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.

A very, very rich man lived in a very, very large house. His servants made a lovely garden for him, so that even in the hottest days of summer the rich man could sit in the cool shade of his tall trees.

Still, the rich man was always thinking about more things his servants could do for him. He commanded them to dig new gardens and build more stone walls around his property.

When the servants dug through the earth, they found many rocks, far too many for them to use. They went to the rich man and asked, "Master, what should we do with all these extra stones?"

The rich man pointed to a wall and said, "Just throw them over that wall into the road." And because the master ordered them to do it, the servants tossed the stones into the road where everybody walked. They did this day after day. At last, a wise old man came walking along and saw the stones being tossed into the road. He asked the servants why they were throwing stones onto the road and they said, "Our master told us to."

So the wise old man went to see their master, the rich man, and asked, "Why are you throwing stones from what belongs to you to what does not belong to you?"

The rich man paid little attention to the old man. "All I care about," the rich man said, "is that I get these stones off my property."

"But what about all the people who must walk on this road?" the old man asked.

The rich man said, "Why should I care about them?" and started to walk away.

The wise old man said to himself, "I believe someday you will wish you had not said what you have said." And the wise old man left.

After that day, everything went badly for the rich man. All the things that used to make money for him now failed, and he lost all that he owned. The rich man was forced to leave his big house and walk the very road on which he had ordered his servants to throw stones. The same stones badly hurt his feet and the rich man thought, "The wise old man was right to ask about throwing stones from what belonged to me to what did not belong to me. How I wish that I had cared then!"

Bringing It Home

To Do This Week:

  • Draw or paint a picture of the rich man's garden.

  • Imagine you are a servant of the rich man. When he tells you to dig out more rocks all day long, how do you feel about him?

  • Tell a story about when you cared only about yourself and didn't think about what would happen to others because of what you did. Tell a story about when someone else didn't seem to care about you and just did what they wanted to do.

  • Imagine you are the wise old man. When the rich man didn't listen to you, what would you do?

  • Imagine you see the rich man, now very poor, walking down the road with no shoes and bruised feet. What would you do?
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