Welcome back to the SCTF blog where we share stories, research and other content about building community, youth development and the growth mindset- to name a few!
I’m so grateful you’re reading this.
Around this time of the year I imagine the word “gratitude” has been on the forefront of many people’s minds. Today I want to share a short story I believe relates to gratitude and our program values. It was written by Paul Berchtold who writes short stories for the community to share.
Once upon a time there was a seed buried in the mud.
It was in dark blackness. It was cold and wet. It shivered. It was just plain no fun.
It was icky. It was dirty. It was muddy. It was mucky. It was stuck in the mud.
How it got there is a little 3 sentence story.
One nice breezy Fall day, it had fallen on the ground. Then it rained a little. And a deer came along and stepped on it and pushed it deep in the mud.
Life just wasn't fair. It was all alone. If only it had fallen like the other seeds in the grass, or on the log over there, or at least not been stepped on.
But what the little seed did not see was:
- The mouse that ate the seeds in the grass
- The bird that ate the seeds on the log
- The chipmunk that gathered the seeds on the ground to store and eat all winter long.
It couldn't see this because it was stuck in the mud. It didn't know how lucky it was.
Now besides being squished tight in the mud, it was also locked in it’s shell. It tried to get out of it's terrible predicament, but the Fall days got shorter and shorter. It got colder and colder too. It had no strength to get out of its shell. The mud was frozen solid, the deep snow covered it. It went through a terribly cold and dark winter.
Finally, after what seemed forever, slowly the days grew a little longer, a little warmer. The seed had work to do. It began to grow.
The water in the mud had softened its shell. Still, how hard it was to get out of its shell! It had to exert energy like never before. It struggled and struggled. Finally it broke free.
Then it used more energy to go not up, but down, struggling to send a tiny little root through that compacted mud -- that terribly icky place. It needed something to tightly hold on to, because...
...now it had to struggle yet again with great effort to send a tiny little shoot to the light above -- through all that icky mud. Finally it was free. It reached the warm sunlight.
You would think its troubles were over. Not so fast. In a whole year it grew only a few inches, while the other plants grew by leaps and bounds, as if to mock the little seed. Every fall it lost its leaves. In winter it barely survived, covered with snow. And as it got a little taller, it had to go through windstorms and blizzards.
In fact, it used every wind storm, every blizzard, every shaking, every vibration to wiggle its roots deeper and deeper into the black icky mud.
It knew the importance of a solid foundation, because it always remembered where it came from, how it had been protected and helped by the mud.
The years rolled on, and the seasons too. Each summer it so slowly but surely grew. Each winter it became a little tougher and stronger. It had little joys and little sorrows throughout its life like all of us do.
Then came the fiercest of all storms. The wind blew so violently this way and that. Trees all around were dashed to the ground, broken, uprooted, a jangled mess.
After the devastation, the sun shone once again. To be sure, it didn't look so pretty, some leaves were missing, in fact, quite a few, but that would soon be remedied.
Because it hadn't forgotten its roots as a seed in the mud, it stood there in all its glory. It had become the mighty oak tree.
The Seed in the Mud, [a story] by Paul Berchtold. Used with permission of the author. This story is found at Thank-Your-Stars.com.
The purpose is not to celebrate getting stepped on or shoved into the ground but to honor dedication, patience, and using what you’ve been given to your advantage.
My favorite part of the story is when the author mentions both growing upwards and downwards- developing roots that support growing tall. The SCTF emphasizes this concept in the community. We help young people build support systems and find people/places that lift them up. We do this so when bad things happen they have accessible places to go and positive people to help them. We help youth weather the storms- just like the seed. Surviving storms can make us stronger and more gifted.
Can you think of a time you felt squashed in the mud like the seed? What or who helped you get out?
Be that person to others. Lift each other up. Express gratitude.
Sending my best,
Christopher Belisle at SCTF