The Return

‘Would that I could go back, to return and make right that which I had previously misdirected,’ said I, as we both reclined on the banks beside the vast expanse, the cool water into which we dangled our toes in delight. ‘I carry a heavy burden of trouble for that which I have done in ignorance to the truth.’

           By rummaging around, the small, flat pebble wasn’t hard for Elijah to find. He clasped it gently, then tossed it into the still waters to watch it skip many times across the surface. So many times, in fact, it was impossible to count. I could only stare aghast, remembering as a lad only conjuring at most six skips before my stones were lost to the depths.

           ‘Those deeds committed in ignorance or without intention are not weighed to balance in heaven, my friend. Only those who have erred with deliberate intent, or for determined self-interest to another’s detriment or negligence, are committed for their rightful consequences. It’s like peering at your face through a window and baring the results of a lifetime.’

           ‘Yet, it is so that my errant deeds and insouciance to others now effects my eternity. My glance in the window of reflection speaks to me with unease. Is it possible to return to undo that which I have done?’

           ‘To return is indeed possible, but the circumstances upon which the journey is to be constructed require consultations from those higher above.’

           ‘Yet it can be done?’

           ‘Yes,’ replied Elijah with a smile hidden behind the frown of his brow. ‘But first you must pass a great test. Then, and only then, can you make such a supernatural return through the mists.’

           My eagerness was akin to a small child about to visit a fairground. The very thought seemed to lift the weight of burden from my shoulders whereby my animation could barely be constrained. ‘What do I have to do. I will do anything. Anything you wish.’

           ‘So be it,’ said Elijah solemnly. ‘First you must find a flat stone, much the same as the one I made dance to eternity across the waters.’

      It wasn’t hard to find, and I proudly held my stone forth for examination. ‘Will this suffice to purpose?’ I asked admiring its symmetry and to which I received a cursory nod.

           ‘Now, see how many skips it will make.’

           I felt the weight and flexed my arm in preparation. Recollections from my youth came flooding back to the art of the practice. I knew what to do. It was like riding a bike. I tossed the pebble into the water and stood in anticipation and expectation of the many skips of its journey. Alas, I fell most notably from my crest when the pebble could only manage five skips before descending into the depths.

           Elijah’s mirth at my disappointment was barely contained under his gruff exterior. Yet his eyes told an alternate story.

           ‘Does this mean I have failed?’ I asked in abject disappointment. ‘Does it mean that I cannot return to mend my mistakes?’

           ‘My friend, the showing of our misdeeds can only delay, they cannot prevent, the ultimate realisation of the truth. The truth does not care what you choose to act upon – it remains unchanging.’

           I watched carefully as Elijah bent down to pick up another flat pebble. He seemed to hold it in his hand with loving care. He even whispered words to it that I was unable to interpret. Without so much as a practice swing, he tossed the pebble into the water and watched with a quaint smile its multitudinous skips across the water well out of sight of eye’s reach.

           ‘But how? How did you do that?’

           ‘Find another pebble,’ he said adamantly. ‘But this time, speak to it with love and devotion. Acknowledge its’ beauty. After all, it too is a reflection of the divine. Praise it as worthy and equal to the task of its journey.’

           I, at first curiously, then with the dawning of wisdom, did so speak to the pebble held lovingly in my hand. Then, with a motion as fluid as the water into which it was cast, did I toss the pebble and watch with joy as it skipped upon the water to join its friends on the other side of eternity.

           ‘Good,’ said Elijah as he clasped my shoulder. ‘Now we can see to the next part of your journey. The return.’

           ‘Lead thou me on,’ said I with a mind still skipping across the water like a flat stone.


Stephen Chong

2nd April 2021