Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Twenty-nine 


When A Lamp Is Lit You Must Expect Insects


Thomas Robertson and Hanna Crow both stepped back realizing the gravity of the moment. When Hanna put her hands on his arm he knew that this was the beginning of a new life and a new epoch. Now he needed to execute and be himself.

"This is not a toy," he said, relishing the numerous meanings of his words.

"No, this is not a toy," she said, grasping his arm more and pressing against him. Hanna felt she was fulfilling her role in the prophecy and honoring the father she never knew.

"This is the real McCoy."

"It is the real McCoy," she said.

Thomas was drawn to the cavity in the wall when he saw a piece of rolled paper wedged under the stone in the space between the two blocks of wood.

"I bet this is a message from your Dad."

When he removed the paper he was wondering how he would be able to transport such a big stone out of Burma.

"Why don't I-"

"Good idea," he said, handing her his lighter. He unrolled the paper with care and read:


He wiped the sweat from his forehead, expecting the burn of the welt.

"What does it mean?" she asked, holding the flame above the proverb.

"Not sure, but it could mean be careful of danger." Hanna moved the fire closer to the secret chamber, light flickering off the gray stone, and revealing a small candle obscured by debris under the stone. She reached for it and then lit the candle, thinking her father was the last one to touch the candle.

"The lamp is lit," she said.

They stared at the stone.

"See the markings?" He squnited and then removed his eyeglasses.

"No." Assertively he pulled the closest pew to the wall and stood on it, Hanna moving the candle to maximize his sight. "Yeah, now I can." The Taponi Tablet was similar in shape to the marble tablets at the monastery in Mandalay but smaller. He reached in and felt the cold stone that made him afraid. Having the ancient relic in front of him, the immensity of what he had to do to get it to his brother and Grandfather all the way back to Turtle Island surged through him like a thunderbolt. It was easier without knowing for sure if the stone existed and if it could be found.

"It proves the Hopi Prophecy is true," he said, voice wavering fromthe significance of the discovery. Fear suffused into his limbs making itself at home like an uninvited guest.

"Is that another message?" Hanna looked at writing etched into the metal on the inside of the chamber door. She read it aloud:



- Proverbs 4:18.

The flame of the candle gave life to the words from the Old Testament as well as carvings of beetles and other insects at the base of the door.

"Nice touch."

"You did it. You have been just and have found the sacred stone." He looked deeply into her eyes from the pew.

"Without you I wouldn't have been able to find it Hanna. You are my shining light." She smiled warmly.

"Purity of belief will always stand the test of time." He laughed.

"You sound like me," he said. Light flickered ominously off the surrounding walls.

"I wonder if someone else knows it's here?" They looked at each other for a moment.

"We should be careful," they both say at the same time, thinking of the third proverb. She studies the size of his knapsack.

"You think it will fit in your bag?"

"Yeah, I think so. But it's not the size that worries me, it's the weight. It's solid stone. And it's too valuable to break or chip." Brow in a pensive posture.

"Let me get a blanket to wrap it in." Hanna handed him the candle and disappeared for a minute, giving him the chance to look at the Taponi Tablet closely. He pulled the stone out part way, relieved it wasn't as heavy as lead. The image of the Kokopelli was recognizable on the stone, but the engravings weren't a language he knew. The markings looked more like hieroglyphs, or like the Ogam markings in the cave in Manitoba. When he put his hand on the stone, a sharp shiver shot down his spine.

Hanna returned with a thick red blanket and two red candles. The sun had set and the church was darker.

With the candles lit, she held one in each hand and Thomas took the third one deeper into the wall cave so the entire cavity brightens, revealing not only the tablet but feathers and an old compass. He reached in and carefully removed the feathers, placing them on the blanket.

"What kind of feathers are they?"

"They're eagle feathers." The compass was an old World War Two compass. "And this is a good compass." He put it in his pocket and felt around the base of the stone, finding another piece of paper.

"Another piece," he said, taking it out of the chamber. "It's wax paper and there are four separate sheets." When he opened the first piece, he saw that it was an impression someone had taken of the front of the tablet.

"What is it?"

"It looks like a copy of the stone made on wax paper."

"Why four?"

"I'd guess because there were four sacred stones." She looked at the paper and frowned at the image of Kokopelli.

"The chances are that my father had a copy of it for himself."

"I was thinking that too."

"If he did then it's likely others know that it exists - and that it's here in this church." The thought didn't help alleviate the gnawing sense of paranoia in his chest.

Finally, with both hands he gracefully lift the tablet out from the hole in the wall, and then stopped.

"Wait, I think I should offer tobacco first. It's something my brother would do. It shows respect." He quickly took out his cigarettes, broke one open, put the tobacco into his palm then raised the tobacco up to the opening and bowed his head.

"Great Spirit that watches over us and bestower of this sacred tablet of stone, I offer you this tobacco with respect and humility. Please protect us from harm, and show us the way to bring the stone back to its rightful place on Turtle Island. I am just a Messenger so please show mercy and compassion for my errors and help me complete this holy mission to save those in need. Amen." He placed the tobacco at the foot of the tablet and stood for a solemn moment. A sound of deep vibration came from near the alter that rumbled briefly, as if a crack had just formed in the foundation of the church. They smiled at each other.

"Okay, it's time. Let's get to it," he said. As slowly as possible, he lifted it up, brought it out of the wall cavity and clasped it firmly to his chest. Stepping down from the pew with the help of Hanna holding his waist he placed it on the red blanket spread open on the floor. They hovered over the stone relic in reverence. The top right corner along the top was chipped but didn't look like any writing had been lost, and there was some discoloration along the bottom, perhaps from moisture of the wooden blocks that supported it.

"I wish we knew that language," she said.

"We will. I know a medicine man who does." He sighed. "Okay, let's wrap it up." They both wrapped the tablet in the thick red blanket and gently manoeuver it into his open knapsack lying on the floor. The blanket iwa thick enough so there weren't any stress points in the bag. Tightening the straps and secured safely, it was ready for transport. Suddenly one of the stained-glass panes above them rattled, jolting them both upright.

"I think I should go. It's the wise thing to do."

"I think you should too," she said, with unabashed sadness in her voice. He took her hand in his.

"I-" He looked at the plaster on the floor. "I don't know how to thank you."

"I know Thomas. But you must go." She embraced him. There they stood interlocked with each other for a brief eternity.

"If you need me, I'm at the Three Star Hotel near the train station," he said as hoisted his knapsack onto his back. He looked at the mess he had made. "Do you-"

"Yes, I know how I'll fix it. Don't worry. I know what to do." They walked through the rectory to the common room.

"I'm going to go to the airport now to try to fly out tonight."

"Please be safe Tommy. And watch for insects. You must go. Goodbye."

He walked past Reverend Thu snoring in his chair into the darkness under the palm trees that swayed in slow motion onto the street as the westerlies hit his sweating face. There was no one around so he assumed a brisk pace head for the main street where he was soon picked up by a passing tricycle taxi. Making the taxi work for his fare, he made it back to his hotel, a new confidence descending on his raw nerves bringing with it an almost palpable optimism.


Part One - Canada
1.      The Twin From the East Returns  
2.      The Sundancer  
3.      Waxing Gibbous 
4.      The Second Coming of the Messiah 
5.      The Sacred Twin Story 
6.      The Sign of the Pahana 
7.      Palongawhoya and Poqanghoya 
8.      Rainbow Thunderbird and Red Phoenix 
9.      The True White Brother 
10.    The Lost Louis Riel Notebooks 
Part Two - Hong Kong
11.    A Mixture of Revulsion and Pity 
12.    A Classroom of Scallywags 
13.    Illegitimati non Carborundum 
14.    The Distant Fire of Empyrean
Part Three - Burma
15.    The Monastery of Sacred Tablets 
16.    The Outpost of Tyranny 
17.    When the 12th Moon Comes 
18.    The Pigeon Left & the Crow Took His Place 
19.    Go North and Find Your People 
20.    Finding Orwell 
21.    Though the Monkey is in a Hurry, the Tree Branch is Not 
22.    The Castle at God's Toes 
23.    The General and Sergeant Betel Nut 
24.    The Tattooed Station Master 
25.    Reverend Crow's Life's Work 
26.    Yield Not to Adversity, But Press on More Bravely 
27.    A Bitter Cuppa Tea 
28.    The Thirteenth Tribe 
29.    When a Lamp is Lit You Must Expect Insects 
30.    John the Christian 
31.    A Guardian Angel Named Hanna 
32.    The Bar Car & Betel Nut 
33.    The Son of Light 
34.    Slipping the Karmic Knot
Part Four - Hong Kong
35.    The Tonsure Warning 
36.    The Phoenix Reborn 
37.    Touching the Empyrean 
38.    Joshua the Gatekeeper 
Part Five - Canada
39.    Lapsit Exillis 
40.    Thunderstones 
41.    The Time of Great Purification  

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