The other day I was talking to a friend I have known for a long time and was surprised to learn something about her that I had never known before. When she was a young child, her mother would sit on her bedside telling her stories, many of which she still remembers—and many of them she tells to children today. She said she doesn’t know where her mother heard the stories but maybe they were from her mother, or even her mother before her.
As we talked she began to tell me some of the stories her mother had told. They had stayed in her memory all that time from her early childhood. One was about the wind, the rain, and the sun.
One day the wind, the rain, and the sun were talking about how to get someone to change what they are doing. Sometimes it can be a big problem if you are doing things you don’t really want to be doing, or doing things that are not helpful for you or others. Well, this is exactly what the wind, rain, and sun were discussing.
“Let’s play a game,” said the sun. “See that boy down there wearing a jacket? Let’s see who can get him to take it off.”
“Let me try first,” said the wind eagerly. The wind began to blow past the boy’s ear, whispering gently at first, “Take off your jacket. Take off your jacket.” When the boy didn’t take off his jacket, the wind began to blow a little stronger and call a little louder into his ear, but the stronger it blew, the colder the boy became and the more snugly he wrapped his jacket around him. The wind began to howl louder in his ear. It was not asking any more but roaring orders at him: “Take off your jacket! Take off your jacket!” The more the boy ignored it, the louder the wind shouted . . . and the more the boy ignored it. The wind puffed itself out, blowing and shouting, but the boy snuggled deeper into his jacket, holding it tighter around his body.
“Here, give me a go,” called the rain. “Obviously what you are doing isn’t working. There is no point screaming at him because the more you do, the more he holds his jacket closer.” The rain began to do what it did best. It started to drizzle softly, calling as it dripped past the boy’s ears, “Take off your jacket. Take off your jacket.” But instead the boy pulled the hood up over his head and zipped up the jacket to seal his body from the rain. Frustrated, the rain was determined not to give up. It seemed to forget the good advice it had given to the wind. “If he won’t listen to me, I’ll beat him into taking his jacket off,” said the rain, angrily, and with that began to pour heavily. Raindrops pelted against the boy: “Take off your jacket! Take off your jacket!” but still the boy refused to listen. The rain turned into hail and lashed at him, angrily shouting at him to take off his jacket. Instead, the boy tried to cover every part of him that the jacket could hide and looked around, searching for shelter.
“It must be my turn,” said the sun quietly. Without speaking a word it started to shine down, drying the boy and his jacket. The sun began to caress the boy in warmth, just gradually raising the temperature of the air without making it too hot. At first the boy slipped back the hood. As the sun continued to gently warm the day, the boy undid the zipper of his jacket. Caringly, the sun raised the temperature another degree or two, all the while caressing the boy in warmth, so that it wasn’t long before the boy slipped out of his jacket altogether to enjoy the comfortable warmth of the sunshine.