An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

Chickpea Press presents ‘Quietness’ by Debra Kaatz

In Story telling on November 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Below is a short story from a collection called Sufi Tales by author Debra Kaatz. Sufi Tales is the first book that Chickpea Press have published. The stories in it beautifully illustrate how wisdom can be shared between the generations, and how important storytelling itself is.

We invite you to enjoy…


It was evening and Abdal and his grandfather were sitting by the fire.

‘Tell me about quietness,’ said Abdal. He knew he would get a story.

Grandfather relaxed back into his chair and looked deeply into the fire.

‘There is a heron that flies down from the sky,’ he began.

‘Yes, I know the heron,’ said Abdal.

‘Then you tell me about the heron!’ laughed Grandfather.

Abdul paused, then began, ‘It comes in the quiet of the afternoon as the sun has gone behind the mountain, for it knows the fish slow down as the water cools. It stands so still it fades into the trees behind it, and without the sun there is no shadow on the water. The fish swim by unaware that it is there. Often, I sit with it and try to be as still and silent as it is. I feel my heart slow down. I become like the heron, silently watching the fish in the pond. Everything else disappears. The heron is waiting for just the right moment. Then, suddenly, it dips its beak into the water and flies away with a fish for its dinner.’

‘Yes, if we wait quietly we never miss the gifts of life,’ said Grandfather. ‘Do you know about the prison?’

‘Oh, yes,’ said Abdal. ‘I walk near it when I go to get the bread. There is one man in there who is different. He kneels in the sunshine that comes through the bars of his window and seems to be praying. The others are always nervous and walking about and never sitting down. I sometimes catch this man’s eye.

One day he said to me through the window, “Boy, if I have learned one thing it is this: the only way to open the prison gate is to love everything in life.”

I smiled at him and said, “I hope that God’s love will open the prison gate for you.”

“My body is in prison, but my spirit is free,” he said and smiled.’

Grandfather then said to Abdal, ‘Tell me about the mist.’

‘Ah,’ replied Abdal, ‘when the mist comes down there is nothing to see. Then I listen with my ears and heart. I can hear the animals in the forest. It is a kind of blindness, so I use my inner eyes to see. I remember the way to school with my feet. In the mist the world is still. I can feel it listening to everything around it. It covers me, and it is like breath tickling my body, hiding me from the sun. I remember the sun and place it in my heart as a guide through the fog. The bees have told me they always know where the sun is, even in the mist.’

‘How do they know this?’ asked Grandfather.

‘Because they have golden honey in their stomachs and sunbeams in their hearts!’ replied Abdal.

‘What is the difference between running and standing still?’ asked Grandfather.

‘Well, when I am running and playing I sometimes lose my direction. But if I stand still and listen inside, I then know what to do. I can run and jump even better.’

They sat looking into the fire. ‘Do you see the flames pouring out of the wood that was once a tree?’ said Grandfather.

‘Yes, it’s like the tree’s heart is warming us in its fire,’ said Abdul.

‘I remember these branches. I climbed them as a boy,’ said Grandfather.

‘Did they die so we could have the fire?’ asked Abdal.

‘We don’t always know why something happens, but the tree would be glad you have remembered it,’ replied Grandfather.

‘Of course,’ smiled Abdal, ‘now I know! We sit in stillness so we can remember, and by remembering everything lives more.’

Grandfather smiled and placed his loving hand on his grandson’s shoulder. ‘Yes, we remember until all things become one, united together.’

Sufi Tales is available at:

©Debra Kaatz

  1. Greetings,

    Beautiful story…thank you for sharing it.

    All good wishes,


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: