A Farewell and an Invitation

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For a little over two years I have been publishing the Heart Tales Blog. It’s time for me to turn my attention elsewhere. Beginning in January I will be participating in the Academy of Biblical Storytelling offered by the Network of Biblical Storytellers (http://www.nbsint.org). I hope to complete both years of the program and become a certified Master Biblical Storyteller. So I am saying farewell to this blog for now.

But I invite you to subscribe to my monthly Heart Tales Newsletter (http://www.hearttales.net/newsletter/index.html) which contains a story and a thought for reflection. Narrowing my publishing focus to just the newsletter will give me more time to focus on my study and storytelling with the Academy. I hope you will join the many people who enjoy my monthly newsletter so we can keep in touch.

May all your stories have happy endings!

Jim Cyr

Restoration & Peace

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Bitterness is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

After Dighavu explained his father’s dying words Brahmadatta stood before his council and said, “How remarkable is it for this young man to understand the depth of these short sentences. Listen to him, for he is wise indeed.”

Brahmadatta restored the Kingdom of Kosala to Prince Dighavu, its rightful heir and ruler. In time, Prince Dighavu married Brahmadatta’s daughter and the two kingdoms existed, side by side, in peach and harmony.

With this story, the Buddha helped the monks (and us) achieve awareness of their harmful thoughts. They welcomed his words (may we welcome them too) and learned to live together peaceably.”

An Opportune Moment

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“Bitterness is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Dighavu moved one step closer to Brahmadatta, his father’s murderer. Will he avenge himself?

Dighavu waited on the king; he always spoke politely and conducted himself in a pleasing manner. Dighavu’s keen intelligence and responsiveness allowed him to gain a position of trust with the king.

One morning Brahmadatta summoned Dighavu and said, “Today I would like to go hunting. Gather my huntsmen together. Harness my chariot and bring it around.”

“As you wish, You Majesty,” responded Dighavu, and he proceeded to organize the expedition. The hunting party gathered in the stable yard, and when Brahmadatta arrived, Dighavu gave him his weapons, escorted him to his chariot, and ceremoniously handed him the reins.

“You may drive my chariot today,” said Brahmadatta.

“As you wish, Your Majesty.” Dighavu led the men out of the gates of Benares, through the countryside, and into the forest beyond. As they raced through the tangled trees, Dighavu told the king, “Your Majesty, I am quite familiar with these woods. I know a better way.”

“Very well,” said Brahmadatta, and Dighavu drove the chariot away from the rest of the party, deep into the untamed woodlands.

After a time, Brahmadatta called out, “Stop, I am weary. Let us search for a place to rest.” Dighavu found a secluded glade and unharnessed the hoses from the chariot. Both men unbuckled their swords and sat down, side by side, underneath a banyan tree. “I am tired,” said the king. He rested his head on Dighavu’s lap and fell sound asleep.

Ddighavu looked at the king asleep in his lap. He remembered his mother and father being marched through the city streets and his feelings of helplessness and rage. From the shadows of his mind, there arose a menacing thought.

Slowly, he unsheathed his sword and held it above Brahmadatta’s head. “Now, I could kill you. I could satisfy my anger and avenge my parents,” he said to himself.

Will Dighavu finally take vengeance?

Next time:”The Up-raised Sword”

The Sign of the Scar

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Our story, called “The Scars of a Friend”, tells what happens when ‘the broken’ are accepted rather than cast aside and forgotten. In our last post  Azhar took Wind-Rider home and cared for him.

The snows of winter melted and green grass poked through the brown earth. Wind-Rider sniffed the spring air and fidgeted in his stall. Pleased that his horse’s energy and spirit had returned, Azhar took Wind-Rider to the pasture and turned him loose.

As Wind-Rider frisked about, Azhar leaned over the fence and laughed with delight. One warm afternoon, Azhar decided to take the horse for a ride. He climbed onto the stallion’s back and the two trotted out onto the ridge.

A soft breeze tousled Azhar’s hair as Wind-Rider gradually picked up speed and galloped along the path. The familiar sense of power returned to Azhar, but now this feeling was tinged with a  deeper understanding of what had been gained and what had been lost.

When Wind-Rider inevitably grew tired, Azhar slipped off the stallion’s back without regret. He saw the ragged scar on the horse’s flank and didn’t cringe. The blemish was no longer a painful reminder of loss. Instead, it was a sign of endurance and a testament to what he and his horse had earned through perseverance.

Azhar reached out his hand and gently stroked the scar. Then he walked the horse back to the stable. Azhar and Wind-Rider enjoyed many more years of love and loyalty together, accepting each other’s brokenness and scars without reservation.

She Worked As If Possessed

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At her youngest son’s suggestion, the poor woman bought all the colored silk yarns she needed, set up her loom, and began to weave the design of the painting she bought into the brocade.

Day and night, moth after month, the mother sat at her loom weaving her silks. Though her back ached and her eyes grew strained from the exacting work, still she would not stop. She worked as if possessed. Gradually the two elder sons became annoyed.

One day the eldest one said with irritation, “Mother, you weave all day but you never sell anything.”

“Yes!” grumbled the second. “And we have to earn money for the rice you eat by chopping wood. We’re tired of all this hard work.”

The youngest son didn’t want his mother to be worried. He told his brothers not to complain and promised that he would look after everything. From then on, every morning he went up to the mountain by himself and chopped enough wood to take care of the whole family.

Next time: “Done!”

 

Dreaming to Waking?

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When Ho-ichi’s story ended I opened my eyes. I was sitting alone under the tree against which I had leaned on that warm, sunny day in the woods of the Watchung Reservation. The sun was setting and the shadows of the forest were lengthening. A cool breeze rustled the leaves of the trees.Ho-ichi’s voice echoed in my mind but Ho-ichi was gone. Had I been dreaming? The story seemed so real!

I stood up to stretch to begin my journey home.But as I rose to my feet something fell from my lap. A biwa! I stared at the ancient instrument lying at me feet for a long time then bent over to pick it up. As I did, I noticed I was now wearing a silk robe and my feet were bare.

Again I heard Ho-ichi’s voice sounding in my head, telling the story of the Heike. But strangely, the voice sounded more like mine than Ho-ichi’s. I plucked a string of the biwa and started down the trail through the woods, chanting the story of the Heike as I went.

The Haunted Hotel

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Brother Jim rises to the challenge of spending a night in the haunted hotel. How will he fare?

Soon after lying on the couch in the hotel lobby I was asleep. But in the middle of the night I was roused by a great noise. When I had fully woken up I saw that there were nine hideous devils in the lobby. They had made a ring around me and were dancing all around.

I said, “”Go ahead and dance all you want, only don’t any of you come too near.” But the devils kept crowding closer and closer and almost stepped on my face with their nasty feet.

“Take it easy there, you devilish ghosts,” I said, but they carried on worse than ever. I got angry and cried, “Now then, I”m going to get me a little peace and quiet here.” Then I grabbed a chair and swung it at them. But nine devils against one soldier are too many, and while I was hitting the ones in the front, the ones behind me grabbed me and pulled me mercilessly by the hair.

“Now I’ve had enough! Just you wait! Into my knapsack, all nine of you!” I cried.

Whoosh! They all went into my knapsack and I buckled it and threw it into a corner. All of a sudden there was quiet. I laid down and slept till the bright morning sun.

Thursday: “Whackin’ dem Devils!”

The Adventures of Brother Jim based on the story “Brother Gaily” from The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm.

Brother Jim Rises to a Challenge

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With his belly full of steak procured from the bar and grill by way of the magic sack given to him by St. Peter, Brother Jim continues on his wayi.

So I wnet on my way and came to a town. In the middle of the town stood a splendid hotel and not far from it a miserable, run dwon, travel lodge. I went in the travel lodge and asked for a night’s lodging. But the lodge owner turned me away, saying, “There’s no more room. The lodge is full of guests.”

“That’s strange,” I said. “Why do they come here when there’s such a splendid hotel nearby?”

“That would be something,” answered the lodge owner, “to spend the night here! No one who tried has ever come back alive.”

“If others have tried,” I said, “so will I.”

“Let it alone,” said the owner of the travel lodge, “or it will cost you your head.”

“I don’t lose my head so easily,” I said. “Who hasd a key to the hotel?”

“I have a spare key,” said the manager.

“Give me the key and plenty of food and drink to take with me.”

And so the lodge owner gave me the key, and food and drink, and I took it to the hotel with me. I enjoyed a good meal, and when I became sleepy, I laid down on the couch in the lobby because there were no beds in any of the rooms.

Monday: “The Haunted Hotel”

The Adventures of Brother Jim based on the story “Brother Gaily” from The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm.

Two Steaks in a Sack

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Brother Jim parted ways with St. Peter once again, this time with magic power bestowed on his sack by Peter.

I wandered around with my money and splurged, wasting it like the first time. When I had nothing left except for four dollars, I was walking past a bar and grill and thought, I might as well spend the rest of it. So I went inside and ordered a three dollar glass of wine and a dollar loaf of bread.

As I sat drinking, I smelled steak. I looked around and saw that the bar and grill owner had two steaks on the grill. I remembered how my companion had said that everything I wished into my sack would be in it. I decided to give it a try with the steaks.

So I left. But when I was outside the door I said, “All right then, I wish the two steaks off of the grill and into my knapsack.”

Then I unbuckled the knapsack, looked inside, and there were the two steaks. “I’ve got it made!” I said. So I went into a meadow, took out my steak, and was tucking a napkin under my chin, when along came two men that looked with very hungry eyes at the steak that was still untouched.

I thought one steak is enough. So I called over the two fellows and said, “Here, you take the steak and eat to my health.” They thanked me, carried it into the bar and grill, ordered a half bottle of wine and a loaf of bread, put the steak they had been given on a plate, and began to eat.

The bar and grill owner’s wife watched them, called her husband, and said, “Those two are eating a steak. Go, take a look and see if it isn’t one of ours from the grill.” The owner ran and looked and the grill was empty.

“Oh you pack of thieves,” shouted the bar and grill owner, “you want to eat your steak good and cheap, do you! Pay up, or I’ll tan your hides with my mixing spoon!”

The two men said, “We are no thieves. There was a soldier in the meadow, he gave us the steak.”

“Don’t lie to me!” growled the bar and grill owner. That soldier was in here and walked out the door an honest man. I had my eye on him. You are the thieves and you’re going to pay up. But since they could not pay, he took a large wooden mixing spoon and beat them all the way out the door.

Thursday: “The Haunted Hotel”

The Adventures of Brother Jim based on the story “Brother Gaily” from The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm.

I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing!

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St. Peter & Brother Jim cured an ailing farmer and received a lamb as thanks. Off they went again…

So we went on our way and came to a forest. The lamb was getting heavy for me to carry and I was getting hungry. So I said, “Look, here’s a nice place where we can cook the lamb and eat it.”

“All right,” answered St. Peter, “only I’m no good at cooking. If you want to cook, here is a kettle. I’ll walk up and down until it is done. But you must not start eating before I come. I’ll be back in good time.”

“You go along then,” I said. “I’m a good cook. I’ll cook this baby up real fine!”

And so St. Peter walked off and I slaughtered the lamb, lit a fire, threw the meat into the kettle, and let it cook. But the lamb was already done and the apostle hadn’t come back. So I took it out of the kettle, cut it up, and found the heart. “That’s supposed to be the best part,” I said. I tasted the heart and it was the best part! Before I knew it, I’d eaten the whole heart.

Finally, St. Peter came back and said, “You may eat the whole lamb by yourself, all I want is the heart. Give it to me.”

So I took my knife and fork and made as if I was searching through the meat but could not find the heart. In the end, I said calmly, “It’s not here.”

“It’s not? Well then, where could it be?” said the apostle. “How should I know?” I answered. “But look what fools we are, both of us, looking for the heart of a lamb. A lamb doesn’t have a heart!”

“Really?” said St. Peter. “That’s news to me. Every animal has a heart. Why shouldn’t a lamb have one?”

“No honestly, brother, a lamb does not have a heart. You think about it and it’ll come to you. It just doesn’t.”

“All right, let it go,” said the big guy, if there’s no heart, I don’t need any lamb. You can eat it by yourself.”

“Well, then what I can’t finish I’ll take along in my knapsack, ” I said. So I ate up half of the lamb and put the rest into my knapsack.”

The Adventures of Brother Jim based on the story “Brother Gaily” from The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm.

Silence Can Be Deadly

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When it comes to suicide, silence can be deadly. If you know someone is thinking about suicide, tell some one.

If the person is in imminent danger, poised with a plan and a method to kill themselves, call the police at once. Even if they have told you not to talk about what they’ve told you, you must call the police because the person is a danger to his or herself.

If the person has been talking about suicide but does not yet have a plan or method to kill themselves you still need to tell someone you trust.

  • Tell the person’s family member. Tell a clergy person or a counselor. If the person is a student tell their teacher or guidance counselor.
  • Help the person call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-784-2433).
  • If the person is a child between the ages of 5 and 18, tell the parent and have them call Children’s Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (1-877-652-7624 This is a service for all counties in New Jersey).
  • Take them to a hospital emergency room to get psychiatric screening. There are many people trained to help someone contemplating suicide. Ask and you will find them.

If you are thinking about committing suicide, find someone who will listen. Several years ago chronic depression, unresolved childhood trauma, and career problems combined to push me into a state of despair and hopelessness. I saw no solution for the emotional pain I was in. I thought alot about driving my car into a cement abutment or purchasing a gun with which to blow my brains out. I hurt so bad that all I wanted was for the pain to end.

When my thoughts of suicide became persistent I knew it ws time to find someone who would listen. Thankfully I had a wonderful counselor who helped me through that very dark time in my life. With the support of my therapist, my wife, and my pastor I was eventually able to walk out of the valley of despair I was in. Today I’m so glad I found someone who listened to me. The problems that overwhelmed me are either resolved and under control. I still have problems and pain, but my persepctive on them is much healthier. I am here today because I reached out for help and someone listened to me.

Silence can be deadly.Speak out to prevent suicide.

Heart Tales Blog Melt Down

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If you were a regular subscriber to the Heart Tales Blog you may have wondered why it disappeared in September. Well, in the process of switching web hosting companies all the posts I had written that were waiting to be published after July 7 were lost. I am truly sorry for any inconvenience this caused regular subscribers to my blog.

Now that all the technical glitches have been worked out I am going to resume publishing again and plan to pick up with the series I am calling “Why It’s Smart.”  So look for the first post in this series on Monday, October 13. It will be back dated for 7/6/08 so please go back and read it!

It’s good to be back on line! See you on Monday when we’ll look at “Why It’s Smart to Tell the Truth.”

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