The great white bird of the forest
From an email I sent to a friend, who asked a question I won't repeat here:
A long time ago a beautiful white bird lived in the tallest and oldest tree deep inside a lush forest. Trees, plants, and flowers grew all through the forest, and all forms of animals lived throughout the forest and had a wonderful life. All the animals in the forest knew of the beautiful bird, and the old tree that she lived in.
But then one year there was a drought, which eventually spawned an enormous fire in the forest. The fire spread and grew rapidly, destroying everything in its path. The animals that were lucky fled the burning part of the forest, while the unlucky ones died from the smoke and the flames. The beautiful bird didn't immediately know there was a fire because the smoke was blowing away from her home in the tree, but late in the day when she was out flying around she saw the smoke, and then the fire and all the animals fleeing for their lives.
Looking at the animals and the forest, the bird felt nothing but love and sorrow for all these living things. Without thinking of her own safety, the bird flew as high up into the sky as she could, then turned around and soared back into the forest fire as rapidly as her wings would allow. The bird began crying huge tears of love, and the tears of love fell onto the fire.
Soon, when the other animals looked up into the sky, all they could see was rain falling from the sky, and the rain eventually put out the forest fire. Once things calmed down all the animals went to the beautiful tree to tell the white bird the story about the fire and then the enormous rain, but she was nowhere to be found. The animals believed she must have died in the fire, and mourned her loss.
(This isn't my story, it's a very abridged version of a story by Thich Nhat Hanh.)