Stories connect us to the time-tested wisdom of the world's peoples--and teach spiritual and moral lessons we want to pass on to our kids. Each week, Beliefnet will present a spiritual story from a different faith tradition, followed by simple activities that bring the message home. We invite you to share the stories with your children, do the activities together, and make "Teaching Tales" a joyous part of family life.

Reprinted with permission from "How the Children Became Stars" by Aaron Zerah, published by Sorin Books.

One day, a woodcutter went out to chop a load of firewood to sell in the market, but his favorite ax was gone. He looked all through the woodpile, behind his house, and even in his house. He looked everywhere he thought he might have put the ax, but he did not find it. The more he looked, the more upset and frustrated he became. He exhausted himself looking for his precious ax.

Then he noticed a boy--his neighbor's son--standing near the woodshed. The woodcutter stared at the boy and thought to himself: "What's he doing hanging around the woodshed, just walking back and forth? He's got his hands behind his back and his face has a guilty look. Why that boy must have stolen my ax! I can't prove it, but I'll make that boy pay anyhow."

The next day the woodcutter walked over to a pile of firewood he had forgotten about and tripped on something. It was his ax! "Oh yes," he remembered, "that's where I left it when I was cutting wood the other day."

Then the woodcutter saw the neighbor's son again. He inspected the boy up and down from head to toe. He looked at him right in the eye. "How strange," the woodcutter thought, "today the boy looks completely innocent."

Bringing It Home

To Do This Week

  • Imagine you are the woodcutter. What would you do differently?
  • Tell a story about when you were accused of something you didn't do.
  • Pick one member of your family and apologize for blaming that person for something he or she didn't do.
  • Is there something you've done about which you feel guilty? Talk about it.
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