Richard and Jane waited  until their mothers  were deep into exchanging neighborhood gossip before slipping over the fence in Jane’s backyard and sprinting into the trees.  “You’re it!”  Jane yelled.  Richard closed his eyes and quickly began to count to twenty.   Jane dashed to a big rock and crouched down.  Richards footsteps crunched closer and she held her breath as she crunched into a ball with her eyes shut tight.  When she heard his footsteps fade away beyond the stone she let out a soft sigh.

Jane brushed at the tickle on her arm.   Pesky bugs, maybe this wasn’t the best place to hide after all.  Her arm tickled again, this time she opened her eyes so she could see to slap the bug and rid herself of it once and for all.  Her hand stopped mid-air and  she let out a little “eek”.   Richard always teased her about the funny noise she made when she saw a bug.  Only this wasn’t a bug, it was the tiniest fairy she had ever seen.  Not that she had seen any little fairy’s before, or any big fairy’s for that matter either, or medium-sized fairy’s now that she thought about it.

Jane focused her eyes  on the tiny being then closed her eyes and shook her head.  She cracked her eyes open just the tiniest bit, maybe she had been imagining things.   Nope, she had not imagined it the tiny little fairy was still there, beating its wings as quickly as a hummingbirds in the air.  A bell-like tinkling filled the air.

Jane forgot she was playing hide-and-seek.  “Richard!”  She yelled so hard her vocal chords hurt.   She heard his feet crashing through the twigs and leaves getting louder as he came closer.  Richard laughed.  Jane….she was such a girl she couldn’t even play hide-and-seek right.  His arm reached out to tag her and then froze in mid-air as his eyes focused on the miniature fairy.  He let out the same “eek” Jane had emitted earlier.  He knew Jane wouldn’t let him live it down later.  The miniscule fairy filled the air with the tinkling sound again.  The single fairy seemed to multiply as dozens of fairies buzzed around them.   More “eeks” escaped the mouths of both Richard and Jane.

The largest fairy flew directly in front of their unbelieving faces.  He was so tiny they could hardly see his mouth move, but they clearly heard his voice.  “Greetings!  My name is Teasel.  We see you playing and want to play with you.”  Richard and Jane remained speechless as he introduced each of the fairies. They heard their mothers calling them and hurried home, but not before promising their new friends they would come back to play with them as soon as possible.

Richard and Jane snuck accross the backyard fence every chance that came their way.  Every time their feet hit the back side of the fence the fairies appeared to play.  They laughed as they climbed over the fence the last day before school started.  But, only silence greeted their laughter.  Richard looked at Jane and saw the same concern he felt written all over her face too.  Richard took the lead and Jane followed him for everyone’s favorite hang out at the big tree by the stream.

Out of breath they burst into the clearing.  First disbelief and then horror crossed their faces.  The little fairies no longer buzzed with life, their bodies were now just statues of stone.  First Jane and then Richard dropped to their knees and crawled from statue to statue recognizing each one.  They called out the names of their friends, but only an eery silence followed the sound of their voices.

Jane wiped the tears from her eyes and even Richard blinked away tears.  She started searching again, maybe she could find just one fairy still alive.   Jane intently scoured the ground for her friends, her nose almost touching the ground.  Her head bumped into something.  She sniffed and looked up.  She focused her eyes seeing a pair white feet clad in gold sandals.  She lifted her head and followed the feet up past the ankles and flowing golden robe.  Her eyes stopped at the face of a beautiful creature.  A crown with sparkling flowers intertwined with vines rested on it’s head.

Without opening it’s mouth Jane heard it say, “I am Tree of Life”.  Tree of Life explained how the fairies hearts had become selfish and this had allowed an evil presence to invade the forest and turn the fairies into stone.  Richard and Jane had  begged Tree of Life to change the bodies of their friends back into flesh, but Tree of Life shook her sadly.

Richard and Jane climbed over the fence every day and ran back to the clearing.  “Tree of Life please, please, please, make our friends alive again.”   Tree of Life shook her head at every plea.  Richard became angry and gave up asking.  He didn’t understand why Tree of Life wouldn’t do what they asked.  Jane would not give up.  She begged for the life of her friends day after day.  She became so obsessed with asking that she rarely played with Richard any more.

Jane lay in bed thinking about her friends.  She asked out loud “Why won’t Tree of Life change them back?  She has the power to do it.  Why won’t she?   Jane heard a voice float in her open window, “You are asking for the wrong thing.  I can’t  change their bodies back to life for they will continue to live unto death.  Ask that I change their hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.”

Jane laid in bed with her eyes wide open all night while she waited for the sun to rise.  Finally, the light of the sun peep through her open window and she slipped out of the house into the forest.  She ran into the clearing and found Tree of Life standing in her usual place.  Jane fell to the ground and begged her to change the hearts of her forest friends into flesh.  She watched Tree of Life take a deep breath and blow softly on all the forest creatures.  Their tiny little hearts turned pink and pulsed to life turning the bodies of death to life.

Jane felt the ground shake and interrupted her excited conversation with her friends to see what was causing the commotion.  She watched Tree of Life point to the forest and saw a stone giant disappear into the trees.   Tree of Life turned back to the fairies and every one fell on their faces at her feet thanking her for the new life she had breathed into their hearts.

“I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”—Ezekiel 36:26.