Wisdom Story Series - The Wooden Bowl

dark corner

An old woman moved in with her daughter, son in law and their 4 year old child.  Times were tough and the couple were struggling to make ends meet.  The old woman was messy and needy and they got frustrated with her.  Finally one day she broke a plate and the son in law said 'Enough.'.

He made the old woman an ugly wooden bowl to eat from.  Even then the grandmother knocked the bowl from the table and wasted food and made a mess.  So they started to feed her in the corner where she couldn't make a mess. 

Food became more scarce when there was a crop failure and no one knew why. It was hard to give up food for an old woman.

One day the couple notice their daughter banging a piece of wood.  'What are you doing?' asks the mother.

'I'm making a bowl for you and papa for when you get old.  Next I'll make you a corner.' the child replies

The couple were deeply ashamed and brought the old woman back to the table.  

That night at dinner the old woman hears them talking about the crop failure and asks some questions.   She was quiet for a while then said 'This happened 40 years ago. Plant in the swamp.'  

The son was doubtful about the old woman's advice, but they had nothing to lose. 

They were surprised and very grateful when the crop thrived and theirs was the only successful harvest of the village.

While this story is directly about respect for elders, it is applicable to any situation where the old guard, those on the outer, or those a bit different, need to be respected for what they have brought, and what they can still bring.