This is the story of an old man storyteller who used his gift of words to teach and bless the children who came to see him every day. Throughout his life he learned lessons from nature around him. He learned from bees in how to share what was gathered, trees in how to plant roots in order to grow and give gifts, and birds to enjoy life and share that through song.
Keywords: storyteller, gift-giving, bees, trees, birds
There once was an old man who lived in the woods by the river. He lived all on his own, but was never alone. He was surrounded by the birds and the trees; he took care of them. He loved them and learned from them.
What we remember most about him was his smile and his stories. He told stories of the earth and used them as lessons about life. During each late spring day after school, a group of us stopped by to see him and the many animals that always wandered into his yard to say hello.
Always waiting for us was some ice cold lemonade as well as a story. And with each of his stories came a lesson.
“Do you see that bumble bee?” The old man would ask us. “Flower to flower it buzzes along. Ms. Bee gathers. Ms. Bee and her kind are the great gatherers. They collect nectar from each flower they land on, a little from each, then on to the next.”
“Ms. Bee and her thousands of sisters and cousins gather for hours, never stopping till they’ve filled their bags to the very top. Then they bring it home, they share what they’ve gathered, and they make something sweet out of it. They work together making the sweetest honey. The type of honey that when you put it on your toast in the morning you can’t help but smile out of how simply sweet it is.”
“Do you know what we can learn from the bees? What do we gather? We gather knowledge. Everyday you all go to school and gather. You gather from the biggest flower as you learn from your teacher and then you gather from smaller flowers as you learn from each other. Then you bring it home to share and make something sweet out of it. And that sweet thing is knowledge. But if you don’t gather, you’ll never be able to share.”
“Do you see that tree? It’s my favorite kind of tree, one with all the twisty branches hanging down almost to the ground. I’ve always thought that tree has always looked a little like me. Maybe that’s why I like it so much.”
“That tree has always had a very special dream. When trees dream, they dream big. His dream is to stretch to the sky and reach the clouds and provide shade and shelter for so many. He tried to grow right away to provide that shade and to be tall enough that the birds wanted to build nests in him. And he did grow tall.”
“But one day a storm blew through and with the roar of the wind and huge crackling of the sky the tree was left with broken branches and he thought he might not survive. He was devastated. His dreams were crushed.”
“Until he remembered that in his sapling years, an old wise tree had told him to plant his roots deep. ‘Even though they’re hidden, they’ll make you strong and sturdy, son. Strong and sturdy. And I tell you, no storm’ll knock you down when you got deep roots like mine.’ The tree learned and grew his roots even though the process was long and hard.”
“We also need to learn from the tree. We need to have a foundation on what we know to be true. We learn new things as our branches stretch out but unless we have a firm foundation we will never go strong and tall. Trees provide fruit. They are the great gift giver.”
“We have also been given many gifts. The gifts of our voice, our time, our energy, and so much more. But we need roots to grow in our fruits. We need to be rooted in our family and friends and in a good place in order to give out gifts. We needed to be rooted in what we know to be true. That foundation will help us to be generous in giving the gifts that we have.”
He always led us back into his favorite story by a look into the sky and twinkle in his eye, asking, “Do you want to know why I like birds so much?”
“Mr. Bird is my favorite because he can fly. He can see the world. He is well traveled. He has built his nest in many different trees. And is always working to take care of his young ones by bringing back food and teaching them to fly. But what Mr. Bird does best is bring joy through his gift. Mr. Bird loves to fill the sky and bless the wind with his song. He enjoys life and the blessings it has given him, and he shares that song with the world.”
“We have each been given a gift. Our own unique and special gift that we can use in our own unique and special way to bless others, to bring joy, to serve, and to bring a life only we can. How are you going to use your gifts to bless and spread joy like Mr. Bird with his gift of song?”
Words are powerful. The old man shared the gift of his words, the gift of his stories. He used them to share the knowledge he had and to bless others.
What gifts have you been given? What makes you special and unique with a perspective of life all your own? And how will you use your gift to bless others?