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The Parable of the Eagle

James Aggrey

Once upon a time, while walking through the forest, a certain man found a young eagle. He took it home and put it in his barnyard where it soon learned to eat chicken feed and to behave as chickens behave.

One day, a naturalist who was passing by inquired of the owner why it was that an eagle, the king of all birds, should be confined to live in the barnyard with the chickens.

"Since I have given it chicken feed and trained it to be a chicken, it has never learned to fly." replied the owner. "It behaves as chickens behave, so it is no longer an eagle."

"Still," insisted the naturalist, "it has the heart of an eagle and can surely be taught to fly."

After talking it over, the two men agreed to find out whether this was possible. Gently, the naturalist took the eagle in his arms and said, "You belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch forth your wings and fly."

The eagle, however, was confused; he did not know who he was, and seeing the chickens eating their feed, he jumped down to be with them again.

Undismayed, the naturalist took the eagle, on the following day, up on the roof of the house and urged him again, "You are an eagle. Stretch forth your wings and fly." But the eagle was afraid of his unknown self and world and jumped down once more for the chicken feed.

On the third day, the naturalist rose early and took the eagle out of the barnyard to a high mountain. There, he held the king of birds high above him and encouraged him again, saying, "You are an eagle. You belong to the sky as well as the earth. Stretch forth your wings now, and fly."

The eagle looked around, back toward the barnyard and up to the sky. Still he did not fly.

Then the naturalist lifted him straight toward the sun and it happened that the eagle began to tremble and slowly he stretched his wings. At last, with a triumphant cry, he soared away into the heavens.

It may be that the eagle still remembers the chickens with nostalgia; it may even be that he occasionally revisits the barnyard. But as far as anyone knows, he has never returned to lead the life of a chicken. He was an eagle even though he had been kept and tamed as a chicken.

Submitted by Paul, Oklahoma City, OK.
 

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A cashier told a older woman that plastic bags werenít good for the environment.

The woman apologized to her and explained, "We didnít have the green thing back in my day."

That's right, they didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they returned their milk bottles, Coke bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the factory to be washed and sterilized and refilled, using the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But they didn't have the green thing back in her day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 200-horsepower machine every time they had to go half a mile. But she's right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's nappies because they didn't have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 3000 watts. Wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right, they didn't have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house, not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a baking dish, not one the size of a bath tub. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for them. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the post, they used crumpled up newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty, instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled pens with ink, instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But they didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people used public transport and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus, instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one power point in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right, they didn't have the green thing back then.

But that old lady is right. They didn't have the green thing back in her day!
 

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Be a Kid Again
  • Give yourself a gold star for everything you do today.
  • Grow a milk mustache.
  • Open a pack of cupcakes and give one to a friend even though you wanted both of them for yourself.
  • Have a staring contest with your cat.
  • Kiss a frog just in case.
  • Make a face the next time somebody tells you "no."
  • Ask "Why?" a lot.
  • Believe in fairy tales.
  • Have someone read you a story.
  • Wear your favorite shirt with your favorite pants even if they don't match.
  • Do a cartwheel.
  • Hide your vegetables under your napkin.
  • Make a "slurpy" sound with your straw when you get to the bottom of a milkshake.
  • Sit really still for as long as the dog (or cat) is asleep in your lap.
  • Find some pretty stones and save them.
  • Stick your head out the car window and moo if you see a cow.
  • Walk barefoot in wet grass.
  • Giggle at nude statues in a museum.
  • Make cool screeching noises every time you turn.
  • Count the colors in a rainbow.
  • Fuss a little, then take a nap.
  • Take a running jump over a big puddle.
  • Giggle a lot for no real reason.
  • Do that tap-someone-on-the-shoulder-while-you-stand-on- their-opposite-side-and-they-turn-around-and-no-one's- there thing.
  • Enjoy your all-time favorite candy-bar. (Forget you've heard of calories!)
  • Throw something and when it lands make a cool exploding bomb noise.
  • Squish some mud between your toes.
  • Buy yourself a helium balloon.
  • Put an orange slice in your mouth, peel side out, and smile at people.

Be a kid again...

Submitted by Dick, Williamsport, Md.
 

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A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village.

An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican. 

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

And the moral of this story is: ......... Know where you're going in life... You may already be there.

Submitted by Cathy, Stonington, England.
 

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The young mother set her foot on the path of life.

"Is this the long way?" she asked.

And the guide said "Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning."

But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams; and the sun shone on them, and the young Mother cried, "Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."

Then the night came, and the storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, "Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come."

And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary. But at all times she said to the children," A little patience and we are there."

So the children climbed, and when they reached the top they said, "Mother, we would not have done it without you."

And the mother, when she lay down at night looked up at the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage. Today, I have given them strength."

And the days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide.

And mother said: "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them."

And the children said, " You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates." And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: "We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence."

Your Mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street; she's the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks; she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well.

Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every tear drop. She's the place you came from, your first home; and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not space...not even death!

Submitted by Dick, Williamsport, MD.
 

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Little girls are the nicest things that can happen to people....

They are born with a bit of angelshine about them, and though it wears thin sometimes,
there is always enough left to lasso your heart,
even when they are sitting in the mud, or crying temperamental tears,
or parading up the street in Mother's best clothes. .

A little girl can be sweeter (and badder) oftener than anyone else in the world.
She can jitter around, and stomp, and make funny noises that frazzle your nerves,
yet just when you open your mouth,
she stands there demure with that special look in her eyes.
A girl is Innocence playing in the mud,
Beauty standing on its head, and Motherhood dragging a doll by the foot...

God borrows from many creatures to make a little girl.
He uses the song of a bird, the squeal of a pig, the stubbornness of a mule,
the antics of a monkey, the spryness of a grasshopper, the curiosity of a cat,
the speed of a gazelle, the slyness of a fox, the softness of a kitten,
and to top it all off, He adds the mysterious mind of a woman.

A little girl likes new shoes, party dresses, small animals, first grade, noisemakers,
the girl next door, dolls, make-believe, dancing lessons, ice cream, kitchens,
colouring books, make-up, cans of water, going visiting, tea parties, and one boy.
She doesn't care so much for visitors, boys in general, large dogs, hand-me-downs,
straight chairs, vegetables, snowsuits, or staying in the front yard.

She is loudest when you are thinking, the prettiest when she has provoked you,
the busiest at bedtime, the quietest when you want to show her off,
and the most flirtatious when she absolutely must not get the best of you again.
Who else can cause you more grief, joy, irritation, satisfaction, embarrassment,
and genuine delight than this combination of Eve, Salome, and Florence Nightingale?

She can mess up your home, your hair, and your dignity,
She can spend your money, your time, and your patience
and just when your temper is ready to crack,
her sunshine peeks through and you've lost again.
Yes, she is a nerve-wracking nuisance, just a noisy bundle of mischief.

But when your dreams tumble down and the world is a mess,
when it seems you are pretty much a fool after all,
she can make you a king or queen when she climbs on your
knee and whispers, "I love you best of all!"

Submitted by Lindsay, Melbourne, Australia
 

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The Sack Lunches

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me.

'Chicago - to Great Lakes Base. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Iraq '

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached Chicago, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time.

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch.

'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to Chicago'.

His friend agreed. I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch.

I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.'

She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq; it's almost like you are doing it for him.' Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated.

She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?'

'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class.

'This is your thanks.'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room.

A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five dollars.

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, and said, 'I want to shake your hand.'

Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.'

I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers. Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed in Chicago I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars!

Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.'

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little...

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'

That is Honor, and there are way too many people in This country who no longer understand it.'

All too often we just send jokes, either off color or clean and we forget to send the ones that mean so much.

Submitted by Dewy, Pensacola, Fl.
 

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Keep this philosophy in mind the next time you hear or are about to repeat a rumor:

In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance, who ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students ...?"

"Wait a moment," Socrates replied. "Before you tell me, I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Test of Three."

"Test of Three?"

"That's correct," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my student let's take a moment to test what you're going to say. The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

"No," the man replied, "actually I just heard about it."

"All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?"

"No, on the contrary..."

"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him even though you're not certain it's true?"

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.

Socrates continued, "You may still pass though, because there is a third test -- the filter of usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really..."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?"

The man was defeated and ashamed and said no more.

This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.

Submitted by Dewey, Pensacola, Fl.
 

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A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin...

[]... it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Submitted by Audrey, Emmitsburg, Md.
 

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When a Veteran leaves the 'job' and retires to a better life...

... many are jealous, some are pleased, and others, who may have already retired, wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know.

  1. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times.
     
  2. We know in the Military life there is a fellowship which lasts long after the uniforms are hung up in the back of the closet.
     
  3. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.

These are the burdens of the job. You will still look at people suspiciously, still see what others do not see or choose to ignore and always will look at the rest of the Military world with a respect for what they do; only grown in a lifetime of knowing.

Never think for one moment you are escaping from that life. You are only escaping the 'job' and merely being allowed to leave 'active' duty.

So what I wish for you is that whenever you ease into retirement, in your heart you never forget for one moment that you are still a member of the greatest fraternity the world has ever known.

NOW! Civilian Friends vs. Veteran Friends Comparisons

  • Civilian Friends: Get upset if you're too busy to talk to them for a week.
    Veteran Friends: Are glad to see you after years, and will happily carry on the same conversation you were having the last time you met.
     
  • Civilian Friends: Have never seen you cry.
    Veteran Friends: Have cried with you.
     
  • Civilian Friends: Keep your stuff so long they forget it's yours.
    Veteran Friends: Borrow your stuff for a few days then give it back.
     
  • Civilian Friends: Know a few things about you.
    Veteran Friends: Could write a book with direct quotes from you.
     
  • Civilian Friends: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing.
    Veteran Friends: Will kick the crowd's ass that left you behind.
     
  • Civilian Friends: Are for a while.
    Veteran Friends: Are for life.
     
  • Civilian Friends: Have shared a few experiences...
    Veteran Friends: Have shared a lifetime of experiences no citizen could ever dream of...
  • Civilian Friends: Will take your drink away when they think you've had enough.
     
    Veteran Friends: Will look at you stumbling all over the place and say, 'You better drink the rest of that before you spill it!' Then carry you home safely and put you to bed...
  • Civilian Friends: Will talk crap to the person who talks crap about you.
     
    Veteran Friends: Will knock them the hell out OF THEM...for using your name in vain.
  • Civilian Friends: Will ignore this.
    Veteran Friends: Will forward this.

A veteran whether active duty, retired, or reserve is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The Government of the United States...' for an amount of 'up to and including my life'. . . and military wives are as much veterans as their spouses.

Submitted by Dick, Williamsport, Md.
 

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Children learn from what they see ...

When you thought I wasn't looking...

  • I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.
  • I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.
  • I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.
  • I heard you say a prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.
  • I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.
  • When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing, and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't.
  • I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have to take care of w hat we are given.
  • I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.
  • I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.
  • I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
  • I learned most of life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.
  • I looked at you and wanted to say, 'Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.'

Submitted by former Emmitsburg Mayor, Ed!
 

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