Bookmark Monday: Valuable fables

Hailed as “a master of the simple fable” by the Chicago Tribune, Leo Lionni excels in creating beautifully illustrated books of simple stories with profound meanings.

Last weekend, on our weekly stop by the library, we happened upon a freshly shelved row of his books.

I like how there is always something to learn from his stories, for both adults and children alike. And The Biggest House in the World is no exception.

The book is about a tiny snail who wishes to have the biggest house in the world (and let’s be honest with ourselves…haven’t we all entertained thoughts of having a bigger house sometime…), and is told a story by his wise father of a little snail that once wished the same thought.

And how the little snail in the story would not listen to good reason that he should keep his house light and easy to carry. So, hidden in the shade of a large cabbage leaf, he begins to twist and twitch and grow his shell until it became as big as a melon.

Not satisfied with what he’s achieved, he continues to keep on willing his shell to grow even bigger, eventually coming up with pointed bulges and even bright colours and beautiful designs.

While his fellow snails tell him that surely he must have the biggest house now, and butterflies and frogs marvel in awe at the little snail with a house like a birthday cake, reality soon sets in when the leaves of the cabbage the snails had been feasting on, are all eaten up.  And as the other snails move on to find another, the little snail discovers that he can’t move for the disproportionate weight and size of his house.

Left behind and having nothing to eat, he eventually dies. With nothing remaining but the beautiful shell, which little by little crumbles until nothing remains.

It’s a poignant reminder to me that in our journey of life, it’s more fulfilling, to be neither poor nor rich, but to seek to live life filled with adventure, awe and exploration of God’s world than to be consumed in a quest for bigger, better, more and be eventually burdened by the results of materialism.

*****

“Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me;

give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.

Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.”  ~ Proverbs 30: 7-9

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