What an inspired group of topics we have to choose from this month from Come Follow Me. Today I’ve been studying a bit to help my hubby with his Priest Quorum lesson for tomorrow, and felt compelled to post a few thoughts. Maybe it will help one of you with your lesson preparation also. I’ll be honest, after I read through all of the suggested resources I took a nap (I’m still in recovery mode from a little surgery I had last week) but the nap served me well, because as I was drifting to sleep a memory from the past played out in my mind. As a young mother I loved telling my children stories, including favorites I had treasured growing up from the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. However, where I would merely tell the story to my children my husband would take it a step further. He was famous for acting out full renditions of stories such as, “The Three Little Pigs” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” On his own, he played every character in the biggest and best way possible. Night after night the kids sat and laughed and laughed on the opposite side of the bedroom (it required a lot of space for the one man show). This soon became part of the bedtime ritual, requested after teeth were brushed and beds undone. But today, before I waited for sleep to come, the classic “The Shoemaker and the Elves” returned to me. Are you familiar with this timeless tale?
A shoemaker, through no fault of his own, had become so poor that he had only leather enough for a single pair of shoes. He cut them out one evening, then went to bed, intending to finish them the next morning. Having a clear conscience, he went to bed peacefully, commended himself to God, and fell asleep. The next morning, after saying his prayers, he was about to return to his work when he found the shoes on his workbench, completely finished. Amazed, he did not know what to say. He picked up the shoes in order to examine them more closely. They were so well made that not a single stitch was out of place, just as if they were intended as a masterpiece. A customer soon came by, and he liked the shoes so much that he paid more than the usual price for them.
The shoemaker now had enough money to buy leather for two pairs of shoes. That evening he cut them out, intending to continue his work the next morning with good cheer. But he did not need to do so, because when he got up they were already finished. Customers soon bought them, paying him enough that he now could buy leather for four pairs of shoes. Early the next morning he found the four pairs finished. And so it continued; whatever he cut out in the evening was always finished the following morning. He now had a respectable income and with time became a wealthy man.
One evening shortly before Christmas, just before going to bed, and having already cut out a number of shoes, he said to his wife, “Why don’t we stay up tonight and see who is giving us this helping hand.”
His wife agreed to this and lit a candle. Then they hid themselves behind some clothes that were hanging in a corner of the room. At midnight two cute little men appeared. Sitting down at the workbench, they picked up the cut-out pieces and worked so unbelievable quickly and nimbly that the amazed shoemaker could not take his eyes from them. They did not stop until they had finished everything. They placed the completed shoes on the workbench, then quickly ran away.
The next morning the wife said, “The little men have made us wealthy. We must show them our thanks. They are running around with [next to nothing] on, freezing. Do you know what? I want to sew some shirts, jackets, undershirts, and trousers for them, and knit a pair of stockings for each of them, and you should make a pair of shoes for each of them.”
The husband said, “I agree,” and that evening, when everything was finished, they set the presents out instead of the unfinished work. Then they hid themselves in order to see what the little men would do. At midnight they came skipping up, intending to start work immediately. When they saw the little clothes instead of the cut-out leather, they at first seemed puzzled, but then delighted. They quickly put them on and sang as they hopped and danced about, jumping over chairs and benches. Finally they danced out of the house. They never returned, but the shoemaker prospered, succeeding in everything that he did. (Source: Authorama)
I thought about each character’s significance in the story. What role did the father have? The mother? The elves?, How are the elves like a father? A mother? Our Heavenly Father?, and How did they help one another?
These questions hit me. I began seeing symbolism everywhere in the story, even down to the perfect workmanship of the shoes; the divine potential of each child of God, nurtured and raised in a successful, loving, hardworking home. What more did you discover?
Consider using the following activity in the learning experience you provide for your class or quorum. Read additional ideas here from Come Follow Me:
It would work well to split the class in half and have one side study the “Fathers” section and the other side the “Mothers” section. Have them report back what they learned, encouraging them to answer the question, “How do the roles of men and women complement each other in families?” If time allows, you could show one of the following videos to reinforce the doctrine: “The Women in Our Lives” or “Let Us Be Men.” PDF versions: Proclamation 1, Proclamation 2 (Print on both sides of the paper or cardstock)
Encourage your students to apply what they have learned (suggestions taken from Come Follow Me):
- Thank their mothers and fathers for specific ways they have been blessed because their parents fulfilled their divine roles.
- Select a phrase from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” that would remind them of their divine roles as mothers or fathers.
Now go and do.