Will You Be My Teacher

Once upon a time there was a storyteller, a very famous storyteller but also a very sad storyteller, for he had lost his story. No longer could he wander from village to village entertaining and informing people, and so he climbed a solitary hill, sat on a rock, and stared miserably at his feet.

Now, the hill that he picked was not as solitary as he had thought. It was the summer field for a herd of grazing goats that were tended by a young girl who recognized the sad storyteller sitting on a rock and staring miserably at his feet. She had sat at his feet in the village square, listening to his entrancing tales. Now she walked up and asked, kindly, "You look so sad, Mr. Storyteller. What's wrong?"

"I have lost my story," came the dejected reply.

"How could you lose a story?" asked the incredulous girl. She could see how it might be possible to lose a goat or a school bag, but then she remembered how there were jokes she heard at school from time to time and had forgotten by the time she got home.

"My master taught me all his stories," answered the storyteller, his eyes still absently studying the ground at his feet, "and I diligently learned them all, every one, word for word. The villagers have heard them all now and want something new, but I have nothing new to tell them. I don't have a story of my own."

"What are you looking at?" asked the girl as if ignoring what the storyteller had said.

"Nothing," was the sad reply.

"Before your eyes, I see a glistening blade of grass existing in the dry summer ground," she commented. "Have you wondered what story it may have to tell? How it began life as a seed cast on the ground, not knowing whether it would survive or thrive, powerless to control the rain and sunshine it needed to live. Its roots had to search to find pathways into the harsh soil, its blade reached up for the light of the sun, and it never gave up doing what it did best. Even if one of my goats ate it back, it would not give up but grow to feed another goat on another day. In fact, as you watch it—though it may be too subtle to see—it continues to grow before your eyes. It, in turn, will cast a seed, perhaps like storytellers do, that will grow into another blade to continue not only its own life but the life it gives to my goats and the life they, in turn, give to my family."

The storyteller looked at the blade as if, though he had been staring at it before, he now saw it for the first time.

"What else do you see?" she asked.

The storyteller lifted his head to see in front of him a long-horned goat whose old yellow eyes looked curiously into his own. "Nothing but this scrawny old goat," he said.

"Even this scrawny old goat has a story to tell. She was the first one my poor parents worked hard, and saved carefully, to buy. She has produced most of this herd that you see now, yet her life has not been easy. She has fought bravely against foxes but still has seen some of her kids stolen and eaten. She has lived through droughts when others animals were dying. She has freely shared her milk with us to drink, sell, and use to make cheese, becoming as close a friend to our family as any human. With thanks to her, we—and she—can now live comfortably.

"And what are you feeling?" asked the young goatherd, again seeming to change the subject.

"Eh, nothing," responded the storyteller a little less confidently, at first sure he felt nothing except his sadness but then wondering if he could feel the firmness of the rock on which he sat. Might the rock have a story to tell of strength, stability, and endurance? he found himselfasking. Ifhe thought about it, perhaps he could feel the warmth of the summer sun. Might the sun have its story of nurturing, of bringing light into darkness, or of giving life to the planet? Yes, he could feel the caress of the breeze. What a mischievous tale of fickle moods the wind could weave with its gentle power to assist boats across oceans and its howling hurricanes that destroy homes. What could it tell of balancing moods, being responsible for actions, or doing good instead of evil?

The girl saw from the look in the storyteller's eyes that she needn't ask any more questions. Waving her arms in a big circle that seemed to encompass the whole of the universe, she said, "Everything, everyone, has their own story."

My story of today began in a valley of despair, thought the storyteller, looking down the hill. I traversed new territory, climbing steep slopes and outcrops of rocks, seeking solitude, only to find a pupil who helped me to open my eyes and stand on a summit of hope.

Looking toward the young goatherd, the storyteller asked, "Will you continue to be my teacher?"

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