(Two Versions Presented. See second version below)
LIMA BEAN STORY

(adapted from a Native American story of Paula Underwood's, now in male voice)

This story begins with an old man and a boy. The man is very old--certainly past 100 years--an elder of his tribe in the far-away country he was born in. He is with his great-grandson, a little boy of 10. The grandfather is very sad that the child's world in the new country has lost the spirit of community that the grandfather always knew among the people of his own birth village. So as often as he can, the old man tries to teach and remind the little boy of the ancient ways and traditions of their ancestors.

Today the two of them are sitting together in the backyard in the grass under a tree, and the great-grandfather has brought along a crumpled paper bag filled with dried lima beans. "My son, let me show you the people of my village," he says to the child, as he slowly begins to lay out the dried beans one by in a circle on the grass. As he creates the circle he gives a description, with each carefully placed bean, of the person it represents: "Now here is the man who bakes such good bread for us, and this one is our neighbor who brought food to your mother when she was too ill to work. Here is the funny lady down the street who always makes us laugh, and this one is the old man who lives down by the river, the one who in his sadness drinks too many strong spirits."

And so the story continues as the beans complete the circle--many different people, all kinds of people--to make up the village, the community. When the circle is complete, the old man turns to the child and says, "Now it's your turn--you may choose any of the people you wish from my village to make a community of your own. Who will you choose, I wonder?"

As the grandfather watches, the little boy picks out the dried beans carefully, one by one, to form another circle next to the first--his community. When he has finished, there are three beans left in the great-grandfather's original circle. "Oh," says the grandfather, "let's see who you did not choose to be in your village. Tell me who these three are."

"This one's the old drunk man who lives down by the river. He's dirty and he smells bad!" says the boy. "That's true," says Great-grandfather. "He doesn't have a house to live in with a nice bathroom like yours. Of course, if he lived in a house instead of on the river bank, he never would have been there to save the life of the little boy who wandered away from home and fell in the water; the child surely would have drowned--Do you remember? So little Reginald would not be in your village either. Better take his bean out too." The grandson moves uncomfortably on the grass.

 

"Now who's this?" asks the grandfather, pointing to the second rejected bean. "That's the crazy lady whose little girl got killed in the car accident. She sings to herself and talks funny and I'm afraid of her."

"She is very strange," agrees the grandfather. "Let's leave her out. Remember though that now you will surely miss the beautiful music she makes with her guitar, because she won't be there to play for us any longer." The little boy looks disappointed, but says nothing.

"And this one?" asks the old man, pointing to the last bean.

"This one is the man who had a gun and went to jail. He's bad," says the little boy. "Oh yes, says Great-grandfather--I know him. He's the one who always sends money to his mother and brothers. Did you know he made his little brother go back to school instead of selling drugs in the streets? I think you'd better take this whole family out of your village now, because without this man they would have had to move away. Some of them might even be in jail themselves without him. Let's take their beans out--how many? Let's see: five. None of them will be in your village now without this man." The little boy's face falls, but he takes out five beans.

The little boy now becomes very quiet and thoughtful. After a few moments he says to his great-grandfather, "It will be very hard to live with some of these people in my village, Great-grandfather, but I guess we need them all. They all belong, don't they? Just like us."


LIMA BEAN STORY
(adapted from a Native American story of Paul Underwood's female voice)

This story begins with two women. One of them is very old--certainly past 100 years--an elder of her tribe in the far-away country she was born in. She is with her great-granddaughter, a little girl of 10. The grandmother is very sad that the child's world in the new country has lost the spirit of community that the grandmother always knew among the people of her own birth village. So as often as she can the old woman tries to teach and remind the little girl of the ancient ways and traditions of their ancestors.

Today the two of them are sitting together in the backyard in the grass under a tree, and the great-grandmother has brought along a crumpled paper bag filled with dried lima beans. "Daughter, let me show you the people of my village," she says to the child, as she slowly begins to lay out the dried beans one by one in a circle on the grass. As she creates the circle with each carefully placed bean, she gives a description of the person it represents: "Now here is the lady who bakes such good bread for us, and this one is our neighbor who brought food to your mother when she was too ill to work. Here is the funny lady down the street who always makes us laugh, and this one is the old man who lives down by the river, the one who in his sadness drinks too many strong spirits."

And so the story continues as the beans complete the circle--many different people, all kinds of people--to make up the village, the community. When the circle is complete, the old woman turns to the child and says, "Now it's your turn--you may choose any of the people you wish from my village to make a community of your own. Who will you choose, I wonder?"

As the grandmother watches, the little girl picks out the dried beans carefully, one by one, to form another circle next to the first--her community. When she has finished, there are three beans left in the great-grandmother's original circle. "Oh, says the grandmother, let's see who you did not choose to be in your village. Tell me who these three are."

"This one is the lady with paint on her face who goes with men. She's bad," says the little girl. "Oh yes, says Great-grandmother--I know her. She's the one who told young Sarah to wash the paint off her face and go back to school when Sarah wanted to take drugs and money from the men. I think you'd better take Sarah out of your village now, because she would have become a prostitute too, except for this lady. Let's take that bean out for Sarah, who won't be in your village now." The little girl's face falls, but she takes out Sarah's bean.

"Now who's this?" asks the grandmother, pointing to the second rejected bean. "That's the crazy lady whose little girl got killed in the car accident. She sings to herself and talks funny and I'm afraid of her."

"She is very strange," agrees the grandmother. "Let's leave her out. Remember though that now you will surely miss the beautiful music she makes with her guitar, because she won't be there to play for us any longer." The granddaughter moves uncomfortably on the grass.

"And this one?" asks the old woman.

"This one's the old drunk man who lives down by the river. He's dirty and he smells bad!" says the girl. "That's true," says Great-grandmother. "He doesn't have a house to live in with a nice bathroom like yours. Of course, if he lived in a house instead of on the river bank, he never would have been there to save the life of the little boy who wandered away from home and fell in the water; the child surely would have drowned--Do you remember? So Reginald would not be in your village either. Better take his bean out too."

The little girl becomes very quiet and thoughtful. After a few moments she says to her great-grandmother, "It will be very hard to live with some of these people in my village, Great-grandmother, but I guess we need them all. They all belong, don't they? Just like us."

NOTE: There have been a number of versions of this story, but I do not know the name of the original author, just that it was adapted from a Native American story of Paula Underwood.


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