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…)