Fire and Wings

Lately, I’ve been reading compilations of stories to my kids.  I was reading long novels but for some reason I’ve switched.

I picked up Fire and Wings: Dragon Tales from East and West. My oldest loves fantasy and dragons and so does Mommy.  Two tales stuck out:

Called Dragon’s Coo by Patricia MacLachlan, a dragon wishes for a name of its own and a family.  He was a dragon ‘left-over’ from the days of knights.  The dragon finds a human child and raises it as its own.  It takes care of it and names the baby Coo because that’s all the baby could say.  Until one day the dragon became too old to take care of itself so Coo began to provide for the dragon.

One day Coo touches the dragon and says, “Papa.”  Finally, the dragon had a name–a name out of love– and a family.

My kids LOVED this story!  It is touching.  How a family can be what you make of it and love can grow in the oddest of circumstances.  I loved the giving part: how the dragon gives to the baby and then the baby gives to the dragon.  Just like life today.  You raise a a baby and most likely one day the baby will be helping you in your old age.

Poignant story that really gets to the heart of what matters most.

The other story I really liked is called The Fourth Question: A Chinese Legend retold by Vida Chu.  Here, a farmer named KaiWei sets out to ask the Budda a question:  Why even though I work hard am I still poor?

Along the way, he meets 2 people and a dragon who ask him to ask the Buddha questions for themselves, which he agrees to do, since they all gave him a place to stay and food on his journey.

When he arrives, the Buddha informs him he can only ask 3 questions even though he has 4.  So instead of asking his own question, KaiWei asks the questions of his friends he met along his journey.

KaiWei journeys back and gives his friends the answers.  In so doing, KaiWei is given riches (a pearl, sacks of gold and silver, and one of the men’s daughter for a bride whom he loves) from these friends.

Thus, KaiWei gets the answer to his question through helping others.  He is blessed beyond comparison through putting his needs aside.

Later, KaiWei’s grandkids favorite story is “their grandfather’s journey to see Buddha and the fourth question he never asked.”

I LOVE this one!  I wish all the stories I read to my kids had such a powerful message.  When we do put others first and our needs aside, powerful things begin to happen in our lives, questions get answered, and God moves in ways hitherto unforeseen.

Great stuff!  Highly recommended!

Lessons from Gilgamesh

I’ve been hesitant to give up homeschool and now I think I know the underlying reason–I have and am learning as much or more than my kids in the process.  I get to study what I want to study for once, investigate things and people I want to know about, and spend as much time as I wish.  This is probably one of the greatest benefits of homeschool and one of the strongest reasons to homeschool i.e. letting the child investigate what speaks to their heart and not what speaks to the State’s heart.

I grabbed a kids’ book on Gilgamesh more for me than my kids.  So I’m reading it and the afterward by a Professor Cyrus Gordon from my alma mater, Brandeis University (I wonder if he’s still around since this book is from the 1960’s).  It relates the historical significance/importance of this ancient Mesopotamian tale as it predates the Ancient Greeks and the Bible.  Particularly, it mentions the sacking of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC (previously thought to have been the first known dates of Mesopotamian cuneiform)–the very subject I am reading about in the Bible in Jeremiah, Lamentations, and now Ezekiel.  This is all stuff I never learned in school and so visiting it a second time has been…wondrous.

So, the tale of Gilgamesh is the tale of a man who became experienced and wise in his travels; and learned what all of us must learn in order to be wise (despite having failed in his mission to obtain eternal life):  to make the most of our earthly lives without chasing rainbows that are beyond our grasp.

I agree and disagree with this.  I agree with making the most of your life, but I see nothing wrong with chasing rainbows.  Dreams are what give us life and my writing career is definitely obtainable.  In terms of little kids, that’s all my kids do–is chase rainbows, unicorns, Pegasus, dragons, princesses, princes, castles, and fairy tales.

It breathes life into them and that’s all that matters in this world.

I can still learn right along with my kids while they are in school.  I don’t have to stop learning (and neither do they) as long as I choose not to.  They receive the benefits of being with their peers at a regular school and I can still learn whatever I want whenever I want.