A parable is a type of analogy…a brief, succinct story, in prose or verse, that illustrates a moral lesson. It differs from a fable in that a fable or folktale features animals, plants, inanimate objects or forces of nature that are given human qualities and illustrate a moral lesson often expressed at the end explicitly or in a pithy maxim.
Family stories are not folktales but rather personal histories about people, places, and events related to the members of our immediate family or their ancestors. Family stories are often shared at the dinner table, or regaled again and again at family gatherings. They can parallel great epics or notable short stories.
The memorable stories of our lives and of others in our family take on special importance because they are true, even if everyone tells different versions of the same event. These tales are family heirlooms held in the heart not the hand. They are a gift to each generation that preserves them by remembering them and passing them on.
The Talkative Turtle (origins: Jataka folktale/India)
There once was a king who talked all the time and did not listen to others. His vizier, not daring to reprimand his lord, instead told him a story of a talkative turtle who heard from the birds a description of the beautiful country in the Himalayas further north and decided that he wanted to see it for himself. However, the turtle could not fly so the problem solving birds brought him a stick that he could hold on to and told him to grasp the middle of the stick in his jaws and not to let go. Then the birds picked up both sides of the stick and carried it upwards, As the flew above the earth some children below called out look at that turtle hanging on the stick! And the turtle opened his mouth to answer with what business is it of yours? but as did so he fell to the earth and cracked his shell. All his descendants have borne those marks ever since.
The King of the Banyan Deer (folktale, origins: India)
The King of the Banyan Deer leads a herd of which is imprisoned in the park of a king who likes deer meat. Another herd, the Branch Deer also lives in the park and also has a king. Each day the two herds alternate in choosing by lot one of their number to lie down and provide the king with meat, as this system will prevent panic and wounding of the herds. One day the lot falls to a Branch Deer doe who has just given birth. She asks her king to be spared until her baby no longer needs her. As he refuses to help her, she goes to the king of the Banyan Deer. He reassures her that another will take her place, and lies down himself. The human king is so moved by this that he spares the life of the Banyan Deer king, releases both herds into the nearby forest and promises to hunt no longer.
To hear another of Marylyn’s stories and see the young artists at work please watch this short video by Bronson Allen.