TRUTH AND STORY
Long long ago there was an old old woman, and she was walking across a field. You could tell from the way she was walking that she had been walking for a long time. Her clothes were torn and muddied, her hair greasy and plastered to the side of her head and her face was a mass of sores.
After some time she came to a town, and she walked up to the very first door of the very first house, making her way carefully up the steps. She knocked on the door. A young woman answered the door and addressed her haughtily "Yes? What do you want?!"
"Oh" said the old woman, "I have been travelling for a long time and I was hoping to stop somewhere to rest and maybe get something to eat or drink?"
"We have nothing to spare or share in this house, move on!"
So that is what the old woman did. But at the next house she met the same thing.
"No," said the next young woman to her, "we have nothing to spare, go away"
And on and on it went from house to house until she was so exhausted that she sat down at the dried up old fountain in the middle of the town square to take her ease and gather her energy before she would travel on again.
As she was sitting there she heard a sound resonating through the air, the sound of a galloping horse. Then she heard another sound, the sound of every window on every house being flung open and she looked up to see all the women and men of the houses staring out their window with great smiles and eyes full of expectation. They were staring up the one road that led to the town, towards the sound of the galloping horse. So the old woman looked too.
She saw a young handsome man with a long flowing cape sitting atop a large black horse. He rode into the town square and before his horse had even stopped the women were running from their houses with platters of their best food, and goblets of their best wine and they were fighting with each other to be the first to offer him some of their fine hospitality.
Well, the old woman watched all this with great interest. She wondered who the young man was. She waited until the hubbub had died down before approaching him. Being so small she had to tug on his trouser leg to get his attention.
The young man looked down.
"Can I ask you something?" said the old woman.
"Of course!" said the young man.
"Are you the king?"
The young man looked abashed.
"Me? The king?! No, I'm not the king"
"Are you the landlord, you own all these houses perhaps?"
"Me? No, I don't own anything"
"Are you somebody's son and you have been away for a long time and you have just returned?"
"No", said the young man "I am not that either. Why do you ask?"
"Well" said the old woman, "I am a traveller like you. And when I arrived no one gave me refuge, no one offered me food or drink, they all drove me from their doorsteps. But you, you arrive and they run from their houses to be the first to offer you all the food and drink you could ever want. So I am just wondering...who are you? What is your name?"
The young man paused,
"Ah", he said, "that. Well my name is Story, everywhere I go everyone wants to see me because everyone wants to hear what I have to say. Why, who are you, what is your name?"
The old woman paused. "Ah", she said, "that. Well my name is Truth. You see everywhere I go, no one wants to see or know me, everyone closes the door in my face".
The young man thought for a moment and said
"Do you see my fine long cape?"
"I do" said the old woman.
"And do you see my fine big horse?"
"Well you could hide up here on my horse, under my cape and we could travel the world together, and whenever I get food you'll get food, and whenever I get wine you'll get wine."
"That is an excellent idea"
And that is why, everytime you hear a really good story, there is a little bit of truth in it.
This story has many many versions and is told all over the world. It was first told to me by a teller in the North of Ireland called Liz Weir, who told me I could borrow it. It seems a worthy tale to share here, as we all have our stories to tell, and we all have our truths to bear. I hope this story has lifted your spirits today in whatever part of the world you are living in.