Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Only When You're Grounded Can You Experience Flight!

I Want To Fly
 By Ken Willers

       Once Upon A Time, on a little farm out in the woods, there was born a little bird who cracked out of his shell before the time his mother expected--so, she had flown from the nest to find some food for her, soon to be, new infant to eat.

            Well, when the little bird popped out of the shell he was very curious about where he was and started to look around with much intensity.

            The Great Tree who was good friends with the mother bird said to the little bird, "Now, you be careful. You're very small and your mother's not here to care for you."

            But the little bird wandered over to the side of the nest and began to peer over the side and see the world below. He marveled at all that was around him for it was all so new--and he was curious about it. The Great Tree again warned him not to bend to far--but it was too late. No sooner had the Great Tree warned him than the little bird fell right over the side of the nest and right down on to the back of a passing turtle.

            The Turtle was startled by this sudden crash on his back and asked the Great Tree, "What happened? What fell on me from your great branches?"

            The Great Tree responded, "The little bird from the nest has fallen from his home."

            So, the turtle waited patiently for the little bird to come to and when he did he asked the turtle, "What happened? How did I get down here?"

            "You fell from the Great Tree," the turtle replied.

            "Well, how can I go back?" asked the little bird.

            The turtle said, "The only way for you to get back to your nest is to fly. Do you know how to fly?"

            The little bird answered, "No, I don not know how to fly. Now, I guess, I'll never get back home--I'm stuck down here forever."

            The turtle thought for a few seconds and said, "Wait a minute. Why don't we go around and ask the other farm animals--maybe they can help you learn how to fly."

            So the turtle slowly walked the little bird over to Mr. Donkey who was carrying a bundle of fire wood on his back.

            The turtle interrupted Mr. Donkey and said, "Pardon me Mr. Donkey, but this little friend is very sad because he can't fly and he'd be very happy if you can help him learn how to fly."

            Mr. Donkey laughed, saying, "You're not serious are you? What do you need to fly for? Look at me--I'm on the ground and I work all day carrying these burdens for my master. I'm obedient and loyal, I work hard and I get plenty of hay. I don't fly--and I'm happy on the ground. What do you need to fly for?"

            The Little Bird responded, "Because, I want to go home."

            But seeing that they were getting no where with Mr. Donkey the turtle slowly walked the little bird over to Mr. Dog who was wagging his tail cheerfully.

            "Pardon me Mr. Dog," said the turtle, "but this little friend of mine is very sad because he can't fly, and he'd be very happy if you could help him learn how to fly."

            Mr. Dog howled when he heard this and said, "You're not serious are you? What do you need to fly for? Look at me--I'm on the ground and I wag my tail, I let my master stroke my back, I accompany him where ever he wants me to go, and I please my master very much. I'm obedient and cheerful and I play all day. I don't fly--and I'm happy on the ground. What do you need to fly for?"

            The Little Bird responded, "Because, I want to go home."

            But just like the Donkey, they saw they were getting no where with Mr. Dog so the turtle slowly made his way over to Mrs. Hen who was busy laying eggs.

            "Pardon me Mrs. Hen" said  the turtle, "but this little friend of mine is very sad because he can't fly, and he'd be very happy if you could help him learn how to fly."

            Mrs. Hen cackled when she heard this and said, "You're not serious are you? What do you need to fly for? Look at me--I'm on the ground and I can sit in my pen all day long without a worry in the world. I just lay eggs for my master and he gives me plenty of seed to eat. I'm obedient and productive and you see I don't fly. I'm happy on the ground. What do you need to fly for?"

            The little bird responded, "Because, I want to go home."

            But just like with Mr. Donkey, and Mr. Dog they saw they were getting no where with Mrs. Hen so the turtle slowly made his way back over to the great Tree.

            "So, little Bird," asked the Great Tree, "did you find out how to fly?"

            "No," responded the bird sadly. "None of the other farm animals would help me."

            "Well," said the Great Tree, "perhaps I can help you. But first, let me ask you, why do you want to fly?"

            The little Bird thought how silly the question was and said, "You know why I need to fly--because I want to go home."

            "I see, but is that the only reason for which you want to fly--just to come back up here? What good is flying if you are only to stay stuck in some other place?"

            "I see," said the little bird, "You're right, I really want to fly so I can be free. I don't want to be stuck here on the ground forever, or even up there in the nest. I want to be free to fly--than I will be happy."

            "Very Good!" said the Great Tree. "Now, you are ready to learn how to fly."

            "But, how can you--A Great Tree--show me--a little bird--how to fly?" asked the little bird.

            "I know many things--and you must trust my wisdom." said the Great Tree. "Now do as I instruct. First extend out your wings like my branches, as far as they can go."

            The little bird extended his wings.

            "Good! Now, wave your wings up and down like my branches wave in when the breeze hits them."

            The little bird started to wave his wings back and forth.

            "Good!" said the Great Tree.

            But the little bird, seeing he was not moving said, "But I'm not flying. I thought you said you would teach me how to fly."

            "I will." answered back the Great Tree. "But now you must do one more thing."

            And as the Great Tree said this He bent down and picked up the Little Bird and placed him back in the nest from which he fell and said, "Now, you are home. And if you really want to fly you must jump from your next and do what I have instructed."

            The little Bird was terrified, "But, I am afraid." he said.

            "Of course you are afraid," said the Great Tree, "because you know that once before you fell from the nest. Now, my little bird you must jump and trust that you will fly if you do what will come naturally to you."

            So, the little Bird walked over to the edge of the nest and climbing on the side jumped with all the courage he could muster. He opened his wings and waved them like the Great Tree had told him--and before he knew it he was gliding and then he was flying up--up and into the air--he was free at last and it felt very natural.

            Now, that the little bird could fly he flew over to the Mr. Donkey, Mr. Dog and Mrs. Hen to show them that he could fly--but they just snorted, growled and cackled at him because they were busy pleasing their master.

            Finally, the little Bird flew over to the Great Tree and thanked him for his wisdom that inspired his ability to fly and asked the Great Tree, "How come you know so much about flight and being free when you are always in the same place all the time?"

            The Great Tree, humbly bowed its branches and said,


            "Oh, I may be in the same place all the time--but I am grounded here. My roots go deep into the earth and they are free to move where the sources of life are to be found--just like your nest is to you--and no one can take that away. I have branches that extend as far as they want to go just like your wings and no one can limit them or stop them from waving in the breeze. My trunk grows high up into the sky just like you are able to fly into the sky and no one can keep it down. You see--when were doing what comes naturally and we become masters of our own flight and we can truly be free. Now, fly little bird--fly and be free."

Reflection by Ken Willers
Peering over the edge of our life and experiencing fear. Should I take the next step? Can I take that risk? Only the one asking the question can find the courage to answer.

Safety resides in all the structures around us. We can certainly live our life as obedient, loyal, cheerful and productive individuals and, in doing so, find contentment.

"What good is flying if you are only to stay stuck in some other place?" 

I wrote this story in 1990 while sitting under a tree discerning my future. At the time I was as a religious preparing for the priesthood. Although priesthood and religious life were not part of my 'flight pattern' my vocation to Catholic education has kept me grounded while catapulting me a direction of 'flight' I never dreamed possible.

Discovering our life sources and being grounded in our everyday commitments move us beyond contentment to the exhilaration of 'flight' where we live for a higher purpose and fear is just one more undiscovered opportunity. Now fly...fly and be free!