Stone. Tree. Mountain lion. Eagle.


Sometimes, an author of children’s books is invited into schools far beyond the tourist’s world.

The richness of such an experience can be life-changing.

The would-be teacher becomes a learner as an understanding of God grows beyond cultural boundaries.

I’ve learned that other cultures do not have a different understanding of God: they simply use different parables, to express God-given wisdom.

On a Native American reservation near the Mexican border, I was introduced to some wise words that were instantly familiar.

Why were they familiar?

Because they described for me Jesus’ life and teaching.

I’d like to share those words with you.

When we have a problem, it is sometimes good to be like a stone, saying nothing, doing nothing.

Sometimes we need to be like a tree, standing tall, looking all ways at once.

Sometimes we have to be the mountain lion, fierce and ready to fight for what is right.

Sometimes it is best to be an eagle. When the eagle flies high, it sees how small a problem is, and it laughs and laughs.

So when was Jesus like a stone, saying nothing, doing nothing?

When he was in front of his accusers, knowing he had to fulfil what had been “written” for him.

When was Jesus like a tall tree, looking everywhere at once?

That describes the times when he was far beyond the disciples in his long-range spiritual vision. He knew the condition of human hearts, and he could see words before they were spoken.

Was Jesus ever like the mountain lion?

Yes, he was. When he saw the poor made the victims of those who had power and greed, his words were fierce, even though he knew this put him in danger.

He had to fight for what was right.

And the eagle? What about flying high like the eagle?

I’m sure there were times when his spirit soared high and saw adults as mere children.

But for me, his big “eagle” moment was on the Mount of Transfiguration.

That was when Jesus knew exactly who he was and what the world was.

But while I reflect on the stone, the tree, the lion and the eagle in my own life, I realise the importance of discernment.

To react with the wrong one, can cause evil.

It may be right to be a stone to gossip and thoughtless criticism. But to deliberately ignore someone in need is a different matter.

If I’m in the position of the tall tree and use the gifts of seeing for selfish competition, I am less than a blade of grass.

And how often have I been a mountain lion when I should have been a stone?

Discernment is so necessary.

But I find this true.  When the old eagle spreads its wings in the sky and looks down at its youth, it sees anxiety, error, tears, guilt, fear, and rejection as part of learning to fly.

And it laughs and laughs.

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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