Three Short, Short Stories

by Melannie Svoboda SND on May 16, 2016

Sometimes a story says so much more than its actual words… Here are three short, short stories. After each one I’ve included a reflective question or two. These stories really speak to me. Do any of them speak to you?

The first story is from the French writer and aviation pioneer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Best known for his book The Little Prince, Saint-Exupery flew mail routes over the Sahara Desert in the 1930’s. He tells the story of three desert Bedouins who were given the chance to fly to Paris. These were three men who had never been out of the desert before. Their hosts proudly showed the men the Eiffel Tower, huge locomotives, and large ships on the Seine. But the Bedouins didn’t seem impressed with these marvels of technology. They wept, however, at the sight of trees, the river itself, and a rose.

Then their hosts took them to a beautiful waterfalls in the Alps. The three men gazed at the falls and were unable to speak. When it was waterfallsskogafoss-1263137__180time to go, the Bedouins refused to leave. Through an interpreter, they said God was revealing himself in the waterfalls. Honor required that they stay until the falls stopped. One of their hosts smiled and told them that this water had been running like this for thousands of years. Saint-Exupery says, the Bedouins were waiting “until God would grow weary of his madness” and turn off the falls.

What are we impressed with? What do we take for granted? And what makes the difference?

Isn’t there a certain madness in “the waterfalls of God’s love” for us, a love that God will never turn off?

A Franciscan priest serving an inner city parish told this story. A woman discovered some pot in her teenage son’s underwear drawer while putting his clean socks away. Furious, she stomped into the living room where her son was lying on the couch. She began to yell at him and even slapped him. Totally frustrated, she left the house in a huff and marched to the parish church a few houses away. As she was entering the church, she met the parish priest and told him what had just happened. “I came here to talk to God,” she said. Then she went into the church and sat in one of the pews. When she came out about 20 minutes later, the priest was waiting for her. He asked, “Did God say anything to you?” “Yes,” she replied. “God said: he ain’t all bad and I ain’t all good.”

Do we believe that everyone has some good inside and everyone has some bad inside—including ourselves?

Isn’t humility one of the signs of honest prayer?

home conceptual-1280533__180This story is told by Rabbi Albert Lewis. A soldier’s little girl was sitting at the airport with her family and their meager belongings. Her father was being transferred. A woman passed by. Seeing the little girl sitting there, she patted her on the head and said, “You poor child. You haven’t got a home.” The little girl replied, “But we do have a home. We just don’t have a house to put it in yet.”

What does home mean to you?

I’ll conclude this reflection with three quotes about stories:

* The shortest distance between truth and the hearts of hearers is a story. (Anthony de Mello)

* A wonderful storybook lies buried under every tombstone. (Anonymous)

*  After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. (Philip Pullman)

 

In one way we can say that some of the psalms are short, short stories. One of my favorite ones is Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” (I like it so much I just wrote a little book on it!) Here is a beautiful rendition of that beloved prayer:

Did any of the three stories touch your heart? If so, do you know why?

 Any thoughts you’d like to share?

 

PS: Thank you for your prayers for the “Spirituali-Tea” last Wednesday in Bainbridge, OH. About 60 wonderful women came. Several were readers of this blog… I will be leading a retreat May 22-28 for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Cincinnati, OH. Once again I ask you for your prayers for this special event. Thank you very much!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Shauna Bankemper May 16, 2016 at 3:39 am

Hi, Melannie! I’ll keep your retreat in Cincinnati in prayer next week. I’ll be on retreat in Rome the same week. Greetings to all my SND de Namur friends. Loved all the stories and agree that the distance from our head to our hearts is in many cases a story.

Thanks!
Shauna

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Kathleen May 16, 2016 at 5:54 am

Sr. Melannie,

Thanks for the waterfall story. A good reminder of God’s love.

Will hold you up in prayer.

Kathleen

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Evelyn B. Allen May 16, 2016 at 9:24 am

Just sent you an email this morning. It announced the beginning of a new mission for me – directing a nonprofit organization “OASIS – Spring of the Holy Spirit”. Like an oasis, the Holy Spirit is a wellspring of living water. Similar to a waterfall that never ceases to flow.

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JoAnn Welch May 16, 2016 at 9:41 am

As always it is a delight to begin the week with Sunflower Seeds. Stories…I was in Chicago last week, visiting my son, Justin, and his family. Seven year old, Bella, kept asking me to tell her stories about her dad, “your son”, as she would refer to him. Each one delighted her. Stories are important connectors for is. Thanks for this week’s reflection!!

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Mo May 16, 2016 at 10:05 am

Hi Melannie,

What awesome stories. They touched my heart.
Loved the song and reflective questions.
Praying for you next week when you are on retreat also.
God’s blessings and love be with you.
Mo

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Mary Schneider May 16, 2016 at 10:19 am

Thank you for the 3 stories; they were all wonderful. I relate to the 2nd story the most, and must remind myself nearly daily that I am not all good and no one is all bad.

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Jean May 16, 2016 at 10:41 am

When I read your post, I thought about so many of today’s people not seeing what is around them because they are texting, or reading a text, while doing EVERYTHING! I feel people are losing connection with other people because there is so much in the tone of voice and facial expression when we speak and listen to each other. And of course, texts are just bits of information, not a story! Love you posts!

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Ina Kendall May 16, 2016 at 10:47 am

I am reminded of the quote from our beloved Pope St. John XXIII who said there is no one you cannot love once you know their story.

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Barb C May 16, 2016 at 2:29 pm

The waterfall story spoke to me. We sometimes forget we love a God of abundance. We ask for a glass of water and He wants to give us a waterfall of blessings. We need to expand our expectations and he will exceed them!

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Rosemary May 16, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Happy Monday Dear Sister❤️
As always, the Sunflowers begin my week on a positive note!
I loved the waterfalls story, as my dad was from the mountains of N.C.
We were in FOSCOE last month and a waterfall was beside the cabin. Hearing the water moving day and night, was a reflection of God’s love, endless and abundant….never ceasing, never stopping…our’s for the asking.
Make a great week everyone….share the LOVE
Rosemary ☘

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Annette May 16, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Hi Sister, I was at the Spirituali-tea last Wednesday! It was a “spiritually beautiful” evening. Thank you! Hope to see you again soon. Annette

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Tom May 16, 2016 at 9:43 pm

I liked the little girl’s statement that her family had a home, just in need of a house to put it in. I recall at one point in my life praying to “be at home” first with myself and then with the people and circumstances of my life. I am so grateful that that prayer eventually got answered. And I did not have to relocate to make it happen.

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Elizabeth May 17, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Dear Melannie
I am new to your Sunflower message. What a great way to start my week. Will remember your retreat next week and will quietly envy all who will attend. I was at your retreat in Aston, Pa Still use your materials for prayer. Blessings and thanks for your always inspiring message. Elizabeth

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Marla May 18, 2016 at 7:34 pm

The story by Saint-Exupery deeply touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. The deep messages in all of nature are so often overlooked. The three desert nomads certainly knew where God’s messages were found

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PJ May 22, 2016 at 3:00 am

Dear Meelannie, love your blog! Iam very touched by God in my prayer daily and much of that is due to these blogs each week! May The Lord continue to bless you and all your stories and music . I love them both.
God bless the retreat you will be giving . Wish I were there.
Thanks,
PJ

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