The Stone Keeper – Chapter Ten and the Conclusion
The climb up the mountain was staggering. Steinar couldn’t believe that the old man of his dreams made this climb any too often. He hung to the side, looking up the steep mountainside. It seemed he had been climbing for hours. Was it only this morning that he left Jorn and started up the mountain? What would he find at the top? Whatever it was, it would be good to get out of the snow, the cold wind and get some food.Jorn called this the mountain of The Stone Keeper. Was it the same Great Stone Keeper of his dreams? Maybe this was just some kind of imagining. It had been a while since he had allowed his imagination to carry him away like that, but perhaps he had done so this time. (The number of times he had done it when he was a child was too great to count, but he wasn’t a child any more – he was a Stone Keeper.)
As his face crested the small rise in the side of the mountain, he could see the feet. They were large feet wearing leather boots, like his own. Before he even had time to slink back down and hide, the huge hand was in front of his face. “Hello! We’ve been waiting for you!”
Steinar looked up startled and a bit fearful. Who was “we” and how did they know he’d be coming? He tried to get a look at the face that went with the big feet and hand – but the sun was keeping him from seeing. Sun?
“Father was so pleased that you were coming that He has killed the fattened calf and we are planning to celebrate. Let’s get you cleaned up and ready for the celebration!”
The hand had been waiting all this time for Steinar to grasp. He took hold of it and he was nigh on hefted up the remainder of the hill. Steinar was astonished by several things all at once, first was the strength of the Baker’s arms but secondly was the wounds that he had on his hands. Someone, sometime had really hurt this man.
The change in temperature as soon as he was lifted up over the hill was also amazing. On the side of the mountain, the air was frigid and the snow falling, but here, at the top of the hill, the air was pleasant – not too hot, not too cold and the sun was shining brightly. At least Steinar thought it was the sun, it wasn’t quite the normal sun, but then again, he wasn’t accustomed to being so high in the mountains, perhaps that was the difference…
The other thing that caught Steinar off guard was the delicious scent of the cooking meat. Steinar had smelled cooking calf his whole life. This had a different scent to it. He could smell rosemary, garlic, onion, perhaps some lemon or orange, even. He started salivating.
“Come, the Fuller has a clean tunic for you, so you don’t have to wear this dirty one.” Steinar didn’t even look this time, he knew his tunic would be filthy. It always was when the Fuller was around.
After changing, Steinar came out to a table laden with greens and fruit and food that he had never seen before. The Baker was slicing bread very similar to the bread that Branwen made. The puffy kind. “Here, have a piece while we wait for Father to return. It’s fresh and you must be very hungry. This will help the hunger.” Steinar smiled his gratitude, because he WAS very hungry and he could hardly wait to get this to his mouth. There was something about the bread that the baker offered that was more satisfying than any he had ever eaten.
It wasn’t long before the man that Steinar knew as The Great Stone Keeper came walking toward them. His long tunic clean, pure white. He smiled widely at Steinar, “You made it up here. I’m so proud of you! Let’s take a moment to give thanks and we can eat.” As he was speaking, he grabbed both the arm of the Baker and the Fuller and gave them each a squeeze.
The Fuller picked up the bread and held it in his large hands. “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise, His greatness no one can fathom.” With that, the table sprang to life with laughter, talk, song and food being passed amongst the four of them.
Part way through the meal, the Great Stone Keeper leaned back in his seat and sighed. “Oh this was good. I’m so glad you came, it gave us the perfect excuse to prepare a great dinner. So, how are you enjoying your new friend, Jorn?”
Steinar looked at the man they called Father. “I like him very much.” “You seem surprised by that.” “I am. He is part of the Forest Folk who attacked my people and took them into captivity.” Father leaned across the table and took both Steinar’s hands in his own great big hands. He looked deep into his eyes. Steinar wasn’t certain he wasn’t looking deeply into his soul, “It wasn’t Jorn’s people – or any other Forest Folk who attacked your Community, Steinar.”
Steinar was puzzled. “How is that possible? I saw them for myself. They were dirty, they stunk and they were after the Stone. I heard them telling one another that that was what they were there for.”
Father looked at the Baker and Fuller, then refilled and handed him a glass of wine, vibrant with color. “Steinar, my son, it was another Stone Keeping Community that attacked your people. They found that they had lost their Stone and they were frightened, so they attacked your people, in order to take their Stone.”
Steinar’s face reflected great confusion. “I don’t understand, they looked just like Forest Folk.” With a soft, sad voice, Father said, “Sometimes Stone Keeping Communities do end up looking like the Forest Folk. That is what happens when they don’t keep the Stone at the center of their lives.”
Steinar sat staring into his glass, watching the sunlight play on the colors of the wine, trying to decide if he should or should not ask. The Great Stone Keeper leaned back in his seat and watched him. The Baker sat with his big arms on the table, his hands engulfing his own glass, with just a hint of a smile playing on his lips. The Fuller sat and watched this for awhile, leaned over to get the bottle of wine to refill his own cup and patted Steinar on the arm. “Yes, you should ask.” Steinar understood how Jorn felt when he asked him about his name.
“Ask what?” The Baker laughed, “Don’t mind him, he hates to see you wrestling over such a simple thing as asking a question. He means, yes, you should ask about your family.” Steinar was still a little taken aback, but his desire to know how his family was exceeded his discomfort.
Looking at The Great Stone Keeper, Steinar said with great intensity, “How are they?” The Great Stone Keeper smiled a great big smile, “They are just fine. They are home, working diligently to get the Community cleaned up. Once it was found out that the Stone Keeper had “lost” the Stone, the marauders panicked and left the people out in the forest to find their way back home. They are concerned about you, but know that you are carrying the Stone and were headed for another Community and trust that you are safe.” The Great Stone Keeper paused for a moment then with something that sounded almost like a giggle, “Wyatt is still struggling a bit with you being Stone Keeper, rather than him.” Without even thinking, Steinar responded with, “Me too.”
Steinar was shocked that the words had come out of his mouth, although he suspected that it didn’t matter, they would have known he was thinking it anyway. They all began to laugh. “Steinar, you were created to do good works – good works that were prepared in advance to do. Everything about your life has been to prepare you for this time. Enjoy it! I mean, come on, where else would you have had such a lovely meal?”
At that, Fuller stood up, “Come, help me wash up the dishes – we can talk while we’re working.” Steinar thought it interesting that he was both the one to wash the clothing and the dishes. He must like water, Steinar decided.
The conversation was pleasant and full of laughter as the two of them washed up the dishes. He was so content that it didn’t occur to Steinar, until much later, that he had never seen dishes like that before. He was too entirely captivated by the conversation. The Fuller was kind and concerned about Steinar, it was almost like talking to his mother. Very comforting.
When they were done, the Fuller turned to Steinar and said, “I have a small collection of herbs up here, could you choose some for tea to drink while we watch the sun set?” Steinar was thrilled. He had missed “tinkering,” as his father called it, with herbs these past few days. Being in the midst of a collection of herbs and spices and different leaves was second nature to him and he loved it. He began opening the jars and breathing deeply of the many scents. It was delightful to him!
Taking a bowl with the mixture Steinar had blended back to the table, where The Great Stone Keeper and the Baker had remained talking, the Fuller set it in the center of the table and laid out tankards and brought the kettle from the fire. Steinar saw that a platter of sliced pears and chunks of cheese had also been laid out.
The Great Stone Keeper looked up, “Steinar, may I see your Stone, please?” Steinar reached into his pouch to bring out his Stone, but what he found there surprised him. The Stone was nearly twice as large as it was when it had first been given to him. He looked at it as though he’d never seen it before.
“What’s wrong? Is there something the matter with your Stone?” asked Father gently.
“It’s bigger – much bigger. What have I done to it?” “You’ve sown it.” said Father. “Sown the Stone?” Steinar was horribly confused. “I don’t understand.”
Baker gave his hand to Steinar and in the middle of his scarred hand there was a seed. Steinar recognized it right away. It was a poppy seed. “Yes, it is a poppy seed.” said Baker (Steinar wondered, did he even speak aloud?) “If I were to plant this seed, what would grow?” “Poppies, “ said Steinar.
“Yes, poppies. Your Stone is just like that. Here, on the mountain, we call your Stone the Faith Stone. It is when you plant the seeds of your Faith Stone that it will grow. You may not see it all at once. It may take time, but your Stone will grow. Your faith is no different than the seeds that your family plants in their garden. The rules of True Life work both here on the mountain, as well as in the valley – sowing always brings reaping.”
Steinar was captivated by the size of the Stone he held in his hand. But he was still confused. How could he sow the Stone…the Faith Stone – is that what the Baker called it? It didn’t make any sense to him. He felt a gentle touch on his shoulder – it was the Fuller. “Don’t worry, you will understand it. I will help you. But right now, we don’t want to miss the sunset.”
The four of them found the perfect place to sit and watch the sun sink behind the clouds. It was magnificent! Steinar didn’t remember a more beautiful sunset in his entire life. At the exact moment it reached its fullness of color and glory, the Stone in his pouch began to sing. It joined its song with the song of the Great Stone and together they filled the air with worship. Steinar found he wanted to join them. He wasn’t normally a singer, but the Song simply HAD to be sung. He wasn’t so certain that the trees weren’t singing too, it was that powerful.
When the sun had set, Steinar had a moment of panic. They had been so busy enjoying one another’s company that he had completely forgotten about preparing a shelter for the night. The Baker laid his arm across Steinar’s shoulders, “Do not worry, in my Father’s house there are many rooms. Come, let me show you the room I prepared for you.”
Steinar had never been in a room like the one he was shown to. Years later as a very old man, he would remember this room and think how far ahead of the times it was, but for that night, he was only tired and eager to sleep.
Just as the Baker was leaving, Steinar turned around, “Oh NO! What about Jorn? Will he be okay in the forest by himself? Will he be worried about me? He doesn’t know where I went.” The Baker smiled. “It’s okay, the Fuller already took care of everything.” Steinar nodded. That didn’t surprise him. It seemed that with these three around, there was nothing that wasn’t already taken care of.
The next morning broke with more birds singing than Steinar could ever remember. The sun was beautiful and the temperature perfect. It took him a moment to realize what woke him. It was a shout. Seconds later, Baker stuck his head in the door, “Sorry if I woke you, I just had to give a shout of joy. I can’t help it. It IS morning, you know! Breakfast will be ready very soon. Come join us!”
Steinar noted that the tunic at the end of his bed was clean. He smiled. These men were so concerned about clean tunics. It was as if they couldn’t stand seeing anything stained. That was okay, his mother would be happy to know that he was wearing clean clothes. She was always after his brothers and him to attend to their cleanliness.
Breakfast was just as delicious as the dinner the night before. There was some fruit on the table that Steinar had never seen before, but the conversation between the three men was so interesting that it kept him from interrupting with any questions.
When breakfast was done, Father turned and looked at Steinar, “Would you like to go fishing with me? I am a fisherman at heart and I would love it if you would join me.” Steinar quickly agreed and before he knew it, they were both on their way, angles in hand.
The walk to the lake was pleasant, but silent. Though Steinar’s mouth was silent, his mind was reeling. He had so many questions that he wanted to ask, so many things that he was hoping to have clarified. He knew that the Great Stone Keeper…Father…had all the answers he needed. He hoped that he would be willing to answer his questions.
After the two of them had settled down along the shore of the lake, under a very old Aravah tree, Steinar knew that it was time to start asking. But, before he could get his first question out, Father looked and smiled at him. “I’m so glad you came with me. I have been hoping to have time together, just to enjoy being with one another. I hope you have had a good time while you’ve been here. I know we sure have enjoyed having you.”
Without thinking, Steinar nodded and said, “Yes, it has been wonderful. I feel more peaceful than I have ever felt in my entire life. I don’t know what it is about this mountain air, but I love it.” Father threw his head back and laughed! Steinar was bewildered. What had he said?
When he was done, Father looked at Steinar and said, “I’m sorry, I was just remembering what others have said about my presence and the mountains. There is a bit of disparity in the two images, I suspect that they would not agree with you.”
After saying something that seemed foolish, Steinar decided not to ask his questions. Father allowed him to sit in silence for a while, then he said, “Steinar, it is a foolish man indeed who allows his pride to keep him from asking the questions he has burning in his heart.” There was no condemnation in the words, but Steinar’s heart was convicted of his foolishness.
Looking sideways at Father, pursing his lips, he heaved a deep sigh, “You’re right, I’m sorry. I felt foolish when you were laughing at me.” “Was I laughing at you?” asked Father. “No, I guess you really weren’t.” Father nodded, “This has been a problem for me since the beginning. People keep choosing to misunderstand what I have said or they believe what someone else twists to represent my words. I’m glad you are able to discern the difference.”
Steinar felt a rush of pleasure surge through him – he had done something to make Father glad.
That short conversation was all it took – it was as though the flood of questions that had been rattling around in his head were fighting for the opportunity to be asked first. No sooner had the Great Stone Keeper answered one question, than Steinar asked another. This went on for some time. Suddenly Father held his great hand up. Steinar stopped speaking instantly. He knew that sign – it indicated danger!
Father looked strangely at him and said, “Son, we are in no danger, I just wanted to stop you from asking another question. I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry. I asked Baker and Fuller to join us here and I’m thinking that they should be here any moment now.”
Sure enough, no sooner had he spoken than Baker and Fuller cave over the small hill, waving and bearing baskets of food. Fuller laid out a beautifully woven blanket on the ground. It seemed too beautiful to use for an eating blanket to Steinar, but Fuller seemed certain that it was a good choice.
On the blanket, they laid out bread, fruit, dried meat of some kind and cheese. While they were waiting on Father and Steinar to put their angles down and set the two fish they had caught to the side, Baker walked over and drew out some water for them to drink with their meal.
They gave thanks and began eating. Rather than their usual jocularity, things were a little more subdued during this meal. It wasn’t that anyone was in a bad mood, it’s just that there seemed to be a more solemn feel to this day than there was to the previous evening. While he was eating, Steinar leaned back on his elbows and looked at each of the men individually. They all three looked a bit like one another, he wondered if perhaps they were brothers.
The Great Stone Keeper – or “Father” as Steinar had started to think of him – was an enigma to Steinar’s eye. There was something undefinable about him that made him look very old, yet young all at the same time. There was a strength and power that hung in the air about him and everyone seemed to consider him to be the oldest.
Baker on the other hand seemed to be the youngest. Steinar wondered anew how he had gotten such horrible wounds on his hands. Perhaps he had had an accident while he was making bread and burned them…. Either way, there was a feeling of youth about him. He seemed to be just the type of young man he wished would court one of his sisters. Where did THAT thought come from, he wondered? Then he realized that there was something about his face that reminded Steinar of the way that Gaillard had looked in the weeks leading up to his wedding. A man who was in love…
Fuller was the most interesting of them all. From that day forward, he le to describe Fuller’s looks to anyone. He would never be able to clearly define what he looked like. He wasn’t old. He wasn’t young. He just was. That sounded silly even to his own ears, but he couldn’t think how else to describe him. His face didn’t remind him of anyone, no matter how many people he tried to match to him. He also noted that when they were having a discussion, most often Fuller was the one to compliment the other men. That reminded him of his middle sister. He decided it must be a middle child thing.
When they were all done eating, no one made any effort to get up. They all simply laid back and soaked up the sun. Father rolled onto his side and spoke softly, “Steinar has been asking many questions about the Faith Stone. Fuller, Baker, is there anything that you would like to tell him?”
Fuller smiled and rolled onto his side as well. It allowed him to look Steinar in the eyes. “You must remember, Steinar, that with the Faith Stone, things are not always as they appear. Sometimes you will be tempted to think that things are not good, when in fact, they’re better than good.” Steinar tried to look like he understood what he was saying. “Okay. Thank you.” he said.
Baker hadn’t rolled over nor opened his eyes. Father kicked his foot. “Hey! You aren’t supposed to sleep nor slumber. I have this on the BEST authority.” Baker grinned, without opening his eyes. “True, BUT the fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied. And I fear the Lord.” Father grinned in return. Baker rolled over and they looked at one another in such a way that Steinar was certain he must have been mistaken, they couldn’t be brothers. Father had to really be Baker’s father, no one else looks at you the way a father does – it’s just that Father didn’t look old enough to be a real father to Baker.
Baker looked at Steinar and said, “Steinar, faith is important. VERY important, for without it, it’s impossible to please Gott. There are three things which will abide through all time – faith, hope and love. Obviously faith is one of them, but of the three, love is the greatest. Gott Himself has put Jorn in your life. His heart is ready to learn about the Faith Stone. Teach him Steinar. Do not fear what he might do to you. Stand firm on your own Faith Stone, act like a man and be strong. But love him, for he is your brother. Share the Faith Stone with him.”
Before Steinar could even begin to respond, Father stood up and said, “Well, now that we have discussed all that, let’s go move to the edge of the mountain and watch the sun set.” His words jerked Steinar up, as though he had slapped him. How could this day have passed so quickly? It seemed like they had just come out here to fish. He still had so many questions. He guessed they would have to wait until tomorrow. Maybe they could go for a hike tomorrow.
Again, it was another breathtaking sunset… Where was all this color coming from? Where had it been all Steinar’s life? He just couldn’t remember ever seeing it before now. As the color was fading from the sky, they sat about, quietly sipping tea, relishing being together. It was sweet to sit about with these men. He hoped that they would allow him to remain until he had learned all that he needed to. Tomorrow, he wanted to ask Baker about Jorn…and his statement that he was his brother. He was certain that Baker had forgotten that he was Forest Folk…well, almost certain.
As he was headed to the room that Baker had prepared for him, Father pulled Steinar deeply into his arms. He hugged him tightly and kissed him on the forehead, just like his father used to do to him when he was a little boy. “Sweet sleep, Steinar. I love you son.” For some unknown reason, he felt like crying, but the Stone thought otherwise, it was singing for all it was worth.
Steinar slept. But, he didn’t dream.
Steinar lay in bed, warm and cozy, hearing the birds, but yet not quite ready to open his eyes, when there was a shout! He smiled. “I know, I know, it’s morning and you just can’t help it!” Jorn said, “No, I can’t help it! I had no idea you had two fish and these small loaves of bread in your bag. This is great!
Steinar sat up so fast he hit his head on the overhanging stones. He looked at Jorn. Jorn looked back at him. How did he end up here? He remembered being lost, he remembered being with Father, Baker and Fuller…. He remembered many things, but not how he ended up here, back in the little shelter that he had with Jorn. He remembered Baker’s words very clearly.
Steinar smiled. “You know Jorn, we must be related. In my Father’s house, people shout first thing in the morning there, too. Maybe we’re brothers.”
And the LORD their God will save them in that day
As the flock of His people;
For they are as the stones of a crown,
Sparkling in His land.
Dear friend, thank you so much for honoring us by allowing us into your life during this busy season. We have been praying for your holiday season, that you would know your Lord more and that He would be preparing your heart for all that He has planned for your new year.
This story is the fruit of this past year of great testing and trial in our lives. By God’s incredible mercies, we have come out of this past year refined – stronger and filled with more joy and love for the Lord of our lives and for His people. Our desire is to give ourselves to Him – in whole new ways – as living sacrifices. As we do that, we have found that He keeps putting His finger on two things, loving the “unlovable” and loving Him.
We suspect that the next few years are going to be very intense for God’s people. Not only would the continuing decline of our culture make that difficult, but we suspect that there will be financial struggles thrown into that mix. In addition, we have been watching a move of revival taking place in the business world. It is for this reason, if no other, that we MUST make certain that we are sowing our own Faith Stone, that it might grow. We are going to need a big faith stone.
Daniel knew well of the need to have a strong faith, despite all that was raging about him. He, and his friends Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael, all walked into an evil and perverse country that despised them. They were able, by faith, to set themselves apart from all the rest and stand firm in that faith. Why? Daniel explains it so clearly in chapter 11:32 that “by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.”
As the world is spiraling down into more and more depravity, the cry for a Godly nation – a royal priesthood – is most desperately needed. WE, God’s people, are that royal priesthood. And when all the world is living in fear, what a powerful witness we can – and will – be, when we are both displaying strength and taking action and the love of Christ. It’s that very strength and love that will draw the world to our Savior.
We, like Steinar, for much of our lives have been told that the World is “unclean.” We have been told time and time again that the World, like the Forest Folk, are dangerous, carrying “sin germs” that we must avoid at all times.
Sadly, this has caused us – and often the Church – to huddle in fear while the World dies from their “sin germs”, forgetting that greater is He that is in us, than He that is in the World. We keep asking ourselves, “What should our response be?”
We don’t know all that He will ask of us, but we DO know we can’t stand before our Lord and Savior, who gave everything so that we might have life and have it abundantly, and say, “We couldn’t touch them Lord, they were unclean!” As the very words leave our mouths, we suspect He will extend His hands and there in the midst of the torn flesh and blood, we will see the uncleanness of our lives written – just like the words He wrote in the sand before those who came to stone an adulteress.
So, as we begin the new year won’t you join our family, and commit to becoming a family intent on being strong and taking action – to live as Kingdom Families? If this is something that Father is calling your household to, we invite you to join us. Father has placed it on our hearts to continue to grow in this and to encourage your family to do so, as well. We will share what we have learned this to mean – the call to love the Word, to know our God, to be strong and take action. And it would be our honor to have you join us. (You can hang out here and hear more about it over the next few days/weeks.)
May we all be as stones of a crown, sparkling in His land,
The Clark Clan