we were born. He had a plan for each of us to be born and receive all the blessings of heaven if we are faitful.”
“That is Makhulu’s story. Who is The Man that puts the spirit in,” he questioned startling the elders.
“It is God.”
Now standing in front of the large granite slab attached to a building that says Holiness to the Lord, he walks inside as countless numbers of his ancestor stand on either side just beyond the veil of life. Each with wanton eyes on Danisa as their horn of blessings waiting to bless them back to Adam and Even and forward to the last person of his line.
He twists his finger in the place where the horn birthmark rests underneath his shirt as he prepares to perform sacred rites for the dead in a temple of his new faith.
The words of a man dressed in white filled the room as he sees a woman standing in a font of water being baptized on behalf of his Makhulu and her two sisters, Ntombi Makhulu, and Sarah the third Makhulu who had gone to the ancestors years ago. Closing his eyes, he feels a breeze caress his cheeks three times that reminds him of kisses from his Makhulus three.
Another man escorts Danisa to a room where he is endowed with special blessings to connect his family to him for eternity. Tears of gratitude fall from his face as he imagines The Man taking him by the hand and leading him into his journey to eternal plenty, his ancestors a step behind him.
This story is based on the beliefs of the Latter-day Saints that family relationships were meant to last for eternity. In LDS temples ceremonies are performed by proxy on behalf of the deceased, who wait beyond the veil to accept or reject the act performed. I served among Xhosa people where many believed in ancestor worship. This story is my attempt to combine the LDS teaching of proxy ordinances for the dead with ancestor reverence of some Xhosa sects. Truths elements are in all faiths.