I was complaining about my troubles to my friend, Jeanette Melton, the other day and she sat me down and told me a wise old tale from bygone years, which went something like this.
I was complaining about my troubles to my friend, Jeanette Melton, the other day and she sat me down and told me a wise old tale from bygone years, which went something like this:
Once upon a time there was a woodcutter who had lots of troubles. He had a baby that cried, he had a barking dog, and he had a mother-in-law that rocked in his rocking chair.
He told everyone that he saw about his troubles. The people soon got tired of hearing about his troubles. Sometimes, when they saw him on the street, they would quickly cross the street to avoid him.
One day when he was in the woods cutting wood, for that is what woodcutters do, he looked around and saw an elderly woman walking toward him.
She had on a long dress with a white shawl draped around her shoulders, and she walked with a cane. She proceeded to ask him about his baby that cried, about his barking dog, and about his mother-in-law that rocked in his rocking chair.
He was puzzled, so he asked her how she knew about his troubles as he hadn’t had a chance to tell her about them yet.
She said she knew all about his troubles as she was in charge of the trouble boxes and asked if he would like to go see all of the trouble boxes and he said yes.
They walked a short distance through the woods and there behind a waterfall was a cave. She beckoned him to follow her and they went inside the cave where he saw a lot of boxes. He asked where his own trouble box was and the woman showed him.
The woodcutter took down his trouble box and looked inside; sure enough, he saw his crying baby, his barking dog, and his mother-in-law that rocked in his rocking chair.
The old woman asked him if he would like to exchange his troubles for someone else’s trouble box, and he said yes, he would like to do that.
She said to look around and when he decided what box he would like to exchange to simply let her know.
He got a smaller box down and looked inside. This couple had just lost their baby. The baby had died. He closed it up real fast, he didn’t want that box.
He got another box down and looked in. This family had just had their home burglarized and a lot of their things had been stolen. He closed that one up real fast too, as he didn’t want that one either.
He decided maybe he didn’t want to exchange his troubles after all.
Page 2 of 2 - The old woman reappeared and asked him to come with her into another room of the cave. He followed her and they went into a room where there were a lot of cinders in little bags. He asked what these were and she said these were the blessing bags.
She got his bag down and he looked inside. Once again, he saw his baby and suddenly realized that his baby didn’t cry all of the time, in fact the baby was actually much joy to him. He saw his dog and realized that his dog barked, because he was protecting their house and their belongings. The woodcutter also saw his mother-in-law and sure enough, she was rocking in his rocking chair while she was mending their clothing, and he suddenly remembered the wonderful meals she cooked for them every day.
He realized the many blessings that he did have and decided that he wasn’t going to talk about his troubles anymore; instead, he would just start counting his blessings.
I think she had a message in that story for us all.
Adapted by Ted W. Stillwell; Reference: author unknown.
The Kansas City Public Library will present its “Meet the Past” series at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the Truman Memorial Building, Maple and Pleasant, in Independence. Crosby Kemper III will be interviewing Independence Frontier Artist George Caleb Bingham. To reserve a seat please go to www.KCPL.org or call 816-701-3400.