A story for children 99 years and younger
The little wheat kernel opened its eyes and looked up, only to squint. The warm sun was too bright to look upon but was smiling down on the little kernel. All the while, a breeze of cool air kissed his cheeks. All around the little kernel, other kernels opened their eyes – his brothers and sisters – and smiled. All of them were in the stalk together and were just beginning to feel alive. The cold rains had passed and they were swaying in the wind, as if dancing, with new life and vigor. He saw the blue sky and, far away, white clouds floating in the laziness of the morning.
He remembered vaguely the night before today. He was half asleep then, but fondly he was being caressed by moonlight from the shimmering circle set in the speckled black sky. He remembered more now! The moon kissed him and told him to be patient and wait for God; God — the creator of heaven and earth and all that there is. God, who gave the rains and made the sun to shine. God — who gave growth to all of his brothers and sisters – and, of course, to him too. God must be beautiful, he thought. There is so much beauty all around. How can such beauty come from a God that is less beautiful? I wish I could see God, he thought.
From far away, the little wheat kernel heard the laughter of children. They were running through the wheat fields trying to catch each other. Once, a boy came very close to him. The child looked at him with wide open blue eyes, and at his brother and sister kernels. The little kernel looked right back and noticed that the child’s golden hair was also dancing in the wind. And what a beautiful face the boy had! “Do the angels in heaven have this kind of face?” he wondered. He knew about angels from the moon. The moon must have seen the angels dancing on the clouds. What a wonderful sight they must be. The boy ran away to follow his friends and the sound of giggles died away in the distant hills.
The little kernel went for a short snooze. But soon he was awoken by loud sounds in the field. Sounds he did not like — rough and deep voices. They spoke about the harsh master and owner of the field. They did not like their master and were going to get even with him now that he went away to a far country. They were going to show him that it does not pay to go away. They were going to damage the master’s wheat fields and all the kernels there. Why would they do that, thought the little kernel. The master of the field was a gentle and hardworking man. He had planted the wheat in due season and taken care of its growth.
The deep voices all around the little kernel became terrible. Shouting voices were ordering commands of destruction. Then there came the harsh sounds of metal knives hitting against wheat stalks. Thrash! Slash! Cut! Kernels of wheat were falling all around him like flies! He heard cries and moans and bitter regrets. Brother was calling after sister as they fell through the air. Then — he felt the hit! Cold metal punched the stalk where he grew up and all of his family was knocked down to the earth. The little kernel too fell on the ground. A leather sandal stomped on his face and he cried out: “God help me! Where are you my God? Why has God abandoned me?”
And then quiet…
The little kernel slept for a long time before he woke up with many of the other sleepy kernels and found himself in a large sack. The weight of all the others was crushing down on him. He did not know where they were but he found that he no longer had any chaff around him. What they were going to do with him and his family?
Then he heard the master’s voice – the master of the wheat field. He was back from his journey! The master must have been the one that saw the destruction and picked the little kernel and his brothers and sisters up from the ground, cleaned them of chaff and put them here in this sack. The little kernel felt happy. He knew the master and that he was kind.
Without notice, the master picked up the sack of wheat kernels and poured them out on a large, round and grooved stone. The little kernel fell among them. Another heavy milling stone was set to roll on top of the grooved stone and began to crush the kernels. Why was the master — the good master — doing this? The pain was unbearable. The little wheat kernel was cracking into a thousand pieces and he felt that his life was over. He was no longer that little kernel but just crushed bits of wheat everywhere. The strange thing was that he still knew who he was and felt as though nothing happened to the inside of him – his soul. It seems as if it did not matter much what happened to his body. He still felt alive! How was this possible?
His mind began racing through his memories. All at once, his entire life came before his eyes. He remembered that once there was a bold man who came through the fields where he had lived. The man was followed by other men — and women too. He was a man whose face he could look upon for hours. That man’s face was sincere and earnest, kind and strong, compassionate and purposeful. He listened to the words that came from that man’s mouth, words which the little kernel could not understand then. The man had said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. And, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted”. I am mourning right now, he thought. And my spirit is downcast!
Wait! He now remembered! That man had also said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a kernel of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.” Why did that man say that? Why did the little wheat kernel have to die? He wanted to live forever. The little kernel did not want to die!
The wheat kernel could look down on all his pieces and see that he and all the other crushed pieces of wheat were put in a cloth sack labeled with the word “flour”. Is that what they had become?
The little wheat kernel saw that the master took the flour sack, with the pieces of the little kernel in it, threw it over his shoulder and trudged down the road. The master headed straight for a stone building. In the building the master put the sack of flour down in a room containing all kinds of pots and utensils. Next to the sack the little kernel could see another sack made of animal skin. Then, the little kernel heard voices in the animal skin sack. There were many voices; all scared and upset just like him. They told him their story.
They used to be small baby grapes – at first they awoke to find themselves green but then as time went on, they darkened and became a deep red. They too were kissed by the sun whose strength they drank in everyday. And they too were told by the moon to wait patiently for God. They loved the rain because it made them fat. In those days, they felt the juices flowing in sweetness around their bodies.
They also had heard terrible voices. Men with hatred in their hearts broke down the stone walls that the master of the vineyard had built around the vines holding them. The men came with metal instruments of destruction and cut down the vines. The vines all collapsed and the grapes flew down to the ground, some of them spilling their juice out on the ground.
When the master of the vineyard came back he rescued the grapes and took them to a large winepress. In the winepress they felt the pain as the master squeezed them together, and all of their red grape juice began flowing into a stone vat. From the winepress vat they were poured into large skin sack. In the sack they sat for a while as their juice became stronger and stronger. One day, without notice their master took the skin sack and also brought them to this same stone building.
The little kernel asked the grapes if they remembered the same bold man who walked through the wheat fields talking about the Kingdom of God. The grapes did remember that same man because he had walked through the vineyard. They told the little kernel that they remembered the man saying: “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same will bring forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.”
Just then, a woman entered into the room and took the flour from the cloth sack. The little kernel was part of that flour. She mixed the flour with water, formed the dough and pressed into a mould. The mould had a cross and other signs on it. The shaped dough was baked in the oven and came out ready as beautiful round bread stamped with the cross and other signs on it.
The little wheat kernel and grapes were feeling something strange pass over them — as though they were being prepared for something important. Into the room came a man in black vestments and took the loaf of bread and the juice from the skin sack that had now become wine. This stone building was a church and the man in black vestments was a priest!
The priest poured out the wine with warm water into a chalice. The priest then took the bread with the little kernel, cut it up, prayed over it and put it inside the chalice. He then said a prayer asking the bread to become the very body of Jesus Christ and the wine to become the very blood of Christ! The little wheat kernel suddenly felt united with the grapes in a very strong bond of love. What strange events!
The priest carried out the chalice containing the wine and bread, the grapes and the wheat kernels, into the nave of the church and called in a loud voice: “In the fear of God with faith and with love draw near!” The little kernel saw people coming up to eat of him, who had become the body of Christ, and drink of his friends the grapes, who had become the blood of Christ. And then, the little kernel saw the boy! — that beautiful boy who had come to look at the little kernel in the field. The boy’s face was like an angel just like before, but now he came up to the chalice with his hands crossed over his breast. The boy opened wide his mouth and the little kernel felt himself go down into the boy’s mouth by a spoon. Inside the boy the little kernel felt warm and strong.
Suddenly, the little kernel saw what he had always desired to see. Inside the boy, the little kernel saw the face of God! The face of God was in Jesus Christ – and it was the most beautiful face he had ever seen. At that time, the little kernel knew that he was starting to be in love with Jesus Christ. He also knew that he would never stop being in love with Jesus. Truly, the little wheat kernel would be living happily forever after, because now he was really alive!