Hummingbird

Excuse my absence. Things have been a little insane here. If you’ve ever been a camp counselor for a summer-long, overnight camp, you’ll understand. However, I wanted to share a story that I heard when we were doing chapel a while ago.

Once, long ago in Africa, there was a great forest fire. It was so big that you could see nothing but flames and smoke to either side. All the animals ran as fast as they could to escape it. The birds flew, the elephants stomped and the lions sped through the forest until they came to a great river, which they then crossed. Once all the animals had reached the safety of the river, they cried out. Their home was burning up before them with all the lovely trees and flowers. It was hopeless to try and save their home before such a terrible fire, and so they all mourned and cried, watching the fire eat up everything they had known.

But one bird did not cry. The Hummingbird, smallest of the small with only the thinnest of beaks, flitted to the river and pft, grabbed up water from the river. He quickly darted to the fire and peh! spit it out! He did this again and again until some of the animals began to notice what Hummingbird was doing. “Ha!” they cried, “Look at Hummingbird! The poor creature cannot see that it is hopeless for him to try. He is too small to make any difference at all to that great wall of flame!”

And they called to him, some jeering, and said, “Give it up Hummingbird! There is no good you can do against such a great fire, you are too small to do anything!”

But Hummingbird continued to fly back and forth, back and forth, grabbing up a little slip of water and spitting it back out on the flames. The other animals continued to beg Hummingbird to save his strength, but nothing they said slowed him in the least. Then, suddenly, Ostrich turned to Cheetah and said, “If Hummingbird, the smallest of us all, is so convinced he can put out this fire, then what might we, who are many times his size, be able to do?” Cheetah nodded and the two went down to the river, slurped up some water, and ran to help Hummingbird put out the great fire.

The other animals saw them leave. At first they were confused, but soon Giraffe and Rhino had joined in. Then Elephant, Lion and Hippopotamus. Soon all the animals were working together to put out the fire! All up and down the river, animals were running, carrying water to put out the flames. Before long the last sizzle of dying flames was heard and the great fire was put out.

All because Hummingbird, the smallest of the small, began to do what everyone else thought impossible.

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Diary, C.M. Pine

June 19, 2012

Last night I heard crying in Elder Hall where we are having the children sleep. One of the children had lost a tooth and we thought we had best play the fairy. Even if their parents are gone, we did not want them to feel that all the magic had been taken out of the world for them. I had just placed some money under the child’s pillow and taken away the tooth when I heard it. Bless them, they were muffled. I assume so that they would not disturb the others. I walked carefully over to them and asked what was wrong.

“I miss my parents,” the child said. I grimaced and knelt down. I did what I could to console them, mostly by asking them what we did today and what was to be done tomorrow. I asked every distracting question  I could think of, and yet at the end of it, they still missed their parents. Of course they did. Who wouldn’t? Kids may have short attentions and memories, but how can we think to take away that ache?

So I did the only other thing I could think of. I said, “Breathe.” And I walked him through the meaning of “Breathe.” When I say “Breathe” I mean not only to breathe in air, but to breathe with your soul. To breathe through with your stomach, with your arms and legs, your muscles and bones. To breathe so your back can stretch with air. To breathe enough to cool your mind with the calm soothing breath of life. And to breathe long and slow.

And so I breathed with him until, magically, he relaxed and fell asleep.

I wonder how many just need someone to sit and breathe with them for a while. Perhaps there is some truth here.

Cliff Diving

So yesterday I went “cliff diving” with the people I work with. We went to this place in St. Paul, Indiana where one of their jumping platforms is ten meters above the water. That’s about twenty feet and a little more than a one second fall. That may not sound like much, but when you leap off a ledge of that distance, it feels like you experience every millisecond. I only jumped that one once. It was duly terrifying.

As for some background info on this place, it’s called St. Paul Cliffs. It’s an old quarry (I think it’s actually three) that’s been filled with water and that has platforms to jump from and zipline. There was even a rope you could swing into the water with (from a little more than ten feet up once you were done swinging). In sum, the place was a lot of fun. Fairly cheap and fairly safe. Although I still hold it’s pretty sketch.

Sketchballs might be a better word for that. Haha, it was nice enough, but it’s kind of a “good luck”-style event. No lifeguards, the staff mostly just check for glass bottles in the car and the waiver signs away your right to…well just about everything.

HOWEVER, this all allowed me to do a backflip off the zipline into the water. Probably the most Beast thing I’ve done in a while. I was one of like twenty people I saw go down on that thing who even tried it. Bam Awesomeness.

Then again, I did slam my face into the water from more than ten feet up.

Diary, C.M. Pine

June 13, 2012

The children here are a wonder. The things they say and do remind me of a way of thinking I have lost with time. It makes me wonder how I must sound to those far wiser than I. Still, it has not been all wonderful. Yesterday three of them went missing. We checked within the walls of the school carefully, but found none of them. A boy tipped us off that they had decided to go hiking in the woods surrounding the school and we instantly became frightened. While the children have lived in the woods their whole lives, and are thus competent woodsmen, we received a recent report that goblins have begun to live not at all far from us.

A small party was sent out to search for them, mostly soldiers. I, and many of the other students who would gladly have gone searching for them, were told to stay and take care of the others. It was agonizing, but we could do nothing. Goblins do not have a kind reputation in dealing with foreigners of any kind. I shudder to think what would happen to the children if they got into their hands.

Luckily for all of us, there were a few trackers in the woods looking for signs of the Goblins. They stumbled across the group of children and quickly brought them back to us. Garrel gave them all a sound reprimanding before sending them to the kitchens for some food. I do not think they know what they have done, and yet I know none of them will attempt a similar venture. Perhaps it is better that they do not. It will help them to sleep better not knowing the horrors that might have awaited them.

Diary, C.M. Pine

Yet another adventure has swung my way and despite the fact that I remain here on “safe” ground. Apparently a great river beast attacked the next town over to the school and now we have been flooded with refugees. Our teachers seem worried over the recent events as these sinister turns seem to occur with more frequency. However, all are agreed on one thing if nothing else: the children must be taken care of. Especially those of the injured.

So, the task of playing with the kids and distracting them from the loss of their homes has fallen to me and a few other of the more enthusiastic students. It is hard work, but shiningly fun. The children are lights barely shadowed by life and are a joy to see. Even in the older group, their inner child-like excitement is only a step past them and might still be uncovered with the right game.

Garrel, one of the older professors here, thought it best if we teach them something about the world as well. Perhaps this is the hardest of all, as even we are still searching after the truth of things. But we try anyway with what we do know and I am surprised pleasantly at how much I really do know.

Today the theme was trust. I turned to one of the children and asked, “Do you trust me?” And he said easily, without hesitation or reservation, “Yes, of course I trust you Cedric.” It surprised me. I have known this child but two days, and he would, I believe, trust me with his life. I think there is hope in the world. I am now more sure than ever of my choice to adventure. But the time is far from come yet. And now, there are children to attend to.

Diary, C.M. Pine

June 8, 2012

Yesterday was certainly an adventure, though not nearly as active as our encounter with the spiders on the rock wall. No, this was an adventure of the mind and heart. I took a journey to the Hermit’s cave. I thought maybe it was time after saving Ellen from the spiders. It is certainly time I had some clarity. You see, I carry with me some ache I never knew existed before and I fear that I shall not be able to rid myself of it. How can I travel the world, dangerous as it is, with a chest ache? Who knows what ailment that might be. So with this thinking, I set out to find the Hermit.

The Hermit lives in a small cave on the side of Sheer Mountain. The climb and hike were challenging, but after taking the class on rock-climbing, I was well prepared. The cave was dark and of a strange gray-blue stone that didn’t see anywhere else in the area. I entered, flashlight in hand and proceeded down the cave.

I did not have far to go, as it turned out. After only a few dozen yards, I came to a large cavern within which sat the hermit. Gold carvings and statues surrounded the room. It was like one of King Soloman’s treasure rooms, filled with precious things beyond what I had cared to imagine before. And yet, despite all the finery around him, the Hermit sat by himself on a small island of bare rock.

I approached him and bowed, not sure what else to do. He nodded to me.

“Why are you surrounded by all this rich stuff?” I said.

“Young adventurer, you are allowed only a single question. Which would you like the answer to?”

I shut up and nodded. I asked him what I should do. What the ache was and how to fix it.

“Your friends are far away, and you ask me what you should do, Cedric?”

“Yes.”

“Open your eyes. See your world. Live. And tell them you love them.”

I thanked him. Bowed, and left. It seems simple. And yet, somehow I think the answer to my first question would have been easier.