Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ The Path of Light

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat and it’s time to tell some good winter stories, the sort that give us the kinds of symbols we need at this time of the year. Light in the darkness. Kindness to others. The beauty of giving presents. Getting together and making good cheer.

So between now and Christmas, I’ll be doing what I usually do – reminding myself of some of the stories I’ve found it good to tell in the lead up to Christmas.

My story today is really about the power and comfort of light. It has no specific link to Christmas. Yet it feels as if it fits. For as my South African god-daughter noticed when she came here the first time – it was what made her feel the British winter was special – lights in the darkness are magical things. Candle-light, firelight, the sparkle and dazzle of Christmas lights in the trees – even the Oxford Street lights this year, lights within giant white snowballs, are enough to bring a sense of wonder and cheer.

So here it is, a Chinese story about a young man who gets lost in the darkness on his way home after finishing work late one very cold winter night. The young man is called Kuan Lo and my name for the story  is The Path of Light.

The Path of Light

It was very cold and very dark and very late when Kuan Lo started walking home. Worse still, when Kuan Lo was crossing the moor that he had to cross in order to get home, he suddenly realised he didn’t have a clue where he was. Somehow or other, he’d lost his way. Then, just as he was wondering what he could possibly do, he saw the flames of a fire ahead and from the same direction came the sound of laughing voices.

When Kuan Lo reached the fire, he saw a most surprising sight. Sitting very comfortably on the ground round the fire were a whole lot of big men. They looked just like wrestlers usually looked and Kuan Lo felt a little bit worried. What if they started to fight him?

Instead when the men saw him, they called out in the friendliest way. ‘Come and have a drink with us!’ So Kuan Lo sat down and at once they were all chatting and laughing. The men were extremely sympathetic when Kuan Lo said he was lost and then after a while, they said they’d like to show him a trick that they had. Kuan Lo wondered what they were going to do.

Well, each one of the wrestlers stood up – they were very big men with big, fat stomachs – and in an instant they were climbing on each other’s shoulders, one after the other, until they’d made a high tower of people. It seemed to reach up to the stars. Kuan Lo looked up at it in amazement. Then, oh dear, it started to wobble and suddenly the tower of people was falling. And it fell, but very slowly and gently, until it was lying flat on the ground.

But when Kuan Lo looked where the tower had fallen, he saw no people, just a long path of white light. At once, the path of white light began moving slowly, gradually, over the moor. Kuan Lo was amazed and started to follow. And do you know what? That path of white light took him all the way home. It didn’t seem to take long to get there and when Kuan Lo saw his own little house, he felt very glad and grateful. ‘Those wrestlers made a path of light and it’s brought me safely home,’ he said to himself as he opened his front door and stepped inside. ‘I’ll never forget them’.  And he never did.

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