Thomas Part 9

Thomas Part 8

As David and Mary walked back to their home, they marveled at the miraculous change in Thomas. Although it was a slight change, they would take any change they could get. They were filled with hope, a pure hope for Thomas that they had not felt since Nara died.

After arriving home, David immediately wrote a short note to Sam, thanking him for sending the painting and requesting the name and whereabouts of the artist. He would like to have more paintings created by the artist.

After being left alone, Thomas stared at the painting awhile longer then put on his warm tunic, took his bow and arrow and knife, went outside, mounted his horse and headed to the waterfall trail. Pipi and Riporty, seeing Thomas mount his horse, excitedly followed along. There was some snow and ice on the ground, but not enough to be concerned about his horse slipping. They traveled to the rock where Nara was found. Thomas dismounted his horse, sat on the cold ground and wept—again. Pipi and Riporty nudged their noses into his lap, seeming to offer comfort.

After sitting on the ground for a short time, Pipi and Riporty began furiously barking down the trail. Thomas picked up his bow, nocked an arrow and commanded the dogs to stay by him. He listened carefully to a sound coming from a distance up the trail. Because the leaves had fallen, Thomas could easily see through the trees and eventually saw a rider on a horse. Relieved, he put away his bow and arrow, but kept a hand on his knife until he knew who it was.

The rider was Helki, a childhood friend of Thomas, not a close friend, but someone he knew and had competed against in many different shooting competitions. Thomas did not spend much time with him as he seemed to have a propensity to find trouble. He had not seen Helki in several years as he moved away from their city.

Helki has always been a very handsome child and grew to be an even more handsome man. He always had girls following him around. His eyes were deep blue, his hair was light colored, and had perfectly high cheekbones. His built was practically perfect as his well chiseled muscles were the envy of almost every young man and had the admiration of the young women. Not only was he physical handsome, but had a strong charismatic personality. He could entice just about anyone to follow him. So, not only did he find trouble, he led others into trouble. His parents were heartbroken that he used his God-given gifts to lead others away from Jesus, rather than to Jesus.

Upon seeing Thomas, Helki stopped his horse and dismounted. Thomas apprehensively greeted each Helki, as Helki enthusiastically greeted him. They began chatting, catching up on their lives since they last saw each other. Helki expressed his condolences for Nara; Thomas mentioned that it had been difficult for him since her passing.

Helki informed Thomas that he would be visiting with his parents for several days and they ought to get together and do some target practice or hunting. Thomas cautiously agreed, really not wanting to be involved too heavily with him.

Two days later, Helki stopped by Thomas’s wood shop and suggested that they do some target shooting when he was done. While there, he examined some of the impressive bows that Thomas made and purchased one. Now, he was anxious to try out his new bow. They decided that Thomas would ride to Helki’s house when he was done for an evening meal and then to a nearby field to target shoot.

Thomas ended his work early so he could enjoy a delicious meal with Helki’s family and have time to target shoot before the sun went down. He had always liked Helki’s parents and they were quite generous with him after Nara’s passing. He did not understand why Helki had created so much trouble and heartache for his parents. He perceived that they taught their children about Jesus Christ and taught them to be good people. So, what happened to Helki? What made him different and what made him want to rebel against his parents?

Right after eating, Thomas and Helki walked to the field which was a short distance from Helki’s house. They set up a couple of targets on some large hardwood deciduous trees and began to shoot. Helki loved his new bow as he discovered the workmanship of the bow greatly helped his accuracy. Helki was already a master shooter, but generally was unable to beat Thomas in the competitions they had when they were younger. He informed Thomas that he wanted to buy a couple more bows from him.

Thomas, still a master marksman, outshot Helki, but not by much. Soon, the sun went down and by moonlight, they walked back to Helki’s home.

On the walk back, Helki boldly questioned Thomas how he felt about God after not being able to have children and Nara’s death. Thomas, surprised at the question, was honest in his feelings, that he was still quite angry with God, wondered if there really was a God, yet because of the message of Sam’s painting, he still had hope that somehow, God was there and still loved him. Helki cautiously laughed at his assessment of God and then asked why he still wanted to believe in God. He questioned, since God could not be seen, how could anyone know that there was a God? Thomas suddenly looked at him incredulously and asked him with his parents and siblings having such a strong faith in God, why didn’t he share the same faith?

Helki laughed at Thomas. He reminded Thomas of the outstanding education that they were both given. He asked how with such knowledge how a person could believe in God. Thomas wondered out loud if they were taught the same things. He remembered learning about God and how God was involved in everything, in the earth, plants, stars, the moon, animals, and especially people.

Helki asked if a loving God would deny him children and take his beautiful wife away. Thomas responded that we all have challenges to overcome and it is part of our life’s journey. Helki laughed again and sarcastically congratulated Thomas for giving the answer his teachers and parents taught him and expected him to give. Thomas, feeling a bit sheepish, pondered Helki’s pronouncement and then responded that the most kind and loving people that he knows believe in God and trust Him to help them. There had to be something worth knowing about God.

Balking at his answer, Helki asked Thomas if he really believed all the nonsense about God, alleging that he thought Thomas was much more intelligent than to believe in God. At that point in their conversation, they arrived at Helki’s house. He told Thomas to consider his words and carefully examine his beliefs, trying to convince Thomas to doubt the existence of God.

Arriving at Helki’s house, his mother invited Thomas to come in, but Thomas politely declined, stating that he needed to get home to care for the animals.

On the way back to his house, Thomas stopped to visit with his parents. David and Mary eagerly let him in and offered him something to eat. Thomas explained that he was not hungry because he had eaten with Helki’s and his family, then did some target shooting with him. David immediately had a barely noticeable expression of worry on his face that Mary quickly picked up on. They knew the problems that Helki caused and especially the torment and grief that his parents suffered due to because of his open disbelief in God and his actions because of the open disbelief.

Even though Thomas said he was not hungry, Mary handed him a piece of sweet bread. Thomas’s face lit up! He loved his mother’s sweet bread.

Thomas spoke openly about his conversation with Helki, his concerns, his doubts, and his observations then expressed to his parents that even though Helki spoke to his thoughts and inner turmoil, he felt something was not right about his beliefs. Helki was very charismatic and easily attracted people to him, yet he did not have the light in him that others who believed in God and had faith in him had. David reminded Thomas that although he loved Helki’s parents, he had always cautioned him about Helki because of his behavior, even as a young boy. Thomas thanked his parents, gave each of them a hugged, then returned to his home and cared for the animals. Pipi and Riporty excitedly wagged their tails when they saw Thomas come home, eager for their evening meal.

When Thomas arrived at his woodshop the following morning, Helki was already there, anxious to buy more bows. With David listening, Helki excitedly informed Thomas that he could take the bows that he made to other cities to sell and make a large profit. Thomas smiled and inwardly laughed at how Helki’s heart was so set on money. He politely declined as he informed Helki that he already had buyers come from all over to purchase his bows; besides, he was more focused on wood carvings than bows. Helki thoughtfully examined some of the carvings and again told Thomas that he could take those to other cities and make a significant amount of money for him. Again, Thomas respectfully declined saying that he already had enough work to do and had plenty of money and really did not need more. Helki continued to persist, trying to convince Thomas into allowing him to sell his creations, imploring that he would make both of them a lot of money. Thomas, shaking his head, again declined the offer.

The ever-persistent Helki asked Thomas if he would like to target shoot again after his workday was complete. He was determined to beat Thomas and wanted another chance. Thomas laughingly agreed assuring him that there was no way he would be able to beat him, but he could always try. So, after work, they walked to the same field and began to shoot. Although Helki’s accuracy significantly improved with the bows Thomas made, he was still outshot by Thomas, though not by much.

Again, Helki subtly asked Thomas about what he thought of God. Thomas repeated the same answers as he did the previous day and determinedly, but politely, asked Helki to stop asking him about his relationship with God. Helki, a bit defensively informed Thomas about a community that he started for those who did not believe in God. He called it a support community because many of those who belonged to it came from families like his and Thomas’s families where they had strong beliefs. Thomas informed Helki that he was not interested in moving to his community and excused himself to go home and take care of his animals. Helki, not giving up, followed Thomas and told him where the group met and gave an open invitation to come if he changed his mind. Thomas thanked him and excused himself, again, then quickly left for his home.

(To be continued…)

 

 

Thomas Part 8

Thomas Part 7

Thomas was inconsolable. His grief overwhelmed him. He could not understand how his beloved Nara was gone. Followed by a seemingly concerned Pipi, he again ran outside, back to the creek to scream and yell at God. Tumu, Nara’s father, followed after Him. He kept some distance out of respect for Thomas. When Tumu sensed that Thomas was done yelling and screaming, he went over to him and put his arm around him. Thomas laid his head on his father-in-law’s shoulder and wept bitterly. Tumu wept with him. They sat by the still-flowing creek consumed with grief for several minutes with Pipi laying by their side.

Finally, Thomas pulled back, looked Tumu in the eyes and honestly informed him that he did not know if he would be able to go on. Thomas expressed his anger and grief while Tumu kept a hand on his shoulder and listened. He expressed that he thought God would heal Nara and that He told him that all would be alright.

After Thomas’s ranting, Tumu compassionately recounted the blessing that he gave to Nara. He felt a deep piercing sorrow that he was not to heal her, but emphatically felt that the blessing needed to be one of release. Thomas looked at him with rage and grief in his eyes and angrily exclaiming how could he do that, it was not his position or right to bless her with a release. Tumu calmly counseled Thomas that Nara was his daughter before she was Thomas’s wife therefore he was still entitled to inspiration regarding her. He informed Thomas that he wished that he could have pronounced a blessing of healing, but that the spirit spoke definitively to his heart and mind that she was needed on the other side of the veil. In fact, he saw his daughter’s spirit as he gave the blessing, similar to how Noah described her spirit.

He reminded Thomas that Nara still lives and loves him and that all of them were mourning her death. He expressed to Thomas how much he loved him and how proud he was to have him for a son, and that he would always consider Thomas as his son. Thomas hugged Tumu and told him that he loved him and thanked him for righteously raising Nara. He apologized for not being as spiritual and in-tune as he was and then thanked him for his patience. The two men hugged again and then walked back to Thomas’s home with Pipi following behind.

Three days after Nara’s death, a memorial service was held to celebrate her short but influential life. People from all over came to say good-bye and to console Thomas and their families. Even the king and queen traveled for the service. Thomas gave the queen the beautiful blanket Nara had recently finished. The queen was deeply touched that Nara finished the blanket before her passing. Tears came to her eyes as she appreciated the excellent workmanship of the blanket and that Nara was no longer there to share her amazing gifts.

One of the prophets, Sam, and his wife also traveled to the memorial service. Seeing the grief, anger, and pain in Thomas’s eyes, Sam hugged Thomas and expressed his concern. He reminded Thomas that he fully understood grief as he lost his little sister as a very young boy and he also lost one of his daughters. Thomas acknowledged Sam’s grief as everyone knew his story and how he conquered his grief and pain. He told Thomas of a painting a family member painted for him that he received after his sister passed away. The picture was of heavenly angels greeting his sister as she went through the veil and showed the happiness and excitement on her face. In the background of the painting were Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother smiling with delight as they waited their turn to see their daughter who had just returned. Sam reflected on the peace that the painting brought to him. He knew that even though he would terribly miss his sister, and still missed his sister, she was happy and peaceful. He knew that she wanted him to be happy. Sam recounted how the painting brought him peace when his daughter died from a tragic accident.

Although Thomas heard Sam speak, his grief was too immense to comprehend his words, until Sam mentioned that his daughter died from an unexpected accident. Thomas looked up at him, pleading tears streaming down his face and asked if he would ever be able to find peace. He told Sam how he was so grief-stricken and angry at God. He wondered if there was even a God because how could a kind-loving God not bless him with children, then take his beloved Nara from him.

Sam’s wife, Rona, with tears in her eyes and Sam watching, gently put her hand on Thomas’s shoulder and let him cry. She calmly expressed that she completely understood his anger as that is how she felt when their daughter died. He was shocked and surprised that even Rona, who was well-known for her spirituality, could be angry at God. He asked her how she finally healed her anger. Rona revealed that it took her several months; she received several blessings, looked at her husband’s painting almost daily, and continued to pray, even though she continued to feel intense anger and had no yearning desire to pray. Rona informed Thomas that eventually the anger diminished, the grief and pain subsided, although those emotions never entirely left. She informed him that her faith in God returned as the plan and mission for her daughter was slowly revealed to her and Sam. She assured Thomas that he could receive inspiration from a loving Heavenly Father to know what His plan for Nara would be. She promised that receiving that information would bring a profound peace to his troubled soul.

Thomas hugged Rona and Sam, thanked them for their generous words, and for sharing their experiences with him. He actually began to feel some hope; maybe he could work through his grief and anger and feel normal again.

After the service and burying Nara, Thomas continued to work in his woodshop. He created another carving of Nara, this one was about one foot tall; depicting her standing with her left arm reaching out. Nara reached out to so many people and he wanted a carving to remember her sweet goodness.

Several months after Nara’s death, though Thomas continued to work through his grief and anger, he felt unsure that he was making any progress. David and Mary were heartbroken as they watched their son weighed down with his grief. They occasionally offered help and support to Thomas, but was rarely open to their suggestions or concerns.

One frigid day during the cold season, a messenger came to Thomas’s home with a large bundle from the prophet Sam and Rona. Thomas, excitedly opened the package. He stared in unbelief as he gazed upon the painting that Sam described at Nara’s funeral. It was breathtaking, beautiful, awe-inspiring! Thomas could hardly believe that Sam would send his cherished painting to him. He studied the girl in the painting and even though she was Sam’s little sister, there was a striking resemblance to Nara. He looked at the angels surrounding the girl and wondered how many angels surrounded Nara when she died. He thought there would have been many since Nara was so influential and well-liked. Thomas then spent several minutes staring at who he thought would be Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. He saw love in their eyes. He noticed excitement in seeing one of their daughters again.

He reflected on the anger that he had held for so long towards God. He recognized God’s love in the painting, so he wondered why was he still so angry?

He leaned the painting against a wall that was near the cradle he created for Nara. After staring at it for a few more minutes, he put on a warm tunic, walked to his parents’ home, told them about the painting, and requested that they come look at it. They quickly put on warm clothes and walked the short distance to Thomas’s home.

They were awestruck at the intricate detail of the painting. David wondered if the artist still painted as he would like to commission some paintings from him. He informed Mary that he would send a message to Sam to find out more about the artist. Mary quickly agreed.

Thomas, putting his arms around his parents, apologized for all the anger and depression that he had been experiencing for so long. He told them that he could see God’s unconditional love in his eyes in the painting, his parents quietly agreed. Thomas expressed his concern that he still could not completely get through his anger. He asked them for help and even requested a blessing from his father, who eagerly complied.

(To be continued…)

Thomas Part 7

Thomas Part 6

David, Mary, and Nara were pleased with Thomas’s rediscovered faith. Although Thomas felt a peace that he had not felt in several months, his faith was not as strong as it once had been. He continued to pray, attend Sabbath meetings, and read scriptures, but not with the intensity that he once had.

Thomas worked long and hard on the jaguar carving for the king. His jaguar encounter in the woods proved valuable as he was able to add subtle and striking detail to the hardwood carving. The king was delighted with the jaguar and paid much more than the original amount agreed upon and commissioned Thomas for additional carvings to be displayed in the palace. Thomas was thrilled!

After the king left, Thomas went to the market, found a beautiful blue silk tunic made from some of the finest silk and embroidered with small white and yellow roses and brought it home to Nara. She loved the new tunic and shared in his excited and honor that the king loved his work.

Thomas and Nara celebrated their 4th marriage anniversary by spending two days at the cascading waterfall. His cousin, Aaron along with his wife Fina and two children, ages 5 and 3, went with them. They reserved two of the huts and traveled up on horseback. Pipi and Riporty, now a large black dog, along with Aaron’s dog followed along. While there, they swam in the pool, fished, target shot, chased off a fox, and spotted a mother bear with her two cubs off in the woods. Riporty desperately wanted to chase after the cubs, but knowing that he would most likely end up being attacked by the mother bear, Nara held him back then tied him to a tree with a long rope made of thick durable flax fibers that were difficult to chew through. He was not happy about that and gnawed at the rope. All were amused watching his antics to free himself. They all had an enjoyable, peaceful, and relaxing time at the waterfall.

Thomas continued to carve animals and a few people for the king and others that commissioned his work. Nara became a master weaver. In fact, the queen commissioned Nara to weave a blanket for her. Nara was ecstatic at the prospect of doing work for the queen. She also trained some horses and took an occasional art class from Mary, however, the majority of her time was spent weaving blankets and rugs.

Nara still longed to have a baby. Daily, she gazed at the cradle that Thomas made for her, yearning for a small baby to lay in it. She loved children and enjoyed being around them. She taught children during their Sabbath meetings. Those she taught loved her and would always beg to go to her house as she always had a tasty treat for whomever might drop by. Because of her love of teaching children and her love of weaving, Nara decided that she would teach weaving. She was extremely excited at this idea and anticipated filling her home with children to teach them what she loved doing.

It did not take long until Nara had more little weavers than she could handle. A few mothers would come and help her with the children. Nara found a fulfillment in her life that she had not previously felt. She wondered if this is what God wanted her to do, to teach other children. She found peace with that thought, yet still yearned for her own baby.

One day while preparing for her class of young weavers, she accidentally overheard Mary talking with one of the mothers about her deep disappointment of not having any grandchildren. Mary, knowing how Nara felt about being childless, was always extremely careful about what she said. Mary loved Nara and did not want to hurt her in anyway.

For some reason, what Mary said deeply affected Nara. She tried not to let it show during her weaving lesson, but as soon as the children left, Nara, followed by Pipi and Riporty, mounted Flora and headed to the waterfall. She needed to get away. She needed to mourn, again. She needed to be alone. After she had gone a good distance, she slowed Flora down and allowed Pipi and Riporty to catch up to her. They took a couple minutes to veer slightly off the trail to drink water from the creek. They then continued on the trail toward the waterfall, when suddenly, after rounding a bend, Flora spotted a large brown bear standing on her hind legs feeling threatened. Flora naturally reared up, just at the one moment when Nara was looking at something in the woods and not holding on tightly. Nara sharply slid off of Flora’s back, slamming onto the ground and forcefully hitting her head on a sharp rock, instantly knocking her unconscious. Pipi and Riporty barked and barked at the bear and her two cubs until they ran off into the woods.

Flora nudged her nose at Nara, willing her to get up and continue the ride, but she did not move. Pipi also nudged at her, but she still did not move. Riporty, instinctively knowing something was wrong with Nara and that she needed help, sprinted back to the city, while Pipi and Flora stayed behind seeming to watch over Nara.

Riporty first went to Thomas and Nara’s home. Mary happened to be close by and saw Riporty urgently barking. She immediately had a foreboding feeling come over her. She petted Riporty and thanked him for coming to her. She ran to the woodshop to find David and Thomas, with the dog following along. David and Thomas promptly ran to their horses, mounted them and commanded Riporty to lead them to Nara. Riporty, understanding the command, ran to the waterfall trail. David and Thomas hastened, going as fast as their horses would go. They found Nara laying on the ground, a pool of blood behind her head. They checked for injuries then Thomas swiftly but carefully lifted her onto his horse, and rushed as fast as he felt he could back to their home. David retrieved Flora and took her back to their home, with the dogs following. As he took Flora’s reign, he thought he noticed a tear coming from her eye.

When they arrived, a healer was already there. The healer cleaned and with healing herbs, bandaged the gash on the back of Nara’s head, but after peering at her eyes, she looked overly concerned.

Thomas, seeing the look in the healer’s eyes, pled with her to save Nara, then walked out of their house, visibly upset. David followed after him, hugging him and crying with him. Aaron and Fina, already hearing what happened, ran up to them and asked what they could do. Thomas asked Aaron if he would help David give Nara a blessing. Aaron quickly agreed. They went back into the house where David and Aaron gently placed their hands on Nara’s head and David with tears streaming down his face, pronounced a blessing of comfort and peace, but not of healing. After he finished, he looked at Thomas’s pleading eyes and told him that he felt strongly that he was not to pronounce a blessing of healing. Thomas pled with him, telling David that he had to heal Nara; he could not live without her. Aaron hesitatingly agreed with David; he felt the same inspiration.

Thomas ran out of the house to the creek alongside the waterfall trail where he found some privacy; he looked up at the heavens and screamed to God to heal his beautiful wife! He cried, he prayed, he pleaded, he even made a deal with God to heal and save Nara. Pipi had followed Thomas and nudged his head on his lap, trying to comfort Thomas. He looked at the sweet face of Nara’s dog and asked him what had happened. Thomas wished that Pipi could have talked to him to tell him how Nara fell off of Flora. After spending a few more moments grieving with Pipi, they walked back to the house. Thomas sat by Nara’s side, held her hand and quietly talked to her.

Thomas kept constant watch over Nara. The healer continued to attempt different herbal remedies and used her gentle healing hands to send positive and healing energy into her body. Nara still did not respond to any stimulus. Several family members and friends came to see Nara and to give Thomas support.

Nara’s parents and siblings arrived the next morning. Nara’s younger brother, Noah, ran over to Nara and hugged her unresponsive body. Noah abruptly announced that he saw Nara above her body. Tumu, Nara’s father, told Noah that was not possible. Noah insisted that he saw Nara. He said that Nara was smiling and waving at him. Thomas became irate, knowing what that would mean. He yelled at Noah telling him that was absolutely not possible because Nara was going to live and not die. Noah, lips quivering at the intensity of Thomas’s words, and being brought into a gentle hug by Rebekah, looked up at Thomas and told him that he was sorry, but he saw Nara. Noah quietly reported that Nara looked beautiful, peaceful, and happy. Thomas ran out of the house, David following close behind him.

While Thomas and David were outside, Tumu placed his hands on Nara’s head and pronounced another blessing. He also could not bless her with healing, but feeling inspired of the spirit, gave her a blessing of release. There was not a dry eye in the room.

When Thomas and David came back in, Mary instructed Thomas to hold Nara’s hand and it was alright to let her go. Thomas looked at his beautiful mother incredulously, still not wanting to believe that he could lose his precious Nara. Thomas went to Nara, took her hand, kissed her on the lips and told her that he loved her and could not live without her. Nara opened her eyes for one brief moment, looked at Thomas with adoring love in her eyes, then took her last breath.

(To be continued…)

 

 

Thomas Part 6

Thomas Part 5

In the city where Thomas and his family lived in was a splendid creek that flowed into a majestic river surrounded by trees on both sides of the bank. At the place where the creek flowed into the river, the bank was covered with soft, fine white sand. Many would go there to splash in the creek. Mothers took their children to cool off, those who worked in the fields would jump in the creek to wash the sweat off of their bodies. The creek and river were important to the people in the city.

Further up the creek, a couple hours away by horseback, was a resplendent waterfall. The water gently cascaded down layers of rocks, then fell into a turquoise blue pool where the water became calm as glass. This spot was commonly used by families for recreation. In fact, several people built small simple sleeping huts near the pool so for those who wanted to spend more time there they would have a place to sleep. Different people volunteered to be caretakers of the huts, taking turns to go and maintain them. If a person or family wanted to stay in a hut, they would let the caretaker know before traveling there. There were times, especially during the warm season, when there would be a waiting list for the huts.

Thomas informed the caretaker that he was traveling to the waterfall and would be staying in one of the huts. Because he was travelling when the temperatures were beginning to cool, he would be the only person staying there; which he was grateful for. He desperately wanted to be alone.

The path to the waterfall was well-worn as it had been traveled by many. On this brisk day, Thomas relished in the beauties of the trail. The trail went part way through a deciduous forest, speckled with a small number of evergreens. The leaves were beginning to turn into brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow, and brown. Birds sang and a few cool weather flowers were in eloquent bloom. Squirrels and other small animals speedily scurried away from Thomas as he and his horse walked and trotted through the forest. He smiled as he appreciated all of nature’s creations that he experienced during his ride. His eyes and ears were kept open as he was always on guard for larger and more vicious animals, especially a jaguar.

Once he arrived at the waterfall, he unloaded the brown leather pouch he carried his food in, put it in one of the huts, and jumped into the cool refreshing water. The pool was cooler than during the warm months but still incredibly invigorating. Thomas sat under the waterfall, allowing the water to gently massage his head and shoulders. He thought about Nara and his love for her; he wished that she was there with him, but understood that he desperately needed this time alone.

After drying off, Thomas gathered wood that was lying on the forest floor and built a roaring fire. He pulled out a corn cake and deer jerky that he ate for his evening meal. As he sat by his fire and slowly ate his food, he thought about his magnificent marriage relationship with Nara. How he loved her. He tenderly recalled the first time he saw her. Her deep piercing blue eyes immediately captured his heart. He knew right then that he wanted to be with her forever. He thought about the day they were married and how stunning Nara looked. He could hardly wait to get through the day so he could finally hold her in his arms and express to her the intense love that felt for her. How he savored those moments with her.

Thomas also recalled some of the hard times they experienced, especially not yet having any children. He regretted the one time he expressed his anger to Nara and blamed her for their not having children. He was just so frustrated and felt so much guilt because he was not providing grandchildren for his parents. His father soon discovered that he had treated Nara unfairly and deftly delivered one of the biggest lectures of his life. Thomas truly felt extreme remorse and vowed never to treat Nara that way again.

He remembered all the prayers he and Nara prayed, prayers for children. None of them had been answered. He felt raging resentment to God for what seemed to be unheard prayers. He could not understand why they had not been blessed with children. Were they doing something wrong? Were they not perfect enough to have children? No, that could not be the case as he knew many other couples who were just like them that bore child after child. What he would give for just one child.

Suddenly, Thomas heard an unexpected rustling in the trees. The sun had just set over the horizon so there was still a glimmer of light to see through the trees . He gently grabbed his bow, which was laying right next to him, and noiselessly nocked an arrow in preparation to defend himself if needed. He also checked to be sure his knife was strapped to his waistband. Staring at him with deep golden eyes was a large female jaguar with beautifully spotted fur. Thomas wanted to grab his parchment, but knew he had to hold his bow and arrow. They carefully studied at each other, Thomas trying to take in every detail about the large cat and the jaguar trying to determine if Thomas was a threat to her. After a few intense moments, the jaguar slowly turned away and wandered off into the darkening forest.

Feeling more secure, Thomas said a quick prayer of gratitude, grabbed his writing tool and parchment, and with the light of the fire, promptly sketched all the details of the jaguar that he wanted to include in his carving. Feeling satisfied and sleepy, he went into the hut to sleep.

Awaking to the brightness of the rising sun, Thomas curled up in his blanket trying to stay warm in the cool morning air. He finally decided to brave the chilly air, get up, and start a fire. He walked outside his hut to the sound of birds singing, the waterfall tumbling over rocks and into the pool, and squirrels chirping as they scurried to gather acorns and hickory nuts to put in their winter stash. Using coals what were still red hot from the previous night’s fire, Thomas added dried leaves and small twigs, gently blew on the coals until the fire ignited the leaves and twigs. Thomas added larger sticks and logs until the fire roared with life.

After a morning meal of another corn cake and some beef jerky, Thomas decided that he wanted some fresh meat, so he picked up his bow, chose an arrow and quietly walked into the trees. He spotted several squirrels, carefully nocked his arrow to his bow, and waited patiently. It was not long until he spotted a squirrel burying a hickory nut. Thomas aimed then let go of the arrow. The perfectly aimed arrow went straight through the squirrel’s heart, killing it instantly.

Thomas thanked the squirrel for its sacrifice, skinned it then placed it over red-hot coals to slowly cook. While the squirrel was cooking, Thomas looked up to Heaven and asked God again, why he and Nara had not yet been blessed with children. He wanted to believe in God, he was taught by his parents to believe and have faith in God, and knew that he had been blessed. So, why were the heavens silent now? Could he still believe in God, even if they were never blessed with children? So many questions without answers.

As Thomas was meditating, a young furry fox with oversized ears, smelling the cooking squirrel, wandered near Thomas. He smiled and laughed at the clumsy antics of the cute little kit. He even asked the kit his questions. The kit looked up at Thomas with a questioning look in his eyes, then hungrily looked back at the squirrel. Thomas finally threw a few small sticks toward the kit, not hitting it, just enough to scare it away. He knew the mother would be close and did not want any competition for his meal.

After feasting on the squirrel, Thomas picked up his bow and arrow and began target shooting at a tree that was off in the distance. Even though he did not compete as often as when he was younger, he still thoroughly enjoyed shooting. He flawlessly hit his target each time.

While Thomas shot his arrows he continued to ponder his relationship with God. He prayed, he argued, he had faith, he doubted. He mounted his horse and traveled up the trail until he was at the top of the water fall. He continued his meditation as he sat on the grassy bank of the creek with his feet in the cool, brisk water. He picked a couple of small blue and white flowers that grew next to where he sat. He wished he could take them to Nara, but knew they would wilt before he could get them to her. He decided then that he would pick flowers for her on his way home.

Feeling hungry, Thomas went back to the hut where he left his food. As he approached the hut, he noticed that the door was slightly ajar and he heard something rustling around in the hut. He dismounted and tied up his horse, grabbed his bow which was mounted on the side of his horse, nocked an arrow and silently walked toward the door. As Thomas approached the door, at once, a bright red fox with a corn cake in her mouth scurried out the door and into the woods. Thomas smiled and laughed at the fox, went into the hut to assess the damage. Thankfully, the fox only took one corn cake, but spilled the rest of his food onto the ground. Thomas picked up the food that was laying around and put it back into his leather pouch.

Still feeling hungry, Thomas ate a corn cake and more jerky as he sat by the edge of the pool. As he sat and watched fish lazily swimming in the pool, a calm peaceful feeling unexpectedly came over him. It was as if he were being covered in a soft, warm blanket. Somehow he knew everything would be alright. He did not know how, but felt the peaceful assurance that God loved him and was keenly aware of their situation.

(To be continued…)

Thomas Part 5

Thomas Part 4

Thomas and Nara created a blissful life together. After their marriage, Thomas continue to work at the woodshop with his father. Because of Nara’s naturally outgoing and calm nature, she quickly and easily made friends instantly becoming an integral part of the community.

Needing something to do besides keep their small house clean and organized and prepare meals, Nara worked with a neighbor, Tapco to help train his 1-year old foal. Nara had an exceptional gift with animals; they loved her and were able to easily sense her gift and willingly complied to her commands and training. Tapco was thrilled at how quickly the foal adapted to Nara’s touch and skill. The foal quickly learned rider commands and how to help herd cattle. Tapco referred Nara’s adept skills to others and she soon gained a modest business.

Thomas’s mother, Mary, was a well-known artist and gave group painting lessons to several of the older children in their city. She invited Nara to join her, which she hesitantly did. Nara did not think of herself as an artist, but she loved her mother-in-law and determined that she would try. Although not a gifted painter, Nara did very well in her first few lessons and continued to take lessons from Mary. Thomas proudly displayed her pictures in their home.

Along with training and taking care of animals, painting, and working in their garden, Nara’s greatest love and passion was weaving. She loved to take plant fibers and spin them into long strands of thread and then put them into her loom. She also enjoyed dying her own fibers, rather than purchasing dyed fibers from the market (although sometimes she did that). She made beautiful shawls and blankets to help keep women and children warm during the cold season. She also made exquisite rugs and occasionally a fashionable tunic.

Thomas continued to compete in athletic events. Nara usually traveled with him, riding Flora and with Pipi following along. She loved to watch him race in running events and especially loved watching him use his bow and arrow in shooting events. Thomas continued to win just about every shooting event that he entered.

After being married for about 6 months, when Thomas came home from his day at the woodshop, he grasped Nara’s hand, covered her eyes, and took her outside their house. Nara playfully hit Thomas, wanting to be able to see, but smiling with a large sheepish grin, he kept his hand over her eyes. After guiding her to where he wanted her to be, he slowly took his hand from her eyes and put it in Nara’s other hand and instructed her to open her eyes. In front of her was a spectacular wooden handcrafted cradle with a beautiful bunched up blanket in it! Nara saw the cradle, gave a happy shriek, then hugged and kissed Thomas. As she then knelt down to examine the workmanship of the cradle she noticed the blanket moving and seeming to make whining noises. She gently moved the blanket to find a squirmy black, short-haired puppy! Nara squealed, then hugged and kissed Thomas again. She carefully picked up the puppy, kissing his cute little face. Thomas beamed observing the joy his beautiful bride shown with the puppy.

Pipi came over to check out the new scent. At first he was not being too sure about the squirmy puppy, but he eventually came to accept it, although he made sure that the puppy knew he was the alpha dog.

The cradle that Thomas designed and made for Nara was expertly crafted. It was made from a medium colored hardwood, sanded and polished to perfection. It was about four feet long, about two feet wide and about two feet tall. Each end had a rounded foot so that the cradle could be easily rocked. Thomas also made wooden stops to put at the rounded feet so the cradle would not rock when they did not want it to be rocked.

Thomas had carved a horse on one end of the cradle and a dog on the other end, knowing Nara’s love of her horse and dog. When Nara discovered the carvings, she squealed in delight and gave Thomas a long, passionate kiss. She loved the cradle and her new puppy.

The puppy, which they named Riporty, quickly became a part of the family and neighborhood. The neighbor children loved to come and play with him. He quickly grew into a large beautiful black dog. Even though he grew larger than Pipi, Pipi continued to remind him who was the boss. Riporty did not seem to mind. He soon learned to love to follow Nara when she rode Flora. He was a natural herding dog and enjoyed when Nara trained other horses how to herd animals. Riporty instinctively helped herd the animals and savored every moment.

The cradle was a significant gift for Nara as after being married for 6 months, she was still not with child. She felt sad and uneasy about it but Thomas tenderly reminded her that they were still young and a baby would come when the time was right. Nara weaved a beautiful baby blanket that she put in the cradle, just waiting for a baby to come and to be cuddled in it.

Time quickly flew by. Thomas and Nara stayed busy in their community. After two years of a wonderful marriage, they still did not have any children. Nara knew that Mary was especially disappointed as she had looked forward to grandchildren for years, since she was unable to have more children after Thomas. This weighed heavily on Nara as she deeply loved Mary and did not want to disappoint her. The cradle stayed in their house as they continued to faithfully hope that children would come.

Nara and Thomas consulted several times with the healer about why they had not yet conceived a baby. The healer gave them herbs that were to supposed help, but after several months of taking the herbs, they still had not conceived. Thomas gave Nara several blessings; David gave both Thomas and Nara blessings.

Thomas kept busy in the woodshop carving brilliant animal carvings and became skilled at carving people. He was given several commissions to carve people. After seeing the quality of the cradle that he made, he also had several requests for cradles. He continued to travel to participate in various shooting and other athletic competitions, however, as he received more and more work, he did not have the time to train and participate in as many competitions.

As another year went by and still no baby, Thomas began to have several doubts, about himself and God. He still deeply loved Nara, but the stress of not having a child and Thomas’s doubts took a toll on their marriage. More frequently, he would not go to the Sabbath services. He did not pray as often or study the scriptures as he once had. He became more moody and deeply depressed. Nara did her best to cheer him up, but her efforts seemed to bounce off of him.

David and Mary became concerned about their son. Of course they were disappointed that they did not yet have grandchildren, but Thomas’s spiritual and emotional health was more important to them than grandchildren.

During that year, the king of the land passed through their city to visit Thomas. He had seen carvings that Thomas had done and wanted Thomas to carve a large jaguar for him. Thomas was thrilled! The king generously paid Thomas up front, knowing the carving would take several weeks to complete.

Thomas immediately began work on the jaguar. He first sketched several angles of a jaguar on parchment, according to the probable design the king gave him. He then found the perfect piece of a hardwood, about the size that the king desired.

Even though Thomas had seen many jaguars and could sketch one, he wanted to attempt to observe one in the woods. Nara thought he was crazy because jaguars could be deadly. However, part of why he wanted to go out to the woods was because he was struggling with his faith in God. Not yet having children was very difficult for him. He did not understand why God had not blessed them with children and felt more and more angry.

On a beautiful cool day, he mounted his horse and traveled into the woods to look for a jaguar. He packed several days’ worth of food, his sleeping roll, and parchment and a brush with ink to sketch a jaguar. He carried his bow and arrow with him, along with a sword and knife, not intending to kill a jaguar but to defend himself in case of an unlikely attack.

Nara and his parents were hopeful that he would be able to find some answers to his nagging doubts. Thomas assured them that he would attempt to pray and search for answers.

(To be continued…)

 

 

 

 

Thomas Part 4

Thomas Part 1

Thomas Part 2

Thomas Part 3

After the betrothal, Mary and Nara’s mother, Rebekah, excitedly began making wedding preparations. Thomas, with the help of David, Neka, and David’s brothers, began building a house for he and Nara to live in. Thomas and Nara traveled to each other’s homes as often as they could as they did not like being apart. While visiting each other, they spent time at the markets finding all the necessary household goods they would need.

Because Nara loved animals and was gifted with them, Thomas assured Nara that he would build a good fence for all her animals. She had chickens and goats and wanted to be sure they had a secure place for them. She also had a small dog with medium length scruffy fur, Pepi, and a medium sized white mare, Flora, that had brown and black flower-like splotches all over her. Nara loved her mare and her dog. Pepi went with her just about everywhere that she went.

Nara and Flora had been together since she was 10 years old when her father’s brother, Payat, gave Flora to her as a small foal. Nara was present when Flora was born. The mare experienced complications during the birth process, but Payat skillfully helped the mare give birth to the little foal. Nara was immediately smitten with the little foal, but noticed that her right front leg was injured which happened during the difficult birth process. She worriedly pointed out the hurt leg to her uncle, who had already observed the leg. He told her that they would probably have to put the foal down; it was very difficult and almost impossible to heal a horse’s leg after it has been injured. Nara was heartbroken. She cried, begged, and pleaded with her uncle to try to heal the leg. The mother of the foal also seemed to be heartbroken and looked to Payat to help her little foal. His wife, Sima, who was also present during the last part of the birth process, with immediate concern stated that she would go to the animal healer and request that he come as soon as he could to look at the foal’s leg.

While Sima was gone, the mother horse continued to lick her foal and gently nudge her to stand up, but because of the injured leg, the foal was unable to. Nara sat down by the foal, put her head in her nap and stroked her beautiful white neck. The mother horse, sensing Nara’s concern for her baby, continued to lick her baby and gave Nara sweet nudges with her head.

Knowing that the foal needed to eat, Payat gently urged the mother over to where the foal would be able to reach her udder. Payat carefully lifted the head of the foal to the udder where she clumsily, but hungrily sucked. He gave Nara a big smile and informed her that this was a good sign that hopefully the foal would be able to heal. Nara reminded him that she had been praying the entire time; she did not want the foal put down for any reason.

Sima soon came back with the animal healer. The healer, Dagan, looked at the foal’s injured leg, gently rubbed it between his strong, yet gentle hands, looked heavenward, then applied an herbal poultice he brought with him near the knee. He wrapped a soft white linen cloth around the poultice and leg to keep the herbs in place.

Dagan warmly smiled at Nara, seeing how she tenderly cared for the foal and expressed that because of the love she was sending to it, the foal’s leg would heal and she would become an amazing horse. He instructed Nara to put her hands on the area where the poultice was and leave them there for several minutes at least three times a day. He gave her additional herbs to change out every two days. Nara felt grateful to be able to do something to help this beautiful foal heal.

After Dagan left, Payat surprised Nara by telling her that if she would take care of the foal and help her to heal, he would give the foal to her. She was ecstatic! She always wanted her own horse and now she had this sweet little foal to care for. Payat reminded her that it would be a great deal of work, especially the first few days, until the leg healed. Nara promised that she would be with the foal as long as she could, knowing that she had chores to complete and her studies to keep up with.

Nara kept her promise; she faithfully helped nurse the foal back to health. She named the foal Flora because the brown and black spots reminded her of flowers. As the foal grew, Payat and Sima helped Nara train her. They taught her how to let Nara ride her and how to help round up cattle. When Nara rode Flora, they seemed to flow together in unity; it was like they were one. They loved to ride together, whether it was for pure enjoyment, if they worked to help round up cattle, or traveled to shop or visit others, especially Thomas.

The marriage day finally arrived! The marriage was held in Thomas’s city, since that is where they would live and where Thomas had built their house. The marriage was held outside the synagogue where they attended their Sabbath meeting. The day could not have been more perfect. It was as if Heaven smiled down on this young couple and offered them the best possible start to their life together. The spring sun shone brightly, puffy cumulus clouds dotted the sky, birds cheerfully sang, and the scents of various colorful flowers permeated the air.

Many friends and relative came from near and far to witness the marriage ceremony. Vendors were thrilled as so many came to their city and purchased their various goods and services.

Nara came out of David and Mary’s house beautifully dressed in a silky white dress adorned with embroidered white roses, that came to the middle of her calves, the sleeves ended just below her elbows. The bodice was covered with an intricate lace. Her mother’s sister, a renowned dressmaker, with the help of many others, made the astonishing dress for her. Nara’s face and hair were covered in a traditional lace veil, in fact, it was the veil her mother wore at her wedding. Her long hair was plaited and adorned with small blue five-petaled flowers to accentuate her blue eyes. She carried a small bundle of blue and white flowers. She looked absolutely radiant!

Thomas, standing by the prophet who would marry them, felt his heart leap when he saw his ravishing bride. He wore a traditional knee length white tunic with a silky blue belt surrounding his waist. The tunic had short sleeves and a similar silky blue scarf draped around his neck. Nara’s father led his beautiful daughter through the crowd of onlookers to Thomas. He spoke a few words in private to Thomas then gave him Nara’s hand.

The simple ceremony was resplendent as the young couple were united into a new family. At the appropriate time, the prophet enthusiastically instructed Thomas to lift the veil from Nara’s face and kiss his new wife. Thomas willingly followed the instructions and bestowed a passionate kiss to Nara’s luscious lips to the delight of all those looking on.

After the ceremony, friends and family celebrated with grand festivities. There was a wide variety of food available, musicians played and sang, and dancers danced. All who celebrated with them enjoyed their time together. It was a great break from the usual life’s tasks.

As the sun began to near the horizon displaying brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow, and some light purple, it was time for Thomas and Nara to begin the traditional walk to their new home. Friends and family gathered on each side of the path to their home and gave them well-wishes as they walked by. When they reached the door, Thomas waved at family and friends, then effortlessly swooped Nara into his arms and carried her across the threshold into their new home.

After reminiscing about their day and having fun teasing each other, Thomas took Nara’s face into his masculine hands and lovingly kissed her. Nara leaned into the kiss, enjoying the awareness that they would now be together. Thomas drew back, stared into her deep blue eyes and told her that he was the luckiest man alive! He imparted his deepest feelings for her and shared his desire to be with her forever. He then guided Nara to a comfortable cushion where he had her sit, put his hands on her head and gave her his first blessing as her husband.

(To be continued…)

 

 

 

Thomas Part 3

Thomas Part 1

Thomas Part 2

Thomas continued to perfect his skills with his bow and arrows. He entered competitions that his city sponsored and always won. He went to other cities and usually won their competitions as well. David continued to make new and larger bows and arrows as Thomas outgrew them; Thomas even began to learn to make his own. Although he did well in competitions, Thomas especially enjoyed hunting with David and his grandfather, Neka. Other people in his village would generously pay him to hunt food for them.

From a young age, Thomas worked with David and his grandfather in the woodshop. Like his father and grandfather, he too had an innate gift for working with wood. He made beautiful bows for others and himself, but his passion was carving animals. Even at a young age, Thomas‘s carvings were highly sought after. When they went to other cities for athletic events, he would bring several wood carvings to sell in the local markets.

When Thomas was about 14-years old, he entered a competition in a neighboring city. On this trip, both David and Mary accompanied Thomas (usually just David went) and lodged with some of Mary’s distant relatives. One of the daughters of the relative was a beautiful 13-year old girl, Nara. She had long, thick light colored hair with deep blue eyes. Thomas became immediately smitten. Although they were too young to be betrothed, Thomas knew that he deeply desired this beautiful girl to someday be his wife.

The family enjoyed their stay in the city. Of course, Thomas won the bow and arrow competition and also did well in other athletic competitions. Nara, also smitten with Thomas enjoyed watching him perform, and found his 14-year old body attractive, and dreamt of what he would look like in a few short years.

Thomas and Nara spent time together exploring the woods and creek nearby Nara’s home. Thomas again, showed off his shooting skills when he spotted a large wild turkey. He quietly nocked his arrow, carefully and quietly aimed, then let the arrow go. The arrow went directly into the turkey’s heart, killing it instantly. Nara smiled admiringly, as she loved turkey and loved watching Thomas show off. Thomas proudly carried the prize turkey home to be cooked for the next day’s evening meal. Of course, the families were pleased with the catch and enjoyed the meat.

Thomas continued to sharpen his shooting skills along with his other athletic skills and contended well in each of the competitions he entered. He became well-known and well-respected for his strengths and skills. He also was well-known for his animal carvings as he brought carvings whenever he traveled. He always enjoyed traveling to the city where Nara lived! He loved spending time with her and looked forward to their future together!

After meeting and falling in love with Nara, Thomas wondered if he could carve a person. He asked Neka to show him how to carve a person knowing that he really wanted to carve an image of Nara. Neka gave him a softer piece of wood to practice on, then carefully demonstrated to Thomas how to carve faces, hair, curves, arms and legs. Thomas meticulously followed Neka’s instructions the best he could. His first carving was adequate, but he was determined to do better. Neka gave Thomas additional practice pieces of wood, additional demonstrations, and Thomas continue to patiently practice until he perfected the image of a young girl. Now, it was time to create a carving of Nara.

When Thomas was 17 years old, he thought it was time to finally ask Nara to marry him. Both sets of parents were pleased with the relationship and encouraged it to continue. Thomas, along with his parents, traveled to Nara’s home. Thomas placed the wood carving of Nara in a golden colored linen bag that he planned to give to her when he asked her to marry him. He was excited, yet nervous. David and Mary were excited to have Nara as part of their family and especially at the thought of having grandchildren!

Once they arrived at Nara’s home, Thomas took Nara’s hand to go on a walk, carrying the linen bag that contained the wood carving. They talked and laughed as they strolled to their favorite place in the woods by a small gurgling creek. The sky was crystal clear blue, the sun was past its apex and heading towards the horizon. Colorful wildflowers covered the landscape, birds were melodiously singing, and the frogs were cheerfully chirping. The peaceful setting could not have been more perfect.

Thomas handed Nara the golden linen bag and asked her to open it. She was excited to receive a gift from Thomas, knowing how skilled he was with wood. He had given her several different carved animals and she loved each one of them. Not only was his workmanship exquisite, but knowing that the animal images were carved with love, love for her, caused her to completely cherish his gifts.

Nara expected another carved animal so when she took the carving out of the bag, she was stunned that it was a carving of her! The carving was made from a hard deciduous wood and portrayed her sitting on a log, head bowed and hands clasped as if in prayer. It measured about 6 inches long, 6 inches high and around 3 inches deep. And, was exquisite! Thomas informed her that shortly after they first met, he saw her sitting the way he depicted her in the carving.

He told her that not only was she beautiful on the outside, she also radiated beauty from within. He then tenderly expressed to her that he wanted to be with her forever, he loved her, adored her, never wanted to be without her, and then asked her if she would be his wife forever.

Nara, thrilled for the carving and ecstatic over the proposal eagerly said yes and gave Thomas a long, passionate kiss. They sat and hugged, laughed, kissed, and dreamed about their future. They dreamed of their home, children, occupations, and of spending their life and eternity together.

After a time, the sun was about to set below the horizon so they decided that they needed to go back to Nara’s home. They held hands, feeling full of promise for their future together, dreaming together as they walked.

As soon as Nara’s father saw them walking toward the house, he quickly ran to Nara’s side, put his arm around her and looked down at his precious daughter with a great big smile! Nara smiled back at her loving father and gave him a big hug as tears began to flow down her cheeks. When they reach Nara’s home, they found their parents and Nara’s siblings eagerly waiting outside for their return. Nara’s younger brother, Noah, hungry and confused at why Nara was crying ran to her and put his arms around her legs to try to comfort her. Nara hugged Noah and informed him that she was crying happy tears. Noah, feeling relieved then stated in a loud, impatient voice that it was way past time to eat; the evening meal was all prepared and ready to eat! Everyone laughed! All of Nara’s siblings were hungry and anxiously awaiting Thomas’s and Nara’s return so they could eat.

Thomas asked Noah if they could wait just a couple more minutes before eating. Noah begrudgingly agreed, but to hurry; he was so hungry that he could eat an entire deer all by himself! Thomas chuckled, tussled his hair, then hoisted him up and set him on his shoulders.

Thomas, hanging on to Noah with one hand and holding Nara’s hand with his other hand, announced that they were now betrothed and planned to marry as soon as it would be practical. Nara took the carving out of the linen bag to show everyone. They all loved the carving and how Thomas so thoughtfully and exquisitely portrayed Nara in prayer.

Noah, feeling stuck on Thomas’s shoulders, squirmed down and gave him a big hug!! Because he had many sisters, proclaimed that he was thrilled to get another brother! Then, emphatically and impatiently announced to everyone that it was time to eat! Laughter erupted as everyone agreed with him! The mothers hugged Thomas and Nara then left to put all the food on the eating table. The fathers then congratulated them and ushered everyone into the eating room for the long-awaited celebratory evening meal.

(To be continued…)