The Ear of Grain

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Ages ago, when God himself walked upon earth, the ground's fertility was much greater than it now is. At that time the ears did not return fifty or sixty-fold, but rather four to five hundred-fold. The kernels grew from the bottom to the top of the stalk. However long the stalk was, that was also the length of the ear. But it is the way of humankind, that when they have a surplus they do not value the blessings that come from God, but instead become indifferent and frivolous.

One day a woman was walking along a grain field, and her little child, who was jumping along beside her, fell into a puddle and got his clothes dirty. The mother tore off a handful of the beautiful ears of grain and cleaned his clothes with them.

The Lord was just then passing by, and when he saw her doing this, he became angry and said, "From this time forth the grain-stalk shall bear no more ears of grain. Humans are not worthy of this heavenly gift."

The bystanders who heard this were horrified, fell to their knees, and begged him to leave at least something on the grain-stalk, even if they did not deserve it, at least for the sake of the innocent chickens, who otherwise would starve to death.

The Lord, foreseeing the misery that would come, took pity on them and granted their wish. Thus the ear at the top of the stalk remained, just as it grows today.

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Revised November 22, 2002.