Ch. 33 -- A Remnant Shall Return

A Remnant Shall Return
Steven G. O'Dell © 2009

--The council fires and promises of God do not burn out--

The fire was burning warmly in the tipi, the embers beginning to become rich and red. Standing Fox, the eldest and wisest of the tribe, looked deep into the flames and said nothing for the longest time. When he finally did speak, he spoke slowly and deliberately and the others listened intently to his words.

“A Messenger of the Great Spirit came to me last night as I sat by my fire. He showed me what will happen to the People for many days yet to come—too many days to count. I have seen that time yet to come, many generations into our future. None of us will see this time in the flesh. Our bodies will long be in the earth, but many generations of our children will pass and that day will arise as the sun from the worlds of darkness.” Standing Fox turned his tear-streaked face upward, held his hands aloft in joy and gratitude for a moment, then lowered them again and continued.

“I have seen a Messenger from the Great Spirit, who will come to the People and bring writings that are the voices of our Grandfathers of long ago. The writings speak of the old religion from the time of the beginning of the People. They tell of the blessings of the Great Spirit upon the People as they obeyed His words. They also tell of the wars that destroyed almost all of the People when they did not obey. Once the People were a great tribe, all one family; then they became many different tribes, all fighting one another over foolish things. In time, there was nothing to do but go different ways and speak no more with one another.”

The other men sat in rapt attention; no sound but a gentle crackling of the fire broke the stillness. The eyes of all were upon him, waiting for the wisdom to come.

“A once great People became scattered like the dust before the wind. In time they took many languages and no longer could speak to one another as before. The once happy and great family was now broken into pieces and thrown to the corners of the earth. No man had the power to gather them again. Many were lost to all but the Great Spirit. He has not forgotten them. He will one day gather the People together in a great council and will make a great work for them. I have seen it.

“The People will again come together, in a time when many strangers that are strong are among them. The People will then begin to grow strong again, also. The words of the Great Spirit and His Messenger will then be written in their hearts, never to be taken away. Great cities will they build and will again have temples as before, in the times of the old religion. The strength of the Great Spirit will be upon them and they will overcome their enemies in a last battle against evil. This, too, I have seen.

“Before that time will come the Messenger to the leaders of our tribes, scattered in the winds to far away places. He will tell them of their past and will tell the leaders that he is one who saw with his own eyes the times when the evil overcame the People, for he was once among them and one of those who worshiped the Great Spirit in that long ago time. He will tell how his brothers chose to do evil and abandon the ways of good. And he will tell of the writings that were buried in the earth to hide them from those who would destroy the words of the Grandfathers. He will tell the leaders that they should watch for the day when the words will again be found and the Great Spirit will call the People again to one family and tribe to do his great work. Teach this to your children and to your wives. This is all. I have spoken for the night.”

The story had been told faithfully around the fires of the People for many generations. No one remembered when the story had begun or who had first told it, but all knew its importance and had taught the same story to their children and grandchildren. And they all looked for the day when the Messenger of the Great Spirit would come to bring the words of the Grandfathers, a day which would rise as the sun on the eastern horizon.

This night, Running Elk had been unable to sleep. He had climbed the ridge in the night and now stood looking down upon the village of his people and thinking of the promises he had heard so often around the fires since his youth. He wondered when that day would come. It had been long ago that the first tribal elder had been told of that day to come. Many other tribes, too, told similar stories of dreams and visions and of a strange Messenger who had come to them in the night with the promise of restored glory. Would he live to see that day?

The sun was climbing behind the far ridge, across the valley, with a golden glow that signaled the new day was coming and Running Elk inhaled a deep breath of the fresh dawn air and turned his face upward to thank the Great Spirit for another day to live. He scanned the scenery one last time before he began his descent to the village and the work of the day.

While he walked he sang the old songs of the days when the People were one and the Great Spirit had blessed them. He sang of the days yet to come, when again the People would be one and would have the blessings of the heavens come down upon them. As he sang, the sun cleared the ridge and his gaze turned to the tallest peak opposite him. He stopped his singing and came to a stop to look more intently at what appeared to be a man clearing the peak and coming down the mountain toward the village. The village did not get many visitors and Running Elk wondered if this one came in peace or had evil upon his mind. To come at dawn meant that he had camped nearby and was waiting for the sun to rise before approaching the village. Why would he camp so close the day before, but not enter in friendship?

The man was still descending the mountain as Running Elk reached the tent of the Grandfather. The Grandfather was awake and bid him enter. Tears stained the cheeks of the old man and his white hair seemed to glow, even in the darkened tipi.

“Grandfather, there is one coming who is a stranger. He is on the mountain even now and comes to our village. He is alone.”

“I have seen him in a dream in the night, Running Elk. He is the Messenger of the Great Spirit; the one we have awaited these many generations. The time has come for the People to learn more.”

“Grandfather, is it true?”

“Yes. Call the People together. This is a great day for our tribe.”

The words were scarcely spoken when Running Elk ran from one end of the village to the other and back, shouting to awaken the tribe and bring them to the tipi of the Grandfather. Many were the ones who rubbed their eyes and squinted as they emerged into the new morning sun. The children ran ahead of the parents and danced with excitement outside the tipi of their eldest tribal member. He stood looking far off toward the mountain and when a lone figure appeared from the tree line, he pointed jubilantly for the eyes of the tribe to rest upon the man.

“It is the Messenger of the Great Spirit. I have seen him in the night dreams.” The voice, though old and frail, spoke with a vigor that had not adorned it for many years. The hands that had hung down now were raised in joy to the skies and the face that had been so worn by the years now took on a youthful glee that had all but disappeared long ago.

The People wept with joy and ran to meet the Messenger of the God of the Dawn Star. The great day had finally come. Surrounding him, they sang and chanted the old songs and they all reached out to touch him and to be certain that he was real. His face was painted with the gladness of a good heart and he touched each of the children and bent to kiss and bless them.

For many days and nights did this Messenger teach the People of the ways of the Great Spirit and their hearts rejoiced to hear it. He told them that the day had not yet come to begin to build again their great cities and temples, but many of the words of the Grandfathers were opened to their eyes and hearts. Ancient wisdom and skills of old, long since forgotten, were restored to the People in the days the Messenger of heaven lived among them. Ways of planting, ways of making clothing and of healing with herbs and ways of fishing and hunting were again brought to their memories. It was a time of great joy. But the time also came when the Messenger announced he must leave and that was a time of great sorrow among the People.

“I have loved you as the Master loves you. It grieves my heart to leave you, but there are others among the People, far off, who must hear the words of the Grandfathers and of the Great Spirit. They, too, must remember the old religion and their hearts return to the God who lives and loves them.

“More generations will pass before you again are visited. You have been a faithful People and I promise you this, in the name of the Healing Master who once long ago came among you and in the name of the Great Spirit who is his Father, that you will again be visited by me and by other Messengers, from among those you now call the Strangers. They will have hearts that are healed and know the ways of the Great Spirit. When they come among you and teach of the words of the Grandfathers, long ago buried, open your ears and your hearts to them. Teach your children and grandchildren to expect the Messengers. That is all for now. May the blessings of heaven be upon you always.”

The People who had cried tears of joy to see the coming of the Messenger now cried tears of sorrow at his leaving. The old ones watched as he climbed the ridge and disappeared from view. The young ones ran after him and walked many miles with him before returning to the village. Each heart was touched with a great sadness and also a great hope.


Hawk Circling, grandson of Running Elk, stood before the council and spoke. His words were ones of deep feeling and importance and all members of the council had their eyes staked upon him and their ears heard nothing but his words.

“My elders and my brothers, I have just returned from hunting the deer in the land to the north and have come bearing a message that led me to abandon my hunting and return immediately to the council. While in the north wood I met a man who dressed strangely, but not like the Strangers we have seen or heard of. He spoke in a manner unfamiliar, then in the language of our tribe when I told him I did not understand his words. He came to me in peace and smiled, remembering my Grandfather, Running Elk. I thought, how does this man know Running Elk when he is younger than me? He knew my thoughts and told me he was the Messenger who had come to our village when my grandfather was still a young man and Leaping Bear was our tribal leader.”

The others of the council all looked at one another and chattered amongst themselves for a moment in great excitement. Hawk Circling waited for them to stop their discussion and then spoke again.

“This man says he will come to our village again in eight more days. He first goes to the tribe in the canyon to the north and to the west. When he has finished his talking with them, he will come to us. He will bring great news to the People.”

Word went among the People of the village, telling the news of the Messenger of heaven that came once and now was coming again to their village. Preparations began to celebrate his arrival and the People began ceremonial cleansing and fasting to prepare themselves for his arrival.

The day had come and the People watched the hillsides to the north of the village. One with keen eyes spotted movement among the trees and shouted to the others. All the People rushed, both young and old, to meet the Messenger. The great day had arrived, as predicted many, many generations before, and as promised to the People only a few generations ago. This day they would receive the words of the Grandfathers.

Some said they remembered this man who had come among them. They had been very young when he had come before, only small children in the laps of their mothers, but perhaps they did know him after such a long time. All cried tears of deep joy to welcome him among them again. He carried with him a bundle, wrapped in deerskin and tied with leather thongs. This he gave to the chief elder among the People. Deer Grazing in Sunlight took the bundle from his hands and wept like a child upon receiving it, holding it to his bosom as a once lost treasure.

The Messenger spent many days teaching the tribal elders to read and understand the writings of the Grandfathers of long ago. The joy they felt was more than words could tell. The Great Spirit was most certainly among them as they heard the words and wrote them in their hearts. The words of the messenger sunk deep into the souls of all who listened. Forever were they changed. No more did they wish to do harm to anyone, even their enemies. They now had love where evil once lived in them.

After many days, the Messenger had made sure the elders knew the words and stories of the Grandfathers and he took again the writings that he might share them with the tribes who had not yet been visited. He promised that soon—very soon—the strangers with good hearts would come among them, bringing again these teachings and would wish to be their brothers. When that time came, they were to accept these good ones as brothers and live with them in peace.

He said there would yet again come a time of great trial and of war, but the The People would eventually learn to become one People again and as brothers of the Strangers, one family of children of the Grandfather of all men. Then, and only then, would the promises of the rebuilding of the great cities and temples become real.

I am George Two Bears, grandson of Hawk Circling. I write these stories as my fathers and grandfathers have told them, for generations uncounted. I have lived to see the Messengers from the good strangers come to our people. They have love in their hearts and follow the ways of the Healer who once came among the People. They have brought with them the writings of the Grandfathers. It was found in a hillside by a great prophet who was led by the Great Spirit to translate the ancient words and bring them to my People. They tell how the Great Spirit once brought our Grandfathers across the great waters and to this broad land where they would be safe and free. But they soon became divided and all but destroyed one another. Their words live on in the book brought by the good strangers with loving hearts. They are called Mormons. We will have them as our brothers.

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