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Micah and the two bears. nederlands   next story  story listing  

Once upon a time there were two little bears who liked to play the drums. They lived in a far far away forest, where nobody minded how loud you played. "The louder the better", they said. They loved noise, because the noisier you were the more you could enjoy yourself. And nobody minded other people's noise because they said that if making noise made people happy then the best way for everybody to be happy was for everybody to make lots of noise. What a noisy place that was!

The elephants stomped their legs as loud as they could, "thud, thud", and trumpeted all day long, "tarattattatoooootooooot". The lions roared, "roaaaaaar", the bears growled, "grrrrrr", the dogs barked, "woof woof". The gorilla's had found an old piano and twelve of them were playing as many notes as they could at the same time, "ding, dang, bling, blong, clang!" And then there were the two little bears who liked to play the drums, "boom, dash, dash, ching."

The good thing of all the noise was that it made the ground shake so much that people had never dared to go into that forest. And so the animals who lived there were completely safe from hunters and other dangerous people things, such as fires and cars and poisons and plastic bags.

But then one day there was a boy called Micah. He went on holidays with his parents and his sister to a place not far from the forest. At night they heard all the noise wafting along on the wind. They couldn't hear it very clearly because the forest was still a little way away.

First they thought there must be fireworks, but when the noise kept going they thought maybe it was a thunder storm. But when it kept going all night long, they thought maybe it was a factory. What do you think the noise might have been?

Every time they thought of another answer, Micah said, "dum, dum", so they thought he knew the answer to what the noise was and that maybe they were a bit dumb in working it out.

The next morning they went out exploring and as they got closer, Micah kept saying, "dum, dum." Finally they got there.

When the animals saw Micah and his family, they got the shock of their lives. They had never seen people and they were really scared. They hid away and didn't know what to do. Suddenly it was all the way quiet.

But then Micah saw the drums in the clearing in the forest. His eyes lit up and he said, ..... "dum, dum!" Then he ran to the drums and started playing them as loud as he could.

When the animals saw that Micah was happy -- because he was playing so loud -- they all relaxed and started laughing and everyone went back to their instruments and made even more noise than ever before.

The two little bears didn't mind that Micah was using their drums, because that way they could have a little rest for a bit and still listen to the beautiful noise of their drumset. Then mother bear and father bear made everybody cups of tea with a piece of cake, and so everybody lived happily ever after.

©2007 Ralph Holwerda

How the sky turned warm and orange. nederlands   previous story  next story  story listing  back to top  

In a land far, far away where the sky could choose what colour it would be at any given time, depending on the way it felt, there lived a million little people. The people were so small in that land, that ants looked to them like giants and grass looked like the tallest trees. Real trees looked like they were touching heaven and the sky looked so big that even a rocket couldn't get to the end of it.

But the sky knew better than that. The sky knew that outside itself, there was the universe with the stars and the planets and the sun and the moon in it. The sky called the universe, 'the big sky' and it called itself 'the little sky'. The little people couldn't imagine that there could be anything bigger than the sky they could see. But the sky didn't think it was so big at all. When the sky started talking about the big sky and that there were many other skies, on other planets, the little people would laugh and shake their heads and tell the sky that it was just imagining things.

The sky sometimes got angry and frustrated, that the little people didn't understand and didn't seem to care. Whenever the sky got angry it would change to a greenish black colour and it would make a big thunderstorm. The little people were afraid of thunderstorms, especially because the sky was so incredibly big. So whenever the sky made thunder storms the little people would hide in their little houses.

The sky often called out into the big sky to see if any of the other skies would answer, but not once had it had a reply and so the sky was lonely. Whenever the little people hid because of thunderstorms, the sky would get even more lonely and it would start to cry. That's why often when there are thunderstorms, it also rains.

There were many other colours the sky could become as well. At night's, the sky would close its eyes to go to sleep and so everything would go dark. This would make the sky look black. On a cold winter's day, the sky would be freezing and look blue in the face. Sometimes the sky would start thinking about all the birthdays it had had and start feeling old. This would make the sky look grey. In the mornings the sky would every now and again think it had slept in and it would blush and turn red. In the evenings the sky would be hot, because of all the work it had done and so it would also turn red.

From time to time when the sky felt like having some fun it would make special colours, such as pink and purple and would sometimes even have some golden dots or a couple of rainbows. This usually happened in the summer, when the little people were singing and playing together in the fields and everyone was friends.

There were two little people who were really close friends and the sky would often watch them. The sky would start feeling all warm and fuzzy inside when it saw how much the two little people loved each other. What colour do you think the sky would turn when that happened? Well, a warm fuzzy colour of course!

The sky would watch the two little people from the morning till the night. In the mornings they would visit each other, after they had brushed their teeth. They would go to each other's houses and ring the bell. Then when they saw each other, they would say 'Hello' and then they would play all kinds of games together and talk about all kinds of things and do things together and go and see exciting places together and go for picnics, and sometimes they would even go canoeing on a gum leaf that had fallen into the water.

The sky liked the word 'Hello' very much. To the sky the word 'Hello' meant friendship and that you wanted to talk with someone, or that you liked them very much. The sky had often called out 'Hello' into the big sky but not once had it had a reply and so the sky was lonely.

But then the sky got an idea. It had seen the two little people use a trick one day when they couldn't visit each other. They had been too busy because of the harvest. One of the two friends had taken a daisy petal and written the word 'Hello' on it and then thrown it high into the sky. The sky had made a wind to blow in such a way that it carried the petal to the other friend. The sky had seen how happy it had made the other friend and that the other friend then had done the same. The sky again had helped, this time by making the wind go the other way, so that the second petal flew back to the first friend. It made them all have a big belly laugh.

The sky thought, 'If only I could throw something high into the big sky, so that it would end up where there is another sky and then they could read my 'Hello.' All of a sudden it knew what to do. How about if it made a big snow storm, but instead of making the snow fall down on the earth, it could put the snow into big snowball with the word 'Hello' on it. The sky threw the big snowball as hard as it could into the big sky.

The little people looked up and said, ' Wow, look, a comet. Isn't it beautiful!' There were also some scientist little people who explained how comets work, and that they are big blocks of ice that travel through the universe and that they go past many planets and other stars and then one day come back again. They did many really difficult to understand calculations on it and said many things that didn't mean very much to the other little people. When the sky heard all the scientific talk, it just shook its head an thought, 'If only they knew that it is just a snowball, that I threw to say 'Hello', to try to make some friends.

A very long time later, probably about two hundred years after the sky had thrown its snowball, there was a real buzz in the science building. One of the scientists had looked through his telescope and seen the largest comet on the way to earth that had ever been seen. The sky pricked up its ears to hear what the excitement was all about and then remembered the other times when comets had come to earth. Each time the sky looked, hoping that a snowball had returned with a 'Hello' from another sky somewhere. But every time there had been the disappointment of just another block of ice that had been aimlessly flying through the big sky for thousands of years.

But this time the sky knew it must be different. The sky waited impatiently for a couple of weeks, watching the comet come closer and closer, until finally the most amazing thing came into sight. The comet was actually made of hundreds of snowballs all clumped together and on each of them was a different 'Hello' message from a different sky of a different planet.

From that moment on, the sky knew that it was no longer alone. The sky felt so really really happy that it got the biggest fuzzy feeling that anyone has ever felt. And because of that it turned all warm and orange. It was of a colour that was so bright that all the other skies could see from a long long distance that the sky had received their message and they all had the biggest belly laugh together.

©2007 Ralph Holwerda

Wave.previous story  next story  story listing  back to top  

There was a wise man who lived in a village near a lake far far away. His name was "Wave". It was not his real name, but that's what everybody called him.

When Wave went through the village, the children of the village would run and dance around him and ask him all kinds of questions. Wave knew that children can ask many questions that most adults can never answer.

It was his favourite time, when the children came to him. He loved the simple truths with which children thought and through which they could understand things that ordinary people couldn't.

Wave learnt much from the children. They always made him think just a little harder. And that's what he did. And because of that, he would always come up with an answer to the questions the children asked. He had learned to see what children see, he had learned to think in children's logic. He had learned never to think children were dumb, or that they were just a nuisance with all their questions. He was too wise for that. He knew that he had learnt most of his wisdom from listening to children and seeing children play.

One of Wave's favourite questions the children asked was, "Wave , why do people sometimes have to be happy and sometimes sad?"

Wave would take the children to the lake and throw a rock into it, right in the middle. He would make the children look at the waves that came towards them and get them to tell him what they saw.

The children would tell him that the waves got bigger and bigger and bigger, and they kept going for a long time. Then Wave would make them look harder, and usually one child would say, "They're going up and down too!" That would please Wave very much. He would say, "You know, life is like that too. There are many ups and downs. Life is like a wave."

The children would laugh, because they all knew the story very well. They also knew that it was because of this story that Wave had got his nickname.

And then Wave would say that if it weren't for the ups and downs of the wave they saw in the lake, it wouldn't get bigger and bigger either. He said, if it weren't for the ups and downs it wouldn't grow and it wouldn't move. And then the children would say, "And if there were no happy's and unhappy's in life then life wouldn't grow either, would it?"

Sometimes they would ask, "Wave, have you had many happy's and unhappy's in your life?" Wave would just smile with his gentle smile and look at them and then into the distance and then back at them.

After that he would throw another rock into the lake and ask the children to look again, what else they could learn about the waves. He asked which you could see best, the ups or the downs? And he would show them that the ups reflected the light, but that the downs were dark, and that it was much easier to see the ups. He said it was always good to remember the good things, because that brought light into your life, just like with the waves.

He said that if you remembered the good things about people and not the bad, it would make it a lot easier to remember them as well, and you could learn from them. You could as it were catch their good waves for your own life. He also talked about catching the good waves that the Great Creator Spirit sent into the world every day.

The children didn't really know how to do that bit, but they caught the good waves from Wave, and their lives grew even though unhappy's would come from time to time.

One day Wave didn't turn up in the village. The children missed him and didn't know what to do. Then the news came that Wave was very sick, and that he very much wanted to see the children one more time, because he didn't know if he would still get better or not.

So they all went to Wave's little house. Fortunately the sun was shining that day and Wave had got a little better. He was sitting outside and that was just as well, because all those children could have never have all fitted inside his little house.

But they were all worried, and they said, "Wave, what will we do when you're not here anymore? We'll be so sad that we don't know if there can be anymore waves in our lives. We don't know if without you our lives can still grow and move." Wave thought for a little while and then said, "Remember every time when I showed you with the rock in the lake?" They said "Yes." He then said, "You know rocks are hard and when they hit you they can hurt a lot..." He paused, and then said, "But it is the biggest rocks that make the best waves." "The secret of the waves is that you always see the up sides best and the down sides fade away into the dark. And because of them you grow, grow, grow. It can't be any other way. It's always happened like that and it will always be the same." "Then one day you will be able to catch the waves from the Great Creator Spirit for yourselves"

Then two children said at the same time, "And how will we always remember you, Wave?" "Just remember the good things my dears he said with his gentle smile, just remember the good things and you will always have me with you."

~ ~ ~

Many years later there was a throng of children around the lake. Every year they would get together to remember Wave. Every year they would tell each other about all the good things, about all the up things, not just about Wave, but also about other up things, including the ones of the Great Creator Spirit. And every year as they got together like that, at the same time every year, a fish would jump up in the middle of the lake and make a big splash and leave a wave that would grow bigger and bigger, up and down and bigger, and they could all see very clearly Wave's smile in the water growing bigger and bigger and bigger.

©2008 Ralph Holwerda

The zooprevious story  next story  story listing  back to top  

"The zoo is open!" "Come visit!", shouts the zoo keeper, "No tickets needed!", "Come see the bear!"

It was a village unlike all others in the tribe. This village had a zoo. It was a foreign concept, which one of the villagers had picked up on one of his travels to a far away land. In this village the zoo however only had one cage, a bear cage. The people from the village and many villages around came to visit the zoo, to see the bear and gloat over it.

Years earlier a big ferocious bear had roamed the forests in the valley and villagers had lost their lives. So a big bear hunt was called and everyone armed with sticks and clubs went out to find the bear and kill it. But the beast was of the illusive kind and hunt after hunt was futile. Every time the people returned without the bear and the next time someone went missing a new bear hunt was called.

Then one day one of the warriors told the villagers to build a big cage, like they had in the zoos in the far away lands and he would capture the bear by the time the cage was built and they would have a zoo and no more bear problems. And so the cage was built. And by the time it was finished, he delivered the bear into it, at night when everybody was asleep. He was a skillful warrior, with night vision like that of an owl.

The villagers were delighted and the warrior was promoted to the status of "great warrior". He had enjoyed the privileges of his status ever since that day. He gained much wealth and respect and had many sons, all of whom became warriors, but there was none as great as he.

The news of the zoo spread among the other villages and tribes and many people came to visit the village to see the bear and to stand in awe. The bear however was quite shy and as illusive as he had been right from the start. With the throngs of people queuing up to see him, no-one ever got a good view. The people used to say to each other, "Look, there he is, in the corner behind that rock, that's him, look, he moved". Then everyone else said, "Yes, that's him alright" and they all marveled and sighed with relief and cheered the great warrior. No-one ever doubted that the bear was really there. Everyone knew he was. Ever since the great warrior had caught the bear, the marauding had ceased and the village had lived in peace. On top of that, because of the zoo, trading and friendly relations had opened up with many of the villages and tribes around them and they experienced a level of prosperity they had never had before. Moreover, they would give the zookeeper meat and vegetables every day for the bear and these got eaten by the bear every night.

There was one person however who kept on causing a problem. He was one of the village's wise men. He kept on uttering mysterious riddles and rhymes that seemed to betray that all was not well. He unsettled the people with his questions and prophecies and they told him in no uncertain way to keep silent, however he could not. One day he wrote a poem in the sand in the village square. It read:

The bear is on the loose, the bear is on the loose!
'We need more strength, we need more peace'
The bear is on the loose, go fight him if you choose.

The bear is fierce, the bear is fierce
'We need more strength, we need more peace'
The bear is fierce, his bite will pierce

The mothers cry, the mothers cry
'We need more strength, we need more peace'
The mothers cry, their children die,but why?

Our courage frozen, our courage frozen
'We need more strength, we need more peace'
With courage frozen, where are the chosen?

Go fight him if you choose, go fight him if you choose
We have the strength, we have the peace
The bear is on the loose, go fight him if you choose.

The people were furious that he dared frighten the children like that and mock the great warrior, so they banished him. From that time he led a lonely existence, some distance away from the village in between the trees on top of the hill.

Years later things changed in the village. The people had forgotten what had happened. They forgot that bears could ever pose a danger. They were living in prosperity and peace and no-one realised how dependent they really still were on nature and that when nature decided to turn the tide, that there was little they could do about it.

One day the news broke that a girl had gone missing. There was much speculation of what might have happened. Some of the villagers thought that someone may have killed her and hidden the body. There was suspicion among the people and an eerie fear settled on them. Others thought that someone from another tribe might have abducted her.

Nothing happened for a few weeks and then another child went missing. The people noticed that the same man from the Kulu tribe had been in the village that day, and they thought they had found their suspect. A delegation was sent to the tribe to demand them to hand the man over, but they refused. Accusations and threats were made and trade between them stopped. Other tribes heard about it and also stopped trading with the village.

Three days later a young man went missing, some time later someone else. People said a villager had heard growls from the forest at night, but others said that was impossible, because the bear was in the cage. He must have heard wrong. "It's because of your worries", people said to the one who told them he had heard it with his own ears.

Then someone said that there was a secret entrance somewhere in the forest into the next life. Many went looking for it and some didn't come back. There was discussion among the people that it was really wrong and very selfish for anyone to go looking for this secret entrance and leave their loved ones and everyone else behind. So they stopped going into the forest to look for it and it was quiet for a while.

But then one day the son of the chief went missing. His name was Irja. He was the eldest. He was the one who would succeed his father one day. The chief pretended that everything was ok for a while and said that his son had gone on a hunting trip and that he was a strong young man who was wise and that nothing could happen to him. But secretly the chief consulted his wise men. They all came up with different answers and explanations that didn't make sense, because none of them dared to suggest that maybe there was a bear out there in the forest. They knew the old wise man on the hill had been exiled when he had spoken up about the danger and they were not going to make the same mistake.

After a week it got too much for the chief and he called in the banished wise man from up the hill. He told him that he would give him gold and silver and as many wives as he wanted, if only he could tell him what had happened to his son and what to do. The wise man however said to him,

"I cannot reveal to you the answer you are looking for, because you already know it in your heart. Go into the quietest place in the forest and the answer will meet you loud and clear. You must go to the deepest place in your heart where for an age and a half you have hidden all truth that was too difficult to face. You must become like a fearless warrior and look the truth into the eye. There you will find your son in your heart and you will hear him speak of his life like you never have before. Then you will know where he is hid and whether he is still alive."

With that he turned around and started back to his home on the hill. The chief called after him and said, "Wait, you must receive your reward!" But the wise man kept moving, undisturbed by the pull of such a great temptation. He knew that if he accepted the reward, his life would become as futile as that of the great warrior, who, like the chief had never stared the truth into the eye.

By that time the news had spread that Irja had gone missing and that he not gone on a great hunting trip, but that he was just simply... missing. The people found out that none of the wise men had had any answers and that the banished wise man had been called in and that he had given the chief another one of his riddles. Fear traveled into the people's hearts, like a thick dark fog. The people seemed paralysed. No-one knew what to do but everyone knew that someone must do something. All eyes turned to the chief and the great warrior, so the chief invited the great warrior in for a secret meeting with his wise men.

Underneath the chief had known all along that the bear had never been caught, that the bear had never been in the cage. It had all been an idea the great warrior had come up with to settle down the people's fears and increase the prosperity of the village. And it had worked very well for a good while. But now it all started to crumble. They had to come up with a clever plan, and that they did.

The next morning the chief announced that he had done what the old wise man from up the hill had told him. He said how he had gone into the quietest part of the forest and that there the answer had come to him. He said that the angels had descended and given him wisdom. He said that the bear in the cage was now old and tame and that the great warrior could go into the cage and put a harness on it. He said the angels had told him that a second bear had come into the region and that this second bear explained the recent disappearances. He said they must use the old bear to track down the second bear and capture it. He made an eloquent speech, encouraging the villagers all to take great courage and to follow the example of the great warrior who had single handedly captured the ferocious bear years before. Everybody cheered.

The great warrior went into the cage with the harness to be put on the bear. A minute passed as the great warrior went to get the old bear from behind the rock. Great tension cut the air. Then there was a deep wail, "The bear is on the loose, the bear is on the loose!", just like in the riddle that the wise man had written so many years ago, the riddle that children had been using in their games and chants, almost in a mocking way.

As the great warrior came out of the cage, there was a hush and as the great warrior began to speak, wanting to explain that the old wise man must have opened the door of the cage the day before when he was in the village. He got cut short by the zoo keeper, who yelled out, "There's never been a bear in that cage!" "The brown fur you saw in the cage behind the rock were the brown coleus plants moving in the wind." "The meat and herbs all went to the great warrior and his large family."

For a moment the people were stunned. Then they were filled with rage and wanted to kill the great warrior. But the zookeeper shouted, "The bear is on the loose, let's deal with that first." So all the villagers, still charged with rage, ran into the forest and went to hunt for the bear. The great warrior also left and the chief was left there standing all by himself. As he contemplated what to do now, he decided the best thing to do would be to really go and do what the wise man up the hill had said, so the chief also moved into the forest, but in a different direction than the rest of the people.

Soon the chief found himself in the quietest part of the forest. It was darkish and water was dripping off the leaves. There were creatures off all sizes and shapes that he had never seen in his life. The creatures started closing in on him. Most of them looked fierce and intimidating. It was as if he was in a different universe. He did not feel at ease at all, but he knew he must go through this will he ever see his son again. He remembered the words of the wise man.

A creature much bigger than him suddenly launched at him. In the split second that this took, the chief remembered other words that the wise man had spoken, years ago, when he first had become chief.

"You must overcome all that looks overpowering and intimidating with the gift of the power of the Creator of Old, which you have received today to fulfill your duties as chief of this village."

It was a very long time since he had used this power, but now the chief remembered how true the words of the wise man had always been. He felt ashamed that he had allowed him to get banished.

There was a scuffle between the chief and the creature. The chief overcame it with ease. The power still worked. He did likewise with all the other creatures and then it was really quiet.

The chief gathered his thoughts. His memories traveled to the times when he had played with Irja in this part of the forest and he remembered many of the things they had talked about, and remembered many of the places they had gone to, to explore and to hunt. And then it came like a flash: The cave near the creek. "Dad you'll find me near the cave near the creek." When he was 12 his son had said this out of the blue. "Dad you'll find me near the cave near the creek." He'd kept on repeating it as if his life depended on it, but the chief had never understood what he had meant by it. But now he did!

He rushed to the creek and followed it upstream till he got to the cave. He panted. He called out "Irja, Irja!" "Irja, Irja!" Instead of the voice of his son he heard a growl which pulled his gaze straight ahead. The bear! Their eyes met. The bear's eyes set only on one intent: to capture and devour the chief. The chief jumped backwards. His heart was racing. His mind was focused. He knew he must face this as a man. His anger was aroused and he grabbed a big stick. Then he yelled his loudest and leaped towards the bear who was about five times his weight.

Somewhere it flashed through his mind that others might hear the scuffle and come to join the fight, but he forgot about the gift of power of the Creator of Old at this crucial moment. The battle was fierce between the beast and him. He was badly injured as claws ripped through his flesh. He was thrown through the air several times. He landed behind a rock. All was quiet for just a second while he thought soon the bear would come to finish him off. But he heard, "Dad, dad!" "Dad!" It couldn't be! His heart almost stopped. "My son!" Then he heard, "I've got the bear." He struggled to get up. His son was standing there and next to him the bear who was dead. "My son!", he cried, "My son!" "Irja!" "How did you do that?" "It's the gift of the power of the Creator of Old." "If you forget about it, it won't work." "If you stuff it away like you did all those years through your lies and pretense, it won't work." "But when I was in the cave, a light visited me and said, "This is the gift your father doesn't want anymore. It is now yours.' And I believed, and it is real."

At this, the men of the village arrived and saw what had happened. They said they must kill the great warrior for all his lies and for putting them all in grave danger. Many lives had been lost because of his lies and his power games. "He must pay for this with his life." But Irja said, "No, this is a day of celebration. Tomorrow strip him of his power and privileges, but do not lay a hand on him. He also must still walk a long road of many years and many hardships, so that he too might discover what really makes one a great warrior."

The chief could see that Irja had not only received the gift of power that once was his, but that he had also received a gift of wisdom. He knew this must be the day on which his son must succeed him as chief, and the villagers agreed.

As they returned to the village, the women came to meet them. They cheered when they saw Irja had been rescued. Everyone was relieved about such a good outcome. Then one of the women said that they had seen a bright light that looked like an angel traveling from the hut of the old wise man, down to the creek and into the forest. They said that later that day they had found the body of the wise man lying in front of his hut, peaceful and with a smile on his face. They said he had a stick still in his hand and close by in the sand he had written,

If you don't believe it,
If you don't use it,
If you stuff it all away,
It won't work.

©2009 Ralph Holwerda

My long necked giraffieprevious story  next story  story listing  back to top  

My giraffe is my best friend. He has a long neck and he is real fun. He has a long neck. I mean, he has a really really long neck. His neck is so long that he could easily wrap it around the biggest tree you could imagine and it would still fit. I love my giraffe.

My mum says that he isn't real, but she doesn't know. She says she can't see him and that nobody can and so that proves that he isn't real. One day she came to me to have a really serious talk about him and said that I may have to see a doctor about him. I told her that I didn't need to go to a doctor about him, because he wasn't sick at all. I told her that I have been on many adventures with my giraffe and that he always protects me. My giraffe is my hero. I told her that if he hadn't been there on some of my journeys I would have been dead long ago, but even that didn't make her happy. No-one else has a friend like him, not in the whole wide world, except of course all the other friends that he has. My mum still wasn't convinced. Maybe she is jealous that I have a friend like him and that she doesn't.

Three days ago my giraffe Raffie, and I went to the forest at a quarter past two in the middle of the night to get night berries. "Have you ever tasted night berries before Cherylee?", he asked. I said I hadn't. Raffie is so amazing, because he helps me to find out about all the things you don't learn at school and in normal life. Raffie smiled. "They are the best tasting berries you've ever had." "Why don't they tell you about night berries and all the other exciting things we have discovered, at school or on TV shows?", I asked. He said it was probably because people at school and on TV wanted to keep life boring. He said they did that so they could sell more computer games and other things that help ordinary people to be less bored. He then told me to be quiet for a bit because we now came to a tricky part of the forest. "Is it going to be dangerous?" I asked, but he only said "shhh", so I was quiet.

I felt a scared kind of feeling inside, but at the same time I was also excited, because I knew that Raffie had always kept me safe thus far.

There was the time when we went to visit Mrs Dragon and that was fun. She baked us cookies without an oven and she lit the candles without matches or a lighter and she did many other really cool tricks. But then Mr Dragon had come home unexpectedly and he was really hungry. He had been hunting all day and had caught nothing and he mistook us for dinner. Mrs Dragon tried to explain to him, but he was shouting and carrying on that loudly that Mrs Dragon couldn't get a word in. Now that was scary, but Raffie made sure I was safe by wrapping his long strong neck around Mr Dragon's mouth, so he couldn't talk and scream and make all that noise any more. And that forced him to listen to Mrs Dragon who said we weren't dinner, but friends. I then saw Mr Dragon go really red in his face and I thought it was because he was furious. I thought he was going to blast us all by spewing fire out of his nostrils, but he was actually just embarrassed, so the whole thing settled down and we all laughed.

It was really dark in the forest now, and kind of chilly. I felt a shiver come down my spine. There were noises I had never heard before, but most of them were all in the distance. Then there was a strange hazy light ahead of us. It was kind of blueish green. I couldn't quite see what it was, but I knew it wasn't the night sky through an opening in the forest, because it was brighter than that. We walked quite slowly, trying to make as little noise as we could. Raffie was concentrating hard. It was like he was following the light and that the light kept moving further ahead, because we didn't seem to be getting closer to it. All of a sudden there was a loud noise right beside us. It was a flapping noise and a screech and then the flapping noise disappeared high in the trees. My heart was pounding and I couldn't walk for a few seconds, while I was trying to find my breath back. "What was that", I whispered, holding back my tears. "Don't worry" said Raffie, "you're safe." "Keep going, we have to get there before quarter past three, or the night berries will be all gone." "The Brimmels like them too you know and they get there around that time." "What are Brimmels?", I asked. "I'll explain it to you later", he said, and then he again said, "shhhhh."

My mind drifted off while I was following my friend. All of a sudden I saw the Brimmels. They were having a party with lots of music. They were bright orange and had red stripes and spots all over them. I found out that the red stripes and spots were because of night berry juice stains. They were very messy eaters and it also didn't help that night berries squirt their juice when you bite them, a bit like oranges when you try to cut them with a blunt knife. The Brimmels thought it was fun to squirt each other with the juice. I shouted at them, "Don't waste the night berries, because others might also want some", but they didn't care and squirted me right in the eye. Ouch, that stung. Then it was dark again. I had just been daydreaming, but then in the middle of the night, uhm well, I hope you know what I mean.

I noticed my feet were sploshing in something like water. Raffie said, "Climb on my neck and I will keep you dry." He is always so kind and thoughtful and sweet, and not just to me you know. There was the time when my mum was sick and I told him about it and so he did the washing, cleaned the house and cooked dinner for our family. My mum said it was such a lovely thing I had done for her and couldn't work out how I could have cooked such a beautiful dinner. I told her Raffie had cooked it and that he had done all the cleaning, but she laughed and then told everyone about her amazing daughter and how well I could cook. I got really frustrated, but I couldn't say anything, 'cause I thought maybe people would think I was crazy if I told them about Raffie, so I just smiled. "One day they will understand", I thought.

Raffie bowed his head down to the ground. "There you go", he said, "On the other side of the mudpool, and you hardly even got wet." "We're almost there." The fuzzy blueish green light had got brighter and I could now see movement in it, but I still couldn't quite see what it was. We kept going, a bit faster now because of the extra light. I was almost getting hypnotised by the fast dancing movement in it.

The twigs were snapping under my feet and it felt like the ground was kind of going down on the right hand side. I was trying to keep my balance and didn't quite know where to go. It was confusing. I had lost the sense of what was up and down. Then all of a sudden there was a loud crack and a thud and I felt myself falling. "Help", I yelped. Fortunately I fell on something soft. "I'm safe", I thought. Then I recognised it was Raffie's head. It puzzled me. Just before, his head had been a long way above me, but now it was below me. "How did you do that?", I asked. He had reached out with his very long neck and had caught me just in time. "You got too close to the edge, Cherylee" he said somewhat sternly. "You could have been... eh... dead... if I hadn't got you." I looked down. The moon had come out and I could see how far down I would have fallen. "Sorry", I said sheepishly and I held on very tightly to his stumpies. Oh, "stumpies" is what I call those funny sticks that a giraffe has on top of their heads in between their ears. My mum said they are called "ossicones" or something like that. So she does believe in giraffes..., just not mine.

Mum has no idea how dead I would have been if I had fallen all the way down that cliff you know. I would have been so dead that even Raffie wouldn't have been able to make me alive again. Well, maybe he could have got me to become alive again. There is not a lot that Raffie can't do I reckon.

After the night berries adventure I got safely home again and snuck back into my bed. My mum doesn't know that it is at nights we go out like that. I don't think she would let me if she knew. But she has no idea how incredibly yummy night berries are. And she has no idea that Brimmels are actually not orange but purple, because I only imagined them to be orange in my daydream, well, my daydream at night I mean. She has no idea that the fireflies that guided us to the place where the night berries grow are so unimaginably gorgeous that you could write a whole book about them. She has no idea about how funny dragons are, and how volcano weasels make holes in mountains that make them spew fire and that there are mouse sized bears who make honey instead of eating it, and that everything else that Raffie and I have discovered is really real.

I still have some night berries left in my pocket you know, so I know that it wasn't just a dream. My mum would believe me if she could see and taste them. Only problem is that you can only see and taste them at nights, when she is asleep.

Her life must be so boring...

My life would be so boring without my friend Raffie.

But you know what's the best thing of all about Raffie? He gives the best loooong squishy hugs that anyone has ever given anyone, ever. He just wraps his long neck all around me and then I hold him real tight. I love my giraffie.

©2010 Ralph Holwerda

This story is also available as an illustrated book.

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Parisprevious story  next story  story listing  back to top  

There he goes, whistling away, riding a pushbike, finally free.  The sun is shining.  The bees are buzzing.  He thinks, “This is for me.”

Home was oppressive, but he wasn’t even aware of that at the time.  But this sense of freedom, how good it felt.  It was kind of strange, kind of exciting, kind of scary.  But all that didn’t matter, because ahead was Paris!

He’d just followed his nose.  He was seventeen.  “I’m going on a holiday”, he’d said.  “Where I’m going?  I don't know”, he’d told his folks, shrugging his shoulders.  “I’ll be ok, don't worry.”

He was almost there.  He had no idea of what was ahead.  Two years of school French, hardly knew how to say “Non” and “Oui”.  He got to the suburbs and quickly got lost.  A bit scary, but not a worry.  He looked in the dictionary to ask for the way.  The lady started talking about the shops on the way and every landmark in between.  Ten minutes later, still totally lost.  A bit scary but still not a worry.

He asked at the café.  A strange man spoke up.  “Do you speak English?”  He turned around.  “You’ll never get into the Youth Hostel”, he said.  “Come stay at my place, if you want.” 

Now it was scary, now it was worry.  Nowhere to go.  His mum’s words came back.  “Don't talk with strangers”, “Don't go with strange men”, “Don't take their lollies”, “Run fast as you can”…

He knocked at the door.  His heart beating fast.  The man was an angel and everything worked out.  But it could have been very different…

©2010 Ralph Holwerda

Cliffprevious story  next story  story listing  back to top  

The world is lying far below. Finally got there, almost. It's been a long climb with hardly any help. Stupid idea it was really, but he had to do it. In the valley things were not ok.

Now he got there, just a few more steps. His last bit of strength. Ouch! stupid rock crumbles! Clambering for foothold. What he thought was going to get him there gives way. He feels betrayed. Familiar feeling. But now even a rock that's supposed to be solid?

Tears well up in his eyes. Anger and rage fill his inner being. So longing for someone to care and connect.

Momentarily hanging on by just his hands. Self reliant again, but not by choice. Not quite ready for this yet, to be truthful.

He finds new footing and gets to the top. The time in between is not yet known. But he will be a survivor, victorious.

Not such a stupid idea after all, he believes.

©2010 Ralph Holwerda

Icebergprevious story  next story  story listing  back to top

This picture popped up in my mind during a Focusing exchange recently. I haven't yet set up a tab for graphic arts on this website, so this will have to do.

©2012 Ralph Holwerda

The parable of the man and the cageprevious story  next story  story listing  back to top  

There was a man who went on a journey in a foreign country. While traveling on one of the roads he was stopped by a large cage in the middle of the road. He went to look and behold there was someone inside it! The person called out, "Come in, join me, it is good in here." The man looked. He thought, "I have seen better places to dwell." Besides that, on the door of the cage there was a sign which when you looked carefully said, "Warning, if you enter, you can not get out unless you have the key."

Now the man was in possession of the key that opens all locks. After talking with the person inside for a while they got into quite a pleasant conversation and the person convinced him that he should come in. He thought, "Why not?" He went in, let the door shut behind him and he had a wonderful time with the person inside. There was good food, music and the person inside seemed to have much eloquent and persuasive knowledge.

After quite some time, the person said to the man, "You have found such a good place in here and I’m enjoying your company. I would be devastated if you were ever to go. Besides that, out there it is just not good for you. Why don’t you throw away the key?"

After much dialogue and many convincing and persuasive arguments, one fateful night the man decided to follow the person’s suggestion and he threw the key far into the darkness where it could be no longer found.

They were happy for a number of years, but when the excitement of this new place and the new friendship died down, the man remembered that this place was really just a cage and started wondering how the two of them would ever get out.

©2014 Ralph Holwerda

The parable of the Messengerprevious story  next story  story listing  back to top  

A man went on an important mission traveling along a difficult road. The road had many bends, narrow passages and river crossings. After he had traveled quite a distance it got dark, but he had to keep on going.

Around midnight there was a messenger stationed on the road. He said, "You must turn around." "The bridge further on this road is broken, you can not get accross." "Turn around and go West." You will find a bridge there and you can be on your way."

The man said to himself, "How do I know if this man is telling the truth? There may be robbers on the other road", even though the messenger had spoken to him with a sense of authority. He also reasoned that seeing is believing, so he continued on toward the broken bridge. When he got there he moved towards the water to inspect the bridge, and got eaten by a wild animal.

Another man came along the same road and he also met with the messenger, who said, "You must turn around." "The bridge further on this road is broken, you can not get accross." "Turn around and go West." You will find a bridge there and you can be on your way." The man turned around as instructed and went the way the messenger had described.

The events of that night made the messenger ponder about the essence of faith.


But then a third man came across the same place. The messenger began to speak, "You must turn around." "The bridge further on this road is broken, you can not get accross"...

"Oh, ok then", the man said and he turned around to go a different way. He missed the rest of the instructions because he was wise in his own eyes. There was a sign which read, "Trust in the LORD with all thy heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding." He did not know how to do the former, so he did the latter and just kept going.

The next day people found that he had died a worse death than the first man.

©2014 Ralph Holwerda

The scales of parliamentprevious story  next story  story listing  back to top  

A man visited a sage to ask for advice. He explained that he had an important decision to make and told him what it was about and then said that he needed his advice.

The wise man thought for a moment and then said: "Set the monkey free and see what it will do..."

When the man said he didn't understand what that meant the wise man thought for a bit longer and said: "Some people keep on cooking their dinner in their own vomit..."

Then after a time of silence he told the following story:

“There was a country where in government things were done differently than in other countries. They had quite a peculiar way in which they decided on matters.

When a matter came before parliament, discussion would take place until such a time that they felt it was right to vote on the matter.

They had a giant set of scales in the parliament building, which was so big that it could have all of the ministers being weighed on it in one go. There was a story that the scales had been given to them by God himself.

When it came time to cast a vote, they would all take their positions on the scales, the ayes on one side and the againsts on the other. The way the scales would tip would then determine the outcome of the vote.

The idea behind doing things this way was that they believed that ministers who were heavier had been blessed more by God and so their vote literally carried more weight. The ministers all had a unified desire to find the best ways of running their country and they saw standing on the scales as a way of working together to accomplish that. No-one felt bad about others taking places on the other side of the scales. In a sense they were always excited to find out which way God would lead them by using the scales.

They had done this for centuries and it had worked well for them. But when things started going too well for the people and the traditional way of thinking started being replaced by a more progressive and self focussed approach, an interesting change started taking place.

Politicians started to eat more and more, because they felt otherwise their points of view were not being heard. Their egos started to become involved and started to drive the agenda, rather than the good of the country or ultimately the knowledge of the will of God in matters.

People started voting for heavier and heavier politicians, not because they were the best candidates, or because they were “more blessed by God”, but because they would have more decision making power to make things go their way. This was good for business. People started giving gifts to politicians to fatten them up.

Discussions in parliament no longer were a way of finding out together what would be the best solution for a problem. Fights between politicians started to become common. When the time to cast a vote came they would stand on their respective sides and they would try to tip the scales to their side by violently jumping up and down. They started shouting at each other and blaming and accusing each other and kept carrying on until one day...

the scales broke!

There was a great moan a lot of dust and then silence...

Finally one person spoke up and said, 'We have lost the way of finding God's will for ruling our country!'”

©2017 Ralph Holwerda

The parable of the seven businessmenprevious story  next story  story listing  back to top  

There was a town in which there were seven business men who all had their businesses in the main street. They were all doing well and formed a kind of guild to work together.

Then one day another man came to the town and started a business there also. The men of the guild didn't like it, so they had a meeting together about what to do about this unwanted competition.

They worked out a plan. They talked about boycotting the man and spreading rumors about him and making things difficult for him, so that soon he would leave.

However, whatever they did against the business man, he just became more successful and they got very frustrated, so one day they set his shop on fire.

At that the business man packed his belongings and left.

The men of the guild were very pleased that finally the man had left. They decided to celebrate in the pub. As they were celebrating they were laughing and bragging about their victory, and the publican overheard what the were talking about. At that he said, "Men, you have made a very serious mistake."

The men looked at him puzzled, but he replied, "The man you have just treated so badly was the son of the king!"


Some time later the business men of another town worked together with the visiting business man, rather than working against him and greatly benefitted from becoming partners in the blessings of the kingdom.

©2017 Ralph Holwerda

The old man and the breadprevious story  next story  story listing  back to top  

An old man lived nearby a town where he had been living for a long time. Everyone knew him and that he was a good man.

The man had not eaten for more than 15 years, because the bread he had in his home was poisonous, but he had never stolen anything. He would not even think about doing such a thing. He took his lot as it was. Being famished all that time had taken most of his strength, but not his wisdom.

One day a voice came from heaven which told him, "You can go out and buy another piece of bread." So the man got up and went down to the town, where he went looking for a piece of bread he could buy. He found a good piece of bread. He had seen it before in a dream, but while he was trying to enquire if it was for sale the people saw him and said, "Look at that old man who wants to steal that piece of bread. There are too many dirty old men like him who have no money and steal our bread."

So they grabbed him and treated him badly and threw him out of the town. From that time he was known as "That dirty old man". He thought he would be banished for life. He was very sad that he had upset so many people. He prayed that soon they would understand and forgive him.

The elder of the town and his wife were disappointed and confused about how a good man like him could have wanted to steal, but they were wise people and figured out what had really happened.

Oh, that the heavenly voice would soon make sure the old man need not starve again.

©2018 Ralph Holwerda

Shanah Tovahprevious story  next story  story listing  back to top  

It was the night before the new year and in his dreams a man went up to the heavens. There he met an angel who said, "I will show you what the next year will bring for you."

So he showed him every moment of his life for the next year, but not only that, he also showed him every choice he would have to make and all the consequences of those choices and how his life would change because of them. His dream lasted for two hours and at the end of it he was overwhelmed and exhausted. He had no strength left in him.

The angel said, "This is going to be your life for the next year." The man was worried and said, "How am I going to be able to remember all the things I saw in my dream? I'll never be able to do that!"

But the angel answered, "That's not a problem. When you wake up you will only remember one thing, the one thing you choose right now." So the man thought about it for a moment and then he woke up.

And he remembered that if he put God first in his life and he loved others as himself all would turn out well.

©2018 Ralph Holwerda

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