Part IV - At The Hermitage
A two-hour drive brought them to an isolated mountain valley in central Pennsylvania. Christian stopped the car at the top of the mountain so they could look at the valley spread out below them.
"And God looked upon his work and called it good," said Stan to himself.
"It's beautiful," said Chris.
"Yes," agreed Christian. "With fertile soil, flowing streams, usually enough rain and with no season too extreme for long. Though there have been occasions, in the midst of a blinding blizzard with wind chills way below zero, when we think things could have been organized better."
"They always can," replied Stan. "Always."
"That's why we're here," said Johannes. "In this valley, this garden. We've finally grown up, matured as a species, and now realize that our parents, even our divine ones, are not all knowing, or all powerful as they once seemed to us. We know that they are not just similar to us: they are us. It's taken a long time to understand that, to see them beyond our need for them, to understand them from their point of view, not ours, and to forgive them for not being more than they are and, finally, to ask their forgiveness for our misunderstanding. It's hard to grow up sometimes."
"Indeed it is," said Blain. "The hardest thing of all."
They stared silently at the narrow valley walled in on its north and south sides by long, parallel ridges that stretched to the horizon yet came together at the point where they were standing. They went down a steep road into the valley which eventually brought them to a place of log and timber-frame buildings, where ducks and geese, turkeys and chickens freely roamed.
"We're home," said Christian.
"Home," replied Chris.
"Home," said Blain
"Home," added Stan.
"Yes," said Johannes, "We're home."
The men toured the Hermitage. They saw the craft houses, the bird houses, the barn, the bake oven, the hermits' houses, the fields of hay, corn and flax, the meadows and pastures, the streams, the pond, the hand-dug well and the spring.
Later, on the porch after supper:
"So, you want us to stay here this weekend while you two go to this craft show to make money?"
"Yes,” explained Christian. “We need the money for daily expenses. Normally leaving for the weekend wouldn't be a problem as the animals fend for themselves off pasture this time of year. But Flora, our Jersey cow, is due with her first calf and I'd feel better if someone were here in case she gives birth this weekend."
"I don't see any problem with that," said Stan. "Do you guys?"
"No," said Blain
"Not at all," replied Chris. "It'll be a pleasant change of pace."
"You sure you have time?" asked Johannes. "We can get one of the local farm guys to look in on her if you can't."
"Not at all," said Blain "We've got all the time in the world. Right guys?"
"You said it," added Chris.
"So, it's all settled then," said Johannes. "We'll leave early tomorrow morning, before sunrise, and we'll be back late Sunday night. There's plenty of food for you guys in the pantry and the root cellar. Make yourselves at home. The Hermitage is yours."
"We really appreciate your kindness," said Stan. "We haven't had that for a long time."
"Well, we appreciate your help," added Johannes. "I feel better knowing someone is here to look after Flora."
"You guys just to go to your festival, make money and don't worry. We'll handle anything that comes up. Right, guys?" asked Chris.
"Right," agreed Stan and Blain
"Well," said Christian. "Good night then."
All five held each other close, kissing each other on the cheek. Stan even kissed Johannes on the lips. Then the men departed for their rooms and sleep.