A new story for Christmas
There is a tree on Greenham Common which has inspired me in many of the hardest moments in recent years. At some point it has been all but blown flat by a storm. However,. It keeps on growing and flourishing despite the odds. I call it ‘The Courage Tree’, and the stone on which this story is based was found tangled in its upturned roots.
Many many hundreds, or probably thousands, of years ago, a big piece of rock was formed from lots of tiny bits of things left behind. As the years went by, the big piece got broken up into smaller pieces, and one of them found itself in a field of wheat. Nobody knew the stone was there when the wheat was sown. Nobody knew it was there when the bright green stalks pushed up through the earth. Nobody knew it was there when the green stalks ripened and turned to gold, like the sun. Nobody knew it was there when the stalks were cut and tossed on a heap to dry. Nobody knew it was there when the heap was taken from the back of a cart and spread on a stable floor, but that is where our story began.
The stable was not a big place. Its walls were rough and bore the scars of many a hoof and the sheen of many a woolly coat. There was room for one or two animals, a manger, and not much else.Tonight was different though. Tonight, it was busy and full. Tonight, the animals were quiet, and the humans were noisy. The little human was especially noisy. The man and woman had come into the stable for shelter earlier that night, looking so very tired. And now the little human was there – a baby boy all tiny and new. His mum wrapped him in some cloths, and his dad looked around for somewhere to lay him.
He spotted the old manger, propped up against the wall, and thought it would do just fine. He was not to know that it had one wonky leg. Pushed up against the wall, it was sturdy, and everyone could feed from it. Out in the middle of the tiny stable, though, it wobbled and wobbled every time the little baby moved. His mum was worried, in case he should fall out – and that would never do! Looking around, the man spotted our stone lying in the straw. He picked it up, weighed it in his hand, polished it against his clothes, and slid it under the wobbly leg. It was a perfect fit! The manger wobbled no more and the baby boy slept peacefully with a smile on his little scrunched up face as special visitors came and went. The baby’s name was Jesus, and one day he would be like a rock to many people the whole world over. For tonight, though – the little rock helped him out.
After that, the day would come when the young couple with their baby would leave, the manger would be pushed back up against the wall, and the straw would be swept up and thrown out. I suppose our little stone went with it. Wherever it landed next, one day it would find itself rattling here and there in the hold of a sailing ship. After that a cart, a pocket, a hole in that pocket, and a long, long sleep in the soft earth of an English common.
Now, it is here in my hand as I write this story for you…
You can also watch a video of the story here.