Friday, August 20, 2010

The City in the Clouds--Part One

(a parable in three parts)

Once upon a time, in a great and beautiful land, there lived many people and they named themselves after the animal that best symbolized their desires.

The Bear Clan was the largest and most powerful. They grew proud and fierce and desired the subjugation of all the other clans. The Snake Clan was also large, but not so powerful and they learned to survive through subtlety and deceit. The Wolf Clan was the most feared, because they hunted the other clans at night, in packs, killing those who would not pledge their allegiance to them and enslaving those who did.
But the Eagle Clan desired only to live free; to work and raise their children in peace and safety.

And so the once great and beautiful land was torn and laid waste through centuries of war, and it became known as The Battle Lands.

Now the Eagle Clan knew they would never have peace and safety within the Battle Lands. They gathered the wisest of their leaders and made a journey up the tallest mountain where the eagle lived to seek wisdom from their namesake.
They found the eagle soaring high above the mountaintop and called desperately for his help. The eagle heard their cries and calmly floated down to greet the leaders.
“Why do you cry out for my help?” asked the eagle.
“We have a great need, Mighty One,” a leader said.
“Tell me your need then,” the eagle responded.
“We desire only to live in freedom, but the inhabitants of the Battle Lands will not let us,” said another leader. “They refuse to make a treaty so we may all live in peace. What are we to do? Our only choice is slavery or death…and that is no choice at all.”
The eagle turned his head this way and that to stare at each of the leaders. Finally he asked a question. “Why do you name yourselves after the eagle?”
“Because we desire to live free as you do. We want to spread out, as you spread your wings and soar among the clouds.”
“Then build your city in the clouds,” the eagle said.
The leaders looked to the dome of clouds above them. “Is it possible?” they asked each other.
“Of course it is possible,” the eagle continued. “But once you attain your freedom, what will you do to keep it?”
“What do you do to keep your freedom in the skies?” the leaders asked.
“We learn at first hatch of the Law of Eagles,” it said. “The sky is ours, but only if we use it.”
“What does this mean?” the leaders asked in puzzlement.
The eagle patiently explained. “If the eagle does not soar above the other birds, they must give way to them, for they are many and we are few. If we did not soar among the clouds in constant vigilance, the other birds would gather in great flocks and cast us out. You must always be on guard. Your city in the clouds will not survive if you do not use your freedom daily.”
“We understand,” they said.
The Eagle Clan leaders thanked the mighty bird and left the mountaintop to tell their tribes the good news. They would build a city in the clouds.

The first thing the Eagle Clan built was a massive stairway of stone.
Up and up it went until it reached the clouds.
An archway of granite was put in place above the stairway and inscribed with the wise words of the eagle: “Soar in vigilance.”

But the Bear Clan, the Snake Clan and the Wolf Clan all heard about the stairway to the city in the clouds, and they sent their warriors to claim it for themselves.
The Eagle Clan prepared for the attack, digging a deep gorge around the stairway and covering it with leaves and dead branches. When the advancing army charged, the ground opened beneath their feet and they fell to their deaths at the bottom of the gorge. But the remainder of the army fired their arrows and though the Eagle Clan had armed every man, woman and child, many still lost their lives. The battle lasted through the night, and when the dawn rose, the warring clans realized they were decimated and fled.
They did not attack again.

A monument to the fallen was placed at the foot of the stairway.
And the battle was named The Last Land War, for the Eagle Clan vowed never to fight in the Battle Lands again.

When the seasons had moved in a full circle, the City in the Clouds was ready.
The Eagle Clan had a great ceremony at the archway, swearing allegiance to the City and the Law of Eagles.
They agreed to choose one man to lead the City.
He would be old enough for wisdom, but young enough to serve the people for ten years.
He would read the Law of Eagles every evening.
He would choose guardians for the archway to the City and when he had served his time as leader, he would live out the remainder of his days in honor among the Eagle Clan.
It was decided by the people to allow asylum for those who escaped from the Battle Lands.
The guards placed at the archway asked the refugees for a pledge of allegiance to the Eagle Clan and a promise to follow their ways. The people who made it to the archway, eagerly pledged their loyalty. They were grateful for the chance to live in such a place of freedom and called themselves the Eagle Clan with great pride.
The City in the Clouds prospered as the people worked hard and raised their children in peace and plenty. They kept the Law of the Eagles and guarded the archway with vigilance.

( be continued)


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