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The Eagle and the Grasshopper

As told by Mubarak Nawaz, Hyderabad, India

Once upon a time there was a grasshopper, who through diligent practice, became one of the best hoppers in the land. She loved hopping so much, she began teaching other grasshoppers how to hop. She was very disciplined and required they faithfully follow her commands. She told her students what to eat, when to eat and how to eat. During their practice sessions, she barked out orders telling them exactly what to do.

Soon, baby grasshoppers that had never hopped before were learning how to hop, adults that could barely hop were hopping much better, and even those who already were good hoppers could now hop much higher. The teacher felt very fulfilled.

Then one day a creature showed up that she had never seen before - an eagle. She was determined to teach the eagle how to hop, as she was certain that hopping was the path to fulfillment and enlightenment. But every time she approached the eagle, he just said, "There is no need." She kept trying, but the eagle insisted, "There is no need." Finally, at a large gathering of all the grasshoppers, she pointed to the eagle and announced angrily, "No matter what I say or do, this stupid eagle will never learn how to hop. He does not understand us."

The eagle looked at the grasshoppers and said, "You are content with hopping, but I can fly."

"Stop this foolish talk of flying!" screamed the teacher. "Flying is just imagination and fantasy." She turned to the grasshoppers and said, "Any time such thoughts arise, immediately focus your energy back on your hopping - this is how you will become enlightened."

"You know nothing about flying!" said the eagle with a commanding voice that silenced the grasshopper. The eagle turned to the grasshoppers. "I can show you a world far beyond your grass fields. If you listen to me, I will teach you all to fly."

The eagle waited for them to respond, but when he looked around, incredibly, all he saw were blank looks on the faces of the grasshoppers. He walked away, very sad.

Later that day, while soaring far above the tall grass of the fields, an insight emerged from deep within the eagle's innermost being. He realized that to communicate with the grasshoppers, he would have to speak the grasshopper's language - the language of hopping.

The next day, the eagle returned to the grasshoppers' world and began hopping with them. The grasshoppers were surprised. Not only could the eagle hop, but he could hop as well as any of them.

The teacher kept a wary eye on the eagle. She feared her grasshoppers would get swept away by the eagle's stories.

But the grasshoppers were curious and some of them began to sneak away to talk to the eagle. "How is it that you know how to hop and yet you talk of flying? It goes against our teacher's orders."

"Hopping is useful, but when you can fly, it is no longer necessary."

"Tell us more," said the grasshoppers.

The eagle began describing the world beyond the grass fields, a world that included mountains, rivers and oceans. He sensed they were nervous but assured them was nothing to fear.

The grasshoppers asked, "What's it like to fly?"

"When you are flying, you are totally at peace. Sometimes, I feel like I am connected with everything and watch as everything happens automatically without any effort on my part. I am no longer an eagle flying, but I become flying itself."

Later that day, a solitary, brave grasshopper approached the eagle and asked, "Can you take me flying?"

The eagle nodded and gently took the grasshopper in his powerful talon. With a few beats of his wings they were aloft. Circling overhead, the grasshopper could see the mountains, rivers and ocean that the eagle had described, far beyond the familiar grass fields. Careful not to go too high, the eagle soon returned the grasshopper to the ground.

Hearing the commotion, the other grasshoppers rushed over to find out what had happened.

"He took me flying!" announced the brave grasshopper proudly, but then admitted, "I got dizzy. I didn't like it."

"But our teacher has told us that flying is just imagination." said another grasshopper.

"Bless your teacher and be grateful to her, for she has taught you to hop," said the eagle. "But now you know the truth."

The eagle looked deep within the eyes of the brave grasshopper. Though she was still a bit dizzy, he saw a spark within her very being. He looked at the others and saw that the spark was already spreading to them. Soon, they would no longer be content with just hopping - they would all want to fly.

"My work here is done," announced the eagle abruptly. "Some day you will all learn to fly!"

"But if you leave, who will teach us?"

"Rest assured, as it has always been, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

With that, the eagle unveiled his powerful wings and soared off into the sky.

Source: Fr. John Brian, Wisconsin

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