Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Great (07/06/06)
TITLE: Upon This Rock...
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Stealing another moment of stillness before rising, he glanced over at his nephew Tirus who lay curled up in the blanket he had begun his night’s slumber with. The evening chill had paralyzed his weary bones. Watching Tirus smile as he dreamed of a life free from a tyranny that made little sense to a boy of twelve, he could not begrudge the confiscation of his blanket.
He sat up quietly and stretched his arms skyward as if a passing cloud might provide the support he needed to rise to his feet. Reaching for a weather –worn piece of oak that lay beside him, he pulled himself upright. He staggered toward the ashes of the smoldering fire and poked at its remains with the old stick. He looked around for a few pieces of wood to rekindle the flames that had died down overnight. It wasn’t long before the warmth of the blaze was difficult to stand near.
The clanging of pots awakened Tirus and he immediately began to help his uncle. He loved helping with breakfast. Spending time with his uncle was Tirus’ favorite thing in the world to do. After the death of his father and mother, Tirus and his uncle had become inseparable. Some of the other boys teased him about his uncle. To some, his uncle was little more than a glorified waiter. Tirus didn’t care what they thought. His uncle was his hero.
After clearing away the morning tables, Tirus hurried off to play with the other children.
As he began the journey into the center of the city, he took one more look over his shoulder at his nephew as he scampered out of sight. “Tirus will make a fine man someday”, he thought to himself. Looking skyward, he squinted into the sun. “Yes, he will make you a fine witness someday.”
Tirus returned home tired and dirty from a full morning of play. He was met with a host of sobbing women. Many of his uncle’s friends and companions stood in a huddle. Philip, a man his uncle thought very highly of, knelt down and grasped Tirus’ forearm. “I am afraid your uncle has been taken from us”, he whispered through his tears. Tirus pulled away from Philip and ran from the gathered crowd. He hated this world. It had taken so much from him.
Falling to his knees, Titus lifted his face toward heaven. “What am I to do now? Was this your plan?” Tears fell from his face onto the dry, rocky road beneath him. Titus beat his fists against the stones that littered the ground. Philip reached him and dropped to his knees before Titus. He knew the pain the child was feeling. He knew that this was only the beginning of the loss that was to come. He held Titus to his chest as the boy sobbed.
He knew, just as Titus’ uncle had known, the cost of this journey.
“There is more if you want it. Eat your fill. You’ll need strength for the journey ahead!” The young man gathered the plates of those who had finished and began to wash them. A cup toppled over and rolled from the table. As he reached down to retrieve the cup, his necklace fell from his shirt and dangled from his neck. “A reminder, I take it?”
The young man lifted his eyes and his countenance exploded with joy! It was a voice he cherished. A face that he had longed to see. A reminder of what, Brother?, the young man said. The man reached down and grasped the necklace. “This stone you wear, Tirus. A reminder of your uncle?” Tirus embraced the man. “Much more than a simple reminder, Philip!” Tirus cradled the blood-stained stone in his palm and looked heavenward. This stone is a comfort when I do not know what lies ahead. It is a prompting that greatness isn't defined by the task you are called to perform, but in the manner you perform the task. Most of all, this stone is a guarantee from my Uncle Stephen that the journey is worth the cost!”
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