The Stone at the Door

- a wedding story adapted from an Moroccan Folktale
(Told by Eldrbarry at the wedding of his daughter)

Once upon a time there was a man so rich that he measured his wealth by the bushel as you might measure corn or potatoes. But though he was a good man and blessed with a beautiful wife and a much loved son, Time's passing and life's changes left him widowed and dying while his son was just barely in his teens.

So this man called his son to him, gave him all his wealth, but made him promise when he was ready to marry to let his most trusted friend find him the most suitable bride - the one God intended.

When the time came for the Son to marry, he kept that promise to his father, and the trusted friend set out to find a beautiful bride of finest character and spotless reputation. But he also devised a test to discover if that bride was God's intended. For when the bride was brought to the groom's chambers, a heavy stone was to be placed outside the door that the groom would have to move.

When such a bride was found, she was brought to his chambers, veiled and robed to conceal her appearance, and the heavy stone was put in place - while the door could open a little, it would not open enough to admit the son, until the stone was moved aside. Preparations for the wedding began.

Told of her beauty, character and reputation, the son hurried to see his intended bride. He peeked into the room. Inside was a lovely woman dressed in a fashionable gown. Her hair was braided and coiled around her head. She hummed a tune that seemed vaguely familiar as she lighted the candles on a candelabra. The gracefulness of her movements and straightness of her posture showed her good upbringing. Lighting the last candle, she turned towards him, and the sparkle of her eyes convinced him that this truly was a suitable companion for a man of wealth such as him.

So he bent down and tried to push the stone aside in order to open the door - but it would not move even an inch. He tried and tried again, strained and grunted - but the stone would not move. This was not the wife that God intended. Sadly the wedding preparations stopped.

A few days later, another bride was found. She was reported to be beautiful, of fine character and spotless reputation. Wedding preparations resumed. She was brought to his chambers as the first, veiled and robed, and again the stone was placed outside the door.

The son again went to see the new bride. Within the room was an exotic woman. Her hair was teased and tied with ribbons and jewels. She wore the silks of a dancer in the bazaar. The room was filled with candles and burning incense. She began to tap a rhythm with her foot, tiny bells on her ankle jingling. Then she began to hum a familiar tune as she danced the timeless dance of a woman before a man. The candlelight through the silks revealed the sensuous curves of her body. As her flashing eyes met his, a passion filled his heart to make this woman his lover and bride. But first he would have to move the stone.

But again it would not budge. Though again and again he tried, no matter how much he strained and grunted it would not move. Again, it appeared that this was not the wife God intended either.

So again a search for a suitable bride was conducted. A few weeks later it was announced that one had been found and had been discreetly brought to his chambers, the door again blocked by a stone, allowing him to gaze inside the room, but too narrow for him to squeeze through. The wedding preparations were nearing completion.

Hesitantly he approached his chambers, eyeing the stubborn stone. He peeked inside to see a simple maiden, from the village, dressed in peasant clothing, her long hair cascading onto her shoulders. A single candle was lit on the table beside her. She sat sewing on a quilt. As she worked she began to sing a song so familiar from his childhood. He began to remember her. Running though fields of flowers hand in hand. Climbing trees. Dreaming dreams. Truly this was a friend who would be a suitable wife.

He struggled with the stone. It would not move.

The song continued. Suddenly he realized the tune was the same tune that the first woman had hummed and the second had danced to. All three were the same woman - she could be his companion, lover and friend, if only the stone could be moved.

It would not budge. He struggled, strained, grunted, pushed and pulled to no avail.

Then a figure like a shadow slipped through the crack of the door opening. A soft gentle voice spoke. "Let me help you move the stone!" They put their hands together and it moved easily aside. The bells rang, the celebrations began - he had found the one that God intended, and she had found the husband that God intended as well.

But neither knew that just finding the chosen one was not enough. They would learn that to establish their marriage and secure their happiness - every day - they would again have to put their hands together and move the stones from the doorways of life.

Three apples fell from heaven - one for the teller, one for the hearers, and one for the peoples of the earth


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