“What are you thinking about, Danshari?”
“How did you know I was thinking?”
The Great Bear laughs. “Because,” she says, “When you are thinking it is extremely loud.”
“Is it? What do you mean? Was I making a noise?” Danshari looks worried.
“You were not making a noise. It’s not loud in sounds. It’s loud inside my mind. I can feel it. So . . . what were you thinking about?”
“I was thinking about the virus,” says Danshari. “I was wondering what would happen if I caught the virus. Would it hurt? Would I have to go to hospital? Would I die?”
When the Great Bear listens to her friends, she doesn’t just hear the words, she pays attention to how they are feeling as well.
She asks him, “Are you frightened, Danshari?”
Danshari blinks, and looks into the flames of the fire. He isn’t sure.
“I think I am just tired,” he says. “And I am worried.”
“Is anything else worrying you?”, she asks.
“I am worried about people who are poor, and have nowhere to live. The people who are wandering and have to live in tents. The children who are hungry. The people whose farms have gone wrong and turned to desert. I am worried about the bees dying, and the greedy business men who want all the earth for themselves. There is so much to worry about, really. I don’t see how we can ever make it better. It’s all got too big. I have been so worried for so long that I am almost too tired to go on.”
Ursa, the Great Bear, can hear in Danshari’s voice how tired he is, and how worried.
“Well,” she says, “ I do know what you mean. If you look at it all together it’s just one big frightening muddle. But I think you know, really, that although everything put together is too much even for a lion, it might still be possible for the most tired and worried person in the whole world to manage one thing.”
Danshari nods. He can see the sense of this.
“But how do I know which thing to pick?”, he asks her.
Ursa says, “There is always one thing the light shines on. You have to choose the thing the light shines on, and do that. You take one step, and then the next step, and there is always enough light to see one step ahead. And that’s how we travel home.”
“Home?” Danshari doesn’t look at her. He looks into the fire.
“Ursa,” he says, so quietly she has to bend closer to hear him: “Ursa . . . when I die, will I go to heaven? Will Jesus want me? Will he let me in?”
Even the Great Bear doesn’t know everything, doesn’t have all the answers. But she does know where True North lies. She can see it. She does know this.
“Yes,” she says. “Absolutely. Yes.”
And something eases in Danshari. Somehow, although he isn’t quite sure why, that makes everything else possible. Knowing who you belong to. Knowing where home really is. And that when you get there, it really will be home.