A certain good woman one day said something
that hurt her best friend of many years.
she regretted it immediately and would have
done anything to have taken the words back.
But they were said impulsively in a moment of
thoughtlessness, and as close as she and her
friend were, she didn't consider the effects
of her words before hand.
What she said hurt the friend so much that
this good woman was herself hurt for the pain
she caused. In her effort to undo what she
had done, she went to an older, wiser woman
in the village, explained her situation, and
asked for advice.
The older woman listened patiently in an effort
to determine just how sincere the younger woman
was, how far she was willing to go to correct
the situation. She explained that sometimes, in
order to put things back in order, great efforts
must be made.
She then asked, "Just what would you be willing
to do to repair the harm done?" The answer was
heartfelt. "Anything!" Listening to her, the older
woman sensed the younger woman's distress and knew
she must help her. She also knew she could never
alleviate her pain by living her life for her, but
she could teach, if the younger woman would first
listen and then learn.
She knew the outcome would depend solely on
the character of the younger woman. She said,
"There are two things you need to do to make
amends. The first of the two is
Tonight, take your best feather pillows and
open a small hole in each one. Then, before
the sun rises, you must put a single feather
on the doorstep of each house in town.
When you are through, come back to me. If
you've done the first thing completely, I'll
tell you the second."
The young woman hurried home to prepare for
her chore, even though the pillows were very
dear to her and very expensive.
All night long, she labored alone in the cold.
She went from doorstep to doorstep, taking
care not to overlook a single house.
Her fingers were frozen, the wind was so sharp
it caused her eyes to water, but she ran on
through the darkened streets, thankful there
was something she could do to put things back
the way they once were.
Finally as the sky was getting light, she placed
the last feather on the steps of the last house.
Just as the sun rose, she returned to
the older woman. She was exhausted but relieved
that her efforts would be rewarded.
"My pillows are empty. I placed a feather on
the doorstep of each home." "Now," said
the wise woman, "Go back and refill your
pillows. Then everything will be as
it was before."
The young woman was stunned. "You know that's
impossible! The wind blew away each feather as
fast as I placed them on the doorsteps! You
didn't say I had to get them back! If this is
the second requirement, then things will never
be the same."
"That's true," said the older woman. "Never
forget. Each of your words is like a feather
in the wind. Once spoken, no amount of effort,
regardless how heartfelt or sincere, can ever
return them to your mouth. Choose your words
well and guard them most of all in the presence
of those you love."
a by Rev. Thecla St. Romain