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A Tale Of Two Stones
Seldom had it been grasped tighter by human hands, never had it known the sweat
of raw hate, the darkness of a man’s hand was darker than the ground it had
struggled to be free from. It had been the play thing of children, a football at
times why it was even used to skim across water by giggling youth and lovers on
moonlight nights. It had spent days being pushed and kicked aside by angry
humankind who cursed it for being in the way of weary feet and frustrated
hearts. No pity ever flowed in its direction; no one ever gave it a second
glance except when its kind was needed to create a place to shelter the
Small stones always counted themselves lucky, at least they would not be pressed
into becoming a wall, at least they were independent but today gripped by anger,
probed by sweating fingers they would have willingly changed places. Larger
stones sitting pressed together on the road side could almost be seen to smile
as they watched the spectacle unfold.
Angry man and unloved stone in unlikely partnership both as hard as each other,
both unyielding and well matched. Both stone, one in heart one by nature, one
driven by hate the other taken by force, one walking in his own will the other
held in captivity.
One stone that was being squeezed beyond anything mother earth ever accomplished
looked out from between a finger and thumb and saw his redemption. A priestly
robe swished by in a hurry, hope of freedom sprang up before being dashed as it
saw that even priests got angry enough to carry stones. How can this be that a
man can be harder than I, that the most precious of all Gods creation, the one
he created to be like him can have the nature of a stone? I was born a stone; I
was born to be unyielding and hard but man? He was made to be my master better
than I and yet here we are acting like we are both stones. The story of creation
had been passed down from generation to generation, our ancestors the mountains
spoke of watching God create from dust the man that today creates hate for
another. I may be just the size of a man’s hand but I am old enough to remember
better days, days when I was hidden in the dampness and darkness of the earth,
days when I could not see such a sight.
I never asked to be a stone I was born a stone, I never asked to be changed I
fully accepted my lot but this? I wish that I had joined the union of stones
when I had been asked; I can see the benefits now at least I would have had
someone to stand up for me. My political representative the Master Stone was on
permanent leave of absence having been crushed by a cart. He never was much help
anyway, as I recall he was only ever seen around big stones his own kind, the
rest of us were too small for our voices to be heard. I had always tried to
better myself, I always wanted to be recognized, always tried to be better than
the dust that was to be my destiny. I had fought against this enemy of mine I
tried to stay fit, tried to always look my best, I avoided confrontation with
both man and other stones. One of my shoulders carried the gaping wound left
there by my last fight; it was a Saturday night that a cart wheel hit me on the
back of the head with a hammer blow. ‘Drunken dri!
vers’ I had screamed after him, dust dripped off an open wound, my once proud
shoulder laid at my side. No ambulance came, passers by passed by, here I was
wounded and they just carried on as usual with their lives, hours later a child
picked me up and took me home. He was a Samaritan to me even though he
unknowingly had left my shoulder behind; I had become his plaything all-beit
until his mother threw me out the next morning. Back to my own kind back among
old friends who would at least sympathise with my predicament or at worst remind
me of my destiny.
The noise around me was deafening, scrambling crowds had joined together to make
a mob, individual hate joined with corporate anger and I was an unwilling
participant in their race. I found myself pushed through an opening in the crowd
as my masters hand pulled and finally pushed its way forward to get a better
view. What was the object of such fury; it must be a giant to need such an army
of people to overcome it. Suddenly the hand that had held me so tightly gripped
me even tighter, was this affection? Boiling sweat washed over me as I tried
once again to see the source of such hate through narrowing fingers.
The crowd ground to a halt, the voices ceased at least to a whisper, it was then
that I noticed fellow inmates, stones from the same street; I recognized many of
them as we had been lifelong companions on this stretch of road. There was ‘Old
Grumpy’ imprisoned just like I was, he was always one for moaning never happy,
never smiling, always complaining about other stones. ‘Pride’ was there too, his
fine flint no longer shining, he was just like the rest of us caught up in
someone else’s war, and he had fallen just like many said he would. Out of the
corner of my eye I witnessed an old twisted stone called ‘Bitterness’ he was the
ugliest stone of all in our commune, no one stayed around him because he tainted
everyone with his ways. I heard one young stone called ‘Backbiter’ cry out with
pain as he was being crushed even harder than I was by a hand that resembled a
shovel. Now she knows the pain that her words caused so many other stones as she
carried tales and gossiped as a!
lifestyle. Old Mrs Whisperer was there too, still whispering even though she
could barely be heard from her five fingered cell. We made quite a bunch all of
us, me; if truth were known I was no better than anyone else, I had loads of
faults; I needed to be set free just like everyone else.
Lost in my thoughts I almost missed the main event of the day, from my ‘cell’ I
heard a rough accusing voice speak above the maddened crowd, it was so filled
with anger and self righteousness that I almost shook at it’s intensity. Wanting
to know the object of such an outburst I peered from my cell its fleshly bars
yielding little, rags that move? A female form and yet as torn as her clothes,
her hands and feet bleeding from many wounds, her heart stripped bare by
Dignity had already fallen in a dingy back bedroom of her lover’s house trailed
onto the floor by the same angry hands that now held us stones so tightly. Her
so called lover was nowhere to be seen, did I say lover? An abuser more the
like, and yet she had probably yielded her body to him seeking love and comfort
finding instead betrayal and blame and finally shame. They had been lovers in
the physical sense but I have seen that physical love almost always dies; I have
watched many a young couple going from giggling teenagers to enemies sometimes
overnight. People are a strange lot for sure, we stones have our faults but at
least we stick together seldom ever fight, well not so that humans would notice.
Where was her so called lover, I pondered it takes two to make love at least
that’s the way I had heard it said as smutty remarks were passed within earshot
of us stones. He was nowhere to be found, at least I could not see him, and he
was not at her side as she quaked in fear in the rising dust. Is there a law for
one and not the other? It was then that I noticed something missing, there were
no women among the crowd they were all men is anger a male domain or is it that
women have softer hearts? The silence grew to an almost deafening roar only to
be broken by the one who had thrown the woman so roughly to the ground. He spoke
sneeringly to a hand that stroked the dust of the earth just in front of pains
new victim, I pushed harder at the bars and because of the sweat born by the
heat of madness was able to widen the bars enough to see the elected Judge
sitting on the ground. Around him a crowd of onlookers, ears strained, eyes
watched and curiosity won the day as the main man became the main man.
I recognized him immediately even though he looked just like everyone else
(humans are featureless really not like us stones) there was no beauty that
stood out he was well, just ordinary. I had seen him several times always with a
crowd of people in tow, always doing good someone once said, I heard that he
healed all that came to him, pity I am just a stone cause he could have healed
‘Master’ a voice sneered; ‘this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act,
she should be stoned like Moses said’ oh now I saw the reason for our
involvement this man was to be her judge and jury we were to become her
executioner. Don’t they know that life is precious? Even we stones covet long
life, we struggle against man and nature to keep our size; we never willingly
give up even when beaten to dust.
‘What do you say? The voice of the chief accuser spoke loudly so that all around
could hear his authority, he was a small man crouched over in his bitterness.
His eyes ablaze sought for a sign of agreement from the judge, this man of
letters, this priestly man had already judged the defendant guilty and merely
wanted the well done of the gathering crowd. He did not want to hear the judges
opinion all he wanted was his approval to kill the poor unfortunate who lay
shaking with fear in her dusty dock. The courtroom hushed now as all eyes
turned, all ears strained to hear the master give his judgement, the black wig
was held in readiness, and we stones waited.
The judge stooped even lower; silently he stretched out his finger and began
writing something on the ground almost ignoring the tempters who sought to judge
both him and the defenceless woman.
Again the big mouth opened and bellowed ‘What is your judgement? Do you agree
with the Law of Moses that this adulterer should be stoned to death? I had never
seen such a stony heart; this guy was harder than any stone on my block for
sure. The crowd having been whipped up all began to rehearse the same words over
and over again louder and louder came the question until the judge himself stood
to his feet.
Fingers readied themselves to loose the instruments of death; stony hearts
became even harder than old Pride the flint stone, uglier than Old Bitterness. I
readied myself; this was to be my first time in battle. Oh sure I had met others
who had been bloodied in this strange human ritual but to be the cause of
someone’s death was abhorrent even to me. Cruelty like this was never ever seen
among stones and yet they call us hard? The air was electric, tense beating
hearts performed a dance pumping heated blood faster around the fingers that
grew ever tighter around me.
Then it happened, the judgement was laid down, no black wig, no angry
condemnation of the accused, no sentence, just the judgement of wisdom. ‘Let him
that is without sin cast the first stone’ I watched accusers become defendants
in the courts of their minds as words ripped open stony hearts. On my left was a
priest and on my immediate right was a Pharisee, godly men at least in the
temple, respected for their religious ways, their traditions vital to their
existence as leaders among men. Surely these men would be able to throw the
first stone, they are the pillars of society and so we stones took a deep breath
The oldest man in the crowd whose stature was one of great pride suddenly shrunk
as his shoulders followed the demise of his hatred, the stone that he had held
so tightly dropped with a thud to the ground.
It was old Bitterness himself that fell so loudly, another thud followed by a
rolling Mr Grumpy, and yet another as Whisperer and Backbiter fell close by,
young Pride fell harder than us all as he was the largest and within moment it
literally rained stones until the ground around us was littered.
Freedom was mine as I embraced the dust I had often cursed for blocking my way,
us stones smiled in approval not just because we were free but because the
accused was awarded freedom.
I love a story with a happy ending don’t you? Even old Grumpy smiled out of the
corner of his mouth, Bitterness was however extremely annoyed, he just loved a
good punishment, and he was always a ready to be used when someone was in
trouble. Death was his constant companion, he was always the first to strike, he
was the hardest of all us stones always ready to have blood spilt over his many
faces. He was the one who stood up almost persuading others to use him to
destroy life, he was always quick to speak against all who did not agree with
him and devoured many in his time. He could break hearts with a whisper; burden
those who were already burdened with guilt and tear down even the stoutest of
If only he could have seen himself, how ugly he had become, twisted by hate and
envy, robbed of youth and weakened by his words, foolish stone, I thought to
Pride stopped rolling and settled at my side his many faces hardened by years of
trying to be number one, top of the heap among us stones, His sneering face
spoke first, ‘I was willing to be used to kill this woman, after all she is not
like me, I am tougher, stronger, and more handsome am I not? She is weak and I
am strong, she is a sinner and stones cannot sin, she is not as important as I
am’ As he spoke his shape changed from cragged to plump as pride pumped himself
up to his full height. I remember thinking, one day you’re going to be dust just
like the rest of us then we will see how you react to being the lowest of the
low. Pride goes before a fall and one day I thought you are going to fall and
hard for sure.
Whisperer looked disappointed; the juiciest piece of gossip on the road for
months and it had become dashed by forgiveness, what sort of judgement was that
she was thinking, how can I get a good gossip out of such a judgement? She could
have lived and dined out for weeks on such a morsel now everyone knows so her
meal would have to come from some other dark corner.
Her friend and confidant Backbiter the terrible, contorted her face as she too
realized that her opportunity to talk about the misfortunes of another was
smashed. Both of them sat side by side hugging each other, brooding over the
dilemma before declaring there is always another day, another victim to devour
with their words.
What of old Grumpy? Well he doesn’t change; he has little good to say about
anyone, always moaning about every stone he came across, always nasty in speech,
a thoughtless pusher of stones. I often wondered how he ever got that way;
Whisperer told me someone offended Grumpy, not just any old stone either, a
family member which made things worse.
I digress, let me return to the days news, the crowd dispersed beginning with
the older ones, amazingly they were scribes, Pharisees, priests men in long
robes, God’s men? Sinners? How can that be, even us stones looked up to them as
they swept the road unaware of our existence until one of us tripped them up. I
remember them cursing us at times but you could hardly call that sin could you
seeing every human I know does it.
Religious men, clothed like good men but acting like wolves in sheep’s clothing,
wolves that had their teeth extracted forcibly as wisdom was wielded better than
any instrument. Bitterness and pride reigns in mankind too I noted diligently,
proud grumpy talebearers the lot of them, seems that the only difference between
us and them is that we get kicked around more often and yet hold our tongue.
The younger men had held onto their stones longest running their lives under the
microscope that the judge had set before them all until one by one they too
dispersed, shoulders as low as their spirits, hearts crushed as they realized
the truth ‘they were as bad as the one they were going to slaughter’ Perhaps
some of them remembered the night of illicit passion with married women or young
girls and sighed a sigh of relief that they too were not abused like the young
woman they had tried to destroy. Perhaps some thought that if she was dead she
would not be able to tell of other affairs she had which may have included them.
Imagine being willing to be party of such gross abuse just to cover up your sin,
why I know of no self respecting stone that would be party to such a thing.
The street was emptying quickly now, even the onlookers, those without stones
wandered off pondering their own sin, an empty street now except for the still
weeping, fear filled woman and her judge. She would not lift her head as much as
to look at her judge eye to eye, the dust was more comfortable than his gaze,
will he abuse me with his words, will he condemn me as did the rest of these
religious men folk? Thought followed fear in a race to escape but just then he
spoke, his voice was astounding even to us stones, it was as though eternity
spoke, as though the creator spoke in gentle tones to his creation.
‘Woman where are those that accused you, has no man condemned you?
Here was love so vast that it filled her emptiness, love that was real, love
that she could trust began to heal her wounded ness and envelop her pain with
healing ointment. She struggled to sit up but her body still weak from the
beatings and sore from the verbal abuse refused to move. She wanted to see her
deliverer, she wanted to say thank you but her head was as heavy as her heart,
struggling with guilt, laden with condemnation.
She wondered would he abuse her, was he to be her accuser rather than religious
men? Was he to stone her? She cut a pitiful spectacle as she struggled to
compose herself, trying to cover her nakedness with bloodied, bruised arms and
His voice rang still as her mind dissected every syllable seeking for the reason
for such kindness, when a full analysis was carried out she whispered ‘no man
Lord’ what now she wondered, bowing her head expecting more stony abuse for her
sinful act; the voice spoke again this time with even greater compassion flowing
over each letter, binding words together with justice and love that would bring
‘Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more’ The Judge had spoken, the
sentence was passed not on the woman but rather on the men now scattered to the
street corners in order to bind their wounds once again with the salve of
religion and tradition...
She was free, never to be judged for the same crime, never to be trailed through
streets again, never to have to seek love again because she found true love in
the righteous Judge.
I looked around once again at the scene, the roadway littered with stones that
had been removed from old buildings and walls by men only interested to see
tradition win over compassion, law over love and mercy. Many stones moaned about
the waste of a good day, me? I was glad that this stone was allowed to be part
of setting someone free rather than be an instrument of their death.
Many moaned that they were a long way from home, me I was just glad to be free,
by the way I never did tell you my name it’s Petros seeing I am just a small
stone. Many other stones joined me in my delight, this man was worthy of praise
from man, why even we stones would praise him if we could, he had not come to
judge or condemn the woman he was there to set her free.
It was later, much later that we heard that the stony hearted religious men
crucified the righteous judge, he had come to them and they did not recognize
his goodness, a stone would never treat another stone like that, what’s wrong
with these human beings after all they are supposed to be intelligent.
The world, well at least the street where we lived saw two types of stone today,
one the stony heart of mankind and us stones. I wondered since if the righteous
judge would judge us would we be found guilty of being the hardest of all or
would it be those that were so hard hearted that they would have killed a woman
just because she sought love?
What of the girl? She was free for the first time in her life, free from chasing
love because love came and found her, here is a truth that humans should know ‘a
stony heart can never be free, a stony heart is condemned by its action, stones
like us however are never judged after all, we are only stones.
Makes you think doesn’t it?
David Robinson ©
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