I wrote the story at the bottom of this post for the “Christmas” celebration here at Tsoknyi Gechak School. The staff and students love celebrations; a chance to do performance, decorate, tell stories and have fun.
I was asked to tell a Christmas story but couldn’t find one that I thought the children could relate to, so I wrote my own and shared it with all the children.
It was fortunate that, last week, the school hosted 2 storytellers from Ireland who helped the girls create their own stories. They were very good at empowering us all to express our stories.
Christmas is a time of giving. A time when giving and helping others can bring us happiness and other surprises.
Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a village in the Himalayas. This little girl was very happy and tried to make friends with everyone she met. In the summer she lived with her grandmother who was very poor. In the winter she returned to her parents home.
As winter came, she decided she must begin walking to her parents house. It was getting cold and soon there would be a great snow. The problem was that while she had warm clothes, she had no shoes. The walk would be very cold for her feet when the snow fell to the ground. As she walked, she prayed that she would find some shoes or that some kind person would give her some.
On the first day she met a man. The man sat by the side of the road crying, “Where is my sister? How will I get to my home?”
“What is the matter kind sir? Why don’t you get up and walk?”, asked the little girl.
“I cannot walk. My sister helped me to walk here, but she left to help her children. Can you help me?”
The little girl looked around. At the top of the hill was a great tree with strong branches. She quickly ran up the hill and returned with a stick, so strong and straight that it gave the man the strength to walk. Together they continued on the road to her parents house.
On the second day the girl and the man came upon a woman laying by the side of the road crying, “Someone help me. I have not eaten in weeks and have no strength to continue on my journey”.
“That is so sad.” said the little girl. “Everyone needs food to make such a journey. Here is my last bit of bread and cheese to help you regain your strength”.
And so she gave the woman her last piece of bread and cheese and rested until the woman was able to walk. Together they continued on the road to her parents house.
As they did, the snowstorm came closer and the little girl wondered, “How will I continue to walk if I have no shoes.” Though she was afraid of the coming storm she walked slowly with the man and woman down the road.
Soon the snow began to fall, slowly at first, but soon it was so strong the man, the woman and the little girl had to take shelter in a cave. The night was cold but the 3 travelers huddled together and found that the cave kept them warm. It was warm enough to lay down for a good night’s sleep. As they fell asleep the little girl began to worry, “The snow is getting deep and I will not be able to walk in the morning. I may have to stay in this cave but I have no food, no water. I may never see my parents again.”
As the girl slept, she dreamed beautiful dreams. She saw colorful lights and ornaments and green trees. She also saw a great being with a beautiful face and light shining all around. The being spoke with a sweet voice, “I am Bodhi Santa, the Protector of Children, the Spirit of Giving. Though you are young, you have done many good deeds. You have lived like a Bodhisattva, caring for others as if they are your mother. On your journey home, you have been brave and taken care of the people on the road. Your actions have brought you great merit. You will succeed on your journey to your home as you have succeeded in your desire to help others.”
As Bodhi Santa’s words faded, the girl awoke and found herself alone in the cave. The man and woman were gone. In their place were 2 shoes. These were not ordinary shoes but warm boots made from the hide of a yak. One of the boots had the drawing of a tree; just like the tree from which she made a staff for the man. The other the was adorned with drawings of yaks and wheat, from which came the nourishment of bread and cheese that she gave to the woman.
“What wonderful gifts!”, the girl exclaimed. “Now I can finish my journey to my parents home, where I can spend the winter.”
And so it was. The girl left the cave, trekking through the deep snow in her new boots. When she arrived at her home she told her parents about her journey and the dream of the great being. She vowed to remember her meeting with Bodhi Santa and to live her life with compassion for all beings.