Telling Stories

Telling Stories

by Sr. Sheila Campbell  MMM        Ireland      06.12.2022

Here in Drogheda, we have this most wonderful chaplain. His name is Father Tommy, and he is in his eighties. He is the chaplain to our Nursing Home and says Mass for us here in the convent. His proper name is Fr. Tom Hogan, CssR, but we all just call him “Father Tommy”. He is someone who knows how to relate to ordinary people and doesn’t spout theology and doesn’t preach down at people. He tells stories. He manages to reach into people’s hearts and their everyday lives using the gift of storytelling.
The other day he told one that struck home to me:

A young boy servant had the job every morning of fetching water from the well for the master’s table. He had a long pole across his shoulders and at each end of the pole hung a water jug, tied on with string. Every morning he went, carefully filled the pots, and walked back along the path. But one of the pots was not happy. It complained: “Oh, I am a complete failure. I have a crack in my pot and the water drips away as you carry me back along the path. Very little from my pot reaches the master’s table.” The boy said to the pot, “Tomorrow lift your eyes away from yourself and tell me what you see”. The pot did as he was asked. “So, what did you see?”, asked the boy. “Oh, I saw beautiful wildflowers all along the path”, says the pot.

“Exactly”, says the boy, “I planted those seeds along the path, and you watered them every day for me. I pick those wildflowers and bring them to my master, and he cherishes them.” The water is not wasted; it is part of a bigger plan to bring beauty into the world.

This story meant a lot to me on that day when Fr. Tommy told the story. I had not been feeling a failure, exactly, but certainly overwhelmed by aspects of my current job. I could hear myself say, “I am not trained for this. Somebody could do this better than I.” Sometimes it helps to stand back and recognise that all we do – and fail to do – is part of God’s plan. We are not in charge; we are only collaborators in God’s work, and God will use our talents and disabilities in ways we can never imagine.

This gives me courage to battle on and try do my best.