One part of my job description is to tell the Story for All Ages in the worship service once or twice a month. I enjoy the actual telling of the stories, but in some ways the hunt for a good story is also fun.
The last story I told was to go with a sermon by our intern minister, who is seeking to be a Navy Chaplain. She was going to delve into the ifs and hows of Unitarian Universalist congregations offering support to military and veterans returning home. I was asked to "lighten it up a bit" because it was going to be a heavy service. But I couldn't think of any stories I've read that followed that theme, so instead I had to go with the personal and talk about how my husband videotaped himself reading bedtime stories for Carbon, and I played those tapes during the year he was in Iraq. I then read Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton, which was one of the stories we taped. Carbon was 8 months old when his father deployed. I don't like to tell personal stories, much, but this felt right and it was well-received.
Now I'm looking for a story to go with a service theme of "why we worship" - it will be a couple members of the Worship Arts Committee talking about what they see as the essence of worship. I first looked to see if there were any good stories in the anthologies I've bought from the UUA, but no luck there. Next I went to the public library, for some inspiration from the picture book section. Although I gravitated toward two of my favorites, Because Nothing Looks Like God and God's Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, neither felt like the right direction for this service. Back at home, I sought inspiration on my own bookshelves. Here are the standbys I fall back on over and over again: Dr. Seuss, Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter, a book of African folktales, a book of Greek myths, and a book of Native American stories. If I can't find a story elsewhere, here is where I land. But I still didn't find anything, so I had to keep looking on the shelves.
And I pulled out Carbon's copy of The Little Prince. After sinking to the floor and re-reading several sections, I think I know what story I will tell. It will be excerpted, of course, and then memorized and then a bit improvised.
"The desert is beautiful," the little prince added.
And it was true. I've always loved the desert. You sit down on a sand dune. You see nothing. You hear nothing. And yet it shines, something sings in that silence ...
"What makes the desert beautiful," the little prince said, "is that it hides a well somewhere ..."
By the way, I see that Amazon has a book called A Guide For Grown Ups: Essential Wisdom from the Collected Works of Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I just might have to add that to my wish list.