Saturday, July 23, 2016

The First Communion Story


On the green field spotted with red poppy seed flowers the three children looked like flowers themselves. In her red dress which looked like the petals of a poppy seed flower Katka was like one of them, running and dancing in the wind. Maria, in her pink princess dress resembled a fresh opened rose.  Lukas, the bigger brother in white shirt and tie, was behaving like a real gentleman.  He had just had his First Communion and now he was playing with his little sisters in front of the church. The sound of the bells filled the air and the hills surrounding the small village where they were living. The little church in the middle of the green field full of flowers had whitewashed walls and an orange brick roof. The church and the garden in front of it were surrounded by lime trees in flower and the air was filled with their sweet smell. In the valley the small village was laying out like ginger bread houses in a cake shop before Christmas.
Lukas was looking at his sisters’ play with a very mature and almost serious face.  The girls were running along the trees and the tables covered with white cloths. The parishioners were preparing for a picnic. Tables were piled with food and red wine. In the warm summer sun, the golden haired Lukas felt like the king of the world. He was dressed in his brand new costume with a white shirt and a blue tie. The first communion in the church was amazing. More than that, he could boast now to his little sisters, that he was the first one to have communion.  He felt grown-up and mature and responsible.
“Girls, please come here” he shouted to his sisters.
The little girls run to him quickly. All three of them gathered near a lime tree and started taking advice.
“I have an idea, let’s do something special for the picnic” says Lukas.
The girls were very happy to hear this.
“What are you doing here, children?”
Turning around they found their mother looking at them.
“We want to do something special for the picnic” said Katka.
“But we are small and we don’t know what” replied also Maria. “We can’t cook or make cakes. And we don’t know how to arrange the tables.”
The woman smiled.
“Yes, dear.”
“Mother, why does the food always tastes better at the church picnic?” asked Maria.
“And the cakes are sweeter here and we have the best fun here” replied also Katka.
“Why was this day so special, mother? And the bread I had today, why was it so special? “ asked also Lukas.
The mother smiled again.
“We can speak about this tonight. Right now let’s do something special for the picnic. You can run on the little field behind the church and collect some wild beautiful flowers."
They seemed excited and ran behind the church happily. The field was full of tall green grass and wonderful multicolored flowers, yellow and blue small mountain flowers, delicious smelling, primroses red like blood, white and pink daffodils and perfumed lilies on the valley.  Lukas sat down in the middle of the field smelling the sweet air and letting the wind blow in his face.  The little girls ran around and started collecting the flowers.  The sun was shining warmly and brightly over the field and the children. The whole field was roaring with their laughter. Occupied with their play and with the hands full of flowers the kids didn’t even observe the beautiful young woman appearing from the woods. She was tall and slender with a beautiful oval shaped face. She was dressed in a long simple and yellow dress, the color of the grain in summer. Her hair was long and black falling in waves over her shoulder and almost touching the ground. Her only ornaments were her ruby red cherry earrings. In her arms she carried a large basket, empty, of the type you need to collect flowers or fruit. She stopped in front of the children.  White and blue big butterflies were flying around her.
“You are so beautiful” said Maria.
“You have such a nice dress and long black hair” said Katka
“Who are you?” asked also Lukas mesmerized.
The lady sat down on the green grass between the flowers and put down the basket in front of her.
“My name is Aster and I am the Summer Fairy. Every time the warm wind blows, the petals of the flowers are falling from the trees and fruits start to ripe I am coming to roam the land.”
It was quiet. The butterflies set down on the fairies dress and on her hands and the heads of the children.
“I heard you want to do something special for the church picnic. I have come here especially today to help you. I have a wonderful idea.”
Lukas and Maria and Katka, all three of them stood down and waited for her to speak.
“You will bring to the picnic this basket I am holding and you will fill it up with the sweetest, juiciest, ripest fruits in the whole world. You will pick them from my garden and orchard in my summer dominion.”
“Will you take us there, Summer Fairy?”
“I can’t do that! To enter my special garden and to pick my wonderful fruit you must be worthy of it. I will tell you what you have to do. There are three trials you have to pass, or three riddles, or three things you need to understand. First you will pass this forest, in the middle of it there is the border between your world and my summer land. In the forest awaits you your first trial. If you pass it, then you will come out of the forest on a very small and beautiful beach on the seashore. There you will have to answer to the riddle of the mermaids.  If you answer correctly, my mermaids will carry you on their backs to the other side of the sea. Over the sea an angel will be waiting for you and you will have to answer to the last question. After you gather the fruit from my forest you will find a large garden full of roses of all the colors of the world, with a smell that can put you to sleep. Do you understand, children?”
The kids nodded and the fairy gave them the basket. They took their farewells and they started for the forest. Lukas was in front, making way for the girls through the branches and the brambles. Maria and Katka were coming behind holding the basket, each one of them holding the handle with one small hand. The trip was easy, the air was fresh and fragrant, and the wind that was blowing in the leaves had a special charm. The birds were singing sweet songs, there was a sound of running water and from time to time they saw silver springs on the soft mossy ground. They walked for a long time until they started hearing the cracking of wood and a very old voice. In the middle of a small opening where the warm sun was penetrating between the trees, there was a small grandmother collecting old branches for firewood. Band over from old age and speaking to herself she managed to gather a small bundle of wood. Near her was a cart waiting to be filled. As the children got closer, the old woman looked at them and asked in sweet voice.
“Little children, it is so fortunate you came here. I am a very old woman and this work is so hard for me. Could you please help a granny collect some wood and put it in the carriage?”
Lukas and the girls looked with wide eyes over the empty carriage. There was so much work following and it would keep them from their trip for such a long time.
“Listen, old woman” said Lukas “we would really want to help you, but we are on an important mission and we do not have the time.”

The old lady had a sad and disappointed look on her face. Maria couldn’t bear this look.
“Lukas, this is not nice of us, we must stop and help. Isn’t it this we have learnt in the church? Helping people?”

Lukas stopped and agreed with his sister. So they all started collecting dry branches and loading them unto the cart. The work was hard and it took them a long time, but as children always do, they took it as a game and a competition as to who collects more. Once they were finished and the cart was full, the old lady suddenly transformed herself into a very beautiful young girl, with blond hair and blue eyes. She smiled to the children and spoke in the most crystal voice they ever heard.
“Lukas, Maria, Katka, you have passed the first test.”
“How do you know our names?” asked they surprised.
“I am the fairy of the forest. I have been waiting for you to see if you have enough compassion to help. This was your first trial and you have passed it. You are free now to pass my forest and enter our magic summer land. Continue on this small path, along these silver leaved trees, and they will lead you to the seashore.”
As she spoke the fairy go brighter and brighter, then transparent and then she disappeared like a dream or a ghost.
In the silence that followed the children looked at each other, then the girls picked the basket and started on the path. Lukas followed them without saying a word. As they walked along the silver trees, they felt as if the forest was different. The trees seemed to welcome them and they raised their branches to let them pass. Birds hidden between the leaves were singing weird melodious songs they never heard before. Squirrels and chipmunks were running around with nuts and little forest fruits and giving them to the children who felt already hungry. They ate a lunch of nuts and berries and refreshed themselves in a very fresh and cold silver spring.
Then they continue walking until they started seeing the blue water of the sea between the branches. They followed the track and came out on the sunny beach. The sea looked endless, the color of azure and the sun was sparkling on its surface. When a cloud covered the warm sun the sea became an emerald green color. The waves were crushing on the shore splashing with foam everywhere. The children took off their shoes and walked on the golden sand. It was such a wonderful feeling of the hot sand on their toes. Colored seashells were spread all around the beach and they started collecting them. From the warm water of the sea three mermaids come out. They all had beautiful long green hair and large blue eyes. In their hair they had shells and underwater orange and yellow flowers.
“Good morning, children” said the mermaids.”And welcome to our world. How do you like our beautiful beach?”
“Good morning, ladies” replied Lukas looking mesmerized at the handsome girls in the water. “Your beach and the sand the sun are so wonderful. It reminds me of vacation and the smell of the salty water is always pleasant.”

The little girls were running with naked feet on the wet sand and they let the warm water touch their toes. Their hair was blowing in the wind. Their eyes sparkled with happiness. When they got tired they sat on the sand and looked at the waves crashing on the shore. The mermaids gathered in front of the kids. It was very quiet now and they were all waiting for the riddle.
“Our question is a really hard one but an amazing one. What is the most beautiful prayer in the world?”
There was a very long silence. The children were thinking of all the prayers that they knew or ever heard.
“I have learnt so many nice prayers for my first communion, it is very hard for me to choose one” said Lukas thoughtfully.
“I always pray to my guardian angel” replied also Maria.
Katka was still thinking.
“There is one prayer that mother is saying over us when she puts us to sleep in the evening” she said finally.
“But we never hear what she says” Lukas put in.
“Yes”, Maria explained “she just whispers it”.
“But it sounds so beautiful” Katka defended her idea. “I think it is because she loves us.”
The mermaids laughed with happiness. They splashed with their tails and warm droplets of water reached the children.
“Little one, you understood it perfectly” the sea creatures said, “the most beautiful prayer in the world is the prayer said with love. It does not matter which prayer you say, it can be the simplest one, learnt by very small children, if you say it from the heart it is the most beautiful.”
Katka was happy and proud that she was able to guess the riddle even if she was the smallest of all three. The mermaids invited them to climb on their backs and they started swimming to the other shore. They swam for many hours and the kids go tired under the hot sun and slept. The sound of the water around them, the sweet warm breeze with the salty smell, the distant cry of the seagulls, everything was lulling them to sleep.
 When they woke up, they were on a very steep and stony shore. A very small and stony path was going up a green and high hill. They followed it and very soon were on the top with the roaring sea behind them and a huge rich forest in front of them. The trees of the forest were loaded with delicious smelling fruits: orange small apricots, perfumed peaches, ruby cherries and sour cherries. On the ground between the trees were bushes filled with forest fruits: raspberries and blueberries and blackberries and all kind of berries. Here and there were growing yellow and green or stripped melons. The children’s mouths watered and they wanted to run immediately and fill their basket. However in front of the line of trees an angel appeared. She was as if floating and not walking. She had long golden hair flowing on her back. Two beautiful long and white wings grew on her back and spread on both sides. Her voice was like music.
“Welcome, children, I am the keeper of the summer garden. Nobody can enter this place unless they can answer my riddle.”
They all came around the angel and listened attentively. She had sparkling stars in her hair and a ruby red heart drawn on her breast, her dress was white and her feet bear.
“My question for you, children, is simple. What is in your opinion the greatest power on earth?”
This time Lukas was prepared. He finally understood all he had learnt in his preparations for the First Communion.
“I think that love is the greatest thing on the Earth” he said.
The angel shined like a star on the night sky, her face lighted.
“Yes, Lukas, you understood it perfectly. Love is everything. Everything that you have done today was out of love. When you helped the old woman in the forest it was out of compassion - compassion is love. A mother’s prayer is beautiful because it is said with love. That is why the food is always better on the church picnic, because it is made with love. And the bread you ate today in Holly Communion is special because of the love and the sacrifice. “
She sparkled again and showed the children that they can enter the forest.
“Collect as many fruit you want, children, and then at the end of the forest you will find the rose garden. It is full of roses of all colors and shapes. The smell is overpowering, many people fall deeply asleep crossing it. You have to take care, children, when you go through it.”
They ran into the forest and started collecting the wonderfully smelling fruits. Lukas was helping them carry the heavy basket. The branches of the trees were lowering down as if the trees were magic and they wanted to offer the children their best fruit. When the basket was full, they started slowly to the end of the summer forest. As they got to the last line of the trees, the field of roses appeared in their view. Millions of roses were spreading in front of their eyes: ruby red roses, pink roses, white and orange roses, some in bloom, some barely opened, some still in buds, waiting to be opened. The kids halted.
“Are you scared, Lukas” asked the girls.
“I am”, he replied “but we must be courageous and face our fears. We will go through this together.”
So they entered the beautiful rose garden hand in hand. They couldn’t walk very fast since they had to carry the basket laden with fruit. The smell of the roses was delicious and sweet but so strong. They became soon very dizzy and tired. First Katka felt asleep, then Maria. Lukas struggled a little longer, but in the end he felt asleep also, near his sisters.
“Lukas, Maria, Katka, wake up, children, the picnic is ready, let’s go and eat!”
They opened their eyes and saw their mother looking at them. They were sleeping all three under a lime tree. Yellow flowers were falling over their heads and theirs smell was delicious. The girls jumped and put their arms around their mother’s neck, and told her the story of the Summer Fairy, the old lady in the woods, the mermaids and the angel. The mother smiled and listened with pleasure.
“That was a very nice dream you had, children “she said. “ Now let us go and eat. While we were busy with the preparations somebody brought a large basket of fruit. They are so beautiful and nobody knows who brought them.”
“It was not a dream, mother” replied Lukas.
“The Summer Fairy gave us the fruits” said also Maria.
“Grown-ups, they never understand anything” concluded Katka.
The mother stood down on the ground and hugged her three little children.
“Maybe I’ve seen too the same Summer Fairy a long, long time ago, maybe in a dream” the mother said thoughtfully. “After my first communion, on this same hill.”



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