there's not a whole lot going on

Monday, March 10, 2008

From dust you have come, to dust you shall return

"'The fool folds his arms
and consumes his own flesh' -
Better is one handful with tranquility
than two with toil and a chase after wind!" - Ecclesiastes 4:5-6

"Now, my child, I will tell you three little stories of three little creatures.

"First, there was the ant. As you know, ants are among the strongest of God's creatures, moving objects many times their sizes and their weights. They are truly amazing little insects and are known for their industriousness. One year, during a particularly wet year, when food was in plenty and grain was easy to find, our hero, we will call him Ant, was busy with his cousins and his brothers and sisters bringing in the harvest for the winter. Many times he would look around at all of nature's marvels and wish for just a moment that he could stop and rest a bit. One day he even climbed up a rosebush just to smell the roses, but he immediately had an overwhelming sense of loss when he realized how much food he had failed to move in wasting his time climbing the rosebush. When the winter came, the anthill had food in plenty, and so everyone was healthy when the spring came once more. The new spring was as beautiful as the last, but Ant refused to succumb to the temptations of the year before - he knew that this winter could be much harder than the last and that you never know what tomorrow holds in store. When the next winter came, the ants were as well prepared as the year before, and everyone was well fed. The next spring Ant noticed the ground rumbling, but he and the other ants didn't know what could make the earth rumble so. Then one day many ants were sucked up into a terrible cyclone as the rumbling moved over the mound. The next day a terrible smelling liquid fell from the sky, drowning many and poisoning the others. Our little hero, industrious and hardworking Ant watched in sorrow as those around him died. He too passed on, thinking of the rose and the fine harvests of years past."

"Gramma, that wasn't a very nice story. All the ants died. And Ant died. And he didn't do anything. I didn't like it."

"Ahhh, hush child. Let me tell you the next story, perhaps you will understand a bit more.

"Grasshopper, the highest jumping, farthest spitting, greenest looking grasshopper in all of nine counties was hopping through the fields one spring. All around him he saw the other insects working hard to prepare for the winter, but Grasshopper said to himself, 'Oh, ridiculous fools! Don't they know we've never needed extra food in this area? That noone ever goes hungry around here? There's always plenty to eat!' And so, the young grasshopper didn't do any work that spring. Instead he hopped here and there, distracting the other youngsters from their work, convincing them that tomorrow would be just as sunny as today and what they should be doing was having a good time. The young grasshoppers caused a great deal of mischief that spring, but when winter rolled around, it was just as Grasshopper had said - noone went hungry and there was plenty of food to go around - everywhere one jumped there was a leaf, just waiting to be eaten. The next spring and winter passed just as before with Grasshopper and his friends causing trouble. When the third spring came, the little band, convinced that nothing bad could come tomorrow disrupted all of the gathering for the next winter, so that that year's harvest was smaller than all the years before - much smaller than would be necessary if the winter turned out to be a bad one. But before winter even came, there was a rumbling like none of the insects had ever heard before. Grasshopper and all of his friends were confused and frightened by the noise. Some of them were caught up by a cyclone that moved over them. Most were fortunate enough to have hopped away, but when they looked around, there was nothing to be harvested - everything was only three inches tall! The insects looked at their stored grains and were saddened to see so little there - it would not be enough for the rest of the summer and certainly not enough for the winter. That winter was very hard and many of the insects died. Because Grasshopper and his friends hadn't helped, they always received the smallest and most infrequent portions. Finally, after watching each of his friends fall ill and die, Grasshopper died too, thinking of the beautiful springs of long ago and remembering his empty tummy."

"Gramma! That's so weird! Why does everyone keep dieing and not doing anything! Why don't you tell me a good story?"

"Child, child, listen to the stories - I tell them to you for a reason! Now, hush and listen to the last one.

"One spring the butterfly flitted to and fro through the fields of flowers, happily dining in the sweet nectars presented him. His happy flitting was periodically interrupted by the other animals - Ant called to him, 'Butterfly, Butterfly, you are too beautiful to go about so merrily without putting up your stores for the winter! Do not enjoy yourself so much unless you do not make it this year!' and Grasshopper cried out, 'Butterfly, Butterfly, why spend so much time collecting your meals? Come, join us in our revelry and enjoy this find spring!' But Butterfly kept floating from one flower to another, relishing the ebb and flow of his work, content simply to do what he was made to do. When the winter came that year, there was food in plenty. The next spring Butterfly did the same as he had done the year before and Ant and Grasshopper looked on, thinking him very silly for seeming to put no thought in tomorrow and take no time for today. The winter came and went just as before and so did the next spring. But the third winter, the great rumbling came, chopping down all of the plants so that many of the insects went to the anthill to ask for food. Grasshopper was first in line, asking Ant to share his stores. As they argued as to whether or not the lazy should eat, they looked up to see Butterfly flitting to and fro, just as happily as ever. 'Butterfly!' the two cried together, 'Why are you so happy and not the least distressed about this terrible winter?' Butterfly looked down and said, 'Why don't you know that there is a time for everything? We do not know what tomorrow may bring, so if we worry about tomorrow today will be wasted. But if we are always worried about today, then we will waste tomorrow. And so I haven't enough stored for this winter to share with Grasshopper, but I have enough to last until the spring rains come once more!' With that, Butterfly flitted away, only to find himself inside a jar with a strange smelling puffball that put him into such a sleep he never awoke again."

"Gramma! Those stories were awful! I wanna go home!"

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