Towards the Sun … (*)

In a country far away there was a flock of chickens living their lives. They pecked around the court and found grains, one after the other, from morning to evening. In the evening the chickens went into their chicken house and rested. It was a great life.

Every morning, the rooster would wake up first and sing his song. And, that’s when all the chickens knew that another day was coming. They laid their eggs, and then they went back to the court and started pecking away, until it got dark again.

There was, however, one chicken in the court that was rather peculiar. It pecked corn, just like the others, and it spent the night in the chicken house, just like the others. But, it looked different and when it opened its mouth it sounded differently. Every day the differences became more succinct. And, every night, this weird looking chicken dreamt about the sun, and about the other side of the fence. What would it be like?

One day, a traveler came by the chicken court and looked at all the birds in there. He sat down at the court for a picnic and looked that the chickens. After a few minutes he paused – he looked at the weird chicken and looked at its pecking and its peculiar color. He also listened to its different sound.

It was evening and all the chickens went into the chicken house, when the traveler reached towards the weird chicken and lifted it off the ground. The traveler felt the bird’s trembling, as he lifted him out of the fence and carried the bird toward the mountains. The traveler walked all night in the moonlight. He could feel how the bird calmed down as he lay in his hands. He also noticed how the bird started looking around, looking at the moon, and the stars.

It was still very dark when the two reached the top of the mountain. The traveler opened his bottle and gave the bird some water. And then he waited until the sun was rising over the valley. Far away, the bird could hear the rooster’s morning song, but it did not mean much anymore. He looked at the sky which turned from black into the most amazing shades of red that the bird had ever seen.

The traveler observed the lights and the sounds of an awakening bird, and slowly and deliberately got on his feet. He raised his arms and moved them up and down! He raised his voice: “Fly, fly, fly!” Initially scared, the bird opened his wings and felt how they became stronger as he was flapping them up and down. He noticed for the first time the lengths of his wings, and he felt some pride.

With a gentle push, the traveler released the bird into the air and he saw what he had noticed all along – a young eagle was spreading his wings. “Fly, Eagle, fly!”, he spoke into the morning wind. The first flying motions were fearful, but the eagle could feel the excitement of lift-off. His wings were carrying him. He turned around and looked at the traveler one last time. And, then, he turned towards the rising sun in loops, ever and ever higher.

Here is my wish for all of you in 2009: “May you soar towards the Sun!” Look at yourself, you are no chicken. “Fly, Eagle, fly!”

(*) A version of this story was told by Archbishop Desmond Tutu during his Wallenberg lecture in October 2008.

Comments (1)
  • John

    January 28, 2017

    This is a very cute story. We are all Eagles !

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