Though she was only five years old, people travelled from all around to visit the girl. Sometimes they walked for days from a neighbouring village to reach her, such was her reputation for healing the sick.
No one knew how, but all had heard the stories of miraculous recovery people had experienced after visiting her. The girl didn’t mind. Listening to the herbs and plants was a game to her; one she’d always known how to play.
Someone would come with a weeping wound on their arm and she would go out into the forest and silently ask the Earth what she should use to help make it better. Then all she had to do was be quiet and listen and she would be drawn this way and that to collect leaves, stems, buds, bark or petals from the plants and trees.
Before returning to the house, she would always kneel on the forest floor with the treasures cupped in her small hands and ask the Earth how she should best prepare and use them. In the silence, the answer was always given and by and by she would return home to prepare and offer the medicine. Sometimes it would be a thick paste to rub on the body; sometimes a cup of tea to sip; sometimes a steaming infusion to inhale. The girl was never surprised when the people got better, though the people themselves often were.
She wondered why they did not play the game with the plants themselves so that they did not have to walk miles to visit her. One day, whilst she was playing in the forest, she cast out a question from her heart to understand why this was the case. In reply, the Earth told her that the adults used to play as she did now with the plants and trees but that as they had grown older, they had lost their connection and no longer believed it was possible to communicate with the world around them.
The girl pondered this a moment and then asked if she, too, would lose her connection to the forest and its messages. The Earth replied that she would never lose her connection since she had been chosen by the spirits to maintain a bridge between the seen and unseen worlds. For now, the Earth told her, she must simply continue to help whosoever came to her but that as she grew older her task would grow to include showing the adults the way back to the connection they had lost so that they could begin to help themselves.
The girl accepted what the Earth had told her and didn’t question further. She simply returned to her playing in the forest, thinking how nice it would be when more people remembered how to play as well.