Welcome to the Sixteen Stones Blog. We’re excited to welcome new friends and re-engage with old ones. We’ve been in existence for a few years, offering one-day seminar retreats in Alpine, Utah. We are friends and mental health professionals and the mission of our association is to promote the emotional and spiritual resilience of LDS women. There will be much more to say in coming days, but for now, it seems appropriate to begin with the story that is our foundation – the scriptural story that fires our imagination and undergirds who we are, what we believe, and what we dream and imagine. Read this story, by our founder, and think about joining us as we journey. We hope you come along…
The Sixteen Stones Story
By Wendy Ulrich, Founder
There is an ancient story about a man whom God sends on a long journey to a fair but distant land. To get there he and his family must cross a vast wilderness and then a Great Sea. God teaches him to build barges that will withstand the mountainous waves and fierce ocean currents, and the man works hard to follow God’s directions and prepare for the perilous journey. He is not afraid to work, and he is not afraid to travel, but there is one thing he is very afraid to do: he is afraid to make the journey in the dark.
The man worries about the darkness of the journey the whole time he is building the barges. He keeps looking for a way to make a window or a fireplace in the barges, but he cannot find a way. Finally he asks God how he can have light for his barges. God says, “What do you want me to do? You cannot have windows for they would be broken to pieces by the crashing waves. You cannot have fire for it could not be controlled in a pitching vessel. What do you want me to do so you can have light?”
The man thinks about his problem for a long time. He thinks about fire, and he thinks about glass, the only sources of light he can imagine. He goes over and over them in his mind. Finally he remembers a place at the top of a high mountain where there is some unusual stone imbedded in the mountain rock. He climbs the mountain, one step at a time, until he comes to the place.
After the man has chipped the stone out of the mountain, he builds a fire so hot that it melts impurities away, leaving only clear, crystalline stones behind. After much effort, sixteen small, clear stones glow warmly in the heat of his fire. He removes the stones from the heat, watching hopefully as they continue to glow with a warm, bright light. But soon the stones cool, the light fades, and darkness returns.
He builds a bigger fire with a bigger bellows, hoping that this time the heat will suffice to imbue the stones with a lasting light. But once again the stones cool and the light fades. After all his work and effort, he is still left in the dark.
Finally the man has another idea. He gathers up the sixteen stones and carries them to the top of the mountain, trying to get as close as he can to the God he loves, and there he kneels to pray. “God,” he pleads, “please do not be angry with me for my request, for you are mighty and perfect and I have so much to learn, but you have commanded us to call upon you to receive what we desire and need, so here I am. Please, God, do not make us cross this great ocean in the dark. See these sixteen stones that I have molten out of the hard rocks. Will you touch them with your finger and make them shine so that we may have light for our journey?”
To the man’s astonishment, God’s hand appears to touch the stones one by one. They begin to shine with a pure, steady light. The man gasps at this unexpected vision and falls down in great fear! Even though he was a prophet whom God had called and led, and even though the man had asked God to touch the stones, he really had not imagined seeing the hand of God.
God comforts and reassures the man and teaches him with great love and tenderness. Then God gives the man two more stones, fashioned by God Himself. These stones are not just sources of light, but of vision. Through them God shows the man all that will happen to him and his posterity until the end of time.
God does all this so that this one man and his children might know God, and know that He would not leave His children in the dark. And so it was that, in more ways than one, this man found light that had never been seen before.
We, too, have oceans to cross and barges to build if we are to get ourselves and our loved ones to our own lands of fulfilled promises. We, too, are afraid of the dark, and quick to look to familiar sources for reassurance. When these fail us, we must try things we have never seen and plead for solutions we can barely imagine. Though this requires great effort and courage, we must do what work we can. We must bring God something to touch. And then we must open our eyes to see and receive the light – and the love – that Life offers us.