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A barely visible path, wanders through the dark and treacherous woods. A traveller walking this path gets weary and sad as the path is not easy to walk. It wanders seemingly forever; up a very steep mountain. Many travellers give up and turn back to an easier path, yet many still try to reach the top of the mountain.
The woods are so dense that the travellers can’t see the top of the mountain; they can only see a little part of where they’re going, and sometimes the path almost disappear. Many a traveller has gotten lost on this path, wandering the woods, for a long time before finding it again.
On this path there is a stream, this stream flow from the top of the mountain. The snow-capped peak feeds it with sweet tasting water, which soothes the aches, pains and tiredness of the weary travellers. Beyond the stream the woods thins and the travellers are able to see more clearly, and the sun breaks through the denseness of the woods, giving the travellers hope, and lifting their spirits.
In this stream lay a stepping stone. Well placed in the centre of the stream, revelling in the flow of the stream, listening to the song of the water against its sides. Singing with the song of the stream; rejoicing in the knowing that it has a purpose. It tirelessly stood strong, so that each traveller had a steady place to step on as they pass over the stream to continue on their path. Some would sit down on the stone, sharing their stories with the stone, and rest for a while before moving on. The stone patiently listened lending them its strength and the essence of the stream, so that they can walk once more.
Year after year the stone did its work with joy, yet slowly more travellers came, and the stream did not wash the mud left by their feet from the rock, as fast as it had before. Slowly the stone started to wonder at the reason it was there. Why it would lie there, to be stepped on to help the travellers with its steady foundation. Every day the stone watched the travellers pass, and with time every step from the travellers began to hurt, the mud from their feet grinding into its surface scratching it, leaving marks on the stone.
The travellers praised the stream for its service, and beauty, before moving on. None of them ever realising that the stone was also of service to them. If the stone was not there they would not have been able to step over the stream, keeping their feet dry. As the path is not completed yet, and walking it with wet feet will cause them pain.
Sadness grew in the heart of the stone, waking in it a yearning to not be what it is. To abandon its purpose; as its purpose is not needed. Slowly using the flow of the stream and the weight of the travellers as they stepped on it; the stone started to shift, loosening the foundation it rested on and one night a storm raged increasing the flow of the stream, the stone succeeded. The rushing water rolled the stone further downstream away from the path, leaving its place empty.
As the storm subsided, the calm returned to the stream and it flowed steady again. Yet the place of the stone was empty and the song of the stream changed, and it lost the way it danced around the stone, caressing it. The water spirits dancing on the flow of the water, felt the change and it saddened them. They missed the stone, its song and its steady strength.
Still the travellers came, they stopped at the stream, and there was no stepping stone to help them across. They had to walk through the stream, getting their feet wet. The flow from the stream washed sand into their shoes, grinding at their feet, as they continued on their way.
Time passed and the stone felt relieved to be away from the stepping feet. The stream washed it clean from the mud the travellers left behind. Yet the sadness stayed in the heart of the stone, but it felt that no-one would miss it.
Two men came walking down the mountain, their white hair and beards gleaming in the filtering sunlight, their white robes crisp and clean. As their reached the stream, the one called Seni asked the other “Where did the stepping stone go.” The one called Eli answered: “It seem to have shifted from its place, let us search downstream.”
“A storm has come and clouded the heart of the stone, it cried out in pain as it rolled away from where it belong.” The spirits sang. “Return to us what belong, so that we can sing again” the stream whispered.
The two men walked down the stream searching for the stone. “Here!” called Eli. They lifted the stone form the stream and placed it on the shore.
“Let’s place it back where it belong!” said Seni
“NO!” said the stone angrily.
“Why have you left the place you belong, dear stone?” asked Seni.
“Because the belonging hurt, and none see the service lend to them. Why stay, when none care about the strength lend them, the rest given or the comfort so they can walk further, with no grinding wet sand in their shoes. The travellers praise all they can see, yet they never see the foundation lend to them. Never realise that what they received resting on a stone, touch them in ways they can’t see! Do not place me back, where there is no appreciation for who I am!” said the stone in a sad and angry voice.
“We came to find you, as your place is empty, the stream’s song changed when you left, the water spirits can’t dance in the ripples created by your presence, it made them all sad. Many travellers passed through the stream and had to be helped as their feet were bleeding and they could not walk, because you were not there to lend them a way to cross the stream. The strength you so selflessly shared, and the way you listen to their stories, is needed. You have to return to where you belong, without you, the place you belong... are empty, and it affect many things.” Seni said.
“How can this be true…” mumbled the stone not all that sure it wants to believe the ones that came to fetch it.
“It is true, let us show you.” Eli said.
They picked up the stepping stone and carried it back to where it belongs and placed it on the shore. The stone heard the song of the stream, a sad song felt the change in the energy.
“Why have you left? We need you, can’t you hear that without you my song is not the same?” the stream sang.
“Bring us your ripples Stepping stone so we can dance again, so we can find the joy you bring to our existence.” The water spirits sang, sadly.
“You can place another stone there, it need not be me. Every stone can be replaced.” The stone said stubbornly.
“Every stone have a specific value; size and balance, the soul of each and every stone are different. Your soul and the way you change the song of this part of the stream is needed, as it affect the flow of the stream lower down. All things hold energy and in the way your soul flow here, lend its strength to the energy of the area, and to the rest this part gives to each traveller. This is what gives the travellers the strength they need and the fortification they need to continue their path.” Eli said softly.
“Since this mountain was created and this stream flowed this stone has been here, lending to all travellers this service. In return the travellers leave upon it their mud, which grinds and cause it harm, and from them are taken a lot of their pain as they rest. A stone is strong, but sometimes it needs to be washed with the waters of love and appreciation. It also needs what is given, so that it can continue to be who it is.” Replied the stone sadly.
Just then a traveller stumbled to the stream, his feet bleeding, carrying his shoes. “I am so happy you found a stepping stone. I came back to look for a stone to place here, as the pain crossing this stream is causing, should be prevented. Let me help you place it so that others that come past here, will have the benefit of crossing over it. In this way they will not have to suffer the pain I am feeling, as this stone can prevent it from happening to others!” The traveller mentioned.
Seni and Eli looked at the stone, “Do you see how much your presence affect here?”
“Yes, yet it does not sooth the pain it causes.” the stone whisper sadly. “Being a stone, bring the need to be strong, no matter the consequences thereof. No matter what is thrown at it, it has to be what it is, a stepping stone, each has their place, where they bring to others the best of who they are, even if none can see, or appreciate what is done for them. The stepping stone need to be true to itself and its purpose.”
The three people placed the stone where it belong making sure that it rest on a steady base. As they step out of the stream, they heard the song of the river change, saw the joy of the water spirit return as they danced in the ripples cause by the flow of the stream. All felt the energy change, to what it was before.
The stepping stone felt the caress of the stream, heard her song, a song it has heard since the time it was created. Felt the joy of the water spirits, and sighed.
Elron and Sensei turned to leave, “We will walk with you traveller”, they offered.
“No, I think I will sit on this stepping stone for a while, placing my feet in the healing ripples of the stream. The energy here is soothing, I will continue when I feel stronger.” He replied.
The others smiled, and returned up the path to the top of the mountain.
As the Stepping stone listened to the story of the traveller, it contemplated all that happened. In all things there is a place each belong, a place where who we are serve all there is the best. At times the mud of existence cover our vision, and a storm is needed to wash us clean so we can see, just how much we are worth, being who we are. Be all you are in yourself, in service of all there is. No matter whom you are, even a humble stepping stone. Sometimes who we are can’t be understood by others, as they are not a stepping stone, so they can not appreciate the being of a stepping stone.
Maybe we need to learn to show more understanding and appreciation to those that are the stepping stones in our life, those that are there to listen, and lend their strength to us in our need. Never look down on the stepping stones that gave you more than you realised in a time you needed it.
Written and translated by Anu-IAH