Borg version 2

I am Borg. I live in a cupboard in a big house. And when I smell a child, I come out, unseen by adults but the children sense me…and smell me…and hear me, dragging my folds of drooping flesh along the floor to get them.

Many people come to the big house, where I live. They bring many children. Their families won’t miss one, a juicy tiddler. I have to live after all and I love to suck the marrow out of the inside a long leg bone.

Listen…there’s one now, coming into the room, all alone. And through the keyhole, I spy her, drawing nearer. What is she searching for…most likely her smart phone? ‘I’m bored!’, she says. Not for much longer, little one. I have your phone. Just a few more steps…come on, yes, open the cupboard…open the door…to let me out…Aghh!

Ella turns on her heels and flies screaming out of the room, back along the corridor and down the stairs. Her three friends rush to her, while I trail after. I am slow, I know, but every bit of this big old house is familiar to me and they can hide but I will find them. And when I do, they will become Borg too. That’s just how it is.

Ella points back to the upstairs room, unable to find her words. What can she tell them? And the other children follow her finger. From the top of the banister, my dark red eyes glow fiercely at them. They scramble in wails and leg it. Slowly, savouring the meal which will soon be mine, I follow them, leaving behind a trail of fresh orange flesh scales, rubbed onto the carpet. Something else the children will have to answer for…

As I descend the stairs, all has gone quiet. Adults pass freely by me and through me, without notice. They’re not in the game, not any more. They escaped. Only the children…only the blood and meat of the children keep me going. I raise my snout in the air. They think they are clever, that they can outrun me. What fools they are! No-one escapes Borg. No-one!

I enter the library. At the back, there is a cupboard. All is still but I know they’re here, all four of them, silent, eyes popping out at each other in the darkness.. I hear their hearts bopping, their breath racing. Soon, I will eat one of them.

I crawl to the door of the cupboard and fling it open, belching my rotten breath to numb them. Ella emerges instantly, brushing my side before I can grab her and runs off, shrieking. A grown up, distracted by the noise, comes into the room. I hate these adults. I wish I could eat them too.

While I’m looking back, two more dash past me. They scream too. You are safe…for now…but one day, I will tear you apart and eat your heart.

There is one more. A boy. A boy is in here in the dark inside the cupboard, stacked with chairs. For a moment, I hesitate. Maybe, I’m mistaken. Could the boy have hidden somewhere else?  Just then, he squeezes out and I’m caught unawares. He is too quick for me and rushes past before I can grab him.

Then, they are outside on the grass on a kind of maze, etched onto the lawn. It only has one way in. One way in means…One way out! Go in, go in, my lovely bones. Go in…and I will follow you and make you all Borg.

And they go into the labyrinth.

I reach the entrance.  There is a traffic light on red. I wait. It stays on red for a long time. I can hear the children, talking and shouting, then, suddenly, the light changes to green and all I hear are the chill wind at my back and the cry of a solitary crow. I rumble in.

Further along the path,, there is a notice, ‘Think’. A lot of good that does anyone and I press on. I am hungry. It is weeks since I have tasted meat and these four will not escape me again. I am almost at the centre…another notice, ‘Feel’. Who puts this nonsense here?

I reach the opening to the centre of the labyrinth. And there’s the girl, Ella with her friends, huddled together and squealing under a notice, ‘Hold’, when they see me coming. I spit on the floor to slaver my throat and wet my teeth. But suddenly, the lights change at the entrance from green to amber to red and I must wait. I feel as if I can almost reach them. No hurry!

The children are holding something. What is it? It looks like an…anchor? What have they got an anchor for? Where..? And they rise into the air beneath the anchor. The fresh wind blows, helping the four holding onto its long chain to take off. Ella’s foot dangles over me, as they sway and she nearly falls off. I open my slimey jaws to catch her but they pull her back in before I can bite and are gone. Red-Amber-Green – I walk into an empty chamber.

There is nothing for it but to return to my cupboard and lick my toes. I’ll not forget them, Ella and her three silent companions. Borgs live in cupboards for a very long time. I have never seen a dead one, though there may be one in your kitchen cupboard. All I can say is ‘Don’t prod.’

And, in time, I turned into human form and worked as the house manager. Some years pass before Ella and her three friends return to the house. I watch them. I greet them. I know them. I shake hands with each of them in turn and lick my lips. And they know me. ‘Welcome back’, Ella and friends. You are all Borg now and their eyes begin to glow amber red in the gloaming!

‘We are not Borg! My name is Ella and these are my friends.’ Startled, I take half a step back. It is enough to let Ella brush past me and when she turns, her eyes are shining a deep brown. She should be Borg..? She calls out to her friends, ‘Here now, come now…Now!’ And the charm is broken and they burst past me and out into the garden. And I gasp…

Borg

I am Borg. I live in a cupboard in a big house. And when I smell a child, I come out, unseen by adults but the children sense me…and smell me…and hear me, dragging my folds of drooping flesh along the floor to get them.

Many people come to the big house and they bring many children. Their families won’t miss one, a juicy tiddler. I have to live after all and I love to suck on the marrow inside a crisp, long leg.

Listen…there’s one now, coming into the room, all alone. And through the keyhole, I spy her, drawing nearer. What is she searching for…most likely her smart phone? ‘I’m bored!’, she says. Not for much longer, little girl. I have your phone. Just a few more steps…come on, yes, open the cupboard…open the door…and let me out…Aghh!

Ella turns on her heels and flies screaming out of the room, back along the corridor and down the stairs. Her three friends rush to her, while I trail after. I am slow, I know, but every bit of this big old house is familiar to me and they can hide but I will find them. And when I do, they will become Borg too. That’s just how it is. It is The Way.

Ella points back to the upstairs room, unable to find her words. What can she tell them? And the other children follow her finger. From the top of the banister, my dark red eyes glow fiercely at them. They scramble in wails and leg it. Slowly, savouring the meal which will soon be mine, I follow, leaving behind a trail of orange fleshy scales, rubbing into the carpet. Something else the children will answer for…

As I descend the stairs, all has gone quiet. Adults pass freely by me, through me, without notice. They’re not in the game, not any more. They escaped. Only the children…only the blood and meat of the children keep me going. I raise my snout in the air. They think they are clever, that they can outrun me. What fools they are! No-one escapes Borg. No-one. Ever!

I enter the library. At the back, there is a tall wardrobe. All is still but I know they’re here, all four of them, with silent, eyes popping out at each other in the dark.. I hear their hearts bopping, their breath racing. Soon, I will eat one of them.

I creep to the door of the cupboard and fling it open, belching my hot, rotten breath to numb them. Ella emerges instantly, brushing my side before I can grab her.  She runs off, shrieking. A grown up, distracted by the noise, comes into the room. I hate these adults. I wish I could eat them too.

While I’m looking back, two of ybe others dash past me. They scream too. You are safe…for now…but one day, I will tear you apart and eat your heart.

But there is one more, a boy. A boy is in here in the dark inside the wardrobe, stacked with chairs. For a moment, I hesitate. Maybe, I’m mistaken. Could the boy have hidden somewhere else?  Just then, he squeezes out and I am caught unawares. He is too quick for me and rushes past.

Now they are outside on the grass where there is a kind of maze, etched onto the lawn. It only has one way in. One way in…One way out! Go in, go in, my lovely bones. Go in…and I will follow and make you all Borg, like me.

And they entered the labyrinth.

I reach the entrance.  There is a traffic light on red. I wait. It stays on red for a very long time. Further along the pathway, I hear the children, talking and shouting, then, suddenly, the light changes to green and all goes quiet, except for the chill wind at my back and the cry of a solitary crow. I rumble in.

Some way in, there is a notice, ‘Think’. A lot of good that does and I press on. I am hungry. It is weeks since I have fed and these four will not escape me again. I am almost at the centre. There is another notice, ‘Feel’. Who puts this nonsense here?

I reach the opening to the centre of the labyrinth. And there’s the girl, Ella, with her friends, sitting close together. They are squealing under a notice, which says ‘Hold’. I spit on the floor to slaver my throat and wet my teeth. But then the light changes at the entrance to amber and red and I must wait. I feel I can almost reach them. No hurry….

The children are holding something. It looks like an…anchor? Where have they got an anchor from? What..? And they rise into the air beneath the anchor. The fresh wind blows past, helping the four holding onto its long chain to push off. They sway and, for one moment, Ella’s foot dangles in front of me. I open my slimey jaws to catch her but they pull her back before I can strike and they’re gone. Red-Amber-Green – I stare into the empty chamber.

There is nothing for it but to return to my cupboard and lick my toes. I’ll not forget them, Ella and her three silent companions. Borgs live in cupboards for a very long time. I have never seen a dead one, have you…though there may be one inside your cupboard? My advice…don’t prod.

In time, I turn into my human form and work as the house manager. Some years pass before Ella and her three friends return to the house. And I remember them. I watch them. I greet them. I know them. I shake hands with each of them and lick my lips. And they know me. ‘Welcome back’, Ella and friends. You are all Borg now and our eyes darken amber red in the gloaming!

 

Fear

20161030_102108.jpgSo,  some of you may know that fifty of us WEA people have come to Belgium to learn more about the theory and practice of the European Union. We’ll visit Ypres and the Menin Gate too. Travelling through Belgium,  it is hard not to think of war, with so many towns ending in -cerque, like Duncerque.

Which brings me to Fear. Fear of unemployment, of other people, like migrant workers, of low paid, insecure contracts. I also feel afraid that history is repeating itself. We have populist leaders, elected to power, attacking the ‘establishment elites’, laying blame on minority cultural groups (jews, moslims…).

I see young men and women, marching in uniform on Remembrance Sunday, proudly wearing their red poppies.  And I listen to the words of poets telling us how cruel war is, picturing their brutal, needless deaths in words. War is obscene, to paraphrase Harry Patch. Is Russia right now eyeing up Lithuania, testing the NATO alliance. Would the US come to the defence of a fellow NATO member or is it now Europe’s problem?

In one book I read, it asks if the EU works like a capitalist club. Look how it treats the people of Greece, imposing free market economic policies in return for support. Still, Ireland and Portugal are recovering. And the EU does much to protect the rights of working people. In the UK, leaving may jeopardise these rights as successive governments prioritise financial centres over social need.

On the other hand, the Europe is controlling and interfering, isn’t it? Somehow, I feel those who hate the EU have found the simplest words, like the school bully, to connect with people while those who support it fail to express the positive contributions  to peace and prosperity clearly it makes.

And this is where I feel the EU project has failed the most. It has somehow lost its way and become nearly all about money and growth, when, in the beginning, it offered hope after two world wars in quick succession.

Before we get too dispirited, I do see signs of hope.  Our young people are increasingly active politically. More people generally are talking about politics in Europe, even if many still don’t understand the consequences of Brexit. And I recently had a meeting with a young local councillor. He had given up being a banker to retrain as a teacher in a small comprehensive school, because he wanted to do something more meaningful with his life.

So, we go to the Parliament tomorrow and what do I hope for in the world. I hope for a safe space where people of all persuasions, some antagonistic, can hear one another and find the shared spaces in which to keep the world and everybody on it well and prosperous and feeling safe.

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Further reading:

The European Union: A Citizen’s Guide by Chris Bickerton, A Pelican Introduction

Deep unto deep

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Why am I afraid

to love…you?

I do…I think…I waver.

It seems strange to me,

to return your love,

for I know you are there

and that you love me.

 

I suppose I live with fear

and don’t know how to reach your peace.

I stumble, with eyes closed,

into furniture and holes,

digging myself out or deeper in.

Deep unto deep,

maybe, I’ll meet you down there, Lord,

down there, deep in my heart?

 

I feel you with me, near me, in me.

Help me to weave my thoughts and feelings together,

so that I feel your love and peace,

the embrace of a loving father,

and can share it with others in return.

 

Walking

wpid-20140902_094337.jpg‘May I walk with you a way, friend?’ ‘Yes, of course. Glad to have you.’ ‘Do you know any stories you can tell, as we go? ‘A story..? Yes, I think so. There’s one I’ve been waiting to tell someone.’ And off they went, walking and talking and listening, one foot in front of another, as you do.

Realise that you don’t want to wake up. (p15)

‘It was the beginning of September, the first Sunday it must have been, during the notices after meeting for worship, I asked my friends to uphold me. I told them I was flying to France to the Centre Quaker Congenies, near Nimes, for a weeklong holiday. It wasn’t the flying that bothered me. I have flown many times before and feel fine with that. What I did find troubling and this may sound daft to you but it was the fear I might do something really stupid, like leaving my passport at home or missing the call for the plane. My lovely mum, you see, is 85 and has severe dementia. It’s there now…in the room.

I’d noticed I’d done some pretty inexplicable things recently, not just wandering into rooms and wondering why I was there. You can’t help asking yourself if it’s the start of something…and my handwriting looks increasingly shakey. I remember listening to a programme about someone who’d noticed his handwriting was getting worse, one of the first signs of his Alzheimer’s, apparently. At least, it was for him. Well, at times, I can barely hold a pen. I told myself that’s quite separate, that it had no connection to me at all…just please don’t ask me to do sums or dates in my head! That’s just getting older and having so much stuff inside and, and…over-reliance on calculators and computers, obviously, isn’t it?

So, enough going on, then… quietly in the background’, I told my friend, who nodded, as we made our way along, with the butterflies bouncing over the path.

In the East…we have the image of the dancer and the dance. God is viewed as the dancer and creation as God’s dance. It isn’t as if God is the big dancer and you the little dancer. Oh no. You’re not a dancer at all. You are being danced! (p105)

On the plane on Monday, I was lucky enough to sit next to someone who told me all about bus travel in and around Nimes. “You buy a card. It’s called a ‘BANG.’ For one euro. Then, you pay another euro sixty for your ticket and it takes you anywhere you like, one way, inside the Departement, like a county, only bigger.”

Halfway through my holiday, I did one day take two buses down to the Mediterranean Sea to go swimming for three euros twenty return. It was well worth it.

When I lept out of the shuttle bus at Nimes railway station, I was feeling exhuberant, excited, elated, so happy to be back in France and on holiday in this lovely sunshine. I’d intended to check bus connections beforehand but had run out of time. I’ll find out when I get there. And I did. It took me nearly an hour and visits to three different offices to learn that the D41, ‘Direction Sommieres’ left from Bus Stop 14 every two hours.

A young woman passed by again. “Have you found your bus stop, monsieur?” “Ah, yes, I have. No. 14.” She looked pleased for me but then I told her how, just moments before, I’d realised something was not right. But what? I’d been moving round with a spring in my step. Too lightly, I’d stepped off the bus like a fool with only my rucksack, leaving my holdall in the boot of the shuttle bus with all my worldly goods, well almost. “Oh, no, my bag. My clothes. My books. And a whole week to go in France…” “Je suis desolée, monsieur”, she said to me kindly. “Je suis un idiot!” I looked back at her, shaking my head.

                   An attachment destroys your capacity to love…there is nothing            so clear sighted as love. (p140)

I ran to the front of the station but the shuttle bus had long gone. I thought about what to do. Don’t panic, Be Quiet. I’m a Quaker, I thought of the postcard on my pinboard above my desk at work. I went back to the queue for bus information in the railway station, trying my best to tell the young member of staff what had happened. My French felt very limited but, thankfully, she understood enough to make a phone call for me. “They say they may have your bag, monsieur. Here’s the number. They say to ring this number later.” I thanked her. There was a chance then. I noticed the time. The next bus to Congenies was leavng in 15 minutes. There was nothing more I could do in Nimes, so I went for the bus. Luckily for me, I still had all my valuables in my rucksack. I couldn’t help smiling, when the bus driver took one euro for my Bang card and then one euro sixty for my ticket. I was off.

The bus ride to Congenies takes about 50 minutes. The yellow Edgard buses are air-conditioned and it was lovely just to sit watching, as friends got on and off along the route, some of them, delightful village squares – Caveirac, Langlade, Saint-Dionisy, Calvisson – inviting me to get off too and explore. I started to think, well, maybe, this is not so bad. I’ve lost my bag, that’s all. My clothes. Can  that really be so bad?

Deal with the villain of self-condemnation, self-hatred, self-dissatisfaction. (p158)

It was so hot when I stepped down from the bus at Congenies. The church bell in the village rang out four times and there was hardly anyone about. I walked back towards the Quaker house and pushed open the gate. Now, I know enough to go around to the side door and through the French windows but not then. I rang the bell on the old, wooden door, rising up above the steps. Inside, all was quiet. I pushed it again, beginning to hear myself say, ‘Is anybody in?’ and ‘poor me’ when someone started pulling back the stiff bolts. Next, I heard a key – it sounded like a large one – being placed in the lock of the old door. Next moment, it juddered open and I found myself looking up into the faces of two women. “Bonjour, Mesdames, I suis Bernard, d’Angleterre…”, I soared, my words in French ‘I hope you are expecting me’, I failed in English. “J’ai perdu mon sac!”, I crumpled.

The faces belong to Bonnie and Michaela. Michaela helps out with odd jobs at the Centre and lives in the village. She is an artist and a very fine cook, originally from Rumania. She looked at Bonnie, who is Canadian, and, with her husband, David, were the acting Friends in Residence. Michaela looked down at me and said, “Welcome to the House of the Lost Sacks.”

Bonnie’s bag had disappeared too on the flight over. She had been waiting for nearly a week for it to turn up. Each day, the airline said ‘it is in Montpellier. Ah, sorry, no, it’s in Paris, we think. Or it is in Perpignan today.’ It’s possible all three but it might be somewhere else, besides, tomorrow? The airline staff were very polite and said a courier would deliver her case the next day, for sure. I don’t think it ever did turn up. Fortunately, David’s had, so Bonnie got by, wearing David’s t-shirts, left over clothes belonging to the Friends in Residence, away on holiday, and some from Michaela.

…in those words of the gospel: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns…Consider the lilies of the field…they neither toil          nor spin.” (p114)

“Michaela, Bonnie, would you be able to ring this number to ask if they have my bag for me, please? There’s just a chance, you see…” Michaela, with the best French, rang…and she speaks some English. We exchanged a cultural and linguistic hotchpotch of words and looks, possibly even some Rumanian, till she came off the phone. “I’ve spoken to someone at the Shuttle Bus. They will look into it for you and will ring here later.” “Oh, thank you, Michaela. And you too, Bonnie.” No bag but there was still hope.

For the first time, I was able to take in the house. Bonnie told me a large party had left that morning and nobody else was expected till Thursday, so I could have my pick of the rooms. Apart from Bonnie and David, the Amis Residents, I was completely alone in the place. I had been looking forward to a bit of solitude but, right now, it was the last thing I wanted. I really felt like some company, if only to take my mind off my bag and the nagging voice in my head.

After another ear bashing of ‘You stupid idiot’, I thought I would do something. Eating seemed a good idea. I still had some fruit and oatcakes in my rucksack and, as I stepped out of my room and reached the top of the landing, the Amis Residents’ door opened and Bonnie asked me, ’Would you like a glass of wine?’ “My angel!” I said to myself. “Oh, yes, please.” I took the precious glass of red wine outside into the garden, with my food to sit under the canopy of the arbres. The day was still warm; the wind still blowing through the trees. I took a small sip and felt it warm my veins. I relaxed a little. Still having a conversation, “I’ve lost my bag. Well, then, was that so bad..?”

Later that evening, the phone rang and both Bonnie and Michaela ran into the office. “Oui, oui, ah, oui…oui, oui…long pause. Merci, madame”, and Michaela put the phone down while I held my breath. “They’ve taken your bag to reception at the airport. We can go there tomorrow in our car. I have some things I need to do in Nimes and we can take you to the airport. It is better if we go in the afternoon, so you can go to your French class.” “Really? Are you sure?” I asked. “Yes, of course, I am sure. No problem.” “Well, that is wonderful, Michaela. Thank you so much. I will give you something for the petrol.” “We’ll see. We can talk about it later.”

I felt my spirits lifting. I had more hope, but then looked at Bonnie, smiling at me too. She’d been promised her case every day for a week now and must be feeling really fed up. Every day, she or David rang the airline. “It’ll be there tomorrow by courier, for sure,” they said, yet the next day arrived but not the suitcase.

You don’t chase darkness out with a broom. You turn on a light. (p147)

The French class the next morning was excellent. A group of English and French friends meet usually in one of their homes each Tuesday; sometimes at the Quaker centre too. They read and discuss an article in the papers. That morning, we read one about abandoned villages in the countryside. I found my French was up to it and I loved the reading out loud. I’d hated reading anything out in class at school. Afterwards, we had a terrific lunch with lots of wine, sitting out on the terrace under the shade of a canopy, a sprawling fig tree and an essential borrowed straw hat. Lunchtime temperatures rise to 35°C, even in early September.

The time came to set off for Nimes airport. It was further than I thought, especially at rush hour, but Jean Paul, Michaela’s husband, got us there. I walked ahead of Michaela and Jean Paul into Reception. “Pardon, mademoiselle, vous avez un sac bleu, assez vieux, s’il vous…” “Ah, oui, moment…” And the young woman disappeared into her office, returning with my old, blue holdall. “Voila, monsieur.” And that was that.

I felt so happy to have my bag back. I had my clothes, my new coat, my six books, my sandals…my toothpaste. The previous evening, Michaela had tapped on the French window quite late. “Here you are – toothbrush and paste”, holding out a new pack of 3 toothbrushes. While I stood gazing at them, she said, “Choose one, Bernie.” “Oh, yes, Michaela, merci.” So, I did and still have it as backup. The toothpaste I returned the next day.

My friend asked me, “Did they just keep your bag for you at the airport to pick up, an unmarked bag..?” “Yes, they did. I know. Amazing, really, with everything that’s happening in the world right now…”

Dying is wonderful; it is only horrible to people who have never understood life. p150

The following morning, I was still feeling happy I celebrated under the vines with a breakfast of coffee and delicious, fresh croissants from the local boulangerie and fruit. Carrying my tray outside, I passed through the room where they hold meeting for worship and I experienced the silence.

Michaela came round again that evening. I had given her and Jean Paul some money for the petrol and for helping me. “Too much, Bernie”, she’d said but it was a fair exchange. Standing in the office where David was working, she told us how much it meant to her to be able to help her friends…and people she’d barely knew too. On the way back from the airport, we’d stopped at the hospital, where she’d taken some food she’d cooked earlier up to a young man and his mum, both Rumanian. His mum was at her son’s bedside following a road accident. It was a struggle for them in every way.

After that, we stopped off at the supermarket to buy some things. I wanted some local wine but Michaela urged, “Don’t’ buy wine here. It is too dear. We have wine. Jean Paul is a member of the CAVE, the local wine cooperative.” Later that evening, I heard another tap on the window and there stood Michaela holding out three bottles of wine – one white, one red and a rose – “from the CAVE and here’s a hot meal for you for tomorrow.” She had become like my guardian angel! “Thank you, Michaela. That’s very generous of you.” “I like helping people. When we were growing up in Romania, we had nothing. We were so poor. I don’t forget those days and I like to help where I can.” It left me thinking about my good fortune in meeting friends like Michaela and Bonnie and David, just when I needed them. I couldn’t help thinking that, if I’d not left my bag on the bus, none of this would be  happening.

A couple of days later, a group of us met again for lunch back on the same terrace as before. It belonged to Francoise and Dennis. Francoise told a story of how, when she was living in England with  Dennis, they were having lunch with his boss. She gently chastised his boss for something he’d said or done, “Oh, don’t be stupid. I wondered why the atmosphere in the room suddenly felt cool. Later, someone pointed out to me that you can’t call English people stupid, not to their faces and certainly not your husband’s boss. But I had no idea. In French, we say it a lot. It is very mild, affectionate, even, like saying you silly sausage. Anyway, it all ended well and we laughed a lot about it later.”

I much prefer the French sense of ‘stupide’ to the English. I’d got my bag back but what if I hadn’t? I’m sure I’d have managed. My youngest son tells me he can get four days wear, five even with care, out of a single pair of underpants.

To give something back to Françoise and Dennis for their generosity, I offered to do some washing up after our meal and mentioned Brother Lawrence to Francoise, mindfully doing the same many years before. And then, because I was in France and because you do, I offered to sing a song, called ‘Butterfly’. We were surrounded by so many yellow and white, big, big butterflies in the garden. So, when everybody was back sat down together on the terrace, I sang, both in French and in English.

“Formidable!”, exclaimed my charming audience. And one more thing I can tell you. Since the holiday, my handwriting is so much neater.

One day Nasr-ed-Din was strumming a guitar, playing just one note. After a while a crowd collected around him (this was in a marketplace) and one of the men sitting on the ground there said, “That’s a nice note you’re playing, Mullah, but why don’t you vary it a bit the way other musicians do?” “Those fools,” Nasr-ed- Din said, “they’re searching for the right note. I’ve found it. (p111)

Well, that’s what happened to me in France. Thanks for being a good listener. And what about you? We still have a way to go. Have you got a story for me?’ My friend paused, “Let me see…yes. Yes, I do.’ We all have our stories.

My friend started telling me this story, as we walked further along the path, winding through the woods under the canopy of the tall trees, shielding us from the hot sun, skirting round the edges of the muddy puddles, following the butterflies…

A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.

All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked.

“That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbour. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth – we’re chickens.”

 So the eagle lived and died a chicken,

for that’s what he thought he was. (p3)

 

All quotations in italics taken from Awareness by Anthony deMello, Zondervan Press, 2002, which I read during my stay at Congenies. It was one of my six books.

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