Today is World Storytelling Day!

I could not let today go by without mentioning
that it is, indeed, World Storytelling Day and
this year’s subject is Trees.

I love trees!

Actually I’ve been a closeted tree-hugger for
years, never admitting that I always listen for
their whispers and believe that we get the best
energy in forests.

So there you are, it’s out.  And here’s my story
gift for you today, one of my favorites!

THE APPLE TREE’S DISCOVERY
by Peninnah Schram and Rachayl Eckstein Davis

In a great oak forest where the trees grew tall
and majestic, there was a little apple tree.  It
was the only apple tree in that forest and so it
stood alone.

Winter came.   As the snow fell to the forest
floor, it covered the branches of the little apple
tree.  The forest was quiet and peaceful.

One night the little apple tree looked up at the
sky and saw a wonderful sight.  Between the
branches of all the trees, the little apple tree
saw the stars in the sky, which appeared to be
hanging on the branches of the oak trees.

“Oh God, Oh God,” whispered the little apple
tree, “how lucky those oak trees are to have such
beautiful stars hanging on their branches.  I want
more than anything in the world to have stars on
my branches, just like the oak trees have!  Then I
would feel truly special.”

God looked down at the little apple tree and said
gently, “Have patience!  Have patience, little
apple tree!”

Time passed.  The snows melted and spring came to
the land.  Tiny white and pink apple blossoms
appeared on the branches of the little apple tree.
Birds came to rest on its branches.  People
walked by the little apple tree and admired its
beautiful blossoms.

All summer long, the apple tree continued to
grow.  The branches of the tree formed a canopy
overhead as they filled with leaves and blossoms.

But night after night, the little apple tree
looked up at the sky with the millions, and
millions, and millions – and millions of stars and
cried out, “Oh God, I want more than anything in
the world to have stars in my tree and on my
branches and in my leaves – just like those oak
trees.”

And God looked down at the little apple tree and
said, “You already have gifts.  Isn’t it enough to
have shade to offer people, and fragrant blossoms,
and branches for birds to rest on so they can sing
you their song?”

The apple tree signed and answered simply, “Dear
God, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but that is
not special enough!  I do appreciate how much
pleasure I give to others, but what I really want
more than anything in the world is to have stars,
not blossoms, on my branches.  Then I would feel
truly special.”

God smiled and answered, “Be patient, little
apple tree.”

The seasons changed again.  Soon the apple tree
was filled with many beautiful apples.  People
walked in the forest.  Whoever saw the apple tree
would reach up, pick an apple and eat it.

And still, when night came to the forest, the
apple tree looked at the stars in the oak trees
and called out, “Oh God, I want more than anything
in the world to have stars on my branches!  Then I
would feel truly special.”

And God asked, “But apple tree, isn’t it enough
that you now have such wonderful apples to offer
people?  Doesn’t that satisfy you?  Doesn’t that
give you enough pleasure and make you feel
special?

Without saying a word, the apple tree answered by
shaking its branches from side to side.

At that moment, God caused the wind to blow.  The
great oak trees began to sway and the apple tree
began to shake.  From the top of the apple tree an
apple fell.  When it hit the ground, it split
open.

“LOOK,” commanded God, “LOOK INSIDE YOURSELF.
WHAT DO YOU SEE?”

The little apple tree looked down and saw that
right in the middle of the apple was a star.  “A
star!  I have a star!”

And God laughed a gentle laugh and added, “So you
do have stars on your branches.  They’ve been
there all along, you just didn’t know it.”

EPILOGUE:

Usually when we want to cut an apple, we cut it
by holding the apple with its stem up.  But in
order to find its star, we must turn it on its
side.  If we change our direction a little bit, we
too can find the spark that ignites the star
inside each of us.  The stars are right there
within each one of us.  Look carefully, look
closely, and you’ll find that beautiful star.

Best wishes and best stories!
Lisa

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9 comments on “Today is World Storytelling Day!

  1. Here is my tree story
    THE LITTLE ELDER-TREE MOTHER (traditional)
    THERE was once a little boy who had caught cold; he had
    gone out and got wet feet. Nobody had the least idea how it
    had happened; the weather was quite dry. His mother undressed
    him, put him to bed, and ordered the teapot to be brought in,
    that she might make him a good cup of tea from the elder-tree
    blossoms, which is so warming. At the same time, the
    kind-hearted old man who lived by himself in the upper storey
    of the house came in; he led a lonely life, for he had no wife
    and children; but he loved the children of others very much,
    and he could tell so many fairy tales and stories, that it was
    a pleasure to hear him.

    “Now, drink your tea,” said the mother; “perhaps you will
    hear a story.”

    “Yes, if I only knew a fresh one,” said the old man, and
    nodded smilingly. “But how did the little fellow get his wet
    feet?” he then asked.

    “That,” replied the mother, “nobody can understand.”

    “Will you tell me a story?” asked the boy.

    “Yes, if you can tell me as nearly as possible how deep is
    the gutter in the little street where you go to school.”

    “Just half as high as my top-boots,” replied the boy; “but
    then I must stand in the deepest holes.”

    “There, now we know where you got your wet feet,” said the
    old man. “I ought to tell you a story, but the worst of it is,
    I do not know any more.”

    “You can make one up,” said the little boy. “Mother says
    you can tell a fairy tale about anything you look at or
    touch.”

    “That is all very well, but such tales or stories are
    worth nothing! No, the right ones come by themselves and knock
    at my forehead saying: ‘Here I am.'”

    “Will not one knock soon?” asked the boy; and the mother
    smiled while she put elder-tree blossoms into the teapot and
    poured boiling water over them. “Pray, tell me a story.”

    “Yes, if stories came by themselves; they are so proud,
    they only come when they please.- But wait,” he said suddenly,
    “there is one. Look at the teapot; there is a story in it
    now.”

    And the little boy looked at the teapot; the lid rose up
    gradually, the elder-tree blossoms sprang forth one by one,
    fresh and white; long boughs came forth; even out of the spout
    they grew up in all directions, and formed a bush- nay, a
    large elder tree, which stretched its branches up to the bed
    and pushed the curtains aside; and there were so many blossoms
    and such a sweet fragrance! In the midst of the tree sat a
    kindly-looking old woman with a strange dress; it was as green
    as the leaves, and trimmed with large white blossoms, so that
    it was difficult to say whether it was real cloth, or the
    leaves and blossoms of the elder-tree.

    “What is this woman’s name?” asked the little boy.

    “Well, the Romans and Greeks used to call her a Dryad,”
    said the old man; “but we do not understand that. Out in the
    sailors’ quarter they give her a better name; there she is
    called elder-tree mother. Now, you must attentively listen to
    her and look at the beautiful elder-tree.

    “Just such a large tree, covered with flowers, stands out
    there; it grew in the corner of an humble little yard; under
    this tree sat two old people one afternoon in the beautiful
    sunshine. He was an old, old sailor, and she his old wife;
    they had already great-grandchildren, and were soon to
    celebrate their golden wedding, but they could not remember
    the date, and the elder-tree mother was sitting in the tree
    and looked as pleased as this one here. ‘I know very well when
    the golden wedding is to take place,’ she said; but they did
    not hear it- they were talking of bygone days.

    “‘Well, do you remember?’ said the old sailor, ‘when we
    were quite small and used to run about and play- it was in the
    very same yard where we now are- we used to put little
    branches into the ground and make a garden.’

    “‘Yes,’ said the old woman, ‘I remember it very well; we
    used to water the branches, and one of them, an elder-tree
    branch, took root, and grew and became the large tree under
    which we are now sitting as old people.’

    “‘Certainly, you are right,’ he said; ‘and in yonder
    corner stood a large water-tub; there I used to sail my boat,
    which I had cut out myself- it sailed so well; but soon I had
    to sail somewhere else.’

    “‘But first we went to school to learn something,’ she
    said, ‘and then we were confirmed; we both wept on that day,
    but in the afternoon we went out hand in hand, and ascended
    the high round tower and looked out into the wide world right
    over Copenhagen and the sea; then we walked to Fredericksburg,
    where the king and the queen were sailing about in their
    magnificent boat on the canals.’

    “‘But soon I had to sail about somewhere else, and for
    many years I was travelling about far away from home.’

    “‘And I often cried about you, for I was afraid lest you
    were drowned and lying at the bottom of the sea. Many a time I
    got up in the night and looked if the weathercock had turned;
    it turned often, but you did not return. I remember one day
    distinctly: the rain was pouring down in torrents; the
    dust-man had come to the house where I was in service; I went
    down with the dust-bin and stood for a moment in the doorway,
    and looked at the dreadful weather. Then the postman gave me a
    letter; it was from you. Heavens! how that letter had
    travelled about. I tore it open and read it; I cried and
    laughed at the same time, and was so happy! Therein was
    written that you were staying in the hot countries, where the
    coffee grows. These must be marvellous countries. You said a
    great deal about them, and I read all while the rain was
    pouring down and I was standing there with the dust-bin. Then
    suddenly some one put his arm round my waist-‘

    “‘Yes, and you gave him a hearty smack on the cheek,’ said
    the old man.

    “‘I did not know that it was you- you had come as quickly
    as your letter; and you looked so handsome, and so you do
    still. You had a large yellow silk handkerchief in your pocket
    and a shining hat on. You looked so well, and the weather in
    the street was horrible!’

    “‘Then we married,’ he said. ‘Do you remember how we got
    our first boy, and then Mary, Niels, Peter, John, and
    Christian?’

    ‘Oh yes; and now they have all grown up, and have become
    useful members of society, whom everybody cares for.’

    “‘And their children have had children again,’ said the
    old sailor. ‘Yes, these are children’s children, and they are
    strong and healthy. If I am not mistaken, our wedding took
    place at this season of the year.’

    “‘Yes, to-day is your golden wedding-day,’ said the little
    elder-tree mother, stretching her head down between the two
    old people, who thought that she was their neighbour who was
    nodding to them; they looked at each other and clasped hands.
    Soon afterwards the children and grandchildren came, for they
    knew very well that it was the golden wedding-day; they had
    already wished them joy and happiness in the morning, but the
    old people had forgotten it, although they remembered things
    so well that had passed many, many years ago. The elder-tree
    smelt strongly, and the setting sun illuminated the faces of
    the two old people, so that they looked quite rosy; the
    youngest of the grandchildren danced round them, and cried
    merrily that there would be a feast in the evening, for they
    were to have hot potatoes; and the elder mother nodded in the
    tree and cried ‘Hooray’ with the others.”

    “But that was no fairy tale,” said the little boy who had
    listened to it.

    “You will presently understand it,” said the old man who
    told the story. “Let us ask little elder-tree mother about
    it.”

    “That was no fairy tale,” said the little elder-tree
    mother; “but now it comes! Real life furnishes us with
    subjects for the most wonderful fairy tales; for otherwise my
    beautiful elder-bush could not have grown forth out of the
    teapot.”

    And then she took the little boy out of bed and placed him
    on her bosom; the elder branches, full of blossoms, closed
    over them; it was as if they sat in a thick leafy bower which
    flew with them through the air; it was beautiful beyond all
    description. The little elder-tree mother had suddenly become
    a charming young girl, but her dress was still of the same
    green material, covered with white blossoms, as the elder-tree
    mother had worn; she had a real elder blossom on her bosom,
    and a wreath of the same flowers was wound round her curly
    golden hair; her eyes were so large and so blue that it was
    wonderful to look at them. She and the boy kissed each other,
    and then they were of the same age and felt the same joys.
    They walked hand in hand out of the bower, and now stood at
    home in a beautiful flower garden. Near the green lawn the
    father’s walking-stick was tied to a post. There was life in
    this stick for the little ones, for as soon as they seated
    themselves upon it the polished knob turned into a neighing
    horse’s head, a long black mane was fluttering in the wind,
    and four strong slender legs grew out. The animal was fiery
    and spirited; they galloped round the lawn. “Hooray! now we
    shall ride far away, many miles!” said the boy; “we shall ride
    to the nobleman’s estate where we were last year.” And they
    rode round the lawn again, and the little girl, who, as we
    know, was no other than the little elder-tree mother,
    continually cried, “Now we are in the country! Do you see the
    farmhouse there, with the large baking stove, which projects
    like a gigantic egg out of the wall into the road? The
    elder-tree spreads its branches over it, and the cock struts
    about and scratches for the hens. Look how proud he is! Now we
    are near the church; it stands on a high hill, under the
    spreading oak trees; one of them is half dead! Now we are at
    the smithy, where the fire roars and the half-naked men beat
    with their hammers so that the sparks fly far and wide. Let’s
    be off to the beautiful farm!” And they passed by everything
    the little girl, who was sitting behind on the stick,
    described, and the boy saw it, and yet they only went round
    the lawn. Then they played in a side-walk, and marked out a
    little garden on the ground; she took elder-blossoms out of
    her hair and planted them, and they grew exactly like those
    the old people planted when they were children, as we have
    heard before. They walked about hand in hand, just as the old
    couple had done when they were little, but they did not go to
    the round tower nor to the Fredericksburg garden. No; the
    little girl seized the boy round the waist, and then they flew
    far into the country. It was spring and it became summer, it
    was autumn and it became winter, and thousands of pictures
    reflected themselves in the boy’s eyes and heart, and the
    little girl always sang again, “You will never forget that!”
    And during their whole flight the elder-tree smelt so sweetly;
    he noticed the roses and the fresh beeches, but the elder-tree
    smelt much stronger, for the flowers were fixed on the little
    girl’s bosom, against which the boy often rested his head
    during the flight.

    “It is beautiful here in spring,” said the little girl,
    and they were again in the green beechwood, where the thyme
    breathed forth sweet fragrance at their feet, and the pink
    anemones looked lovely in the green moss. “Oh! that it were
    always spring in the fragrant beechwood!”

    “Here it is splendid in summer!” she said, and they passed
    by old castles of the age of chivalry. The high walls and
    indented battlements were reflected in the water of the
    ditches, on which swans were swimming and peering into the old
    shady avenues. The corn waved in the field like a yellow sea.
    Red and yellow flowers grew in the ditches, wild hops and
    convolvuli in full bloom in the hedges. In the evening the
    moon rose, large and round, and the hayricks in the meadows
    smelt sweetly. “One can never forget it!”

    “Here it is beautiful in autumn!” said the little girl,
    and the atmosphere seemed twice as high and blue, while the
    wood shone with crimson, green, and gold. The hounds were
    running off, flocks of wild fowl flew screaming over the
    barrows, while the bramble bushes twined round the old stones.
    The dark-blue sea was covered with white-sailed ships, and in
    the barns sat old women, girls, and children picking hops into
    a large tub; the young ones sang songs, and the old people
    told fairy tales about goblins and sorcerers. It could not be
    more pleasant anywhere.

    “Here it’s agreeable in winter!” said the little girl, and
    all the trees were covered with hoar-frost, so that they
    looked like white coral. The snow creaked under one’s feet, as
    if one had new boots on. One shooting star after another
    traversed the sky. In the room the Christmas tree was lit, and
    there were song and merriment. In the peasant’s cottage the
    violin sounded, and games were played for apple quarters; even
    the poorest child said, “It is beautiful in winter!”

    And indeed it was beautiful! And the little girl showed
    everything to the boy, and the elder-tree continued to breathe
    forth sweet perfume, while the red flag with the white cross
    was streaming in the wind; it was the flag under which the old
    sailor had served. The boy became a youth; he was to go out
    into the wide world, far away to the countries where the
    coffee grows. But at parting the little girl took an
    elder-blossom from her breast and gave it to him as a
    keepsake. He placed it in his prayer-book, and when he opened
    it in distant lands it was always at the place where the
    flower of remembrance was lying; and the more he looked at it
    the fresher it became, so that he could almost smell the
    fragrance of the woods at home. He distinctly saw the little
    girl, with her bright blue eyes, peeping out from behind the
    petals, and heard her whispering, “Here it is beautiful in
    spring, in summer, in autumn, and in winter,” and hundreds of
    pictures passed through his mind.

    Thus many years rolled by. He had now become an old man,
    and was sitting, with his old wife, under an elder-tree in
    full bloom. They held each other by the hand exactly as the
    great-grandfather and the great-grandmother had done outside,
    and, like them, they talked about bygone days and of their
    golden wedding. The little girl with the blue eyes and
    elder-blossoms in her hair was sitting high up in the tree,
    and nodded to them, saying, “To-day is the golden wedding!”
    And then she took two flowers out of her wreath and kissed
    them. They glittered at first like silver, then like gold, and
    when she placed them on the heads of the old people each
    flower became a golden crown. There they both sat like a king
    and queen under the sweet-smelling tree, which looked exactly
    like an elder-tree, and he told his wife the story of the
    elder-tree mother as it had been told him when he was a little
    boy. They were both of opinion that the story contained many
    points like their own, and these similarities they liked best.

    “Yes, so it is,” said the little girl in the tree. “Some
    call me Little Elder-tree Mother; others a Dryad; but my real
    name is ‘Remembrance.’ It is I who sit in the tree which grows
    and grows. I can remember things and tell stories! But let’s
    see if you have still got your flower.”

    And the old man opened his prayer-book; the elder-blossom
    was still in it, and as fresh as if it had only just been put
    in. Remembrance nodded, and the two old people, with the
    golden crowns on their heads, sat in the glowing evening sun.
    They closed their eyes and- and-

    Well, now the story is ended! The little boy in bed did
    not know whether he had dreamt it or heard it told; the teapot
    stood on the table, but no elder-tree was growing out of it,
    and the old man who had told the story was on the point of
    leaving the room, and he did go out.

    “How beautiful it was!” said the little boy. “Mother, I
    have been to warm countries!”

    “I believe you,” said the mother; “if one takes two cups
    of hot elder-tea it is quite natural that one gets into warm
    countries!” And she covered him up well, so that he might not
    take cold. “You have slept soundly while I was arguing with
    the old man whether it was a story or a fairy tale!”

    “And what has become of the little elder-tree mother?”
    asked the boy.

    “She is in the teapot,” said the mother; “and there she
    may remain.”

  2. Such a beautiful story Lisa. Thank you for this gift. I read the story in the morning, upon completing an all night work session. It is a challenging month working a project overseas, requiring me to work from midnight to six in the morning.

    My body clock has been completely changed around. One of the great gifts of this project, is the chance to break ingrained old habits.

    My star shined particularly bright, in the middle of the night… to keep myself awake, I practice self inquiry. I was working on a one liner: I need to be encouraged. The most potent turnaround was “I need to encourage myself”… this filled me with such a deep sense of satisfaction.

    I felt like the luckiest woman on earth to be awake in the middle of the night, doing exactly what I am doing, thinking exactly what I am thinking…. all is right with the world – just as it is.

    These bright stars gave way to enjoying watching the dawn rise… then receiving the gift of your story. Thanks.

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