PUSH THAT COW DOWN THE CLIFF

A long time ago, a Monk set out on his travels accompanied by his assistant, a Brother. Night was falling when the Monk told the Brother to go on ahead to find lodging. The Brother searched the deserted landscape until he found a humble shack, in the middle of nowhere. A poor family lived in the hovel. The mother, father and children were dressed in rags. The Brother asked if he and the Monk could spend the night in their dwelling. “You are most welcome to spend the night,” said the father of the family. They prepared a simple meal consisting of fresh milk, cheese and cream for the Brother and the Monk. The Brother felt moved by their poverty and even more by their simple generosity.

When they finished eating, the Monk asked them how they managed to survive in such a poor place, so far away from the nearest neighbors and town. The wife looked to her husband to answer. In a resigned tone of voice he told them how they managed to survive. ‘We have one cow. We sell her milk to our neighbors who do not live too far away. We hold back enough for our needs and to make some cheese and cream-that is what we eat.”

The next morning, the Brother and the Monk said their good-byes and set out to continue their journey. After the Monk and the Brother had walked a few miles, the Monk turned to the Brother and said, “Go back and push the cow off the cliff!” “Father,” the Brother replied, “they live off the cow. Without her, they will have nothing.” The Monk repeated his order “go back and kill the cow.”

With a heavy heart, the Brother returned to the hovel. He worried about the future of the family because he knew they depended on the cow to survive. His vow of obedience bound him to follow the orders of the wise Monk. He pushed the cow off the cliff.

Years later, the young Brother became a Monk. One day he found himself on the same road where he found lodging so many years ago. Driven by a sense of remorse he decided to visit the family. He rounded the curve in the road and to his surprise, he saw a splendid mansion, surrounded by landscaped gardens, in the place where the hovel used to be. The new house exuded a sense of prosperity and happiness. The Monk knocked on the door.

A well-dressed man answered. The Monk asked, “what ever became of the family who used to live here? Did they sell the property to you?” The man looked surprised and said he and his family had always lived on the property. The Monk told him how he had stayed in a hovel on the same spot, with his master the old Monk. ‘What happened to the family that lived here?” he asked.

The man invited the Monk to stay with him as his guest. While they ate, the host explained how the family’s fortune changed. “You know Father, we used to have a cow. She kept us alive. We didn’t own anything else. One day she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to start doing other things, develop skills we did not even know we had. We were forced to come up with new ways of doing things. It was the best thing that ever happened to us! We are now much better off than before.”

Source and author: Unknown

CONSIDER THIS

‘If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got’ – Henry Ford

  • Do you have a cow you need to push off the cliff? What is its name?
  • What are some of the things and habits you have been relying on for a very long time, things and behaviours that are perhaps holding you back?

PARABLE OF THE DUCKS

There is a town where only ducks live. Every Sunday the ducks waddle out of their houses and waddle down Main Street to their church.  They waddle into the sanctuary and squat in their proper pews. The duck choir waddles in and takes its place, then the duck minister comes forward and opens the duck Bible. (Ducks, like all other creatures on earth, seem to have their own special version of Scriptures.) He reads to them: “Ducks! God has given you wings! With wings you can fly! With wings you can mount up and soar like eagles. No walls can confine you! No fences can hold you! You have wings. God has given you wings and you can fly like birds!”

All the ducks shouted, “Amen!” And they all waddled home.

Source | Tony Campolo, Let me Tell You a Story. Pages 81-82

PONDER AND CONSIDER

You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings. Learn to use them and fly. | Rumi

  • We weren’t born to live  meaningless, average existence. We have been given gifts, abilities, untapped potential, intelligence, energy, passion and dreams so that we can live an extraordinary life.
  • What areas of your life do you feel you are most like the ducks in the parable?
  • What steps can you take to begin to “soar” and not just talk about doing so?

Don’t waddle, fly!

THE LION WHO THOUGHT HE WAS A SHEEP

There was a lion that grew up in a flock of sheep and so he had no consciousness that he was a lion.  He didn’t know he was a lion.  He would bleat like a sheep, he’d eat grass like a sheep.  One day they were wandering at the edge of a big jungle when a mighty lion let out a big roar and leaped out of the forest and right into the middle of the flock.  All the sheep scattered and ran away.  Imagine the surprise of the jungle lion when he saw this other lion there among the sheep.  So, he gave chase.  He got hold of him.  And there was this lion, cringing in front of the king of the jungle.  And the jungle lion said to him, “What are you doing here?”

And the other lion said, “Have mercy on me.  Don’t eat me.  Have mercy on me.”  But the king of the forest dragged him away saying “Come on with me.”  And he took him to a lake and he said, “Look.”  So, the lion who thought he was a sheep looked and for the first time he saw his reflection.  He saw his image.  Then he looked at the jungle lion, and he looked in the water again, and he let out a mighty roar.  He was never a sheep again.  It took only one minute.

Source | Anthony de MelloRediscovering Life. Pages 124-125

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • How tragic it is to live our lives with less than our fullest potential explored and invested!
  • What is still holding your “mighty roar” trapped within?  What is it going to take to give birth to lion in you?

THE DUCKLING

The Sufi saint Shams of Tabriz tells the following story about himself:

I have been considered a misfit since my childhood. No one seemed to understand me. My own father once said to me, “You are not mad enough to be put in a madhouse, and not withdrawn enough to be put in a monastery. I don’t know what to do with you.”

I replied, “A duck’s egg was once put under a hen. When the egg hatched the duckling walked about with the mother hen until they came to a pond. The duckling went straight into the water. The hen stayed clucking anxiously on land. Now, dear father, I have walked into the ocean and find in it my home. You can hardly blame me if you choose to stay on the shore.”

Anthony De Mello, SJ | Song of the Bird

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Are you living up to your original vocation, your deepest call, that is?
  • Are you living up to your potential or perhaps leading a mediocre, non-committed kind of life?
  • Are you satisfied with simply staying on the shore or bold enough to risk entering the waters?