Once upon a time there lived four friends, Kate, Margaret, Mary and Rachael. All of them led very happy wondrous lives, but they didn’t get to be together very much since they lived far away from each other. One day they decided to take a trip together and so the friends flew to Patagonia, where they rode wild horses through the valleys and hiked through the mountains. At the top of the highest mountain, they met an old woman who had lived there for thousands of years. She said to them: Hello my friends, you have finally arrived. She poured them hot tea made with rose petals and hibiscus, along with lemon-rosemary tea cookies she made herself. They all sat together on the mountain top, warm and full, and smiled at each other, and then smiled at the valleys below them and the sky above them, and smiled for all the life that thrived in the world. For a long time it was enough to sit in silence with the old woman, though they felt she was telling them a message in the silence itself. Then, she spoke again It has been good to sit with you she said, smiling, You are strong women with kind smiles. Someday you will all return, and I will not be here, and it will be you who sits on the tallest mountain, and it will be you who offers tea to those who search, and it will be you who reminds them what happiness is in this vast and intricate world. Then the wind blew, the old woman smiled, the clouds swirled between them, and the four friends descended from the mountaintop and walked into the valley, where their horses waited at the convergence of two rivers. They flew through the night back to their country, and after sharing some tea and homemade cookies, the friends said farewell and parted ways.
Every year the four friends gathered together and climbed to the top of a tall mountain. They brought rose petal and hibiscus tea and ate lemon-rosemary tea cookies.
As they grew older, their faces wrinkled but their bodies stayed strong and their smiles stayed kind. Many people learned from them: how to climb a mountain, how to dig a garden, how paddle a river, how bake cookies, but most importantly, how to smile simply for the pleasure of smiling. And the world became brighter with each person they taught.
Then one day, the four friends gathered for a final time and journeyed to Patagonia, where they rode wild horses in the valleys and hiked to the tallest mountain top. By this time, a thousand years had passed, though Kate, Margaret, Mary and Rachael knew what happiness was and were still strong women with kind smiles. They came to the peak and found a silver tea set with rose petals and hibiscus, and a plate with lemon-rosemary tea cookies. As they sat, they saw in the distance a woman riding a wild horse and then hiking up toward them, and they sat smiling, ready to share the tea and cookies, ready to sit with the traveler and smile out into the vast and intricate world.