One story every day
A father had a family of sons who were perpetually quarrelling among themselves. Every day, something small would set one of them off and they ended up fighting over the issue all day. The more the father tried to calm his sons down, the stronger their fight became. So, they lived in a constant state of screaming and yelling and it drove the father crazy.
One day, when again the sons were in a vicious argument, the father chose a new approach. Since he had failed to heal their disputes by his exhortations,
he determined to give them a practical illustration of the evils of their dis-union. And for this purpose he told them to bring him a bundle of sticks.
The eldest son collected a bundle of sticks and brought it to his father. In return, the father placed the bundle into the hands of the youngest son and ordered him to break it in pieces. He did so with every son. Each son - eager to be stronger than his brother – tried to break the bundle with all their might, but none were able to. After the last son had failed, the father took the bundle, untied it, took the sticks apart and one by one broke them easily.
The boys fell silent.
Then the father said: "My dear sons, if you are all of one mind and unite to assist each other, you will be as this bundle; uninjured by all the attempts of danger. But if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks.".
Sticking together does make us strong. Even though we cannot do so physically - right now - we can travel through the World of Stories and meet each other there.
Little Gnome was confused. Why did he have to stay home? Didn’t everyone know how little gnomes love to roam! He could not go to Gnome school, he could not play with his friends in the forest and his friends could not visit him. Little Gnome was stuck in his knobbly tree root home.
At least he could look out his window through the rocks and the tree roots. He was surprised that there was so much to see. Little ants were scurrying by, brightly coloured beetles were climbing up and down the fallen leaves and floppy eared rabbits were hopping in and out their burrows. But even with all these things to watch, little gnome was growing impatient. Why did he have to keep on staying home? It didn’t make sense to him why he could not roam.
Then Mother Tree whispered to him: ‘Things are not as they used to be - but trust me - soon you will be free - trust me, trust me.’.
Little Gnome knew in his heart that he could always trust Mother Tree. Mother Tree carried the wisdom of the whole forest! Mother Tree knew all about everything. The birds and the wind were her friends and messengers. They visited her every day sharing the news of the big wide world. Little Gnome could hear when the birds came by. He could hear them singing high up in the branches of Mother Tree. Little Gnome could see when the wind was visiting. He could see the branches swaying this way and that. He sometimes had to close his window to keep out the leaves and dust stirred up by this busy friend!
Everyday Mother Tree continued to whisper to him: ‘Things are not as they used to be - but trust me - soon you will be free - trust me, trust me.’.
So Little Gnome had to trust, and Little Gnome had to wait. Soon he knew he would be free again to leave his home amongst the rocks and tree roots. Soon he knew he would be free to roam once again in the beautiful forest. And while he waited, he was surprised how many things he could find to do in his cosy little tree root home. It made him want to sing:
‘Little Gnome can dance, Little Gnome can sing, Little Gnome can paint and draw and do somersaults across the floor.
Little Gnome can dance, Little Gnome can sing, Little Gnome can clean and cook and curl up with a picture book.
Little Gnome dances, Little Gnome sings, Little Gnome can… do a million things!’.
At the bottom of the tree, in his knobbly tree root home, Little Gnome sang and danced whilst busy finding many things to do. Maybe we are all able to do them too…
©Susan Perrow, Australia, March 2020
For centuries, an impressive monastery stood on top of a hill overlooking the area. People came from far and wide, knocking on the monastery door. Farmers asking the monks to pray for a good harvest, young couples for sun on their wedding day and many young men wanting to join in as a monk.
Each monk had specialised in a certain topic and transferred their knowledge over generations of monks, thus creating strong pillars of wisdom. People in the area knew for which issue to go to which monk and they were a source of support and inspiration to all.
But after a while, something started to change. The monks couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment but less and less people started knocking on their doors. Less farmers, less young couples, less young men. And slowly the monastery fell silent.
Some of the monks knew who was at the root of this. They looked at one another and thought, “He talks too much. He babbles on and on. Nobody ever knows what he is talking about. It chases people away.”. Or “He talks too little. He just sits there! It is uncomfortable for the people. Nobody likes that. It’s his fault!”. Or “He changes his mind constantly. One time he says this, then something else. He’s unreliable. People don’t like that. That’s why they stay away.”.
The head of the monastery, the Prior, was very worried and at his wits end.
One day the Prior decided to leave the monastery, walk down the hill and knock on a wise Rabbi’s door, who lived in the valley down below. The Rabbi opened his door, let the Prior in, offered him a chair and tea and listened to the Prior’s problem with care. Then the Rabbi said, “My heart goes out to you. It must be devastating for you and your monks. But I also do not know what to do.”. It wasn’t the answer the Prior had hoped for and he got ready to leave again.
Then the Rabbi said, “Oh, just one more little thing; someone told me – I forget who – that one of your monks is supposed to be the new Messiah.”.
“What!?!… One of us?”. “Yes.”, the Rabbi said. “…Who?”. “I don’t know.” he replied.
Completely confused, the Prior went back up the hill. Once arrived there, his fellow Brothers asked, “And? What did the dear Rabbi say?”. “He said that one of us is the new Messiah.”. “What?! One of us?! Who?”, the monks asked. “He said didn’t know.” the Prior answered.
And in spite of the fact that they didn’t know, they all started looking for the new Messiah within the monastery walls, within their fellow Brothers. “He can talk to anyone. He eases people and knows how to connect socially. That might be a true Messiah quality; maybe it’s him?!”. “He is such a good listener. Whenever I am troubled, he just listens and makes me feel heard. That’s what a Messiah does. Maybe he’s the one?!”. “He is so flexible; never stuck in just one idea or way. He adjusts to any situation. Surely he could be the Messiah!”.
The new Messiah was never found; however profoundly they searched for Him. But they did started to look at each other with new eyes. And slowly things started to turn around…
Once upon a time, a man travelled the roads and came to a small village looking for a place to stay the night. He approached the villagers saying, “I’m a simple traveller, looking for a place to sleep and a hot meal.”. The villagers replied, “We’d be glad to offer you a place to sleep, but our crops were ruined this year and there’s hardly anything to eat in the whole village. Most of us are just barely getting by.”.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” the man said. “But you needn’t worry about feeding me. I already have everything I need. In fact, I was thinking of making some ‘stone soup’ to share with all of you.”. “Stone soup?” the villagers asked. “What’s that?”. “Oh, it’s wonderful,” said the man. “Best soup I’ve ever tasted. Bring me a pot and some water, and I’ll make some for all of us!”.
And so the villagers rushed back to their homes. When they returned, one was carrying a large pot, another some wood for a fire, and others brought water.
When the fire was going and the water had begun to boil, the man took out a small silk pouch. With great ceremony, he reached in and pulled out a smooth, round stone. He carefully dropped the stone into the boiling water. Mesmerised, the villagers watched every move the man made. Slowly, he began to stir the pot, sniffing the aroma and licking his lips in anticipation. “I do like a tasty stone soup,” he said. “Of course, stone soup with cabbage—now that’s really special.”.
“I might be able to find a bit of cabbage,” one villager said. And off she went to her house, returning with a small cabbage she had stored away in her pantry. “Wonderful!” said the man, as he added the cabbage to the pot. “This reminds me of the time I had stone soup with cabbage and a just bit of salted beef. It was unbelievably good.”. After a moment of silence, the village butcher spoke up. “I might know where there’s a bit of salted beef,” he said. And off he went to his shop to get it. When he returned, the man added the beef to the soup pot and continued to stir. “Can you imagine what this soup would taste like if we had only a little bit of onion… or perhaps a few potatoes… or a carrot or two… maybe some mushrooms? Oh, this would be a meal fit for royalty.”.
And before he knew it, the pot got filled to the brim with vegetables of all kinds— carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, turnips, green beans, beets and celery—all brought by the men, women and children of the village. Not only that, but the village baker came out with some fresh bread and butter!
And as the soup simmered slowly over the fire, the wonderful aroma began to waft over the villagers. And they began to relax and talk together, sharing songs and stories and jokes. When the soup was finally done, the man ladled it out into bowls, and they all shared a delicious meal together. There was more than enough for everyone to eat their fill. Afterward, they all declared that it was the best soup they had ever tasted. The mayor of the village pulled the man aside, and quietly offered him a great deal of money for the magic stone, but the man refused to sell it.
The next morning, he woke early and packed up his belongings. As he was leaving the village, he passed by a group of children playing at the side of the road. He handed the youngest one the silk pouch containing the stone, and whispered, “The magic is not in the stone; it is in all of us, together.”.
Once in the deep Jungles of Africa, an old dog had wandered away from the village and got lost. He could not find his way home and went deeper and deeper into the Jungle. “No need to worry yet.” he said to himself, “My life experience will help me and the sun will guide me on my way.”. So, he buggered on.
He did not notice though, that a young lion was following him from a distance. The young lion had spotted the old dog and said to himself, “This creature looks edible. Never seen his kind before. I might just chase him and have him for dinner”. So the lion started rushing towards the old dog with menace.
The old dog noticed the young lion speeding at him and started to panic. But just as he was about to run, his eye fell on some bones next to him on the ground and they gave the old dog an luminant idea…
He grabbed one of the bones and spoke out loudly, “Mmm…that was some good, juicy lion meat! And there’s plenty room for more!”. The young lion abruptly stopped his tracks and thought, ” Whoa! This creature seems tougher then he looks. I better leave while I can.”. And he ran away.
Over by a tree top, a witty monkey witnessed everything. Evidently, the monkey realised that he could benefit from this situation by telling the young lion what truly went on and getting something in return. So the monkey called out to the young lion and proceeded to tell him what had really happened. To which the young lion said angrily, “Jump on my back, Monkey. And we will teach this creature a lesson that will cost him his life.”.
Off they went: the young lion with the witty monkey on his back, rushing towards the old dog. As soon as the old dog saw the monkey on young lion’s back, he realised what had happened and started to panic again; now even more than before. But then another idea jumped to mind. The old dog turned his back to the lion and the monkey and screamed out loud, ”Where the hell is that monkey! I told him to bring me another lion an hour ago…”.
As soon as the young lion heard this, he threw monkey to the ground and dashed away, deep into the Jungle, never to be seen again.
Big problems might seem to be creeping up on you and in those moments you might feel defenceless. But if you approach them with confidence, you might just get away with it…