Marilyn A. Kinsella
(written as a companion piece for 'The Selfish Giant")
Long ago in a small village near Jerusalem lived a young girl named Rebeccah. Rebeccah was small for her age. In fact, the other children her age towered over her. And because sometimes even your friends can be cruel and thoughtless, they often called her names like “shrimp” or “small stuff”. She didn’t mind the name calling as much as when they wouldn’t let her play in their games. Nobody wanted Rebeccah on her team, because she was so short.
It was at times like these that Rebeccah would come home crying. “Why don’t my friends like me?” Her mother always seemed to have a little story or song to cheer her up. Rebeccah loved stories. Sometimes her mother would tell her about something happened when she was a little girl. And then the hurt she felt would just seem to fade away.
At night her father often told her stories from the holy book. She loved to hear the stories of her people. They seemed to live such exciting lives.
One day Rebeccah heard that a great storyteller would be visiting in Jerusalem. “Oh, Mother, can we go hear him? Can we?”
“Oh, I don’t know, Rebeccah, that is a long journey. It will take us the better part of a day to get there.” But when she saw the look in Rebeccah’s face, she relented. “Well, I guess we could. But, you’ll have to help me get our things together.
Rebeccah helped her mother pack some dried foods and filled the skins with fresh well water. The next day they went towards Jerusalem. They found a crowd of people gathered on a hillside. There was a man speaking to them.
“This must be the man called “Jesus”. Let’s see if we can get any closer.”
Rebeccah never saw so many people in her life. And no matter where they went, they could not get any closer. But after Rebeccah and her mother settled on a spot, they were surprised at how easily they could hear every word he said. Rebeccah was not disappointed. She loved every story that Jesus had to tell. Her only disappointment came when it was time to leave.
“Please, Mother, can I go and talk to Jesus?”
“Rebeccah, it is already so late.” But again when she saw the look in Rebeccah’s eyes, she could not refuse. “All right. I’ll stay here. Perhaps we can camp out under the stars. That would be a real adventure.”
“Thank you. I’ll be back to help as soon as I talk to Jesus.”
But just about every other young child had the same idea. They all crowded around asking him questions. Rebeccah was beginning to think that she’d never get close, when she saw a little opening. Finally - being little had its rewards. So she slipped quietly closer to Jesus. He was wearing a long white robe. It was so beautiful. She wanted to touch it. Should she? No one was looking so she reached out her hand to touch the cloth when a rough hand pushed her back.
“Leave Jesus alone can’t you see he’s too busy for you.”
“Tears welled up in Rebeccah’s eyes. She didn’t mean to do any harm and now Jesus might even be angry at her. But Jesus just looked at the man and said, “do not forbid the children to come to me, for of such is the kingdom of God. Whoever of you does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child can never enter into it.” Then he looked at Rebeccah.
“What is your name?”
“Rebeccah, what a lovely name. There is a story about Rebeccah in the holy book. Do you know it?”
“Oh yes, my father has told me the story. Some day I want to a storyteller, too.”
“You must love stories. What were your favorite stories that you heard today?
“ I liked the story of the man who helped another even though he didn’t know him.
But I can’t remember his name.”
“That would be the Good Samaritan.”
“That’s the one! But my all time favorite was the one about the tiny mustard seed that grew into a big plant.”
“Yes, I can see why that would be your favorite. You know Rebeccah, if you keep practicing your stories, you could be like that mustard seed and grow into a storyteller yourself.”
Then Jesus blessed the crowd and left.
Rebeccah felt herself floating back to her mother. She couldn’t wait to tell her everything Jesus had said to her.
Over and over at home she would tell the stories that she heard that day. Then one day some sad news reached their village. It seemed that some people got very angry at Jesus and decided that he should be crucified.
“Why?” asked Rebeccah. “Why did Jesus have to die?”
“I don’t know Rebeccah. Sometimes
things happen that no one can explain.
But even though Jesus died in many way He will stay with us.”
“How can that be?”
“I remember one day when I was sad. My father died when I was just a little girl. I thought I would never be happy again. But my mother told me something her mother told her. She said that as long as we tell stories about the people we love they will never die.”
Then Rebeccah realized what she had to do. Whenever she could gather a group of friends she would tell them stories - stories that her mother and father told her; stories that she heard Jesus tell.
And it was just like Jesus said. The more she told the better her stories became. And as Rebeccah grew so did her stories.
Matthew 19:13-15 and Mark 10: 13-16