“Would you two like to stay for dinner? I was expecting guests, but I have more than enough food made to include a couple youngsters.” Quidel asked as he poured the maté for Rich and Milly. “YES PLEASE! Rich and I are starving!” Milly exclaimed. Just as Quidel finished filling a couple of bowls and gave them to Rich and Milly, Milly’s father entered the hut and with him was Richard’s father, Joe. Quidel welcomed them. “Richard?” Joe said with a pleasantly surprised tone in his voice. “Hi Dad!” “Well, you seem to have ventured a little further than usual. And if you’re hanging out in the ruca of the Flaming Torch, you must have had some day!” “Yeah! This day has been a crazy one. I still feel like I’m dreaming.” Joe took a knee in front of his son to speak to him on his level. Meanwhile, Milly ran over to hug her father and tell him about her day. Joe said to Rich, “Yes this place is very different from the home we know, and these people are a wealth of hospitality. They have created a beautiful community in these hills. People don’t visit this village very often because their town is falling apart. Most people where we are from believe that this place is a slum, and avoid this area. One thing I’ve come to learn is that they may be short on change, but they are tall in spirit. Their commitment to each other has overcome great challenges that I hope you and I will never have to go through.”
Quidel said to Rich, “while you all eat, I will work on these stones for you. I can extract a piece from each one that is more manageable to carry around, and I’ll polish them up for you too.” “Wow, that would be great!” Rich said. “Thank you, Quidel.” said Joe.
Happiness is something we create in our mind.
It’s not something you search for and seldom find.
It’s just waking up and beginning the day.
By counting our blessings and kneeling to pray.
It’s giving up thoughts that breed discontent
And accepting what comes as a gift heaven sent.
It’s giving up wishes for things we have not
And making the best of whatever we’ve got.
It’s knowing that life is determined for us
And doing our tasks without fret or fuss.
For it’s really completing what God gave us to do
That we find real contentment and happiness too.
“I wrote this on June 3rd, 1981 on my sweet and precious mom’s birthday. My poem to my darling Sherrie. I wrote this one morning after someone stole all of my Sherrie’s things while she was away. She was living in San Bernardino, CA. 6/3/1981.”
I found this letter in my Mom’s Bible after she passed on. I believe it’s a poem originally written by Helen Steiner Rice. This letter is from my great grandmother (Grandma Berquam) who was my mother’s (Sherrie) favorite person and role model as she was growing up. I never had the pleasure of meeting her myself (at least I don’t remember her.), but I’m glad that I found a product of her beautiful soul. Maybe there’s more treasure I can find if I keep digging through stuff.
Quidel took a moment to admire his newest student’s interest. “I appreciate your focus, Rich. You seem interested in this.” Rich nodded in agreement. “I came here to know more, and I’ll take all I can get! I’m often told that I am a good student at school. Also, I didn’t know anything about obtaining an unbreakable spirit, or wisdom, or opal, and now I really want to know more!” “I can tell you are a great pupil, and any teacher would be lucky to have you in their class.”
Quidel prepared a traditional tea that the Mapuche drink when they spend time with family. The special drink is called maté. He put it over the fire to heat as he told his story. “This is nature’s way of being a guru to its worthy pupils. If you maintain your curiosity throughout your life, you will always be a worthy pupil to the world around you. These gems are all examples of what to be. These stones are lessons that were meant for you. Did you find these stones, young Rich?” The boy nodded. “Or did these stones find you?” Rich looked confused. “Sometimes we are so caught up with our perception of our lives that we don’t consider that we might have it backwards. The ground we walk on is alive, and it seems as though the populations of the world have forgotten this fact. This is not the peoples Earth; we are the Earth’s people. The illusion is you found these stones; the truth is you found each other.”
It was difficult for Rich to try and grasp exactly what Quidel was trying to explain to him. He had never heard anyone talk about the world that way. He had his doubts that the world was a living being, but he was restructuring everything in his mind since the moment he woke up from his dream that morning. He wanted to believe the world was a living being because Quidel’s story is so much more interesting than the ones in Rich’s textbooks. It was a new concept to him, but he left his mind open to studying it.
“Now, let us begin with obsidian, the stone of power.” Quidel said. “This crystal is formed in the heart of a volcano where powerful forces of nature forge the environment into molten metals and liquid rock! In its depths, you would find the birthplace of obsidian. Sometimes there is an imbalance in the forces of the world, and that creates pressure. When the mountains are grumbling and active, they need relief from the pressure and imbalance. They will release their magma, and some of that magma will even become airborne when a volcano is extremely out of balance, shooting huge boulders into the sky and spewing lava everywhere! Obsidian forms when the lava flows quickly cool. What is left is a piece of shiny brittle glass like the one you have here.” He lifted the black chunk off of the table and rotated it between his hands. Then he continued with his lecture. They all peered into the obsidian, captured by its details and mystified by its story. “All gemstones capture a certain type of energy during its formation. Obsidian captures the powerful energy of an intense environment that resides within a volcano. The Earth creates stones like these to remind us how powerful Earth is. There is no equal, nor is there competition that comes close to the power found in the forces of nature. There are plenty of people who claim to rule the land around them, but they live their lives in an illusion, not reality. They forget the ground below them is the foundation for which they stand on, and the power that created that ground cannot be claimed. There is no power that could overthrow the power of nature. Lightning, the Sun, the ocean waves, the mountains all around us. We could not build these things, nor could we destroy them. Earth is a powerful being, and it wants us to know. Obsidian is a remnant of the power of nature.” Rich’s big eyes, little ears, and huge imagination honed in. He wanted to know more!
Rich and Milly spent their entire day at the falls collecting rocks and exploring. Rich began finding other special rocks he knew as gemstones. He found pieces that resembled the ones in his dream catcher, but these were much bigger. They were as large as his hands! He found 3. One piece was a multicolored stone that looked like it had picked up all the colors of all the different gems and swirled them around, the second pieces was a piercing ice blue color, and the third piece looked as if there was a smokey black spirit caught inside of the stone.
He brought them to Milly to show off his best finds of the day. She was ecstatic! “Wow! I can’t believe you found these! This is great! I can’t wait until we tell my uncle!” She immediately urged Rich to join her on the trek back to her village. “We need to go now! This is so exciting!” She wanted Rich to meet her uncle to identify what he had just found and what it means. Rich was confused by her reaction. “Why, what’s up? Did I find a treasure? Are these worth a fortune? Am I rich?” Milly laughed. “Rich, These are worth more than any amount of money could buy.” Rich was doubtful that money couldn’t buy the stones that he had just unearth. He was already planning on showing his dad, so he could sell them. “But, Milly, we don’t have enough room in your bag for these.” “That’s fine. I’ll store what we have so far inside of this stump, and we can come back another day for them. They rinsed off Rich’s crystals in the river and gently placed them in Milly’s pouch. As they headed to Milly’s home village, the Sun set as the Moon rose.
After about a half-mile of walking, they both needed to rest. “Can we take a break? My legs are getting tired.” Said Milly. They stopped in an open field where they gazed at the moon and stars in the twilight. Milly wanted to share an idea that she had about the world, life and things. “Dad says, ‘being happy means having everything you ever wanted.’” Rich’s memory quickly flashed back to his dad’s advice. He heard his father’s voice in his head. “Being rich means having everything ya ever wanted. REMEMBER THAT, RICHARD! You can make that happen with money.”
“That was Izzy, my chipmunk friend. I’m Milly. What’s your name?” He struggles to speak a response, still terrified of saying something that would scare her away. “What’s wrong? Don’t you talk?” He thought about shaking his head. At least then he could be freed from having to say anything to her all together, but then he quickly remembered why he was on this journey: to be worthy of his dream girl. He was afraid of talking to girls, but what better opportunity to conquer fear than when fear presented itself? He wanted to be courageous, and he knew that courage cannot exist with fear. “My name is Rich.” “I thought your name might be Rich! Only rich people wear money on their necks. Hahaha!” She teased. He grabbed the coin as he stared at it reconciling the truth in that observation. At this moment he realized he was shirtless, and he felt embarrassment for his affluence. “That is a very pretty necklace; I like it.” “Thanks, it’s a lucky coin that I got from my dad. He says it has a story of friendship behind it.”
“Wanna be friends?” Milly asked her new friend. “Okay.” “Awesome! Well, I came up here to look for some rocks to add to my collection. Will you help me find some?” Rich followed her to the riverbanks away from the falls where the river was only ankle deep. She placed her bag on the shore to keep it dry. Milly gave Rich an example of how to hunt for the prettiest rocks, showing him that they shine brightest when the sun pokes out from behind the clouds. He gave it a shot and began collecting. For Rich, the bigger rocks were much more appealing. He wanted to find the huge shiny stones, but Milly found much more detail and aesthetics in the smaller stones. Milly had to instruct him to stop picking out such huge rocks; they only had enough room in the bag for little ones.
Rich neared the edge of the falls, only close enough to see a sliver of the bottom of the canyon. He didn’t want to know how far down it actually was; even thinking about it terrified him. His eyes uncontrollably drifted downward anyway and as they did, he noticed a few rips in his delicate T-shirt. It must’ve gotten beat up while he was chasing Chip through the woods. He wondered where the little guy wandered off to. He slowly turned around to gaze at the view behind him and search the distances for his little friend that brought him here.
Meanwhile, curious Milly decided she wanted to meet this boy. She made her way around the rock to greet him, and he still didn’t notice her. She took Rich’s place on the other side of the rock, where he was originally standing, to view the bottom of the canyon. This didn’t frighten her at all since she had conquered this canyon already. All of a sudden, a “HSSSS” sounded below their feet. “ANOTHER ONE!!” Rich screamed. He became terrified once again, and the feeling for the snake was mutual. The coiled snake struck at Rich’s leg, but he dodged it by lunging backwards and colliding into something that was not there before. While the threat scurried away, Rich spun around, and he felt his hand brush someone’s hair in the air. The immediate reaction was terror once again as he saw his third biggest fear reaching out in desperation. It was a girl, and she needed his help. She shuffled her arms out for something to grab to save herself from the descent that she was plunged into. Her feet were still planted, but her momentum sent her backwards toward a watery grave.
This is when time itself froze. He recognized her. This was the girl from his dream. She saved him from his descent into the darkness in that dream. It was Her. She was his salvation. She was everything he wanted and everything that mattered. She reached out in a final act of desperation to catch herself from falling and felt salvation when she clinged onto his shirt, but the old fibers of the shirt ripped right around his neck and off his back. This moment, suspended in its length, continued.