Tuesday, April 19, 2005

 

the child, fifty-two


Day after day, Starr wondered what Maccabees could have been hinting at. Night after night, she thought herself to sleep. What could it be, the thing that would bring unity to this group? And why could she not think of it?

Stone continued to walk by himself most of the time. Watching him, Starr prayed for the inner transformation he desired for himself.

And the days rolled past.

One afternoon, as the two of them were walking together at the tail end of the group, they could see that, as usual, Forest and James were having a disagreement. Soon, they could even hear it. And soon after that, the disagreement grew so sharp that the two men stopped walking entirely and faced each other instead, scowling and yelling and gesturing.

And everyone else, as they came to the spot where the two stood arguing, came to a halt as well.

Stone and Starr were far enough back that it took them a while to catch up with the others. As they drew near the rest, Stone shook his head sadly and said to Starr, 'What a mess!, And the saddest part is that they really have hardly anything to argue over, but they still do it anyway. Man, you don't know what it's like sometimes in the tent at night! One or the other of them, always finding something to disagree on. When, really, if they'd just listen to each other, they'd find out that they see things so much alike. It's like...' he tilted his head, searching for a good simile, 'it's like two eyes in the same head arguing over which sees the view ahead of them right, each saying the other is wrong. When really the disagreement is just a matter of perspective. So silly to argue over!'

The two of them had nearly arrived now at the spot where the rest were watching the argument, when Jack suddenly threw up his arms and said, 'Oh, that is enough! Fine - you two stay here and enjoy your yelling match. But I'm going on!' And he turned and started off.

Forest abandoned the argument immediately, rushing off to get in the lead ahead of Jack. And James was not far behind him.

Stone grinned. 'Jack should have thought of that one a long time ago!' he beamed.

'Yes...' said Starr softly. And said nothing more for a long time.

Finally, after her silence had stretched out for about half a mile, Stone prompted, 'Thinking?'

'Yes. About something you said.'

'What did I say, that made you so thoughtful?'

'Two eyes in the same head. Stone, what if... what if that's what we are supposed to be? All of us, like the parts of a single body? Forest and James, like the eyes. Linda and Lucy, like - I don't know - hands. Jack, an ear perhaps.'

'I think you're an ear,' he interjected. 'And maybe an eye as well.'

'Joy... what's Joy?'

'Her name - driving dark away with encouragement. The heart, maybe?'

'And you, Stone. You're, hmm...'

'A little toe - that keeps getting stubbed.'

She giggled. 'No, seriously! I think that's what we're supposed to be. Different parts, but the same body. If that makes sense? Like when I skinned my leg - it wasn't just my leg that hurt. All of me hurt. Hurting together. But here...'

'Yeah, the way we've been doing,' Stone interrupted, nodding, 'is hurting one another, and not feeling hurt for the hurts of each other. Yeah. That's a good point. And?'

'And... we need to do that. All of us. Count ourselves as being one body together, under the Master. The eyes, seeing together, using the differences in perspective to pinpoint the problem better. The hands, working together. Not fighting each other! Not like what's been going on.'

'Loving each other,' said Stone.

She nodded. That pretty much summed it up, all right.

Stone gently tucked an arm around her. 'Loving each other,' he repeated. 'Like the way you went on loving me, Starr-girl. All that time, when I got so distant - you didn't throw up your hands like Jack just did and bolt from me, now did you?' He smiled down at her tenderly. 'You just went on loving me.'

Tears came to her eyes, and a lump to her throat. 'I wasn't that steadfast, dearheart.'

He gave her a little squeeze. 'I know. But then you made the choice to love me anyway. To overlook my, uh, jerkishness and keep on loving. Keep on forgiving. Keep on waiting. Right? Isn't that what love does?'

She blushed. 'I nearly gave up though. I got so tired, so fed up. If it hadn't been for the Master, I would have given up.'

He fell silent, and the look on his face made her wish heartily that she had kept her mouth shut and not said anything. He looked so hurt!

'Stone, I'm sorry,' she whispered. 'I'm so very, very sorry.'

His arm squeezed her close again. 'I forgive you, dearie. And I don't blame you a bit. You forgive me?'

'Always,' she breathed.

Companionable silence for quite some time, as they walked slowly along, a goodly distance behind the others. And then, softly, Stone chuckled.

'Yeah,' he said. 'This is exactly what I'm talking about. Loving each other, forgiving each other, not holding anything against each other... That is, you don't hold anything against me, do you?'

'Not a thing,' said she.

'Good. Me neither. So, except for the fluttering pulses and stars in the eyes, this is what we want for the others, right?'

She giggled. 'Yeah. The whole group needs this. To love each other, keep on loving each other...'

'Put up with each other - not give up - not give up.'

She smiled. 'Yes - and not give up... Oh! You know what, Stone dear?'

'What?'

'I think I'm going to go tell them all this. Right now.'

'Uh, Starr, maybe you should, uh, wait...' he said. But she was already trotting ahead, hurrying to catch up with Lucy and start by telling her.

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