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…)

 

 

 

Esrom Part 3

Esrom Part 1

Esrom Part 2

After my passionate speech and the room filling with the peaceful assurance that it was time for us to escape our captivity, we sat in silent contemplation for several moments. Finally, my mother broke the silence and said one word, “How?”

I think that was the question each of us pondered during the silence. Jared had many people who, for whatever reason, followed him and would do just about anything to help him. He had more guards than were necessary to assure we accomplished our tasks. We rarely had time to ourselves when we were not being watched.

How would we obtain weapons? How would we communicate our desires to others? How would we convince the people that it was time to free ourselves from captivity? How would we train for battle?

My father directed each of us in the room to go to our homes and to pray for a solution then we would meet again in three nights at sunset. He also sternly told us not to inform anyone of our thoughts until we had a basic plan.

Coriantumr expressed concern about what the guards would think if the same people met here again in three days, since the same guards worked at the same times and in the same places. The healer, Calia, recommended that we pray and ponder for the next three days, and bring any inspiration that we might obtain to her or to my Father.

Calia was one of the oldest members of our community and well respected by my parents and all who knew her. She was considered a prophetess as she seemed to have a direct line or conduit to God; my father often consulted her with important decisions. Her husband was killed by Jared’s guards during captivity as he was not physically able to meet the demands of his assigned task. Although he did his best to complete his tasks, he moved slower than the guards thought he should move, so they whipped him until he died. Calia was truly a gifted healer as she seemed to know exactly which herbs and other treatments were needed. In fact, several times Jared requested her services, even offering her a room in the palace but she would not stay there, desiring to be with her people.

Before everyone departed, Coriantumr quietly mentioned that he had been having dreams about a way to fight enemies using only the body, especially arms and legs. I quickly stood up and enthusiastically commented that I had similar dreams. Without saying anything else, Coriantumr, who was taller and much stronger than me, stood up, walked over to me as if he was about to attack me. I grabbed his arm, circled my leg around and pushed my foot into his chest and threw him down to the ground. It was amazing! I had never before thrown my brother to the ground! And believe me, I tried many times. My mother looked at us in astonishment, knowing how many times I tried to take down Coriantumr and I seemed to have just done that with ease. We suddenly felt an assuring peace and comfort knowing that we were being guided by the Lord to defeat Jared and his armies.

My father dismissed everyone and we all had a new anticipated hope that a way would be provided for our people to finally have our God-given freedoms again.

Coriantumr and I eagerly discussed what we envisioned in our dreams, what we saw, and how we would be able to teach others what we learned. We started doing the different moves that we dreamt about. Our parents were intrigued with what they saw. We were amazed at how easily we were able to convert our dreams into skill. My father suggested that we create a plan to teach others the techniques and create scenarios to practice and master them. The teaching and training would need to be done in secret as we did not want Jared’s guards to know what we were doing.

Coriantumr and I stayed up half the night recalling every possible move that we could from our dreams. We accidentally woke up my mother who reminded us that we really did need to get some sleep because we still had our chores to do the next day. Sleep came slow as my mind continued to race, trying to remember what I had been taught in my dreams.

After waking up the next morning, Coriantumr and I continued to recall and rehearse what we learned in our dreams. We ate our morning meal and unfortunately had to leave to do our daily responsibilities but we went with a new energy and a new hope for a new life.

After our workday was finished, my sisters’ husbands, Len and Daniel, came to our house excited to learn our new method of fighting. Even though they were somewhat underweight because of living in captivity, they were both still large and muscular. They were impressed at how I was able to easily take down Coriantumr when I had never been able to do it before. Coriantumr appreciated the chance to train with Len and Daniel because we needed to develop a method to train others. This would give us experience before we showed others this method.

Coriantumr, being older, larger, and stronger than me, took charge of the training. I gladly watched him as he had an innate gift of leadership and teaching. I was also blessed with those gifts, but despite our brotherly mischievousness and competitiveness, I naturally wanted to learn from him.

Coriantumr started with what we thought were the basic moves. We really did not know what we were doing, we were just trying to duplicate what we imagined in our dreams. Surprisingly, the training did not go well. We did not understand why, Coriantumr and I argued, Len and Daniel seemed not to be coordinated enough to master the basic moves; which was odd since they both were strong and athletic. My mother, observing this, suggested that we take time to pray for additional help and guidance. She strongly believed that we were missing an important step or instruction.

We prayed and listened for guidance. Nothing came. We prayed again. Our father prayed with us. Still nothing. What were we missing? Len and Daniel finally left to be with their families. Coriantumr and I talked with our parents. We had felt so hopeful that what we learned from our dreams were answers to our prayers to escape captivity. My father wisely suggested that maybe there was something missing from our dreams that we did not recognize or we had not dreamt yet.

We carefully went through our dreams the best we could. We rehearsed moves that we saw. We sparred with each other using moves we dreamt about. Something was still missing. We went to bed with the hopes that the missing piece would be revealed to us.

(To be continued…)

Esrom Part 2

Esrom Part 1

After talking a bit about the possibility of planning an escape, my father reported his conversation with Jared about hid guards and what just about happened with my mother. Actually, Father was not able to talk to Jared himself; apparently he was too busy to see his own father. So, he spoke with one of Jared’s ministers, one who oversaw the guards assigned to those of us in captivity. The minister laughed at my father. Then, as he saw the anger and disgust in my father’s eyes, he looked down, stopped his laughter and informed my father that he could not control all his guards, despite the agreement. My father could see in the minister’s eyes greedy lustfulness and a hint of pride for the guards who almost had their way with my mother.

The minister loosely assured my father that he would talk to the guards. My father did not trust his assurance and firmly informed him that if there were any other infractions by the guards, he would demand to discuss the issue with Jared.

After the unsuccessful conversation with Jared’s minister, my father felt that he needed to inform all in captivity to never leave women and girls alone. He sensed that would not be the last assault on our people. In fact, he wondered if the minister would slyly give permission to the guards to increase the torment our people. That was a major factor in my father agreeing that it was time to escape our captivity.

We spent some time talking about different ways to escape our captivity, none of which sounded good or right. My father decided that we needed to have a council with some of his most trusted advisors. He emphasized to us that we could not yet talk to anyone about wanting to make plans to escape. He realized that even though there were several hundred of us in captivity and we all wanted to be free, there may be a few who would not be trustworthy and would tell Jared’s guards about our plans.

We all agreed with my father, but everyone turned and looked at me with daring looks in their eyes. I wondered why the looks; after all, I was the one who was most determined to free us from captivity. My sister’s husband playfully rubbed his hand on my head, messing up my already messed up hair, and reminded me of some of my youthful foibles. I knew that I tended to become overly dramatic, energetic, and sometimes a bit reckless. They all laughed as I was pretty confident that they remembered some of my childishness pranks.

I assured my family that not one of them would be more committed to our escape than I would be. I understood that this was a seriously large responsibility and I would carefully keep our confidences.

The next day we arose early as the sun crested over the horizon. My mother still did not feel well but no one was willing to let her stay home alone; still feeling traumatized from the previous day’s events. My father decided that he would stay with her so we divided up his tasks, as well as mother’s tasks, and went about our day.

My father asked me, Coriantumr, my sisters and their husbands that if they saw a few certain individuals, men and women that my father implicitly trusted, to discretely invite them to come to our home that evening after the sun set. We were not to tell these individuals the purpose of the invitation except that my father wanted to have an informal get-together.

Although my mother continued to suffer considerable trauma from the previous day, my heart felt surprisingly light as I contemplated various ways we could escape our captivity. In fact, my heart felt so light that I began my crazy antics while hoeing weeds in the fields. Without thinking, I began to hoe with exaggerated motions, spewing up dirt everywhere and to everyone around me. I started singing at the top of my lungs, nonsensical songs that I created on the spot. It was all in fun; however, my sister’s husband yelled from across the field to remind me to settle down. I grinned at him, bowed in an elaborate and exaggerated manner, and put my finger to my mouth to signify to him that I remembered that I need to stay calm. Everyone around me, even those covered with dirt, laughed as they knew I could be quite playful at times. Actually, I believe, or want to believe, that many enjoy my playful antics; they made people smile, laugh, and momentarily forget the drudgery of our captive work.

We contacted those my father requested to contact. At sundown, two trusted advisors to my father, a healer, Coriantumr, Len, my other sister’s husband Daniel, my sisters Deborah and Neria, gathered in our small home. I have other brothers and sisters and their families that my father wanted to come, but he also knew that too many people at our house at one time would raise suspicions among the guards.

Being the righteous and God-fearing man that my father is, he started the meeting with a heart-felt prayer, pleading to God for help in our deliverance out of captivity. He recounted the experience with my mother and pled for protection for our people. After his prayer, a sense of extraordinary peace and calmness came over us. We felt the power of my father’s prayer and the power of God imparting his peace unto us.

The first topic that my father brought up was for those in the group to quietly inform everyone else to never leave women, girls, and children alone. He recounted his meeting with Jared’s minister and his feelings that the minister and Jared would not honestly honor the agreement to leave our women alone. My father desired to keep everyone as safe as possible.

We already had an effective communication system in place to quickly get messages to all our people. After discussing the merits of using that system to communicate this message, we decided to go ahead and use it. Daniel brought up that he believed that some of our people may be spies for Jared and his people. My father agreed with him but felt that this message was important to get out through our normal system. However, we would need to discover those among us who may be spying for Jared or may be defecting to his side.

My father next brought up the topic of our possible escape. He recalled his feeling of what happened to my mother the previous day and his concern that the abuse would get worse. Those who were not with us the previous day were quite surprised that my father would bring this topic up. I decided to speak up; even though I was the youngest of the group, I had their attention.

With passion, I courageously expressed to this group that I wanted to help my father regain his rightful place on his throne. I reminded them that all I had known was captivity and I was ready to become the person God intended me to become, not just some shabby, submissive slave. We all felt the power of God come into the room and the sweet whisperings of the spirit telling us that it was time to escape the chains of captivity that held us prisoners for years.

(To be continued…)

 

Thomas Part 2

Thomas Part 1

Thomas was quite the social and adventurous young boy. Because he was an only child, he spent much of his free time with cousins and friends, especially with group of five other boys, all of whom were within a year of Thomas’s age. Three of the five boys were cousins, sons of David’s siblings, and two were friends who lived close by.

This group of six boys were well-known throughout their community. For the most part, they were good boys. Their parents taught their families well, but they were still boys, trying to have some adventurous fun.

One day when Thomas was about ten years old, on a picture perfect late summer day, two of his cousins Elad and Aaron, and Thomas were playing with their rubber balls. They had completed their chores for the day and wanted to enjoy the cooling temperatures before the sun completely set.

The balls they played with were made of a type of rubber. Rubber artisans used rubber for various different purposes, including making toy balls for children and adults. The balls were light weight and came in various sizes. Most of the balls were a charcoal gray color, but colored dyes were added to some of the balls creating various colors. The process to add dyes to the rubber was extensive, so not many balls were colored. The balls were bouncy and could keep a young child entertained for quite a while.

Children used the rubber balls to play catch, to hit with sticks (somewhat similar to baseball), and some of the more rambunctious boys would play a type of dodge ball game, or just throw the balls at each other. Sometimes they would split up into two teams and play a type of war game. Depending on how hard a ball was thrown would depend on if one was hurt by the ball. Even the hardest thrown ball would usually only cause a minor bruise. The children, especially most of the boys, did not mind the occasional bruise; usually the entertainment they enjoyed out-weighed the slight pain of a bruise.

Older children and adults used the rubber balls for various games they created. One game they played was similar to basketball. The game was played outdoors on a large field. There were round hoops on each end of the field. Two teams competed against each other, trying to get the ball in their hoop. The hoops were vertical rather than horizontal.

While rambunctiously playing with the rubber balls, suddenly Thomas took the ball from Elad. Elad immediately began chasing Thomas. Being very quick and agile, Thomas sprinted away from Elad. However, Elad was almost as athletic as Thomas was, so could keep up with him. Thomas, knowing that Elad was close behind him, ran down stairs to an underground storage room where they stored food, especially food for the cold season. Normally, the door would be closed, but happened to be open at that moment. Aaron followed after them.

Elad was close behind. Thomas hid behind one of the large ceramic vases that just filled with summer grain about two weeks previous. The vase was about four feet tall and about 18 inches in diameter at its widest point. It was beautifully decorated with artwork of some of Mary’s favorite flowers. It was a large vase, with a tight lid, and held enough grain to last about one to two months of the cold season. Elad and Thomas circled around the large vase, somewhat careful not to disturb the other vases that held food while Aaron stood by, warning them to be careful around the storage vases. As Elad was about to grab Thomas, Thomas, trying to get away, tipped the large vase over. There was a big thud sound followed by the breaking of the ceramic vase. Grain and shards of pottery scattered everywhere.

Mary, hearing the crash, hurried down to the storage room to see what happened. As she entered the room, she saw the grain mixed with various sizes of ceramic shards and Thomas, Elad, and Aaron scurrying to pick up the shards. Thomas, seeing Mary, went to her, hugged her and told her how sorry he was for breaking the vase. He knew how important the vase was to her and especially how important the grain was to the family. He had even helped harvest the grain and put it in the vase.

Mary first asked if the boys were hurt in anyway. Then she proceeded to sternly remind them the importance of the grain for food during the cold season. She instructed them pick out all the shards, place them in a pile, put the grain into linen-type bags, and then find her when they thought they were done. Mary left the storage room, still feeling quite angry, but decided to leave the situation and let her anger abate.

There were so many shards! Thankfully, most of them were larger pieces that were easy to pick up. They struggled to find all the small pieces. Thomas did not want those in his food and his mother sternly told him to find and remove every single piece.

After about one hour, Mary went back to the storage room to see how they were doing. They looked quite down and discouraged as it took a lot of careful detail to separate the shards from the grain and it was getting dark as the sun was setting. That was hard work for 10-year old boys who would rather be playing and doing something else. With the help from their friends, they were more than half-way done. Mary brought in a couple of torch lights and spent some time helping them. In fact, she was able to get more done in about 15 minutes then the boys could get done in an hour.

Mary desperately wanted to lecture the boys, but decided against it. She felt that the tedious picking out all the shards from the grain would be a powerful lesson in and of itself.

After about another one-half hour, Mary supposed that most all the shards were picked out of the grain. They would need to be extra careful when they used that grain during the cold season to check for any remaining shards.

When Thomas returned to the house, David was there, returned from a long day at the woodshop and already had heard from Mary about the evening’s events. He informed Thomas that he would need to work to purchase a new vase. Thomas felt extremely discouraged as he knew that the vase was one of his mother’s favorites, that it was made especially for her, and was expensive. David reminded Thomas the importance of making amends for poor choices and purchasing a new vase for his mother would be the right thing to do.

Later that evening while David, Mary, and Thomas enjoyed family time, Elad and his parents came over to discuss the day’s incident. Elad, with the prompting of his parent, apologized to Mary and David for his part in breaking the vase and informed Thomas that he would help purchase a new vase. They discussed different ideas of what they could do to earn a fair exchange for a new vase.

The following day, Thomas, Elad, Mary, and Elad’s mother walked to the marketplace and found the pottery artisan, Pezi, from whom Mary purchased the original vase. Thomas sheepishly explained what happened to Pezi and that he needed to place an order for a new vase. With Mary filling in the details, he gave Pezi all the necessary information. Pezi, who was once a energetic boy like Thomas, told him and Elad that they could work in his workshop to help pay for the new vase. After hearing this news, they both excitedly looked at their mothers for approval. They were thrilled as the vendor was a favorite distant relative of theirs.

Mary and Elad’s mother told them that they could work for Pezi as long as they completed their daily and weekly chores. They arranged times that they would go and work with Pezi. Pezi could only smile at the young boys, remembering similar situations in his youth.

Thomas and Elad, and occasionally Aaron worked for Pezi for several weeks. They learned the fine art of pottery making and helped make the new vase for Mary. She actually loved the new vase more than the previous one as Thomas put some of his own love and energy into it and it taught the boys many life-long lessons.