Each year for Project Peace, I’ve ended with a fable, fairy tale, folk story as a way to connect many of the elements we’ve explored during our 21-day journey. For days, weeks, months, I’ve wondered… how will I write another story? How will this come together? And for most of Project Peace, I’ve questioned whether or not I’d figure out my fable. I thought “Perhaps this year, my ending is supposed to be different?” And then, on Monday, running around busy like a squirrel, all the pieces came together.
Peace seed #20.
So, to celebrate this 20th day, I’ve written you a woodland tale, a pretend story if you will…one filled with imagination. Grab a cup of tea, get cozy…
A squirrel “tale…”
Once upon a time, deep in the woods lived a young squirrel with the bushiest of tails. His parents had taught him how to be a good squirrel… pick up nuts, move them from point A to point B, store them for winter, and build a warm nest high in a tree made of the finest autumn leaves. His father had said “This is your role, your job, your livelihood. Now go forth and do good in the woods… acquire, store, rest, repeat.”
So, he set off, dashing here and there as a squirrel tends to do, to find his own tree, a place to call home.
And while it didn’t take long for him to find that perfect tree, the days seemed to become a bit repetitive… pick up nuts, move them around, and store them for winter. Our squirrel was certainly appreciative of the abundance provided by the trees, a feast of nuts to sustain him all winter long, however there was something else tugging at his little squirrel heart that just wouldn’t go away.
One day while the squirrel methodically gathered nuts in preparation of the quickly approaching winter, it just so happened that he wasn’t paying much attention. He was mindlessly at work as if he was on auto-pilot. Little did he know that a sheep, large and woolly had meandered into the squirrel’s neighborhood.
A sheep you say, yes a sheep… deep in the woods. And one might say he was a lost sheep but the interaction that was about to transpire might make you question whether the presence of the sheep was haphazard or intentional.
The sheep bleated but our squirrel, in a bit of a fog didn’t even hear the noise. Again, the sheep bleated and stomped his foot. The squirrel stopped, looked up and saw the magnificent creature before him.
“Hello,” said the squirrel, “what are you doing here in the woods, you don’t live here?”
The sheep said “I know… I’ve come to see you.”
The squirrel cocked his head to the side, a bit puzzled. A sheep? To see me?
And for whatever reason, the squirrel began to tell the sheep about his days and how he longed for more… to do more than acquire, store, rest, repeat… I want to do good in this woods but am not sure what that means for me… as a squirrel.
The sheep pondered and gazed at the squirrel; the silence became a bit uncomfortable until the sheep said this:
“I don’t know what I have to offer you but I can tell you one thing….
When you gather nuts, don’t go about your job aimlessly… do it with intention and focus.
So, the squirrel darted off contemplating the advice and shifted his focus to gathering nuts with intention.
One day, while taking a break from his work, the squirrel stopped to reflect on the encounter with the sheep. He sat on the most glorious of red toadstools to think more about how he could do good in the woods still wondering what that might be…
And as he paused, a rabbit appeared… the squirrel was puzzled. What is a rabbit doing in this part of the woods? The rabbit hopped over to the squirrel and stopped.
And for whatever reason, the squirrel began to tell the rabbit about his days, the meeting with the sheep, his dreams for something bigger… and how he wanted to do good in the woods.
The rabbit pattered her big floppy foot, paused and gazed into the eyes of the squirrel until the silence was almost unbearable. And then the rabbit said:
“I don’t know what I have to offer you but I can tell you this… Be still.”
And as oddly as the rabbit appeared she quickly vanished into the brush.
“What? Be still? What does that mean?” said the squirrel.
So, the squirrel did as any squirrel would do after such an odd interaction… he found two twigs on the ground and a long thread from a low-hanging spider’s web and began to knit
…he knit and knit and knit.
Several months later, the squirrel was busy at work, moving nuts intentionally, when he heard an odd noise coming from the outer edge of the woods… he was curious so he grabbed his knitting (just in case a free moment might arise) and followed the sound. Soon, he came upon a pond, the most beautiful of all ponds with one goose swimming in the water singing a song.
The squirrel ran up to the water’s edge to meet the beautiful bird. And for whatever reason, he began to tell the goose about his days, the meeting with the sheep, the rabbit, his new found love of knitting, and his dreams for something bigger… and how he wanted to do good in the woods.
The goose smiled and said “oh you sweet little squirrel with a bushy tale… the answer is very simple.
Listen to the whispers of the trees,
Listen to the water in the stream,
Listen to your heart,
And listen for the sound of the geese….”
Just then a skein of geese flew overhead in the most perfect V formation, a strand of pearls in the sky.
The goose said “follow the geese, they are pointing you in the direction that you need to go…”
The squirrel thanked the goose for this final piece of wisdom he needed… with gratitude, he laid the most exquisite cowl on the ground made from the thread of a spider’s web to keep the goose’s long neck warm in the upcoming cold winter months.
And that skein of geese, pointed him home, to his place in the woods, to gather nuts and to hide them deep in the earth, to plant them for the future… to keep the woods alive…
To finding peace in the very place that you are… choose to do good even with the simplest of tasks.
peace to all… one stitch, one step, one seed (or nut) at a time…
make space for peace