There was a mouse who was not happy at home. His name was Renite. He had a roof over his head, family who loved him, and plenty to eat, but he wasn't happy, so one day he ran away, without even leaving a note. He was glad to be free! He knew he'd find happiness somewhere else, and he didn't really care about his parents and siblings or the friends he left behind.
Ren wasn't even a day into his journey when he fell into a big hole. The hole was deep and its smooth dirt walls surrounded him on all sides.
And there he stayed.
Day after day, Ren was stuck in the pit. At first he thought, "I'm a strong mouse! Quite possibly the strongest mouse that ever existed. I can climb my way out of this hole." He tried to scurry his way to the top, but his nails filled with dirt and his feet fell beneath him.
"Alright, I may not be the strongest mouse, but I am quite certainly the cleverest mouse that ever existed. I can come up with a plan to get out of here." He first created dust signals by running in circles, hoping someone above would notice. He then yelled very loudly in case someone might hear. Ren also used the occasional falling leaf to create a type of ladder. Nothing worked, and in fact, with every futile attempt the light at the top seemed to grow further and further away.
Ren thought to himself, "Well, I might be alone in this unscalable hole, but at least I'm with good company! I am the only friend I need. Isn't this what I wanted? Time away from the useless chatter that filled my head from morning to night?"
And there he sat, thinking his own thoughts, debating his own good points, and agreeing with himself.
The sun grew hotter, and the occasional seed or nut that fell into the pit began leaving him hungry and unsatisfied. "Surely I don't need all the excess food that we had back home," he reasoned. "All it did was make me fat. If I hadn't have eaten all that garbage, I'd probably be able to jump out of this pit!" So he proposed that in a few days, he'd be lean again with this new diet and he would jump out of the hole.
As the excess around his middle dwindled, however, so did his energy, and the idea of jumping at all, even over a twig, was completely unappealing.
Soon, he found his own thoughts boring, his food lacking, and his gumption diminishing.
He sat in the hole, as the sun set yet again, and hung his head in shame. All night he could not think a thought or say a word for the shame that had come over him like a heavy black cloud.
As the sun rose in the morning and light began to replace the darkness, Renite opened his eyes and spoke to his creator. "How stubborn I have been! How prideful! I'm repulsed by myself! How I want to go home and squabble with my uncle and eat my mom's strudel and swaddle my little sister in a nice warm blanket. I long to wave to a friend from far away and run to meet him, embracing in friendship. If only I could get out! I do not want to be left alone with me anymore!"
And then the thought hit him, and the weight of it was so heavy he thought he didn't think he could bare it. "If I think so poorly of myself, maybe they do too. Maybe they're glad I'm gone. Upon my return, they might sigh and groan and roll their eyes. Isn't that what I would do if someone so puffed up and obstinate came walking my way?"
The self pity flooded him and he spent hours and days and weeks wallowing in his own remorse. He worried about what the future held, what they might think, what might happen, what they would say... He tossed and turned, crumpled on the ground, restless and miserable.
At long last, Ren spoke to his Creator, "If only I had a second chance. Will you please forgive me and set me free? Get me out of this pit, let me go home, and I'll say I'm sorry and I'll be a new mouse. I'll appreciate what you've given me and I'll love and appreciate those you've put in my life!"
No sooner had he said the words than a single rain drop fell from the sun above. It came from such a height that Renite could watch it as it slowly descended to the dust. When it hit the dry earth, the splash wet his toes and he watched as the clay instantly absorbed the moisture like a sponge.
Then another, and another, and another... one at a time, they started to fall, but there were more and more until finally they were falling like a wet symphony. Renite cowered by the wall, covering his head with his arms and whimpering, "What is this? What is this?"
Ren's feet became covered in sloshy mud, and the walls were dripping with the slippery earth that was loosened by the pelting rain. There was no way to escape the shower of water that fell from the sky.
"Oh woe is me!" He shouted to the Heavens as the hole began to fill. "I asked for a miracle, an escape, a way out - and this is what you give me? More rain? What kind of joke is this? I'm cold and muddy and wet and more miserable than ever!"
As the rain continued to rise in his messy pit, he argued, "If I had been you, I would have sent something more like a ladder or a rope! But rain? You must enjoy watching me suffer. I said I was sorry. What more do you want? This is some sick game."
Ren's wailing continued as he rose with the water, until he glanced around and noticed that there no longer was any hole at all. The water had risen him out of his pit and washed him to the side. As the storm subsided and the sun melted away the excess, Ren found himself filthy and damp.... but free.
Once again, he hung his head in shame.
"I see now how prideful I still am. You know what you are doing, and I don't. Again, I'm sorry. I'm a stubborn, miserable mouse. You can do with me what you will. I don't deserve any blessings or forgiveness. I just deserve to live an unhappy life with my own retched self." And with this he curled into a ball under a leaf and closed his eyes, waiting for the rain to come again.
Ren doesn't remember how long he laid there, under his leaf, but he remembers clearly the first sound he heard that awoke him from his restless sleep. It was coming from far off and getting closer and closer. The voices were calling something, something familiar. "Renite! Renite!" He thought they surely couldn't be calling for him. But were they? "Ren! Renite!"
He jumped out from under his makeshift shelter and stood erect. "I'm here!" He cried out, waving his weary arms, ecstatic to hear someone's voice other than his own. "Here! Over here!"
The entire village ran to him, wrapping him in blankets, while his father explained, "When we found you were gone, we immediately began searching to the north, figuring that you were headed to the city to get some more food or drink for the family and got lost along the way. When you were nowhere to be found, we went further, from city to city looking for our lost boy. After the recent rain, we saw a rainbow to the south, and we immediately gathered everyone for one more search, hoping that the Creator had given us a sign to where our boy was. And He did, and here you are!"
Ren was ashamed, "I wasn't looking for food to help people. I was leaving because I wasn't happy. But I was wrong. I'm so sorry. I understand if you'll never forgive me. I'm so selfish and prideful and a horrible mouse to be around."
His family and friends hugged him all the more, assuring him of their forgiveness, and they carried him back to the village. As they approached the door to his home, he turned and looked up to the sky, where the sun was flooding the landscape. "Thank you."
Side Note: I created this story this morning at breakfast for my kids, only it was much shorter! When looking for a name, I found Renite, which means "Stubborn."