Not Pooh!
Helen Smith

You may have encountered this delightful story like I did. It is so useful as a teaching tool when trying to explain how a simple act of kindness can go a long way. It also hints at the comfort and privilege of simply being present to someone else. I wondered whether it might also touch on how silence and openness to greatness might draw us closer to the Divine and leave us feeling just a little bit happier. So many possibilities.

I came across it by accident the other day, but then became puzzled. I thought I knew all the stories of Pooh Bear by A.A. Milne, having read them repeatedly as a child and then later, as a mindful adult. Something felt strange about the story. So, I got my yellowed copy of “The House at Pooh Corner” and I read it through again. (I got lost in the whimsy and I longed for a chance to play Pooh Sticks again.) But, by the time I got to the end I realised I had not read the passage I was looking for. That was when I resorted to a search engine and learned that this story, though similar, was NOT written by A.A. Milne in 1928, but by a blogger called Kathryn Wallace of much more recent times (hence the anachronistic language). Somewhere, someone who fell in love with Wallace’s parody took it to be the original and republished it as Milne’s.

I wasn’t sure how I felt.  Was I feeling betrayed?  Disappointed?

But then I realised something important. The significance of the story did not change. The message I had hoped to share with you had not changed. It didn’t matter who said it, the famous and beloved writer of my childhood, or the previously unknown blogger.

Perhaps this is another lesson. I should not accept any message solely on the grounds of the status of the speaker; parent, priest, partner, boss, child or friend. I should evaluate and filter it through my own values and beliefs to decide if it is consistent with or challenging my own. Is it something I need to look at more carefully? Is it perhaps a tease or manipulation and a distraction from my values? Is it sound? Is it wise, kind, empathetic? Is there something in this for me to learn? Where is my own integrity?

Of course, we need to remain open to ideas, but just as rigorously, evaluate them. Sometimes this means challenging our own long-held views, and even changing them. (The modern word for this ancient idea is literally “repent” and deeply apt for our Lenten period)

Back to the story… After you have considered the ideas in the following story, I invite you to think about how you might be fully present to someone, quietly and with no agenda, just so you might share some deeper spiritual communion. The story is not Milne, but Wallace, however, it is no less wise, gracious, and sound.

“It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore’s stick house. Inside the house was Eeyore.

“Hello Eeyore,” said Pooh.

“Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet,” said Eeyore, in a Glum Sounding Voice.

“We just thought we’d check in on you,” said Piglet, “because we hadn’t heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay.”

Eeyore was silent for a moment. “Am I okay?” he asked, eventually. “Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself. All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. Which is why I haven’t bothered you. Because you wouldn’t want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now.”

Pooh looked at Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.

Eeyore looked at them in surprise. “What are you doing?”


 “We’re sitting here with you,” said Pooh, “because we are your friends. And true friends don’t care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are.”

“Oh,” said Eeyore. “Oh.” And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better.

Because Pooh and Piglet were There. No more; no less.”

So, I suggest that today, you allow God to sit with you and accept the love of that presence. You may find yourself feeling “a very tiny little bit better.”


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