By Mary Ann Bird
I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started to go to school, my classmates-who were constantly teasing- made it clear to me how I must look to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and hollow and somewhat garbled speech. I couldn't even blow up a balloon without holding my nose, and when I bent to drink from a fountain, the water spilled out of my nose.
When my schoolmates asked, "What happened to your lip?" I'd tell them that I'd fallen as a baby and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. By the age of seven I was convinced that no one outside my own family could ever love me. Or even like me.
And then I entered the second grade, and Mrs. Leonard's class. I never knew what her first name was -- just Mrs. Leonard. She was round and pretty and fragrant, with chubby arms and shining brown hair and warm dark eyes that smiled even on the rare occasions when her mouth didn't. Everyone adored her. But no one came to love her more than I did. And for a special reason.
The time came for the annual "hearing tests" given at our school. I was barely able to hear anything out of one ear, and was not about to reveal yet another problem that would single me out as different. And so I cheated. I had learned to watch other children and raised my hand when they did during group testing. The "whisper test" however, required a different kind of deception: Each child would go to the door of the classroom, turn sideways, close one ear with a finger, and the teacher would whisper something from her desk, which the child would repeat. Then the same thing was done for the other ear. I had discovered in kindergarten that nobody checked to see how tightly the untested ear was being covered, so I merely pretended to block mine.
As usual, I was last, but all through the testing I wondered what Mrs. Leonard might say to me. I knew from previous years that she whispered things like "The sky is blue" or "Do you have new shoes?"
My turn came up. I turned my bad ear to her plugging up the other solidly with my finger, then gently backed my finger out enough to be able to hear. I waited and then the words that God had surely put into her mouth, seven words that changed my life forever.
Mrs. Leonard, the pretty, fragrant teacher I adored, said softly, "I wish you were my little girl."Lesson: Love heals. A small expression of love goes a very long ways.
Two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other bank. She thanked him and departed.
As the monks continued on their way, the one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. "Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!"
"Brother," the second monk replied, "I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her."Lesson: The practice of one's belief is more important than rigid adherence to a belief in one's practice.
Two seeds lay side by side in the fertile soil.
The first seed said, "I want to grow! I want to send my roots deep into the soil beneath me, and thrust my sprouts through the earth's crust above me ... I want to unfurl my tender buds like banners to announce the arrival of spring ... I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the blessing of the morning dew on my petals!"
And so she grew...
The second seed said, "Hmmmm. If I send my roots into the ground below, I don't know what I will encounter in the dark. If I push my way through the hard soil above me I may damage my delicate sprouts ... what if I let my buds open and a snail tries to eat them? And if I were to open my blossoms, a small child may pull me from the ground. No, it is much better for me to wait until it is safe."
And so she waited...
A yard hen scratching around in the early spring ground for food found the waiting seed and promptly ate it.Lesson: Seize the day!
There was once a stonecutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.
One day, he passed a wealthy merchant's house and through the open gateway saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stonecutter. He became very envious, and wished that he could be like the merchant. Then he would no longer have to live the life of a mere stonecutter.
To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. But soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants, and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!"
Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passed. It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!"
Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and labourers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!"
Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the wind!"
Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it -- a huge, towering stone. "How powerful that stone is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a stone!"
Then he became the stone, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock and felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the stone?" he thought. He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stonecutter.(Benjamin Hoff from The Tao Of Pooh)
A Cherokee elder sitting with his grandchildren told them, "In every
life there is a terrible fight - a fight between two wolves.
One is evil: he is fear, anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment,
The other is good: joy, serenity, humility, confidence,
generosity, truth, gentleness, and compassion."
A daughter complained to her father about life and how things were so
hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted
to give up. She was tired of struggling. It seemed that as soon as one
problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with
water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In
one he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and the last he
placed ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a
The daughter sucked her teeth and impatiently waited, wondering what he
was doing. In about twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He fished
the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and
placed them a bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and placed it in a
bowl. Turning to her he asked. "What do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and
noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break
it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled as she tasted its
She said, "What's the point?"
He explained that each of the items had faced the same adversity -
boiling water - but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong and hard. But after being subjected to the
boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid
interior. But after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the
boiling water, they had changed the water.
As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?"
Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give her all his blood.Lesson: True brother love exists.
One night, at 11:30 pm, an older African-American woman was standing on the side of a Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her-generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote down his address, thanked him and drove away. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant combination console color TV and stereo record player were delivered to his home. A special note was attached. The note read:
Dear Mr. James: Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.
Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.
Lesson: Be good for everyone.
"He must be a wise person," I thought as I set off for a 5-hour trek to a remote monastery where their 24-hour man resided. I figured that since he had so much time on his hands, maybe he would grant me an audience. Six hours later, I was ushered into a Spartan cell, where sat the man who had not dreamt in years. I was astounded by the Buddha-like tranquility he seemed to emanate. I felt humbled in the presence of this sublime being.
The friendly English-speaking monk, who had found him for me, whispered, "Make your offering, maybe Lama give your blessing."
I decided I’d make a dash for wisdom and ask a question, instead of a blessing. The monk whispered into Mr. Tylenol Nightmare’s ear, "What question would you like to ask?"
"How do I best progress spiritually?"
More whisperings in a dark, exotic language...My translator friend announced, "Lama say, don’t leave on Saturday." The 24-hour lama nodded in my direction and then carried on beaming.
I was furious! A 5-hour trek, a rucksack full of goodies to take as offerings – and now a 5-hour walk back down a treacherous Himalayan trail. I was in a reflective mood: maybe I’d expected too much. What did I want from him? Instant enlightenment? Some wisdom would’ve been nice, but "Don’t leave on Saturday"?! Maybe this was some kind of Zen Buddhist paradox within this mundane phase that contained some great gem of wisdom, but dammit! He was a Tibetan Buddhist!!
On Sunday morning, waiting at the coach station for the bus that would take an arduous, 10-hour journey down the vast mountain, my traveling companion stormed up to me and furiously exclaimed, "Bloody great! A 3-hour delay! I just chatted with that policeman over there...he reckons Saturday’s coach had crashed with 14 people dead...The road’s blocked with rescue vehicles...Good thing we didn’t leave yesterday, like we wanted."
I was in a state of shock. My mind raced back to the beaming Buddha. I was filled with wonderment and joy. He had given me the perfect answer to my question. Had I left Saturday, there would have been no more spiritual progression. The mundane answer to my oh-so-important question was stunning in its magnificence.
Lesson: What is necessary for spiritual progress is perhaps not what you think
I wanted to share this angel story with you.
I had put a package of the angel sprinkles (the small gold colored foil angels) in my purse after one of the Psychic Fairs. The package was opened and the angels fell out into my purse. When I discovered what had happened, I put the loose angels into my coin purse. (a little change purse - inside my purse.)
On the way home, I was at the store paying for something and change was required. I dug in, got the change, gave it to the sales person. I did not realize that there were also angels stuck in with the money!
Well she said: "Oh angels for me! Thank you! Come back and see me anytime!"
This happened to me several times that day, with almost the same reaction at different places, with different people. So now I keep the angels in there and always dispense them with the change.
This little practice has led to some interesting conversations - for instance, when I did go back to the same store that the lady received the first angels. She told me how much she treasured them and kept them by her bed. She said she gave one to her daughter too.
She then told me about her personal healing experience. She said: "I don't usually tell people this but, I was paralyzed as a child. I could not walk or talk. My grandparents were very devout and my grandfather told me that if I really believed in God and Holy Mother Mary that I would be healed. He said that God was inside me and if my faith was strong enough I would be well.
Well, I believed him, he was my grandfather.
I started praying, I really believed. Within a year I was totally healed!
I am so grateful to God for this healing!"
I then gave her some more angel sprinkles, and again she acted like I had given her a million dollars! She also told me that the first time she saw me that she thought that I was an angel! (blush.....) She said that she could feel the energy and it made her turn around and look at me. I told her that if she felt anything through me - that it was God; I was only the instrument.
What a lovely experience!
I plan on always keeping the little gold angels in my change purse and dispensing them everywhere. When I do, I don't say anything, I just give them with the change.
Lesson: always keep room for a little magic in your relationships
19. According to an old Hindu legend...
..there was once a time when all human beings were gods, but they so abused their divinity that Brahma, the chief god, decided to take it away from them and hide it where it could never be found.
Where to hide their divinity was the question. So Brahma called a council of the gods to help him decide. "Let's bury it deep in the earth," said the gods. But Brahma answered, "No, that will not do because humans will dig into the earth and find it." Then the gods said, "Let's sink it in the deepest ocean." But Brahma said, "No, not there, for they will learn to dive into the ocean and will find it." Then the gods said, "Let's take it to the top of the highest mountain and hide it there." But once again Brahma replied, "No, that will not do either, because they will eventually climb every mountain and once again take up their divinity." Then the gods gave up and said, "We do not know where to hide it, because it seems that there is no place on earth or in the sea that human beings will not eventually reach."
Brahma thought for a long time and then said, "Here is what we will do. We will hide their divinity deep in the center of their own being, for humans will never think to look for it there."
All the gods agreed that this was the perfect hiding place, and the deed was done. And since that time humans have been going up and down the earth, digging, diving, climbing, and exploring--searching for something already within themselves.
lesson: don't be distracted by worldly kicks - find truth and happiness in your self