Once upon a time there was a little woman who walked along the dusty field path. She was quite old yet her steps were light and springy and her smile had the fresh glow of a carefree girl. She stopped at a cowered figure and looked down. She couldn’t recognize much.
The being that sat in the dirt on the path seemed to be almost bodiless. She reminded her of a grey flannel blanket with human shape.
The little woman bent a little forward and asked: “Who are you?”
Two almost lifeless tired eyes looked up towards her. “Me? I am the Sadness”, whispered the voice haltingly and softly, almost too soft to hear.
“Oh, the Sadness!” said the woman pleased as if she would greet an old friend.
“You know me?” asked the Sadness mistrusting.
“Of course I know you! You accompanied me every once in a while over and over again on parts of my path.”
“Yes, but…” said the Sadness suspiciously. “Why don’t you run away from me? Aren’t you afraid?”
“Why should I run from you, my dear? You know very well yourself that you catch up with everybody who tries to get away from you. But, what I wanted to ask you: Why do you look so discouraged?”
“I am … sad”, replied the grey figure with broken voice.
The little woman sat down at her side. “So, you are sad”, she said and nodded with understanding. “Tell me what bothers you.”
The Sadness sighed deeply. Was there really someone who would like to listen to her this time? How often did she wish for that to happen.
“You know”, she started hesitantly and very astonished, “it’s just that nobody actually likes me. It is my destiny to visit humans for a while but when I show up they are scared of me. They are afraid of me and try to avoid me like the plague.”
The Sadness swallowed some tears. “They invented phrases that they try to ban me with. They say things like: ‘Nonsense, I can’t be sad. Life is always bright and fun.’ and their fake smiles give them stomach cramps and they have a hard time breathing. They say: ‘Praise is what makes us tough.’ and then they end up with heartache. They say, ‘One just has to put it all together and suck it up!’ and then they feel all kinds of aches and pains in their shoulders and their backs. They say: ‘Only weak people cry!’ and the banked up tears almost make their heads burst. Or they try to numb themselves with alcohol or drugs so that they don’t have to feel me.”
“Oh yes”, confirmed the old woman, “I’ve met people like that before.”
The Sadness turned even sadder… “But all I want is to help humans. When I am very close to them they can face themselves. I help them build a nest to cuddle up in to take care of their wounds. Somebody who is sad has very thin skin. Old sorrows surface again like a bad healed wound and that can hurt a lot. But who is able to face their grief and sorrow and cries? All the uncried tears can truly make their wounds heal. People don’t want me to help them though. Instead they put on a flashy smile on top of their scars. Or they put on a heavy shield of bitterness.”
The Sadness was silent now. Her crying at first was weak, then it became stronger and finally it was very desperate.
The little, old woman hugged her, caressed the shaky bundle and thought to herself how soft and gentle Sadness felt. “Cry, Sadness, let your tears flow”, she whispered full of love. “Rest so that you can gather your strength back. From now on you shall not wander all by yourself. I will join you so that discouragement and despair can’t take over anymore.”
The Sadness quit crying. She looked her new companion straight in the eyes: “But, but who are you?”
“Me?” said the old lady with a smile on her face and then she laughed again like a carefree young girl. “I am HOPE.”