A Donkey Tale

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Once a man who lived with his grandson took the boy to market with him. They enjoyed themselves but it was a long journey, so the old man bought a donkey and set his grandson on it. Then they started their trip home. The talked and walked peacefully and joyfully. All went well until they met a man on the road who said, “I can’t believe that little boy would make you, an old man, walk while he, who is young and strong, rides the donkey. How shameful.”

So, the boy got off the donkey and the grandfather got on and rode. A few miles down the road they met a woman who said, “I can’t believe you, a grown man, is riding while you make that little boy walk.”

Then the grandfather and grandson both got on the donkey and rode. Not much farther down the road they met two men walking together. One of them said to the other, “Can you believe that? Those two people are riding on that poor little donkey.” Then he called out to the grandfather and grandson, “How shameful! You two are putting too much weight on that poor donkey.”

Both the man and the boy got off the donkey and instead of riding, they now led the donkey, but before they reached their home, they met a group of people on the road who laughed at them for leading a donkey. A woman called out, “How funny! You two have a perfectly good donkey and no one is riding it.”

Then the grandfather hung his head, exasperated. No matter what it did, someone said it wasn’t right and everyone had a different opinion, so he put the grandson back on the donkey as he had originally wanted to and led him home.

MORAL to the STORY: My friend, Al Carter, used to say that opinions are like anal openings—everybody’s got one and they often stink.


So, I again refer to a law of the spiritual universe: listen to your own heart. The old man’s true self was led to give his grandson a ride. It was only when he and the boy started listening to the opinions of others that things got wonky.

Looking for Pork Chop McQuade


Straddled with a ridiculous name that has caused her a lifetime of grief, Cupcake McQuade has spent her whole life taking care of other people. In fact, she has been so concerned about others that she doesn’t really know who she is, but she knows one thing–she loves Bob “Pork Chop” McQuade, a conspiracy theorist whose life is going nowhere. Despite the fact that Bob is disliked by—everybody. Cupcake has always seen the “good” in him, even condoning his eccentricities and supporting his devotion to a group of conspiracy theorists, but when Bob becomes a missing person, she fears his conspiracies may be true and reluctantly accepts help from guilt-laden Sheriff Daniel Ransom. When the two of them take to the trail to discover Bob’s fate, they discover truths they’re not prepared to accept.

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Parable of a Butterfly

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Several years ago a little girl caught a small green caterpillar and placed it in a jar. She fed the caterpillar Queen Anne’s Lace leaves daily and watched as the caterpillar grew fatter and fatter, then one day she was surprised to find a chrysalis in the jar. She placed the jar in a safe place and put a damp cotton ball in there. One morning she woke up to find a beautiful yellow swallowtail flitting around in the jar, trying desperately to fly. Her mother told her that she needed to set the creature free so it could use its wings and do what it was created to do, but the little girl exclaimed, “It’s mine. I raised it from a caterpillar. I took care of it and fed it and watered it and kept it safe from my cat, so I want to keep it. It’s mine.”

“If you keep the butterfly in this jar it will die without ever doing the things it was created to do,” her mother said.

“But I love the butterfly,” the little girl protested. “If I take the lid off the jar it will fly away and never come back. Then I will not have a butterfly.”

The young mother knelt beside her daughter and spoke gently. “If you love something you must set it free when it wishes to go. Love doesn’t try to own another living thing. When we keep a thing because we can’t imagine being without it, then we don’t love, we’re just afraid. Love makes us brave and gives us faith. Fear makes us selfish. Do you understand?”

The little girl nodded. “Okay. I will set it free.”

So, they took the jar into the front yard and the child removed the lid. The butterfly first perched on the rim of the jar, then it flew into the maple tree and fluttered about from branch to branch, leaf to leaf. All at once it flew free of the tree, across the yard, and over the field beyond, going higher and higher, a flash of yellow in the sun. The little girl laughed. “Look at it go, Mommy! I am glad I set it free.”

Years later, a young woman loaded her belongings into her gray car and pulled out of her mom’s driveway. The now middle-aged mother watched her disappear over the horizon, a lonely tug in her heart, tears in her eyes. Her daughter was off to life in the world, to an apartment and a job and a man and a…a whole suitcase full of dreams. As her mother stared at the country road leading away from home she saw a yellow swallowtail light on the mailbox and folding and unfolding its wings and she remembered.

Love liberates. Fear imprisons.