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…)