The Words of the Weber Family
I remember in a speech by Father a long time ago, he said that if we could feel what other people around us feel, we would treat each other very differently. This fantasy story is inspired by things he said in that speech.
When she opened the jewelry box, it sparkled with a bright blue color and dazzled her eyes. "Oh my goodness!" the young woman whispered. "It's beautiful!"
"Happy Birthday, Patty," said her father. He was pleased that she liked his gift. "I got this stone years ago when I was traveling around the world. Legend says that stones of this particular color and shape have the power to grant wishes. I never believed in such tales, but I felt it would be a beautiful gift nevertheless."
Patty lifted up the necklace by its chain and put it around her neck. She looked at herself in the mirror. "A wishing stone... It would be nice if it really could grant wishes," she said.
Later that day, Patty met one of her friends for lunch. "Hi Susan," she said, sitting down. "Sorry I'm late. I was about to get into a taxi when a man pushed me aside and got in first. I had to catch another cab."
"Isn't it awful how rude some people can be?" said Susan. "It seems as if people today are only thinking of themselves!"
The incident was soon forgotten, however, as the two women chatted over lunch.
"You know Mary, don't you?" asked Patty.
"Oh yes. She's the sensitive girl you work with, isn't she?"
"That's just it," said Patty. "She's so sensitive that it's hard not to hurt her feelings. Sometimes it's really hard to tell where other people are coming from. I just wish I were more aware of what others around me were feeling." Patty felt a faint tingling around her neck, and for an instant she grabbed at the stone.
"Is something wrong?" asked Susan.
"No," whispered Patty. "That is, I don't think so."
Back at work after lunch, Patty was waiting for the elevator. She fingered the necklace around her neck and wondered about the tingling she had felt. Suddenly the elevator door opened and she was pushed aside as the people rushed to get on. Stumbling to regain her balance, Patty pulled at her necklace and broke the chain. The necklace and stone went clattering to the floor, and by the time she had picked them up, the elevator door had closed again. Unconsciously, she stuffed the necklace and the stone into her coat pocket and angrily pressed the button for the elevator again.
That night, as Patty walked down the street to her apartment, she suddenly felt a rush of happiness. "Wedding bells are going to chime," she thought. Then she stopped walking. "Good heavens! Why did I think that?" Looking around, she saw a man carrying a box of flowers and almost skipping down the sidewalk.
A little boy carrying a broken toy truck walked by her going the other direction, and she was briefly filled with sadness. Wiping tears from her eyes, she wondered, "What's going on with me?" Suddenly anger filled every part of her being. The next moment a horn sounded right behind her, and she heard a taxi driver shout at another driver, "Why don't you use your turn signal, stupid?"
"My gosh!" Patty whispered. "I'm feeling what everyone around me is feeling." Quickly she ran down the sidewalk and into her apartment building. Closing the front door behind her, she stopped and listened. All was silent now. She walked up the stairs to her apartment, thinking, "When I was talking to Susan, I said that I wished I were more aware of others' feelings. My wish seems to be coming true!"
At one o'clock in the morning, Patty woke up suddenly. Somewhere in another apartment, she sensed that someone was in great sorrow! Tears began filling her eyes. Getting out of bed, she put on her robe. Waves of grief were coursing through her body!
"Who could possibly be so sad?" wondered Patty. "I must find out who this person is!"
Quickly she opened the door and walked out into the hallway. She stumbled down the hall, sobbing uncontrollably as she searched frantically for the door where the sorrowful feelings were coming from. Finally she found it.
"I must get hold of myself!" she said, wiping the tears from her eyes. Clutching at her robe, she knocked at the door. There was a long silence, and then an old woman's voice answered. "Who's there?"
Patty looked at the name on the door and cleared her throat. "Mrs. Carson, is something wrong? I'm Patty Burke from down the hall."
After a long pause, the door opened and an old woman looked out. "How did you know?" she whispered.
"I just knew," said Patty. "Please tell me what's wrong! What happened?"
Mrs. Carson opened the door and let Patty in. "I just got a telephone call," she said, trying to hold back her grief. "My son was in an automobile accident in California. He's in the hospital... and he's not expected to live!" The old woman collapsed, sobbing, into Patty's arms. Patty held her close. "I'll stay with you," she said.
Patty stayed with Mrs. Carson for the rest of the night, holding her and comforting her. In the morning the telephone rang. The old woman hesitated for a moment, then picked up the receiver. "Hello?" After a moment she smiled. "Oh thank you so much for calling!" she cried. She turned toward Patty. "That was about my son! The doctors say he's going to be all right!"
At lunch that day, Patty shared her experiences with her friend, Susan. "There's no other explanation," she said. "Somehow that stone granted my wish to know other people's feelings."
"Patty, I think you've been working too hard," said Susan with a concerned look. "Things like that just aren't possible!"
"I wonder if the stone can grant other wishes,' said Patty reaching for her neck. Suddenly she sat bolt upright. "Good heavens! My necklace is gone."
"Maybe you put it in your purse," suggested Susan.
Patty grabbed her purse and searched through it. "I know," she finally said, leaning back in her chair and smiling. "I must have taken it off when I went to bed last night. I must have put it in my dresser drawer!"
Susan shrugged. "I'm sure you'll find it."
Getting up and grabbing her coat, Patty excused herself. She ran down the street and hailed a taxi. "Tenth and Braddock," she said, leaning back in the seat and closing her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she listened to the sounds of passing cars. But with these sounds, emotions of all kinds started rushing through her one after another: excitement, despair, anger, confusion... She choked and gasped, opening her eyes just as the taxi was pulling to a stop. Paying the driver, she got out and ran across the sidewalk. Emotions were beginning to bombard her from all sides and she could no longer shut them out. The most intense emotion was sadness, and this was the most difficult for her to deal with. She had no idea there was so much sadness and suffering around her. People everywhere seemed to be crying out for help.
She ran up the stairs to her apartment and fumbled for the key. Once inside, she threw her coat down on a chair. Desperately, she searched through dresser drawers for the missing necklace. But it was nowhere to be found!
She began to panic now, because the emotions were hitting her with such intensity that she could hardly stand it. Picking up the telephone, she began dialing the number of one of her friends to ask for help. But as she did, thousands of new emotions flooded her body. Her senses had connected with all the people on the telephone lines. Dropping the telephone, she grabbed her coat, flung it over her arm, and ran out into the street. Waves of emotion were coming from farther and farther away now...other streets, other cities and states--even other countries! Patty bent over and covered her ears, but the emotions kept coming! She knelt down on the pavement and as she did, she dropped her coat. Something fell out of the pocket and she looked down. "The stone! It was in my coat pocket all this time!"
Desperately she grabbed the stone and held it to her breast. "I wish," she sobbed, "that, instead of me, the rest of the world could feel, just for an instant, what I feel now!" Like a huge wave, the emotions left her and were gone. Patty relaxed, breathing a sigh of relief.
Suddenly she saw that everywhere, people on the streets abruptly stopped what they were doing. Some screamed; some doubled over and cried. Then it was over as fast as it had started. There was silence everywhere as people stood where they were, visibly shaken and stunned by what they had felt.
"Everyone in the world must have just felt the full impact of the emotions I was feeling!" said Patty to herself. Then she found herself plunged into deep thought. "One instant of emotion... What effect will it have? Will it change anything?"
Over the next few days Patty was amazed to read the newspaper headlines: "World Leaders Hold Emergency Conference To Discuss the End of War," "America To Begin Massive Aid Program For Starving Nations." An editorial even talked of the great need for all the world's people to see themselves as one interdependent family.
Patty was amazed at how everyone was acting. On the street people were being courteous and helping each other out. Everyone was smiling and exchanging warm greetings. She saw a man opening a door for a large group of people. A young woman was helping an elderly man climb up some steps.
"One instant of emotion," Patty said again. It's amazing what a difference it has made. But how long will it last?"
She picked up the wishing stone. "What if the memory fades and we all go back to the way we were before? We tend to have short memories when it comes to things like this!"
She clutched the stone tightly in her hands, knelt down, and closed her eyes. "We must not forget!" she whispered. She knelt in silence for several minutes and finally made one more wish. "I wish that this memory will remain alive and strong in the hearts of people everywhere! I wish that it will never be forgotten!"
She took a deep breath and opened her eyes, and holding tightly to the wishing stone, she got up and continued walking on down the street.