Monday, July 4, 2011

A Burning Hut

I came across a story the other day that really spoke to me, so I thought I would share it here. I cannot cite the specific author, as where I heard it did not acknowledge. It kind of has a Christian leaning, but I really appreciate the message nonetheless.

The Burning Hut

The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stung with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers.

“We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

This is what I would call a silver lining story. Conveying that even in the darkest hour, they may be something good that will come of it. I don't see this as a reason to celebrate a tragedy, far from it. But I have been longing for a message on how to keep hope alive through repeated failure, and this little story gave me my answer. I will remember as my hut is burning, that it may just be the smoke signal that brings my rescue.


  1. Chuang Tzu tells a similar story about a farmer, his son and a horse.

  2. Suppose the boat that seen the smoke signal was a band of sodomite Somali pirates whom one of which spoke English and said, "It looks like today just ain't your day; nice ass...."


  3. Taoist Rose:

    That story could have two different endings. Sarge offered an alternative ending that is worth considering.

  4. Taoist Rose,

    I think the interpretive lens you've chosen to view this story with (and can choose to view any personal tragedy with) is a healthy one. It's a way of looking at life that I try to employ when circumstances suck so much that it just doesn't seem like I can go on. I tell myself "Maybe so, maybe not" - from the story Rambling Taoist hinted at.

    It would be easy for me to give into a nihilistic view of life. Very easy. In fact it's my default operating procedure. It takes effort (and a little bit of faith) to imagine that my suffering is not completely meaningless. Others may see that as delusional. I do not.

    We all live out our own personal story, our own myth. I think it healthier to choose to write an empowering, motivating story, rather than one where I am the victim.

    Thank you so much for sharing this.