Topic: Freedom or prison resource: Freedom Parrot

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DISMAS REFECTIONS: TOPICS, RESOURCES & QUESTIONS




TOPIC: Freedom or prison
RESOURCE: Freedom Parrot Spiritual Story by Osho

A man, a great man, a fighter for freedom was traveling in the mountains. He stayed in a caravanserai for the night. He was amazed that in the caravanserai there was a beautiful parrot in a golden cage, continually repeating "Freedom! Freedom!" And it was such a place that when the parrot repeated the word "Freedom!" it would go on echoing in the valleys, in the mountains.


The man thought: "I have seen many parrots, and I have thought they must want to be free from those cages... but I have never seen such a parrot whose whole day, from the morning to the evening when he goes to sleep, is spent in calling out for freedom." He had an idea. In the middle of the night, when the owner was fast asleep, he got up and opened the door of the cage. He whispered to the parrot, "Now get out."
But he was very surprised that the parrot was clinging to the bars of the cage. He said to him again and again, "Have you forgotten about freedom? Just get out! The door is open and the owner is fast asleep; nobody will ever know. You just fly into the sky; the whole sky is yours."
But the parrot was clinging so deeply, so hard, that the man said, "What is the matter? Are you mad?" He tried to take the parrot out with his own hands, but the parrot started pecking at him, and at the same time he was shouting "Freedom! Freedom!" The valleys in the night echoed and re-echoed, but the man was also stubborn; he was a freedom fighter.
He pulled the parrot out and threw him into the sky; and he was very satisfied, although his hand was hurt. The parrot had attacked him as forcefully as he could, but the man was immensely satisfied that he had made a soul free. He went to sleep.

In the morning, as the man was waking up, he heart the parrot shouting, "Freedom! Freedom!" He thought perhaps the parrot must be sitting on a tree or on a rock. But when he came out, the parrot was sitting in the cage. The door was open.

Comment:

Some of you have experienced the prison of bars and concrete and guards, but there are other kinds of prison: such as the prison of the mind, the soul or the body. And sometimes prison may feel like freedom and freedom may feel like prison.




QUESTION:
What does this story or reflection tell you about your experience of freedom and prison. Or What kind of freedom do you long for?

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TOPIC: The Battle Within



RESOURCE: Story of the Two Wolves

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”



The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Our thoughts can be our own worst enemy. That is, if we let them. Think about how you may be “feeding” your negative thoughts by allowing them to rule your mind. Next time you have a negative thought, catch it and ask yourself, “What is this thought doing for me?” You will find that the answer is that all they are doing is disempowering you. You can immediately feel more empowered by focusing on something good in your life and cultivate the practice of gratitude.

We can create greater peace, confidence and a more positive outlook by learning how to manage our thoughts. After all, this battle can be won because we have the power of choice!

QUESTION: Can you share a time when you were able to change a negative situation or emotion by a choice to be positive, hopeful, or grateful. OR

A time when negative choices or thoughts turned a positive situation into a negative one?

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TOPIC: Brokenness, Acceptance, Humility, Contentment.
RESOURCE: Story of The broken violin:



Childhood polio left Isaac Perlman able to walk only with braces on both legs and crutches. When Perlman plays at a concert, the journey from the wings to the center of the stage is long and slow. Yet, when he plays, his talent transcends any thought of physical challenge.

Perlman was scheduled to play a difficult, challenging violin concerto. In the middle of the performance one of the strings on his violin snapped with a rifle-like popping noise that filled the entire auditorium. The orchestra immediately stopped playing and the audience held its collective breath. The assumption was he would have to put on his braces, pick up his crutches, and leave the stage. Either that or someone would have to come out with another string or replace the violin. After a brief pause, Perlman set his violin under his chin and signaled to the conductor to begin.

One person in the audience reported what happened: “I know it is impossible to play a violin concerto with only three strings. I know that and so do you, but that night, Isaac Perlman refused to know it. You could see him modulating, changing, and recomposing in his head. At one point it sounded as if he were re-tuning the strings to get a new sound that had never been heard before. When he finished, there was an awesome silence that filled the room. Then people rose and cheered. Perlman smiled, wiped his brow, and raised the bow of his violin to quiet them. He spoke, not boastfully, but quietly in a pensive tone, You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”

Footnote:

It is an astonishing story, with a very real message, and one we could believe of Perlman. Although it was published in the Houston Chronicle in 2001 (in a more embellished form), it’s first appearance in print appears to have been in Rabbi Wayne Dosick’s 1999 book, When Life Hurts: A Personal Journey from Adversity to Renewal (the excerpt, above). There seems, however, to be no proof that Perlman’s brilliant improvisation actually happened. The website Snopes, which researches urban legends, makes the argument, with footnotes, that it probably didn’t. We haven’t gotten to the bottom of it yet, but…

…We’re wondering if it matters if it didn’t actually happen this way?  Do we discard its meaning – which we know to be TRUE, and have evidence of in endless other ways – because the actual events are in question?


QUESTION
In our personal lives we experience brokenness and face unexpected Challenges.


Can you share an experience, where you did not let your personal barriers or challenges prevent you from accomplishing something meaningful?

TOPIC: Blessed or Cursed?


RESOURCE: THE WOODCUTTER’S WISDOM by Max Lucado

Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?”

The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.”

The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”

The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”

The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?

“Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.

“You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”

The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Yours son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”

The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”

The old man was right. We only have a fragment. Life’s mishaps and horrors are only a page out of a grand book. We must be slow about drawing conclusions. We must reserve judgment on life’s storms until we know the whole story.

I don’t know where the woodcutter learned his patience. Perhaps from another woodcutter in Galilee. For it was the Carpenter who said it best:

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”




QUESTION:
Can you share a time when, what you thought was a curse or negative situation turned out to be a blessing or a gift? Or:

Can you share an experience where you came to acceptance of a situation or experience that appeared to be a bad or negative experience?

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TOPIC: Inspired by art and Creativity:




RESOURCE:
In Hamilton we showed a video of the song: ‘ Vincent’ by Don

Maclean. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxHnRfhDmrk.




QUESTION:
Could you share a song, performance experience, work of art that has deeply moved you, and that you find very meaningful?

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TOPIC:
Living our values


RESOURCE:
Dismas values. The person doing the reflection can share how the values offer a meaningful and intentional way for us to be in relationship with each other and to work toward building a meaningful community. The vaues can also inspire us in our relationships outside of Dismas, as it encourages respect, dignity, welcoming, inclusion, faithfulness and love.


QUESTION:
Can you share a value that you’d like to highlight as a value that you find particularly meaningful at this time? And how it is helpful for you at Dismas and beyond Dismas?,

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TOPIC: Peace

RESOURCE: The Picture of Peace

There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror reflecting peaceful, towering mountains. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged, jagged and bare. Above was a dark and gloomy sky from which rain furiously pelted down. Running down the side of the mountain was a wild, raging river. This did not look peaceful at all.

But when the King looked more closely he noticed a tiny bush growing in a crack in the jagged rocks along the river. In this shrub, a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest asleep …in perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize?

The King chose the second picture. Do you know why?



"Because," explained the King, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or conflict. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."

John 16:33
(NLT) "I have told you all this so that you may have 'peace' in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

I think Jesus demonstrated what it means to be at peace in the midst of turbulence in the story of His calming the sea. The Scriptures tell us that the disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when they were caught in a terrible storm. They thought the boat would surely capsize. Yet Jesus was in the back of the boat, fast asleep. The disciples woke Him up and said, “Jesus, don’t you care that we’re going to die?” So, Jesus calmly rose up and told the waves to die down. And they did.

There is a lot we can learn from that story but one principle I take from it is this. There will always be storms and we won’t see them calmed until we first know how to be calm within. Peace begins with us. Inner peace can lead to outer peace.


QUESTION: “What do you do, (or what could you be doing) to experience peace in your life (despite all the circumstances around us.) OR What helps you find peace? Can you recall a time in your life when it seemed like chaos and yet you still experienced inner peace?

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TOPIC:
Loneliness

RESOURCE: Eleanor Rigby (a song by the Beatles) Play the song and share the lyrics.

The song Eleanor Rigby is the tragic interweaving of two lonely lives. Father McKenzie works hard pastoring his small church, but has little to show for it. Eleanor Rigby, one of his parishioners lives a lonely existence and only imagines what life would be like with a companionship. The two lives only intersect at the death of Eleanor, where the priest wipes the dirt from his hands and Eleanor has been buried “along with her name.” It’s really a sad song, and a sad commentary on the prevalence of loneliness.



QUESTION: Can you share a time when you felt really lonely ; what helped you get through it? OR Share a time when you were alone, yet did not feel lonely (and perhaps say why you don’t think you were lonely.

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TOPIC: Learning from Our Mistakes, Taking Responsibility, Learning from Life , Breakthrough

RESOURCE: Poem by Portia Nelson (Portia Nelson was an actress. She played a nun in the Sound of Music. But she later became a great activist in relapse prevention. She wrote this poem which had been used in many “steps” programs.)

A POETIC INTERLUDE: AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERS by Portia Nelson

I

I walk, down the street.


There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in

I am lost.... I am helpless

It isn't my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.


There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don't see it.

I fall in again

I can't believe I am in the same place but, it isn't my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

III


I walk down the same street

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it there.'

I still fall in.... it's a habit, my eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.



There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.


QUESTION: Can you relate to this poem, and how? Where do you think you are (which chapter) in this poem?

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TOPIC: Inspiration, Our Need for Others, Perseverance

RESOURCE: The Story of Olympic Athlete Derek Redmond (You can actually find a great video of this story on YouTube)

Every Olympics has its moment. A moment of triumph or tragedy that will stand out and mark that Olympics forever. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the defining moment in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona was the tragic race of British runner Derek Redmond. Redmond was almost sure to win the 400m semifinal race. Redmond was in the best condition of his life despite multiple surgeries on his Achilles tendon in the prior four years. As Derek came around the first bend in the track, his hamstring tore. He later told reporters that the pain was so great that at first he thought he had been shot. London’s The Guardian newspaper quoted him, “Everything I had worked for was finished. I hated everybody. I hated the world. I hated hamstrings. I hated it all. I felt so bitter that I was injured again. I told myself I had to finish. I kept hopping round. Then, with 100 metres to go, I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was my old man.” For half a lap Derek hopped on one foot, hobbling toward the finish line, until his father helped him finish to a standing ovation. It was a great moment in Olympics history.

3 GREAT LESSONS IN THIS STORY
1. There are no guarantees against obstacles and hardships in life.
2. It’s not always about winning the gold.
There are a lot of analogies to the Olympics in the Bible. In II Timothy 4:7 we learn from Paul that coming in first is not as important as finishing with integrity. He says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
3. We need others to help us finish the race.

Derek’s Father: “He was there to finish and I was there to help him finish. I intended to go over the line with him. We started his career together. I think we should finish it together.”

Jim Redmond was chosen to be a torch-bearer for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
QUESTION: Can you name someone who has been there to help you in the race of life? Who has been a good coach to you, or perhaps someone to lean on?

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TOPIC: Boundaries & Caring.
RESOURCE: Boundaries, by Cloud & Townsend
One thing I have found interesting about this book is that it shows us that everyone needs boundaries. One exerpt from the book says , “Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins.”

Did you know that we even need boundaries when it comes to helping other people? The book makes it clear that you can actually hurt people by helping them too much or in the wrong ways.


For instance, how many of you are familiar with the Story of the Good Samaritan?


{RE TELL THE STORY}

Now with the help of some fine actors, we are going to enjoy some live theatre this evening, as part of this story is re-told in a different light:



NARRATOR:
Let’s depart from the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. Let’s imagine the Good Samaritan as being someone without boundaries. He doesn’t know how to balance his own needs with the needs of others. Let’s go to the scene where the injured man wakes up as the Samaritan prepares to go on his way.



VICTIM: “What, you’re leaving?”


SAMARITAN: “Yes, I am, I have some business in Jericho I have to attend to.


VICTIM: “Don’t you think you’re being selfish? I’m in pretty bad shape here. I’m going to need someone to talk to. How is Jesus going to use you as an example? You’re not even acting like a Christian, abandoning me like this in my time of need! Whatever happened to ‘Deny yourself?’”


SAMARITAN:
I guess you’re right, that would be uncaring of me to leave you here alone. I should do more. I will postpone my trip for a few days.”


NARRATOR: So the Good Samaritan stays with the man for three days, talking to him and making sure that he is happy and content. On the afternoon of the 3rd day there’s a knock at the door and a messenger comes in. He hands the Samaritan a message from his business contracts in Jericho: “Waited as long as we could. Have decided to sell camels to another party. Our next herd will be here in six months.”


SAMARITAN: How could you do this to me? Look what you’ve done now! You’ve caused me to lose those camels that I needed for my business. Now I can’t deliver my goods. This may put me out of business! How could you do this to me!!!”

NARRATOR: At some level this story may be familiar to all of us. We may be moved with compassion to give to someone in need, but then this person manipulates us into giving more than we want to give. We end up resentful and angry, having missed something we needed in our own life. Or, we may want more from someone else, and we pressure them until they give in. So, even when it comes to doing good deeds, boundaries are helpful.



QUESTION: What helps you to be balanced when it comes to helping others? In other words, what helps you to know how much help and what kind of help to give someone else?

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TOPIC: Our need for others, support.

RESOURCE: Joined at the Roots Ecclesiastes 4: 9,10,12

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down,one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken

What is the strongest tree in North America?

Sequoia sempervirens  is the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family. Common names include Coastal RedwoodCalifornia Redwood, and Giant Redwood. It is an evergreen that can live up to 1800 years or more. This species includes the tallest trees on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet (115.5 m) in height (without the roots) and up to 26 feet (7.9 m) in diameter at breast height

Surprisingly, Coastal Redwoods have very shallow roots. Yet it is rare for a Redwood to topple even from disease. WHY? The Redwood wraps its root system around the roots of other Redwoods. Redwoods become a network and their roots support one another and keep them from falling. Together they are strong!

QUESTION: What do you wrap your roots around? In other words, what have you found as a source of strength that can keep you from falling?

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TOPIC: Aspiration, Goals, Dreams

RESOURCE: Ne Plus Ultra study by Paul Tuck
NE PLUS ULTRA or PLUS ULTRA?

I want to talk to you for a few minutes about a Latin phrase: “Ne Plus Ultra.”

It is a phrase that is still used today to denote “excellence; to be at the ultimate in achievement.” Some companies even use it as a slogan as if to say of their product, “There is no way to improve on this, it’s perfect.”

You see, “Ne Plus Ultra” means literally “No More Beyond.”

I personally don’t think it’s a good motto to live by.

You see, this motto goes back to the glory days of Spain. During their hay-day as world conquerors the Spanish believed that Spain was the last solid land in the west and that the entire world had thus been already conquered. There was a sign at Gibraltar that said “Ne Plus Ultra” which was a warning to sailors not to bother going much further. There was nothing more. To sail further west would mean falling off the edge of the Earth. “Ne Plus Ultra,” meant there was nothing more to see and nothing more to do.

Spanish coins from this era depict the Pillars of Hercules and the motto, “Ne Plus Ultra.” Likewise, the Royal Arms of Spain used the same motto.

BUT THEN “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” His expeditions proved that there was a lot more to the earth than previously thought. This motto became an embarrassment to Spain who thought they had done it all.

When Charles V inherited the throne, he had the NE taken out of the motto. The new motto for Spain became “PLUS ULTRA” = “More Beyond.”

As I mentioned, I don’t think “Ne Plus Ultra” is a good motto to live by. WHY? Because it stops us from growing and going beyond ourselves.




QUESTION: Is there something NEW or something MORE that you would like to do with your life?

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TOPIC: Potential
RESOURCE: Etymology of the word “Potential”

Philippians 4:13 “I CAN do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Potential. What is it? According to the dictionary: it is “Unrealized or undeveloped power.” Its root word is “potent” suggesting great capability. However, potential is not WORKING power, it is only POSSIBLE power. I.e. In physics. A rock on the top of a hill is POTENTIAL energy. When it rolls down the hill it is KINETIC energy. But a rock can sit on a hill for millennia and not demonstrate an ounce of energy or power. And a Christian can sit a lifetime in a pew and never accomplish anything for Christ!

When you think about it, just about everything we see around us has potential. I.e. $20 … What potential does a $20 bill have? / A match… what is a single match stick capable of?


QUESTION: What are some things you would like to do to better reach your potential?
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TOPIC: Consequences, Little Things Make A Difference

RESOURCE: Concept of “The Butterfly Effect”

The Butterfly Effect” is a term used in Chaos Theory that basically states that small actions result in larger reactions.

The phrase was coined by Edward Lorenz whose theory stated that a small thing like the flapping of a butterfly’s wings could actually affect weather patterns. Lorenz was not saying that a butterfly flapping or not flapping its wings CAUSES big weather changes but minutely (with other factors) does influence them.

Another scientist Philip Merilees gained attention with a lecture entitled “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”

The Butterfly Effect simplified is saying that even seemingly small actions add to huge consequences. Every single action has an effect on the whole.

QUESTION: Can you recall a time when just a little gesture made a huge difference?
Do you have any personal insights that demonstrate that little things can make a big difference?-

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TOPIC: Blessings from Adversity

RESOURCE: The Story of the Boll Weevil Monument

THE BUG THAT BECAME A BLESSING!

(The Following Information can be found at WIKIPEDIA)

The Boll Weevil Monument in downtown Enterprise, Alabama, United States is a prominent landmark and tribute erected by the citizens of Enterprise in 1919 to show their appreciation to an insect, the boll weevil, for its profound influence on the area's agriculture and economy. Hailing the beetle as a "herald of prosperity", it stands as the world's only monument built to honor an agricultural pest.

The boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) was indigenous to Mexico, but appeared in Alabama in 1915. By 1918 farmers were losing whole cotton crops to the beetle. H. M. Sessions saw this as an opportunity to convert the area to peanut farming. In 1916 he convinced C. W. Baston, an indebted farmer, to back his venture. The first crop paid off their debts and was bought by farmers seeking to change to peanut farming. Cotton was grown again, but farmers learned to diversify their crops, a practice which brought new money to Coffee County.

Bon Fleming, a local businessman, came up with the idea to build the monument, and helped to finance the total cost. As a tribute to how something disastrous can be a catalyst for change, and a reminder of how the people of Enterprise adjusted in the face of adversity, the monument was dedicated on December 11, 1919 at the intersection of College and Main Street, the heart of the town's business district.
At the base of the monument appears the following inscription:
"In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil
and what it has done as the herald of prosperity
this monument was erected by the citizens of
Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama."


QUESTION: Can you think of something “bad” in your life that actually had some good results?

TOPIC: Struggles, Benefits of

RESOURCE: Story of the Emperor Moth…STRUGGLES CAN MAKE US STRONGER!

A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth. He took it home so that he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. On the day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth struggled to force the body through that little hole.


The moth seemed to be stuck and appeared to have stopped making progress. It seemed as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. The man, in his kindness, decided to help the moth; so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily. But its body was swollen and small, its wings wrinkled and shriveled.
The man continued to watch the moth because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to and able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a small, swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

The man in his kindness and haste did not understand that the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening was necessary to force fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight upon achieving its freedom from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of health.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. Give every opportunity a chance, leave no room for regrets, and don't forget the power in the struggle.

QUESTION: Can you think of some struggles or obstacles that ended up being beneficial to you?
What are some things you have learned through your struggles OR How do you know when to help someone, and when to stop helping someone who is struggling?
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TOPIC: Usefulness, brokenness, uniqueness

RESOURCE: Story of the Cracked Pot.
A water bearer had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.
“I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”
“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side?
That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them.
For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

QUESTION: Is there something about yourself that you have perceived as a flaw, yet it has become a benefit in some way? OR Can you think of a good result that came out of what you thought was a flawed situation?


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