Once there was a princess who had never cried. She had no reason to cry. Everything she ever wanted, she got. One day she woke up and said that she wanted to see God. “God,” her father shouted, “you mean God — don’t be silly child. No one in the whole world has seen God.” Princess Elinor smiled a sweet smile. That is exactly why I want to see him. Her father threw up his hands. Although he was often impatient with his only daughter, he loved her very much. He knew that in the end, he would do anything she asked of him and Princess Elinor knew it too.
The king called in his Chief of Law and Order and said, “my daughter demands to see God.” I order you to take care of it.” The Chief of Law and Order nodded and smiled. He knew very well who God was, and he had no doubt that he could make the princess see Him too. So he led the princess to the highest tower in the palace. He showed her The Great Book of the Land which listed all the laws that the people in that kingdom must live by, and all of the punishments for those who disobeyed. Solemnly he said, “this book is as good as God in this kingdom.” The king’s daughter pushed the great book onto the floor. “The law is not God,” she said, as she stamped her foot. I want to see God. “Baa,” said the Chief of Law and Order, and he went off to tell the king that his daughter was rude and willful.
So the king called his Chief of the Treasury. He had charge of all the gold in that kingdom. My daughter demands to see God. I order you to take care of it. The chief nodded and smiled, for he knew very well who God was. So far as he was concerned, he had no doubt that he could make the little princess see him too. He led the princess down to the deepest dungeon of the castle. There he took out a great key and unlocked a thick door, and as the big door swung open, the glitter of gold inside made princess blink. There, the treasurer said, clasping his hands under his chin and that my dear is the most money you’ll ever see in your whole life. But I want to see God. The princess stamped her foot not just a lot of old money. The treasurer looked at her flushed cheeks and put a hand on her dry forehead. Then he hurried off to the king to say that the princess must certainly be suffering from a strange kind of sickness.
Because neither of his two chiefs had been able to handle the job at all, the king decided to do it himself. He began to look around for God. Thinking about it, it occurred to him that he didn’t know what God looked like. Of course, he had never bothered to look for Him either. So he looked in the royal corners and under the royal bed, and even in the royal kitchen. But he couldn’t find God anywhere in the palace.
At last he went out the palace gate and trudged down the road to the village. On his way, he looked up into the trees around hedges and under rocks. He looked everywhere, but since he was not sure just exactly what it was he was looking for, he didn’t find anything. Soon he came to an old man who was planting a pear tree. The man was so old he hardly had a breath left in his body — yet he was planting a tree. The king smiled as he sat down to rest a moment and said, “Old man, do you expect to live long enough to eat the fruit of that tree?” The old man looked up at the king and down at the deep hole he had dug. He answered, “No but I expect my children will and if not them, their children will. Oh, I expect it will be a fine tree someday, God willing, that is.” The king looked at him curiously. Say old man, do you know God? Now the old man turned to look at him. “Of course, Don’t you?” The king stroked his royal chin. I’m really not at all sure, but my daughter wants more than anything in the world to see God. Can you show Him to her? The old man straightened up. He had often heard of the little princess who had never cried. He looked up the road toward the palace, then he looked down the road to a little house close to the roadside. Maybe I can, he said thoughtfully. When the king brought the old man before the princess, she looked at him suspiciously. Have you ever really seen God, old man? The old man nodded smiling a little. “Then show him to me, “she ordered in her harsh little voice. For she didn’t believe he had at all. First you must do something for me, the old man said. “What do you mean? What do I have to do?” asked the princess. You will only have to come with me to visit someone you don’t you know. Then will you show me God? The old man nodded. If God wills it, I will. And if He doesn’t, you’ll be sorry. She followed the old man out of the palace, down the road toward the village. But they did not go all the way. They stopped at a small poor house close to the road. The old man sat down on a box in the yard and motioned, “Go in.” The princess looked at him in surprise. She had never been in a place so poor before. Timidly, she pushed open the door and stepped in. A poor girl sat in a chair at the table. Though her smile was bright, her face was dirty. I am Princess Elinor. She wrinkled her nose at the smell of something cooking on the stove. The girl only look at her — she did not move. You’re supposed to get up and bow when you meet a princess. The girl’s smile slipped off her face and she whispered, “I can’t. “What do you mean you can’t? The girl pulled at her skirt; she pointed to her legs. I never could walk, ever. Princess Elinor looked at the girls legs, then looked quickly away. She stepped out and closed the door. Silently, she followed the old man back up the road to the palace. When they reached the palace hall, the old man turned to her. Are you ready? Ready, for what? asked the princess. She had been so busy thinking of the other girl, she had forgotten all about herself. The old man smiled. You are ready and to her surprise, he put a mirror in her hand. Now close your eyes; hold up the mirror and look deep into your heart. The princess closed her eyes and held up the mirror. Suddenly, tears began to roll down the cheeks of the princess who had never cried — big soft wet tears. Why are you crying, asked the old man? I have been selfish all my life and I did not know it until I saw that poor girl. She put the mirror down and opened her eyes. Oh, Sir, do you think it would help if I brought her some good soup and maybe a pretty dress to wear? Do you think that would help? The old man smiled. He took the mirror from her hand. After he put it carefully away, he said, “You have seen God.”