Have you read the 1950’s storybook called “Petunia”? I’ve read it several times and while it’s cute I haven’t really put too much thought into it until last night.
Petunia is a “silly goose” who lives on a farm. One day she trips over a book. She had heard the farmer tell his son that one who loves books is wise. Well, she wants to be wise and not called a silly goose any more, so she tucks the book under her wing. She doesn’t know how to read nor does it occur to her to even open the book, but she begins her life as a “wise” goose. She gives advice to the other animals on the farm, because she feels wise and looks wise with her book tucked safely under her wing. Petunia’s neck stretches higher and higher with pride as the days go by. However, since she’s never even opened the book, she gives them all wrong information.
There is a horse named Straw and Straw has a toothache. He opens his mouth to show the wise, and now very cocky, goose. He says, “Petunia… I’m dying. Surely, with your wisdom, you can stop this horrible pain.” Petunia takes one peak and says it’s no wonder he has a toothache… he’s got teeth! Well, she doesn’t have any teeth and it’s worked great for her all these years. She says, “…I am going to pull all those teeth out. All of them. Let me get some pliers…” And I now quote the story exactly, “But Straw would not wait for the pliers. He was so afraid to lose his teeth that he never talked of his toothache to another soul. He suffered in silence. Poor forlorn horse.”
Oh, how I relate to Petunia, who is still a very silly goose. It feels so good to give advice. It makes me feel as though I’m needed and my neck ends up stretching out higher and higher just as Petunia’s does.
You know, I have a “book” too. It’s called the Holy Spirit. When others are telling me of their “tooth ache” how I pray that I remember to take the time to ask Him if there is something I should say or do.
And while I’ve been Petunia, I have also been Straw, the poor forlorn horse who runs away to “suffer in silence”.
Church, let us be known as a people who listens and prays rather than spouts out what we think is wise only to hurt and ostracize those in tremendous pain. Let us share groups like the Care Communities and GriefShare. Let us share the comforting, always listening Jesus with those around us. He is more than capable. He is willing. He is waiting.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:13-14