Wouldn’t it be handy if we had a common set of stories that we could count on most Unitarian Universalists knowing? It could be great shorthand, similar to how Christians can say “sow your seeds in the good soil,” and most will understand the reference to the gospel of Matthew and the instruction to put our energy into things that will have meaningful return. I am sure we could come up with many potential nominees, and even my own list fluctuates occasionally. However, I have a good group of stories I’d like to propose. And over a few upcoming blog posts I’ll post them for our shared consideration…..here are my first few…..
Story 1. Partners, By Marc Gelman, found in Does God Have a Big Toe?
(I could preach on this story for a year it’s so good)
Before there was anything, there was God, a few angels, and a huge swirling glob of rocks and water with no place to go. The angels asked God, “Why don’t you clean up this mess?”
So God collected rocks from the huge swirling glob and put them together in clumps and said, “Some of these clumps of rocks will be planets, and some will be stars and some of these rocks will be . . . just rocks.”
Then God collected water from the huge swirling glob and put it together in pools of water and said, “Some of these pools of water will be oceans, and some will be clouds, and some of this water will be . . . just water.”
Then the angels said, “Well God, it’s neater now, but is it finished?” And God answered, “Nope!!”
So, on some of the rocks God placed growing things, and creeping things, and things that only God knows what they are, and when God had done all this, the angels asked God, “Is the world finished now?” And God answered, “Nope!”
God made a man and a woman from some of the water and stardust and said to them, “I’m tired now. Please finish up the world for me . . . really it’s almost done.” But the man and woman said, “We can’t finish the world alone! You have the plans and we are too little.”
“You are big enough,” God answered them. “But I agree to this. If you keep trying to finish the world, I will be your partner.”
The man and the woman asked, “What is a partner?” and God answered, “A partner is someone you work with on a big thing that neither of you can do alone. If you have a partner, it means that you can never give up, because your partner is depending on you. On the days you think I am not doing enough and on the days I think you are not doing enough, even on those days we are still partners and we must not stop trying to finish the world. That’s the deal.” And they all agreed to that deal.
Then the angels asked God, “Is the world finished yet?” And God answered, “I don’t know. Go ask my partners.”
Story 2: Map of the World – I found this story on this website exploring Torah:http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/parsha/leff/archives/korach.htm, though the website itself does not source the story, which is why I have assumed it is a “traditional” Jewish story.
There is this man who loves to read the Sunday newspaper, cover-to-cover. There is just one problem. This man has a five year old daughter who for as much as her dad loves to read the paper, loves to interrupt him while he tries to do so. The man tries everything to keep her occupied, but to no avail.
Finally, one day, as he’s trying to read, he comes across the travel section, and has an idea. There, across the whole front page, there’s a map of the world. He rips the page off, and then tears it into little pieces. He calls his daughter over to him, and shows her all the little pieces. He says, honey, here’s a game for you. It’s a puzzle. Go grab some tape, and then see what you can do to put these pieces back together the way they are supposed to go. She cheerfully agreed, and ran off.
Five minutes later, however, his daughter came back, with the page all taped together. The man shook his head, amazed. Though he wondered if she had just put the pieces back haphazardly, a careful inspection revealed the map was perfectly reconstructed. He looked at his daughter in disbelief – she must surely be a genius. How did you figure it out so quickly?! She shrugged, and said, It was easy Daddy, on the other side of the paper, there was a picture of a person. I know what a person looks like. I just put the person together, and the whole world fell into place.
Story 3: Hindu Creation Story, Source Unknown
When humans had begun to thrive in the world the gods became concerned that they had perhaps made these creatures a bit too resilient.
The humans were creating language, building villages, hunting and gathering for their food –they were not needing the gods as much as they once had.
So, the gods gathered to contemplate this problem and debated where to hide the secret to life.
One minor god argued for the deepest abyss in the ocean. Another for the highest peak on the highest snow covered mountain.
A more experienced god said, no they will find that –“Hide it on the far side of the moon.”
The supreme god listened to all of this advise recognizing that the gods were becoming afraid of human intelligence and drive.
“No,” He said, “I will hide it where these resourceful creatures will never look.” “Where?” clamored all the lesser gods.
“I will hide the secret to human happiness within the human heart. It is the last place they will ever look.”
And all of the gods nodded and it was so AND it is so.