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'Singing Stone' (a native American story)

A great teacher of mine, Barbara Somers, passed this story to me as a story about coming home to oneself. I pass it on to you.

In a remote village in the very north of the Americas way back when God was still wearing short pants a boy child was born. He was a much awaited grandson of a Chief and was loved from the moment he appeared. He had two doting grandmothers and all the elders who doted upon him as he left his swaddling behind to stand upon the earth and walk. When the boy woke one day, when he was about eight, he had a fragment of a dream still in his mind. The words 'singing stone', came to him from the dream that had faded except for 'singing stone'. He asked his mother over the morning fire 'what is ‘singing stone’?' She continued to stir the pot as she thought of these strange words her son was saying. 'Singing stone… no, my son, I do not know what this means. Ask your grandfather he might know. And the boy sought out his grandfather and asked him 'grandfather I have dreamed of singing stone- what does this mean?' The old chief rubbed his chin, looked into the distance, was quiet for some time but said he did not know. He had not heard these words before. 'Perhaps in time the dream will reveal what it means.' Although the boy asked many others he did not find out and he did not dream this dream again until he was about 13.

At 13 he was to be initiated into the tribe as a man. He found that, progressively, the words 'singing stone' kept coming to him in his waking and sleeping and still no one could help him understand. He prepared for his initiation. He learned all the hunting skills of the men in his tribe. When he was asked his one wish that must be granted he knew that there was a strong desire to find out what 'singing stone' meant, these strange words that called to him. So he asked his tribe that he might be allowed to travel to the tribes of the East and to experience those cousins far away. Maybe they could help him to better understand what these words 'singing stone' meant for him.

So with tears shed and many hugs from the grandmothers, the mother, the father and all who loved the boy he travelled to the tribes in the East carrying with him the few tools he had made, the food his mother had packed him and his desire to know who singing stone was or what it meant.

His cousins in the East tribe welcomed him and much fuss was made on his arrival. He asked if they knew what 'singing stone' meant. But no one could say. No one knew what this was. Perhaps he would learn? Before long he became a working part of the tribe. He learned their ways and grew stronger as a honourable brave and this occupied the majority of his time. For a while the thoughts of singing stone abided. Then when he was about 22 'singing stone' returned to his dreams and to his waking time on his hunting trips. It returned with great strength and he knew in his heart of hearts that he must leave this tribe that had so welcomed him as no one here could tell him or help him understand what it was, this 'singing stone' he spoke of. So with great sorrow he packed his few possessions, not much more than he had upon his arrival here so many years back. With a heavy heart, but determination, he waved good-bye to the good people of the East, to his cousins and friends, and began to walk to the people of the South.

When he arrived at the tribe in the South he explained that he was looking for an understanding of what singing stone was. The elders there said they did not recognise these word. 'Singing stone' but that he was most welcome to stay with them. Illness had depleted their population and new, young, strong braves were very much needed to rebuild their community. The boy stayed and eventually met a lovely girl who he would wed and, over the decades he raised his own fine children, hunting, sharing in campfire stories and became a much-loved part of the tribe he now called home. When he was well into his 40s he began again to dream of 'singing stone'. These words, silent for so long, came back and called him with such power that he felt compelled to respond. Gathering those most dear all around him he explained that he knew not why, or what would happened but he was being called and he needed to leave them, perhaps not forever, but he had to follow the call of these strange words 'singing stone'. He packed his bow and arrow, his knife, a thick bear skin for winter and bid farewell to all that he had known and loved for ever such a long time and set out alone to the tribes of the West.

The tribes of the West were amazed to see this middle aged man arrive on his pony from the depth of the southern tribes and were keen to hear what had brought him so far and for so long. They worried that he would leave the next day when they were unable to tell him what singing stone meant. They made him welcome. 'Could these people help him?' he asked. He was seeking an understanding of what singing stone could possibly be. 'Mmm,' said one, 'that sounds familiar… but well…. I am not quite sure I know.'. 'Let me see,' said another, 'that has a ring to it, but, no I can't remember what it is'. So he stayed for a year, then stayed for five which became much longer. Once more he heard the call to understand what this 'singing stone' was. On his 65th birthday the call inside him was so loud this time that he knew he would sleep no more if he didn't get up and do something about it. He packed up very little of what he had. He said to the tribes of the South that he was very grateful for all their care and for having them as part of their tribe for so long but he had to go. The call was too great and before he died he had to know what this was.

Off towards the Northern tribe the elderly man went. He walked and he walked, and he walked and when he thought he could walk no further he rested. He began his walking again the next day and as he crossed the flat plain of the North he could just about see in the very far distance a line of tepee tents like tiny specs on the horizon with curls of smoke that came out of the tops melting into the clouds. He walked and he walked for almost another day until he seemed to see movement, coming towards them. Small little figures in the distance began to appear closer and he could see people as he walked towards the village, As the figures came closer he could see that they were waving to him and he could hear, as he got within very close range, that they were shouting 'welcome home Singing Stone'.

This is a Native American story passed on through the oral tradition. The healing potential of stories to help people gain wisdom and face important life lessons, was common practice in many, many ancient cultures. Stories acted almost as a pharmacopeia- different tales for different issues. Today story telling is seeing a renaissance as a way to connect with our insight and a part of the way we can learn.