Holiday Gift For My Readers- How May I Serve You?

This is a story of life and love and as parents educators, and citizens of this world, I don’t think there is anything more attractive, benefical and significant than assisting our children and students with the power of compassion – truly understanding the walk of another! Your responses to this web site are incredibly powerful for me and I have hope that some day we will look for one another’s commonalities rather than focusing on our differences. This is a teaching standard I desire to see embeded and mentored within classrooms and homes around the world!   


To Minnietta, my forever friend, who has taught me about compassion and connection -seeing all that is possible!

Do you know much about us, the red-eyed tree frogs? There are still a few of us walking about, some of the arrogant ones, showing off and hopping!   I am the oldest of the tree frogs and probably all frogs for that matter. I live in a Divine Kingdom, so let me start at the beginning…

 Once there was a divine kingdom that forgot how truly divine it was.  The kingdom was suffering, and I was there to see the pain and the dark shadows clutch the people’s hearts and minds as they moved robotically, like pre-programmed machines through the happenings of their days.

At first, these ominous shadows floated above the kingdom uncommitted, for they reflected the thoughts, feelings and actions of the grown-ups in the world.  But the great silver cord was knotting at a fast pace. It was tangling with anger, revenge, and mostly fears!  After a time, the shadows weaved their way into the homes and lives of almost everyone, except the children. The wisdom of living compassionately, remembering the walk of another had been forgotten and the silver cord connecting one to another was no longer connecting but strangling another.

Now the children sometimes noticed these looming shadows in dreams at night, or when the tension and fighting between the grown-ups tore their hearts and shattered their dreams. The shadows were never playful, only scary, dark, and serious. They began to tie, knot and tangle the silver cord, that at one time had connected all people with out the intrusion of limitations and bonds.  You may not know about this magnificent cord, but it has been around as long as there has been life in the universe. The silver cord is felt by all, but is not seen with the eyes. How the silver cord is experienced depends on the thoughts, actions and feelings of those it embraces.

                                                The King and His People

The cord was choking him! How could this happen to such a powerful and mighty king? As hard as he tried, the pull and strain of the cord couldn’t be loosened, and the more he struggled, the more knotted it became. 

The king wasn’t the only one struggling with the knots and pain. The people throughout the kingdom didn’t discuss their anguish, but the scowls on their faces and the sadness in their eyes told the story. Like lost children, they began to aimlessly wander around the land searching for some “thing” that would ease their discomfort. All they could think about was the feeling of constriction, the intrusion and an outside force that would relieve their discomfort. They forgot about one another and let me tell you; this is never a good thing!

I am not only a red- eye tree frog, but I am also the Prince’s closest companion, and what I think… here come a little closer.  I said CLOSER! I don’t mean to shout but shouting and yelling have become a way of life around here lately.  Ok, that’s better as I don’t want everyone to hear this just yet…

            What I think is… it was their hearts- the peoples’ hearts were suffering the most. When I looked at the way they walked, kind of bent over, heads down, eyes that held a milky film of blank detachment  with arms folded tightly around their middles, they seemed angry and scared, the way a child frowns and pouts when they are scolded, but it looks much worse on the face of an adult. Ugghh! Just awful!

I am 5000 years old, and I have seen this occur with human grown-ups many times before, but each time, there are thankfully, the children who help the older ones untangle, loosen, and breathe a little easier. Now, the Prince was one of these children, and although he was 12, he somehow knew what had to happen.

The Journey

One day the young Prince, who was coming upon his 13th year, shot out of bed and ran to the tower window. Peering out, he stood motionless for three minutes. I know this to be true because I sleep in a hollow tree stump next to the Prince every night observing his every move.  

 The Prince had a vision, a HUGE thought, and although he didn’t speak it, I felt it. Boy, did I feel it, as I watched his chest move up and down with every breath and his heart beat so loudly that I bounced right off the window’s ledge. The Prince grabbed his red velvet jacket and me -and bolted for the forest.

It was the 97th day of the year. (I love numbers by the way. Did I tell you about the time that…) Oh never mind, OK, now where was I? The kingdom was about to change, really change, but not without his majesty, the Quetzal. This royal and sacred bird was waiting for our visit as his long tail feathers strutted their wisdom.

The Prince and the Quetzal had become good friends many years ago, and between you and me, they were always planning and testing the conditions of the Universe, almost as soon as the prince could talk.  And of course, I was a part of these discussions and experiments as I have always stayed close to his young majesty.

Being a frog has many advantages, but calling upon a Quetzal is not one of them. In earlier days, about seven years, three months, and two weeks ago, I was peacefully walking  from branch to branch ( we don’t hop much) when the Quetzal abruptly visited me, and not by invitation or choice I tell you, as one of his favorite foods is “frog.” He has been known to devour the tender juicy meat of my kind, and through the years, we have agreed to cooperate with one another so as to avoid sitting and dining together.  Anyway, you can imagine that on this morning, I was a bit nervous about our trip to the forest.

Running through the trees and tripping on their thick underground roots, the Prince cupped his hands around his mouth and began calling out to his majesty, “Kyow- Kyow”. My red eyes widened as I leaped across the forest floor constantly casting an upward glance. Moving closer to the ancient tree, we began to hear high pitched screaming as the howler monkeys announced our presence. The other animals called out as we approached the castle of the Quetzal, an enormous evergreen hidden in the thick of the rain forest.  The bird descended upon the lowest branch, and there, both boy and bird bowed their heads to one another.

“The time has come!” the quetzal cried out, “and the gifts are waiting.” “I believe we are ready,” the Prince hoarsely whispered.

 So it began…

            A rumbling tore through the forest and in the distance black clouds began rolling across the thick swollen skies. Perched on top of a small jagged rock, I began to tremble and then I counted. I counted croaking all of my favorite numbers, as this was a soothing remedy for my worn out nerves.  Stepping away from the old tree, the Prince grabbed and suddenly stuffed me into his pocket. Crouching in the folds of fabric, I felt the cold chills of change streaming down the stripes of my back. The Quetzal cried out to the Universe, and the shadows responded, swirling in circles around the tops of the tallest trees.

Within seconds, the ground exploded throwing grass, soil, and palms as a deep hole formed at the bottom of the Quetzal’s old tree. Mud and nature’s debris were strewn like dust in a sandstorm as we covered our eyes and fell to the ground. The shadows circled the hole as tall hot flames began shooting out of its center. The fire burned vigorously as the flames reached towards the dark shadows that orbited the opening. The birds squawked and screeched as leopards, tapirs, spider monkeys and others howled, hissed, and fled for their homes and safety. The crackling and sizzling of the burning bark and tall grasses replaced the silence that had enveloped the forest earlier that day. The Prince stumbled and coughed as he crawled and then scooted along the ground.  I could feel the heat from the flames igniting my dry skin as I longed and silently begged for water. The wailing shadows swept through the trees and around the hole as the fire continued burning and the heat saturated the forest.

          The birds circled the charred opening, and wiping the smoke from his eyes; the Prince lifted his head so he could follow the flight of the birds. Swooping and diving low, the Quetzal plunged upon the Prince’s shoulder. “Return to the kingdom where the people walk in confusion. They will need your wisdom, as they discover the gifts,” he squawked.  Silently the Quetzal turned his head, and I, unexpectedly found him staring directly into my red eyes as I ducked back into my haven of protection.

“My dear old frog, why don’t you stay here in the forest with us for awhile so we can get to know one another again!” Gulping and croaking at the same time, I began to silently count: 424, 442, 24, 42, 497, mumbling those numbers of mine again and again!   The Prince wrapped his hand around my trembling body and slid me further down into his deep pocket. “Thank you your majesty, but I believe I will need him with me in the coming days.” “So it is,” the Quetzal replied, ascending into the smoke “kyowing” for his court of followers.

Back to the Castle

We ran. Well, I actually bounced down the dirt path that led back to the kingdom while the birds lifted off, soaring into their grandest flight. They flew with specific instructions and heavy hearts because they understood the price of the gifts…

The Prince walked up to the castle and entered his Father’s chambers. He found the old King pacing the room, sick with worry over his son’s disappearance. “I cannot be angry with you,” the King said. “I am only filled with gratitude for your safe return.” The King held the Prince in his arms as tears trickled down his ruddy cheeks.

 The King swallowed, feeling the growing lump of emotion and for a moment something felt different, not the choking sensation that had interfered with his past days. Shaking his head in wonder, he looked into his son’s eyes. “I am sorry Father, but there were things that needed my attention and please do not ask me, for I am well, and now home.” “So it is,” the King replied patting his son’s shoulders.   

I, myself, felt a tear spring forth and then, pure exhaustion struck my body like the fiercest of blows! It had been 16 hours, 22 minutes and 7 seconds since a cricket, moth, grasshopper, or a drop of water had lingered on my long sticky tongue. The Prince reading my thoughts, excused himself from his Father’s presence, and carried me up to the tower so I could eat and rest.

 Lying in the hollow stump of the tree, I observed the Prince as he stared into the faces of the people on the streets below.  He listened sadly, yet, there was an understanding beyond the expressed words and angry gestures as the people continued tightening the knot and unknowingly, calling upon the dark shadows to settle upon their hearts. I finally closed my eyes and drifted off into a frog’s world where worries are about catching a meal and staying to oneself.

The First Gift   

That very night, the Quetzal and his court flew through the dark kingdom dropping rings of fire from the smoldering forest hole into the hearts of the people. The flames fell into their sleep as they tossed and turned searching for a dream. They weren’t aware of the flames, but their hearts caught fire and burned with the memories. This magnificent gift began creating a kingdom that was truly divine; not with silver and gold coins, fancy clothes, and extravagant castles, but with a birth of a child’s compassion   that sees beyond what is. The first gift was opened and shared…

When the sun rose on the 98th day, the people’s faces were reddened from the heat of the flames, but they climbed from their beds and stumbled through the day. Words were rarely spoken and only the slightest brush of movements could be detected. The Prince and I walked along the kingdom’s streets, noticing the changed expressions on the faces of the people. They were not bending over with anger and pain or holding themselves so tightly, but walked slowly as they began noticing one another as if for the first time. Then something extraordinary happened, and it happened on the inside…

Each time a person glanced into the eyes of another, he became the other! What I am telling you is that a person could actually feel what it was like to be inside another’s heart and mind.  Now this was frightening for some, but for others, it was comforting. The children had always been aware of this notion, but the older ones had forgotten what it felt like to be the other. The older ones suddenly began watching the children for direction on how to live with this unexpected vision and novel feelings.

            What was happening? It was as if the pent up anger and hollowed out  fears had vanished inside the flames. When the King walked past the old farmer, he was the farmer! He felt the hardships, the years of hunger and loss the old man had experienced. The King held up his hands and looked at them. Suddenly there were no jeweled rings, manicured nails or soft lotioned skin, only deep tanned lines and wrinkles that had been earned through years of tending the earth. Again, he drew a breath, and there was a change, not the choking feeling that had accompanied his breaths only days before.

This notion of “being the other” was experienced  by every adolescent and adult.

The young women who had carried their heads high, pranced in their long flowing skirts, and admired their oiled hair and delicate features, no longer felt their seemingly astonishing beauty. Suddenly these women and young girls felt the heavy hopelessness and sadness that lived in others’ hearts. 

The people were lost for words, and only their eyes spoke of the mystery that began to unfold on this 98th day of the year, as they were touched by the inner lives and experiences  of all those whom they encountered.

Strange happenings

The Prince had many peculiar habits, such as sitting on his bed inside a pyramid made of glass and marble. There he would study and ponder the laws of nature, and “Love,” always topped his list. Not the flowery conditional love that adults spoke of, but the love that changes people, a selfless freedom of love that children embrace.

One of the Prince’s most peculiar habits was sneaking food from the royal kitchen, and preparing a feast for the animals of the forest. Somehow they knew when he was approaching the old trees as each monkey, bird, leopard, and snake waited patiently beneath their canopies. Not a sound could be heard as the Prince spread the meal before the crowd of animals and the ritual of eating and sharing would begin. Following their gathering, the Prince would sit by the river for hours staring at the churning water and rising rapids. He would rarely speak on these trips, so I would venture out on my own, delighting in all that tree frogs love, nibbling on a few bugs and eventually falling into a restful sleep that deepened in the daylight hours, as this is when I am truly supposed to sleep. But the truth is, living so many years with a Prince has turned my biological clock upside down.

So on this morning, after walking through the kingdom’s streets, the Prince and I headed for the familiar river. In the distance, we heard harsh voices and cruel words echoing from the water’s edge.  A sudden splash followed by screams and shouts interrupted our thoughts as we ran to see what the ruckus was. Flailing in the water was the Black Knight! He was the most feared and hated man to ever walk the streets of the Kingdom. Hurling his arms and spitting water, he tried to keep his head above the gushing rapids, but the green murky liquid was swallowing him slowly. His cries for help startled the men gathered on the bank staring at this ironic scene. For in years past, these men would have delighted in the demise and death of this evil knight who had often struck down the kingdom with his power and deceit, but something happened in this moment. Two of the men, throwing off their shoes and jackets, dove into the cold water, as the others watched. Within seconds, they too, tore into the water and assisted the drowning knight who was slowly sliding under the dark liquid foam.

The Prince stood motionless, as he was never to be seen without his guards roaming the forest. White with fear, he stared as the men fought for their lives. The water smacked their weakening bodies pouring over their heads several times. After what seemed like hours, the four men drug the lifeless knight onto the grassy bank and collapsed. They lay coughing, choking and gasping for air.

In all my years of living, I never thought I would see the day when such a cold-hearted knight would be spared his life in such a heroic way. (But to tell you my truth, I never thought of him that way.) I only saw fear in his eyes; I am talking about the fear that turns a person mean and vicious.

The men sprawled on their backs, wet and shivering from the cold, but after a few minutes, a joyous laughter rang through the trees. The kind of laughter that is heard from children when one escapes the punishment of a playful long planned prank.

 The Final Gift  

On the 99th night, I laid awake and stared at the black sky. It was alive, breathing with a spattering of stars and a moon that shone s liver of white light. Watching the formation of birds swarm over the castle, kyowing and calling for the final gift, I hopped down to the royal pond, fidgeting on the stump of a forgotten tree, anticipating the events yet to come, while basking in the unrelenting kindness of these birds and the joy they would spread…

The sky churned with alternating ribbons of pink and purple clouds as if daring the sun to poke out and disturb its designs. I eagerly hopped up to the tower and found the Prince staring out into the kingdom while writing in his book. His eyes were wide with questions but sadness leaked from the corners as the answers settled into his thoughts. The Quetzal abruptly landed onto the window’s ledge. His magnificent tail was elegantly wrapped around his stout red underside and his eyes shone brilliant like the shimmering stars seen just hours before. “Your Majesty, we have prepared for this time, and now you must be ready!” The Prince stared into the bird’s eyes and started to speak, “When will I … “  His voice shook and the words broke apart and then there was silence.  Covering his face with his hands, his shoulders trembled with an overwhelming sadness, and the tears fell from his eyes. The Prince was approaching his 13th year and the boyish emotions could not be contained in royal tradition or proper regalia.    “Do not worry about me,” the Quetzal softly squawked reassuring him of all that was his truth. “For you have prepared and were taught well.” “But what will I do without you?” the Prince wept. For a moment, his princely ways were forgotten, and he was once again, a small child fearing the loss of someone he loved more than words could express.  The Quetzal flew to the boy’s shoulder and rubbed his beak against the child’s soft cheek. “You must not forget what has grown in your heart since the day of your birth.” The Quetzal drew a long breath almost sensing it would be his last. “To live fully, we must give back of ourselves.”  He pulled away and flew to the open window. “What about the silver cord?” the Prince cried out almost stalling for explanations. “It has begun to untangle and now we will wait.”  The Quetzal flew off in silence and within minutes, the colors from his tail illuminated the morning sunrise Swirls of royal blue, red, and iridescent green spotted the clouds. The Prince wiped his eyes, stood up and took a long breath. He called for me and as I dove into his pocket, we were already tearing down the long winding stairs for the royal courtyard. The Quetzal’s colors began to gather in large droplets falling from the sky, but we could not feel their wetness, only a cool sensation brushed over our skin like a gentle breeze bringing a bit of relief on a humid day.

Our attention quickly shifted to the tall ferns at the edge of the forest. There we heard the screeching and kyowing of all birds. The Prince ran, as I bumped along in his pocket, and then we abruptly stopped.  His majesty, the Quetzal was lying on his side, his beak slightly parted, and his long tail feathers had diminished into a browned broken twig of all that was left.  Death was cradling him in the gentlest of touches. The Prince tenderly brought him to his chest. “Thank you,” he whispered. “No it is you that we thank,” the Quetzal whimpered. And for the final time, both bird and boy bowed their heads to one another.

The Final Gift

The third and final gift was discovered in the colors of the “present moment” The Kingdom came together that day and for many days after.

Listen carefully! For I am a bit tired, nicely teary, and this story is hard on the vocal cords of an old red- eyed tree frog.

The knots, the choking, and the horrible suffering were forgotten. The final gift of “The Present Moment” filled the hearts and minds of the people with hope. There were no longer memories tucked away creating anger and resentments. Now, there was an unconditional love, recovered and remembered. There were no worries for tomorrows or next year, because the people held this very moment, the “time” that was right before them.  Living this way was simple and freeing! The people of the Kingdom didn’t wander the streets bent over with their arms tightly wound around their middles. They saw one another in the colors of compassion, and they remembered the heartbeat, the one that rhythmically pounds in all kingdoms when one stops and listens…

Now being a 5000 year old red- eyed tree frog, I wasn’t given this final gift of the present moment, because I promised the Quetzal to always remember; calling upon his wisdom when the gifts were misplaced, if only for a while. And that my friend is a given, because children remember, but as the years accumulate, the memories fade and grown-ups need us when the suffering begins.

As for his majesty the Prince, he grew up and never forgot the kingdom’s gifts and as the years passed, he chose to rule with the people and never over the people. In his eyes, one always saw the other, because he was taught so very well.

As for his majesty the Quetzal, he reigned forever… Because love is all there is and ever was and will be…

So this is the end…

But just for Now…          


Leave a Reply

Verified by MonsterInsights