Aesop in Africa: Unexpected Help

The Leopard and the Meerkat

One hot day in a remote area of the Kruger National Park in South Africa, a Leopard was enjoying a snooze under a huge marula tree. He had just dozed off when a passing Meerkat accidently brushed against him. The Leopard woke with a start, saw the Meercat and growled, “How dare you wake me! I am going to eat you!’

The terrified Meerkat pleaded, “Be kind! Don’t hurt me. One day I may repay your kindness.”

The Leopard laughed scornfully, “How can a tiny meerkat ever help a leopard? Be off with you!” And so, the Meerkat escaped.

A few days later the Leopard was caught in a net laid by hunters. Fearing the return of the hunters the Leopard screamed for help. Not far off the Meerkat heard the Leopard’s cries, found the Leopard and bit through the net and set the Leopard free.

Lesson: Never underestimate where you might find help in time of dire need.

Based on an Aesop Fable

Aesop in Africa: The Danger of Envy

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The Dove and the Zebra

Deep in the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa a Zebra heard a dove calling. It was the sweetest sound the Zebra had ever heard. He wished his voice was as beautiful. The Zebra demanded that the dove tell him what the food was she ate that gave her such a beautiful voice. The dove replied, “The only food I have is the dew on the grass in the early morning.” From that moment on the Zebra drank only dew. Not long after, the Zebra died of hunger.

The Lesson: Envy of the unattainable can be fatal.

Based on an Aesop Fable

Aesop in Africa: Use your Circumstances

The Snake and the Bat

There was once a Bat which lived in a cave in a desolate part of Africa. Early one morning when returning to the cave after a night of feeding, the Bat was caught by a Snake. The Snake hissed, “I hate you birds” and grasped the Bat very tightly.

The Bat was terrified and gasped, “No! No! I am not a bird. I am a large moth. I know you don’t eat moths.” This satisfied the Snake who let the Bat escape.

Early next morning almost the same thing happened when the Bat was caught by another Snake. This Snake hissed to the Bat, “I love eating mice. I am going to eat you!”

The Bat replied, “I am not a mouse! I am a Bat! I know you hate eating Bats .”

The Snake believed the Bat and let the Bat go free. The Bat had escaped a second time.

The Lesson: There is always a way to turn circumstances to your own advantage.

Based on an Aesop Fable

Kiera and the “Road Less Travelled”

Kiera is inviting you to go down what for you may be a “road less travelled”. Below the picture is a poem from Kiera. Below the poem is a link to the amazing story about Kiera’s journey from Romania to love and bonding in East Sussex, England. Please scroll down. Thank you.

Thank you to AW for the picture

Kiera speaks again…….

Wait! As my soul absorbs,
Echoes of times past…
The traces of paws
Of those now dead
Who have trod
This place, this bed…..
Their ashes are scattered
Tears were shed
Each one mattered
But now lives on
In Nature…….
The birds and earth-bound trees
The brackens and rustling breeze,
The whirling of streams
Curling and twirling
Ever dashing and splashing
There is no end
But hearts can mend
LOVE is here, it has been
As I sit, I have seen………

Thank you to Anna Wilkinson for passing on Kiera’s poem to me

Click here to read Kiera’s amazing story.

Click also here for “Kiera’s Lament – a Prayer for Ukraine”. You will continue to be amazed.

The title of this blog is based on the title of Dr. M. Scott Peck’s famous book “A Road Less Travelled”.

John Bartels

The Village in the Clouds by John Bartels – How it changed my view of reality

Republished in Match 2022. This was published a few weeks before my wife and I got Covid. Question: How deeply do we understand reality?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet – Ac1, Scene 5, 166-7

James Fromme tripped and fell off the ten-meter-long suspension bridge into a shallow stream running in the gully below. The drop was about five feet and he landed on some boulders. Lying in the icy water he realized his left leg must be badly injured. 

The pain was excruciating, and he passed out. It was five thirty in the afternoon and getting dark.

The accident happened on Sunday, September 16, 2012 on the golf course at the Sani Pass Hotel close to the border between South Africa and Lethoto. The hotel is in a narrow valley next to the road leading up the pass.

The valley is surrounded by the Drakensberg mountains. It is an area where the weather changes quickly and with little warning. The temperature can drop suddenly. On a sunny afternoon black clouds can appear in the west over Lesotho and quickly bring drizzle, rain, sleet and even snow. It is not a good place to lie unconscious hidden in a gully with a badly injured leg.

At the time, James and his wife Cindy were staying at the hotel. The plan was to stay for the week. They had been several times before. They knew the place well and in particular enjoyed the golf course. It is a narrow golf course because of the narrow valley. This means that the furthest hole is about two kilometers from the hotel building. Baboons can often be seen from the hotel patio feeding on the distant fairways. These baboons have never been a danger but as anyone who lives in Africa knows, baboons are not to be trifled with. A baboon can easily kill a dog or even a leopard, given the chance. Obviously a person is no match for a baboon.

      On the day James fell, his wife Cindy was twenty seven kilometers away in Underberg. She had gone there for a Church Meeting to be followed by a late afternoon tea with friends from the nearby Drakensberg Gardens resort.

      Cindy had left the Hotel at around two in the afternoon. She told James she would be back at about seven in time for dinner. James stayed behind at the hotel. After tea – at about half past four – he decided to go and play golf. He did not tell anyone he was going.

      He fetched some balls and a golf club and made his way down to the course. There were some baboons at the far end of the course about two kilometers away, but he was sure that they would run away if he went near them.

      Playing several balls, he made his way towards the Lesotho end of the course. The baboons were nowhere to be seen but he could hear them barking in the nearby ravines. Then, it began to get chilly. Huge clouds over Lesotho had quietly crept closer, dropping and getting darker. He suddenly realized the light was going fast because when he looked back at the hotel in the far distance the patio lights had come on and were sharply visible in the gathering dusk.

       James had just crossed he last bridge and was at the end of the course when suddenly there was crackling flash of lightning followed immediately by a massive boom of thunder. The sound of the thunder was greatly amplified as it echoed back from the surrounding mountains.

      James was concerned because there was no delay between the lightning flash and the boom of the thunder. This meant the storm was right above him. Then suddenly –  more and more lightning and thunder. This really worried him as his golf club had a steel shaft and this could attract the lightning. He realized he must get back to the hotel. And quickly. By then it was half past five but because of the coming rain and heavy clouds it was it was difficult to see. It was when he was crossing the first bridge on the way back that he tripped and fell.

      James must have been unconscious for about half an hour when he woke and realized that something was moving in the darkness above the gully. Confused and nauseous from pain and terrified that it might be a baboon he shouted. “Who is that?” A scuffling sound grew closer and he then could see the very dim shapes of a person and a dog clambering down towards him. “It is me – Joshua and my dog Nala.”

      James must have lost consciousness again immediately because the next thing he remembered was waking up in a hospital room with Cindy at his bedside.

      “Awake at last sweetheart” Cindy kissed him. You are going to be ok. You fell on the golf course and nearly broke your leg. Banged your head too. You would have died if a young man had not seen you fall and come to you. He carried you all the way back to the hotel in the thunderstorm. An ambulance brought you here to the hospital in Umzimkulu – about an hour and a half from the Hotel.”

      James lay very still. “Cindy – it was Joshua who rescued me. He was there with his dog.”

      Three days later James was discharged from the hospital and returned to the hotel. The next morning, he discussed his amazing rescue with the manager of the hotel.

      The manager told him that at about seven in the evening the previous Sunday, during a massive thunder storm, a member of the hotel staff had come running and told him that an injured person had been brought to the hotel. He had quickly gone outside and found a young man carrying James who was unconscious. The young man told the manager that he had found James injured on the golf course.  The manager had then brought James inside to get warm by the huge fire in the hotel lounge and phoned for an ambulance. At the same time Cindy had returned from Underberg. When the manager looked for the rescuer, he discovered that he had gone without even giving his name. The manager told James that he was incredibly lucky – nobody had known where he was. He could have died of exposure as it had snowed later that night.

      James then told the manager that it was Joshua who had rescued him. He explained that he had known Joshua for several years. He was a local shepherd. Their friend ship had started a few years earlier when James had come across Joshua on the golf course. Joshua was about fourteen then. After that, James and Cindy had come to the hotel regularly over the years and had met Joshua on almost every visit. The pattern was the same: Joshua and his sheep dog Nala would be tending livestock on the mountainside above the golf course. He would see James and come down to chat.  And so, the friendship had developed.

 James told the manager that he supposed this is exactly what had happened on the previous Sunday “Joshua and Nala must been on the mountain above the course when the storm broke. He saw me fall and came down to help me. I know where Joshua lives. He is from a village on the first mountain ridge towards Lesotho, about ten kilometers away. I have seen his village from the patio. You can’t always see it. Most times it is covered by cloud but sometimes the clouds part and you get a glimpse of it. It looks an exceptionally beautiful place.”

The manager was most helpful. “Yes. I have heard of that village. It apparently is very beautiful. Our Chef is from the same village.”

   “I would like to thank Joshua.” James was excited. “May I speak to the Chef? What is his name?”

“His name is John. He comes on duty at twelve. I’ll ask him to meet you on the patio just after twelve.”

   James was ready waiting on the patio at a quarter to twelve. The air was full of bird chatter celebrating the end of winter and the certainty of spring. He walked to the edge of the patio and looked above the golf course towards Lesotho. He tried to see Joshua’s village. It was a warm, sunny day but there was still plenty of cloud. He could just see the village but only dimly. He decided right then that he would go there one day and meet its people. Then James heard a sound behind him. It was the Chef, John.

   “The manager said you wanted to see me.”

   “Yes. Thank you for coming.  Let us sit down.”

   The two men sat down at a table on the patio. James told the John his whole story. How he and Cindy had been coming to Sani Pass Hotel regularly for years. How he had first met Joshua and then got to know him better as the years passed. And then he explained how Joshua had saved his life.

   While James was telling the story, John did not say a word. He just looked steadily at James.

   “I would like very much to thank Joshua for what he did. I understand that you and Joshua live in the same village – that beautiful village in the mountains on the way to Lesotho.

   John did not reply. A full minute passed.

   James was puzzled. “Is something wrong?”

   Speaking very softly the John replied. “Joshua died about four months ago.  He and his dog Nala were killed by a landslide high in the mountains”

   The two men sat in silence. Even the birds seemed to have gone quiet.

   Then after a few minutes, without saying a word, John got up and left, leaving James alone. James stood up and slowly made his way back to the edge of the patio to see if he could still see the village. But he could not. The clouds had come down over the whole ridge. Everything had been hidden.

   James went slowly back to the room he and Cindy were sharing. She was getting ready for lunch.

   “Did you see the Chef? She stopped brushing her hair. “Is something wrong?  What has happened? Are you upset about something?”

He looked quietly at her. “Cindy sweetheart, I have something to tell you that will change the way we look at life forever.”

**************

Kiera’s Lament – A Prayer for Ukraine

This beautiful and moving prayer was given by Kiera to her owner Anna. When you thoughtfully read the prayer you will realise that Kiera is very special as is the relationship between Kiera and Anna. Prayerfully read the prayer and then click here to read Anna’s account of how she and Kiera came together. Their story has received more views than any other post on this blog. Read the story and you will know why. But, read Kiera’s prayer first. Please scroll down.


Kiera

KIERA’S LAMENT

I lie in stillness needing peace
And beg my mind to please release
For thoughts of anguish and of pain
Transfer to me from dear Ukraine.
I feel them, sense them, hear their cries
Winged by clouds across the skies….
And screams from wounds keep me awake
How to deal with this heartbreak?
Blessed Angels hear my plea
(Even though a dog I be)
Wrap Ukraine in wings of love
Ask for forces from above.
I’ll shout, I’ll whine and bark out loud
For this country now so proud….
Till this fight is put to bed
Man nor beast can rest his head
Make haste dear Angels, show you care
Will you hear a doggy ‘s prayer?

Click here for the story of Kiera

Thank you

Are the majority always right?

If, in a referendum, the majority vote that 2+2=5 this does no make 5 the correct answer.

Inspired by Socrates’s reply to Melesias in “Laches, or Courage” by Plato

Shattered Glass and Blind Belief

What happens when blind belief is surrendered?

“Having once surrendered blind belief, it is impossible to return to it, for the essence of such belief is to be unconscious of itself. As soon as this unconsciousness ceases it is shattered like a glass whose fragments can not be again reunited except by being cast again into the furnace and refashioned.”

Abu Hgamid min al-Ghazali 1058-1111CE Please scroll down

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Also: Is it ok to be disillusioned? Click here

The Path to the Sacred

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The forest guarding the Sacred Path.

There is a sacred path deep in the forests of Southern Africa. It leads to an ancient river. The path is sacred because if you are privileged to walk along it and pause a while you sense there is a reality way beyond what your limited senses can even remotely imagine. Suddenly you ask: Where else have I felt like this? The memories come flooding in: The ancient granite Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe; a deserted cove in Corfu; the Redwoods in California; the grove at the top of Alta Plaza in San Francisco. Connections. Connections. Connections. Connections to the great beyond. Please scroll down.

Below is a small song with words that I have written as a tribute to the Sacred Path. I have also played it for you.

The Path to the Sacred

The path to the sacred
Is calling me home
The path to the sacred
Where worlds become one

I answer the call
A door opens wide
My friends are there waiting
There's no more divide

John Bartels - December 2021

The sheet music is on page 2

Page 2

Sheet Music for "The Sacred Path"