“Oh no! What a disaster!” Gabriel gasped, seeing the fire that was rapidly consuming the woodland around him. “Who will be able to put out a fire that is devouring an entire forest?”
His thoughts raced: “Here I am all alone… This smoke is suffocating. How did I even get here? And…” But before he could begin to make any sense of the situation, he was startled by the sound of voices.
“I thought I was alone, but I guess I was wrong! Where are those voices coming from?” the boy wondered.
He decided to walk in the direction of the sounds, following his ears. What was his astonishment when he came upon a group of animals… talking! He crept closer, and the creatures did not seem to notice his presence. So he decided to stay and listen to their discussion, in the hope that they might come up with some way out of this terrible plight.
“I am known for the incredible speed if my sprint,” the cheetah declared. “I can run around the fire so as to stir up a wind current strong enough to put it out.”
The other animals exchanged doubtful glances, but were willing to let the cheetah try. With amazing agility, the feline made several laps around the fire at his highest velocity. But his exertions had no effect whatsoever.
Then the elephant’s commanding voice was heard:
“Have no fear! Our herd will surely be able to blow out this fire in seconds.”
And addressing his companions, he continued:
“With our superior size, we have plenty of lung capacity, and better still, our long trunks can channel our breath directly at the target. Let’s get to work, my friends! Let’s display our power!”
The elephants began to blow into the fire, puffing as hard as they could. However, not only were they unable to put out the blaze, but they actually stirred up some embers into flames! Dejected by their failure, they looked at the giraffe and suggested that, being so tall, perhaps she could help.
“Help? But I have no need to help! Nothing and no one can harm me, since I tower so far above everything,” she answered, proudly and foolishly.
Upon hearing this, the beaver thought: “Well now, she really could have tried to help, being such a tall and strong creature. As for me, small as I am, I am not strong enough to help the community. I know what I will do! I will use my paws and smother the flames that surround my little burrow with earth. As for the others, especially that giraffe, they will have to fend for themselves.” He set right to work to carry out his plan and succeeded: his burrow was saved. But only his! The flames continued to spread everywhere.
Realizing that no one was able to save the forest and its inhabitants, they went in search of the lion. After all, being king, he would certainly have a solution.
“O great Lion, look at the danger we are in. We have no one else left to turn to but you.”
Without the slightest explanation, His Majesty opened his mouth and began to roar fearsomely for several minutes on end, without stopping, as everyone looked on, dumbfounded… Suddenly he stopped and said furiously:
“How dare you defy me, fire? How absurd! I ordered you to cease at once, and you failed to submit to my will! Animals, tell that fire that it is I who rule this territory, and I must be obeyed!”
Without uttering a single word, the entourage left, disappointed with the conduct of that “majestic” personage…
It was a desperate situation; would the forest burn to the ground?
Suddenly, a little swallow came and alighted on a twig. What did she have to say?
“My friends! I have thought a great deal and may have come up with a plan to help in some way,” she said.
“You? The smallest of us all, and you think you have found a way to save us? Tell us your plan,” was the scornful reply of the cheetah, who looked like a giant next to her.
“Wait and see!” the little bird responded.
Taking no offense at the laughter of her “compatriots”, she flew to the nearest lake, dove in, and as quickly as her wings would carry her, she returned to the conflagration. Then, hovering overhead, she shook out every drop of water that was trapped among her feathers. She repeated the operation dozens of times, using every ounce of energy in her being.
“Ha! ‘Wait and see’… We are waiting. Are we really going to see her outdo us all?” scoffed the elephant.
But The tiny bird had embraced the ideal of saving the forest, and she was praying all the while for the accomplishment her “mission”.
Then, before the eyes of the fauna gathered below, a prodigy unfolded: just as her strength was about to give out, the swallow begged the Lord of the Universe to come to her aid. To her and her onlookers’ surprise, the clouds that were scattered across the vast sky came together directly over the forest, and discharged torrents of water that immediately quenched the blaze. The good Creator had heard the pleas of a humble creature who, although small, had been generous to the extreme.
The more sceptical of the animals wanted to explain the episode with scientific arguments. Others felt ashamed, and some were not sure what to think, but a good part of the forest dwellers understood that it was a true miracle. Now everyone was running again, this time not to escape the fire, but to take cover from the rain. Until…
“What? Have the animals discovered me? Until now they have taken no notice of my existence and now they know my name?”
“Gabriel, it’s time to get up.”
So it was only a dream! Only, no… there must be some reason for it.
He opened his eyes, kissed his mother and even before saying his morning prayer he wanted to tell her the whole story in vivid detail. She, amazed at the boy’s eagerness, listened closely to the narrative.
“Isn’t it strange, Mom? I have never remembered a dream so clearly!”
“Of course, my son. And do you know why?”
“It’s because… well… I don’t know how to explain it.”
“Sometimes God sends us messages through dreams. What do you think He taught you last night?”
“I think He wanted to tell me to not to be worried only about myself, but to always think of what others need, and to help them generously.”
“That is right! Carry this lesson with you for the rest of your life. We must do good for the love of God, without being afraid of the laughter, the ungratefulness or the rivalry of others.”
“Yes, but I can’t stop thinking about how small and weak that swallow was, while the others were so big and powerful… She must have been scared!”
“But she really wasn’t scared at all! Even though she naturally had less than the others, she gave everything she had, prayed and believed.”
Enthused, Gabriel concluded:
“Now I understand! We should do the very best we can, even if it seems like it’s not worth much, because then God will help us, and make up for what we lack!” ◊