Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to reach the peak of sanctity and abandon the prairie of selfishness

This is the story of a little lamb that is grazing on the vast prairies of Patagonia, in Argentina. 
He is a beautiful little white lamb.  Not far away are the majestic snow-capped Andes mountains, where the eagles live.


From the serenity of the prairie, the lamb sometimes looks up to the mountains with admiration.  Once in a while, he sees an eagle soar overhead.


The lamb admires the eagle’s flight, but doesn’t think of it too much.  He has his own little life to take care of.  His day is taken up with eating grass on the prairie.  
One day, a huge eagle lands next to him.  The lamb is a bit surprised, not to say scared.

“Wow!  What are you doing here.  You scared me,” he says.  But the eagle is polite and reassuring.  His eyes are penetrating.  His demeanor, noble.

The eagle says:

“I’ve been watching you down here.  It must get pretty boring to always be in the prairie. 

“If you’d like, I’ll pick you up in my talons and fly you up to the top of the mountain.  There, you will have see wonderful things.  The view is extraordinary.  The winds are fierce and the snow is precious and white.”

“But you’ll have to leave behind the little life of the prairie.”


The little lamb is unsure of what to do.  He hesitates.  He is comfortable where he is.  “Why should I go to the top of the mountain?”, he thinks.

One side of him wants to stay on the prairie.  Another side of him is attracted to the heights of the mountain.   He thinks: “Maybe I should fly up to the mountain with the eagle.”  

While the little lamb is wondering what to do, an old ram comes over and joins the conversation.  He is considered to be the wise old ram by the sheep community.


He asks the eagle what’s going on.

The eagle answers: “I came by to invite the little lamb to come up to the tops of the mountain with the eagles.  There he will see a whole new world of grandeur and beauty.  But he will need to leave behind the mediocre life of the prairie.”  

The ram is silent for a second.  The little lamb is attentive to what the ram will say.  Finally, the ram says:

“When we sheep see you flying from down here, we admire you.  But when you come to invite us to join in your flight, you send a chill down our spines.”

The eagle is a bit surprised by the ram’s statement.  He never thought of it that way.  He never gets chills down his spine when he flies in the skies. 

Much to the contrary.  He  loves the altitudes and finds them thrilling.  To the eagle, the prairies are lacking in horizons, among so many other things.

The ram continues:

“You are admirable as long as you don’t want anything from us. But when you want us to soar in the heights like you do, you scare us.”

“Besides”, the ram goes on, “life on the mountains must be hard.  Here on the prairies we have everything we need to live.  Why should a little lamb leave this life where everything is assured to live on a mountain where everything is risky?”

The eagle starts to get upset.  His mind thrives on the grandeur of the mountain. And he wants others to share his enthusiasm for beauty, grandeur and risk.

The little lamb now looks to see what the eagle will say.

And, in fact, the eagle speaks up with some heat in his voice;

“You may have the essential to live here.  But you lack the abundance of the superfluous; your horizons are low; your aspirations are shallow; your life is centered on eating grass.”

As the lamb listens to the eagle, something starts to stir inside him.

The eagle goes on:

“Most importantly, you lack the supreme ambition to go from peak to peak; to aspire to always conquer new heights; to see higher beauties; to admire the grandeur of the highest panoramas.”

The little lamb is now getting excited.  The old ram is getting agitated.  He perceives the lamb is liking the idea of flying away with the eagle to the peaks of the mountains.

He makes an attempt to keep the lamb on the prairie.  He turns to the lamb and says:

“Where will you sleep up there?  It must be freezing cold?  And there’s no grass to eat.  You will freeze and die of hunger, and be miserable.  Why not stay here where all your basics needs are taken care of?”

The lamb sums up courage and ventures to respond to the ram. 

He says: “But I’d like to see the summits of the mountains.  And I cannot do that here.  I think I will go with the eagle.  He will show  me wonders and marvels that I will never be able to see if I live here.  And as far as food is concerned, I guess I will just eat what the eagles eat.  They are very strong and I will be like them.”

The noble, adventurous side of the lamb wins out over his mediocre, comfort-seeking side.  The lamb turns to the eagle and asks: “When can we leave? I’d like to leave immediately!”

The old ram is furious with the lamb’s decision.  He blurts out:

“Don’t go! Don’t go!  You will hate it up there.  You will see.  Soon, you will be begging the eagle to bring you back here to our comfortable little life!  You will see!”

But the eagle is not worried about what the ram says.  He sees that the little lamb is now firmly decided to fly away to the mountains.  And he takes the lamb in his strong talons and flies away – up, up and up to the glories, beauties and grandeur of the mountain peaks, never to return. 

Never to look back.

It is the happiest day in the little lamb’s life…

                      *                                       *                                      *

This story is to illustrate how God invites us to fly up to Him, and to live in the consideration of all that is beauty, truth and goodness and that leads to Him.

To say YES to God’s invitation is to allow ourselves to be carried on high by His grace; to allow our innocence to soar in admiration; to allow our soul to be consumed with love for all that is superior and holy. 

If we say YES and leave behind our mediocrity in one clean blow, the burden of flying on the heights is light and easy.  The burden of serving and sacrificing for God is a joy.

The only condition is that we never turn back, or never even look back on what we left behind.

We must always look to the peaks.  We must forget the prairie.

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