Written by: Barbara Ann Hall
Once, when I was down in the valley, I heard a cry on the wind. It
sounded so sad, so lonely. I looked around expecting to find a lost child or perhaps even a stray lamb, but found none. Again,
I heard the cry and looked around. The tall grass of the valley, spotted with wild flowers, blew gently all around me and
the vines that hung from the branches of the willow trees hung low and swayed gently in the breeze as if silently weeping.
I often came to the valley, with easel and canvas in hand, to paint and enjoy its' peaceful and breathtaking
beauty. However, this particular day, it felt sad. At that thought, again, I heard the cry. I laid my brush upon my pallet
and set it down in the tall grass beside me. “It’s not possible,” I whispered aloud.
walked over to one of the willow trees standing alongside the river’s bank and tenderly ran my fingers down several
of its' long vines. They were damp, creating an illusion in my mind of fallen tears. Were the willows weeping?
Surely not, I reasoned. The cry was only the wind whistling through the valley and the tears only moisture from
the morning dew.
I went back to work on my painting, adding a willow tree along the scene of the river’s
bank. I added a few final touches to the rays of sunlight throughout the oil painting, lifting them from the canvas’s
surface. Then I strategically painted myself into the picture. Standing there in the valley, beside the willow tree in front
of my easel, carefully critiquing my work, with brush in hand ready to add its next stroke of color.
my supplies together, faced my freshly painted creation towards the wind to dry, then sat down on the edge of the river and
dangled my feet in the cool water. As the wind blew through my hair, it helped to mesmerize me with each ripple of the water.
I spread out a blanket on a soft bed of grass, and then lay upon it staring up at the morning sky. The day was
so pretty. I thanked God for it and prayed for Him to lead me through it. For me to be ready to do His will at all times.
I don’t think it was long before I was sleeping peacefully along the river’s bank under His beautiful heavens.
As I slept I heard the cries draw nearer, sending chills down my spine. I sat up and looked around. There! Beneath
the willow was a beautiful little girl with auburn curls!
“Shush,” she whispered softly, covering
one little chubby finger over her beautiful rosy lips as she looked directly into my eyes. Her eyes were as deep and blue
as the sky, but filled with an eerie sadness, as dark clouds affect the bluest of skies. She wore a delicate, white eyelet
dress embroidered with little pink rosebuds. What a beautiful child, I thought to myself.
But, where did she come
from? Why was she sad? And what was the need for silence? I wanted to speak, but her stare was so intense and her little finger
never left her lips. So, I remained silent. Again, I heard the cries, sending chills down my spine! The little girl’s
eyes deepened with sadness as she looked around.
“Come!” She said, reaching out her chubby little
hand. When her fingers touched mine, I felt my heart fill with sorrow. She glanced up at me, with a look of understanding.
Then she silently led me several feet along the river’s edge towards the willows.
She whispered. “The willows are weeping. Look. See their tears, as wet as the morning dew.” I looked at the child,
her eyes now filled with tears. “Why are you unhappy child?” I asked her. “I am always unhappy when the
willows weep.” She cried.
“Why do the willows weep?” I asked with great curiosity. “Because
they feel the pain of this world. Every sorrow. Every sin. And when the willows weep, I and my brother, and the other children
feel their sorrow.” “Where are the others?” I asked her. She pointed toward the trees, “They are there,
amongst the willows.”
“Who are you?” I asked the beautiful little girl. “I am Leona, and
my brother is Sonny. There are many other children here also.” “Are you here alone?” I asked with great
concern. “No, we are never alone.” She said.
Then Leona told me that she knew who I was. “You
are Barbara, God’s special helper. Because of you and people like you, one less willow cries in the valley.” I
marveled at her wisdom. “How do you know who I am?” I asked the child. “Because you come to the valley often.
We hear you pray to God our Father to guide you in His will. To help you help the people who need to be reassured of His love
and forgiveness. People who need to learn to look up to Him.”
“Are you one of those people Leona?”
The child looked into my eyes. “No. I, like you, are here to help the willows.” As she spoke, I again felt her
sadness fill my heart, “Am I suppose to feel your sadness?” I asked her. “Only when the willows weep...
when the willows weep… when the willows weep...”
“Only when the willows weep.” I heard
myself say as I opened my eyes. The clouds where moving swiftly through the blue skies. Was it only a dream? I thought of
Leona, I could see her beautiful blue eyes and her auburn curls blowing in the wind. I could feel her little chubby hand in
mine, and I could feel the sorrow of her heart. I closed my eyes.
I prayed, “Father, bless the children.
Shelter them from the sorrows of this world. For their little hands are your hands here on earth. They stand ready to do your
will. Keep their hearts pure and untroubled. Please Father, shelter them in the palm of your hand when the willows weep.”
I thought of all the people in this world, who because they live in darkness, cast their burdens upon their children.
“Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”
I studied the picture I had painted earlier,
took out my pallet and brushes and added extra strokes of sunlight to the willow tree; to dry away its tears. Then I painted
two children, Leona and Sonny, sitting beneath it with radiant smiles as I painted them forever happy into the memory of my
As I walked home, I thanked God for his bountiful mercy and grace and for the great joy that fills our hearts
when we know and love Him. I prayed for Him to keep our hearts pure, as those of His children, who even in times of great
sorrow, continue to love Him and one another unconditionally. And I asked Him to continue to put people in my path who need
the touch of His hands here on earth and for my hands to be as comforting to them as Leona’s little hand was in mine.
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